As I sat down to write this blog entry, I looked outside the window and realized the ground was completely covered in snow. How could I possibly be thinking about getting ready for another summer by the pool in the middle of winter? Believe it or not, there are a lot of great ways to stay in shape and get ready for the upcoming summer of swimming at Deerkill!
Food For Thought
I won’t actually be discussing any topics about food here – remember no snacks by the pool! There are some things to remember about swimming and how your child might be affected by not being in the pool for many months. Swimming is a unique physical activity that normally requires you to practice in a pool in order to maintain endurance and ability. Although running at recess and keeping active in the off season is always a great idea, most children will see some type of regression in their swimming ability after spending a year outside the pool. This is completely normal and expected for most swimmers. So what can parents do to help get their campers ready for the summer?
Bath Time Practice
No pool, no problem! If your young child is still enjoying bath time, the tub is a great place to practice some simple skills. In the interest of keeping most of the water in the tub, we do not recommend practicing those big kicks we love seeing in the Deerkill pool. Alternating your head in and out of the water or side-to side (rotary breathing) is an extremely important skill for our novice and intermediate swimmers to practice. “Talk to the fish and listen to the fish” is a great bath time game! Have your children blow bubbles in the water to “talk to the fish” and then rotate their head to the side so their ear is touching the water to “listen to the fish”.
If your child is small enough or your tub is big enough, practice your back floats!!! Remember to keep those bellies up!
Bath time is also a great opportunity for you to get your child acclimated to the water while being goggle-free! Here at Deerkill we try to discourage the use of goggles in the pool. Often campers use them as a security blanket and can experience anxiety and discomfort in the pool without them. In the beginning some of your children might have some hesitation submerging without googles or will excessively wipe their faces when returning above the water – don’t worry! These are common stepping stones and will subside the more you practice. A great way to decrease anxiety or fear when fully submerging under the water is to create small and easily obtainable goals. Your child can practice submerging up to their chin, and then nose and then eyebrows until they are completely ready to go all the way under the water.
Dry Land Skills
Our more advanced swimmers can also practice their strokes without stepping into a drop of water. We often teach strokes by breaking them down into a sequence of steps in order to build proper technique in the water. Swim instructors utilize these sequences on the side of the pool before campers even enter the water. If they can, so can you! Re-creating each stroke on land can be a powerful tool in picking up on mistakes you can’t see under the water as well as reinforcing the order of each step. “Chicken, Airplane, Soldier” for elementary backstroke and “Pull, Breath, Kick, Glide” for breaststroke are just some of the sequences we practice outside the water.
When in doubt, find a pool! Many local schools, gyms and YMCA’s have pools that are open to the public all year long. Nothing beats practicing inside the water.
I hope everyone is just as excited as I am for the warm weather and being back at camp. Until then, stay tuned for more news from the waterfront!
Head of Waterfront, Deerkill Day Camp