Just because the pool at Old Town Hot Springs is closed doesn’t mean your youngster can’t get a head start on swimming lessons. Try these four skills at home in the bathtub to get a jump start:
1) Blowing bubbles or humming
Putting our face in the water does not come naturally to most of us. Encourage your child to blow bubbles by imagining blowing out a birthday candle or humming with their lips in the water. This encourages children to put their face in their water while practicing breath control for learning to submerge underwater.
2) Practice kicking and pulling
Kicking is the leg action of any swim stroke. For infants, move their feet up and down with relatively straight knees while saying kick, kick, kick. For older children, encourage them to kick and splash (easier said than done in the bathtub without a mess). As a child progresses ensure they are not making a bicycling motion with their legs.
Pulling is the arm action of any swim stroke. For infants, don’t hesitate to show your child the action of pulling water towards them with their hands while saying pull, pull, pull then gently move their arms and hands to pull the water towards them. For older children, encourage them to use their imagination: the entire bathtub is ice cream and your hands are ice cream scoops, fingers together and pull all that ice cream towards you!
3) Getting ready for going under water
Submerging underwater can be a scary experience for any child but it is a necessary skill to be able to swim confidently in the future. Start your infant by gently pouring water over their head during bath time. When they are old enough to understand, encourage them to hold their breath and submerge – lead by example by exaggerating a large loud inhale before going underwater.
4) Back float
Get your child comfortable on their back in the water by supporting them in a back float position in the bathtub. Make sure to support their head and neck before, during and after floating to ensure a sense a security and to protect them from injury.
Lastly, with all the skills above remember: Me first, then you and always end with a fun game or toys.
Written By Mark vonSchondorf, Aquatics Director at Old Town Hot Springs