What should I look for in a lesson program? Most importantly look for a program whose teaching philosophy you agree with. If you have questions about a program, call and ask questions and ask to observe classes before participating. It’s a good idea to choose a swim school where the teachers have a lot of in-the-water teaching experience, warm water, and especially people who recommend them. Word of mouth and happy, skilled swimmers are a swim school’s best advertisement.
What’s the best age to start? Ideally, we would have all swimmers in the water as young as four months. As soon as infants can crawl, they are at risk around the water. There are many benefits associated with starting lessons at a young age. Lessons provide a pleasurable play time for parent and child, they improve the development of motor skills, and they can enhance psychological development through the stimulation of the senses and socialization. The younger the swimmer is when they begin lessons, the easier they will learn to swim, and the less likely they are to develop a fear of the water. However, it is never too late to begin lessons. You can’t reverse the aging process and start every swimmer in a Water Babies class. Just remember to set realistic goals for an older swimmer who begins lessons with some built-in fears and anxieties. Progress will be made, but it will most likely be at a slower pace.
How do I know what level to sign my swimmer up for? Read through our class descriptions in the Swim Programs section. At the end of each class description there will be a list of progression skills. A swimmer must be able to complete all of these skills before moving on to the next level. If you feel that your swimmer is beyond our introductory levels (Pre-Beginner I & Beginner) you may call and schedule a time for an assessment session. This will help us determine the proper class to place them in. There is a $10 fee for the assessment session.
Do you offer private lessons? We believe that small group lessons provide the most productive learning environment and are more cost effective. We believe that the small group format is helpful to our swimmers because of the social interaction it allows, as well as the opportunities it provides for our swimmers to learn from watching each other. We find that children enjoy making friends with their classmates and look forward to seeing them each week.
If you have a child with special needs we can arrange private lessons, but they need to be planned around our current lesson schedule.
Why is the Parent Orientation Meeting required? Parent Orientations are our opportunity to introduce you to our program and our facility. We find that students, parents and teachers all benefit when we have some uninterrupted time with the parents to explain our philosophy and approach to swimming. It also gives us a chance to review our policies prior to the start of lessons. Parents will have the chance to ask questions and address any concerns.
At the end of each orientation we bring in some of our current swimmers to demonstrate the skills and abilities we work on in each level. Parents get to see what their swimmer will be working towards and it will help them determine whether or not they have signed their swimmer up for the correct level.
Swimmers may not start in our program until their parents attend this meeting.
Why do you recommend twice a week classes? We have found that in most cases our swimmers get comfortable sooner, have better skill retention and make more progress when they swim at least twice a week. In our (unscientific) opinion we believe that children who swim twice a week do about 5 times better than children who swim once a week.
Why doesn’t Country Swim School use flotation devices? We believe that flotation devices give children and their parents a false sense of security. We want our swimmers to feel the water and how it affects and supports their bodies. Flotation devices tend to put children in a vertical position in the water and do not allow them to discover their own body’s buoyancy. When you swim you want your body in a horizontal or floating position, so you can move through the water with greater ease.
What if my child doesn’t like water on their face? Remember that our instructors have a lot of experience with children who do not like getting their face wet. Ultimately, this is a major step in learning to swim that must be overcome. How do we aid this process? Exposure, exposure, exposure, followed by gentle coaxing and a lot of praise. We also request help from the parents in encouraging their child to get his or her face wet during bath time. Handing a child a dry towel or reaching to wipe off a wet face will only prolong and reinforce their fear. If you act like a wet face is “no big deal”, they will come to learn that a wet face is “no big deal“.
What if my child cries or is afraid? It is not uncommon for a child to cry on the first day of swim class. This is a normal reaction to a new environment, an unfamiliar teacher and separation from the parent. Our teachers are very experienced at dealing with new and fearful students. The teacher will work to gain the trust of the child, in part by acknowledging the child’s fear and then helping them conquer it. Removing a child from lessons due to crying is never a recommended course of action. This reinforces the lesson that crying will get them their way. Usually, the crying phase is much harder on the parents than it is on the child. If your child is crying, it is best to get out of your child’s line of sight. Sue will discuss this more at the Parent Orientation Meeting.
What is your Swim Diaper policy? All swimmers under the age of 4 must wear a permanent swim diaper. Little swimmers who are not completely potty trained must wear a disposable swim diaper under their permanent swim diaper. If you don’t feel comfortable calling them swim “diapers” in front of your child call them swim “pants”. This policy was put in place to help protect all swimmers from Water Bourne Illnesses that can be spread by both solid and diarrheal accidents.
Why must my child take a shower before getting in the pool? Oils on the skin bond with chlorine in the water to form chloramines. Chloramines - not chlorine - are responsible for the burning eyes and itchy skin most people associate with pool water. Our goal is to have as clean and comfortable a learning environment as possible for your swimmer and making sure that they take a good shower before entering the water is one way you can help.
When can my swimmer wear goggles? We want our swimmers to learn to function in the water without goggles and to learn that there is nothing wrong with getting their eyes “wet”. In most kinds of water emergencies, the swimmer probably won’t be wearing goggles (i.e. falling out of boat, falling into a backyard pond, falling off a dock, falling in while reaching down for a toy that has rolled into the pool). We want your swimmer to know that they can function in any situation - with or without goggles. When swimmers move to more advanced levels and goggles become a tool and not a crutch, the instructor will encourage the use of goggles and advise what size and type would be best.
Should I bring my child to lessons if they are a little under the weather? A swimmer with a mild cold, slight runny nose or allergies may actually feel better after swimming (the heat and humidity in the pool area can help open up breathing passages). If your child has a fever, flu-like symptoms, a bacterial infection or diarrhea they should stay home and get better. As per the recommendation of the Center for Disease Control, any swimmer with a gastro-intestinal illness needs to remain out of the water for two weeks following the last sign of symptoms. (Someone carrying the Cryptosporidiosis parasite can pass it along to someone else for up to two weeks after their last sign of symptoms. Crypto can survive outside the body for days and is very chlorine resistant.)
Does swimming cause ear infections? There are two main types of ear infections - middle and outer ear infections. Middle ear infections are usually a complication of a cold, virus, allergies or infected adenoids. The middle ear, located behind the ear drum, becomes inflamed and often fills with fluid. Swimmer’s Ear is an outer ear infection that affects swimmers who spend a lot of time in the water. Water trapped in the ear breaks down the lining of the outer ear canal, allowing bacteria or fungi to penetrate. To prevent Swimmer’s Ear, we suggest using over-the-counter drops of a diluted solution of acetic acid or rubbing alcohol in the ears after swimming. Swimmers with tubes in their ears or a hole in the eardrum should not use these drops. Swimming does not cause middle ear infections. Children with tubes in their ears can still swim.
My child is complaining because a skill is too hard, what should I do? In recent years, we have found a number of children who have begun to equate something being hard to it to being bad or something they shouldn’t have to do. One of the great life lessons that swimming has to offer is: that you make a hard task easier by continuing to work on it until it isn’t hard anymore. Here at Country Swim School, we encourage your swimmers to keep working on a skill until they master it. To quote Winston Churchill, “Never, Never, Never Give Up”. For example, when a child complains that treading water is too hard because it makes them tired, we keep working on it and talk to them about how being tired isn’t a bad thing - it’s just something you rest and recover from. We would ask that our parents follow the same path of positive encouragement and that you help us reinforce the notion that just because something is hard doesn’t mean it is bad. Remember you can’t avoid working on a skill and hope to wake up one day to discover you have mastered it.
Is there anything I can do at home to help my child progress? Bathtubs are a wonderful place to help young children become more comfortable in the water. Blowing bubbles, pouring water over their own heads, putting their face in the water for longer and longer periods of time and lying back in the floating position with water covering their ears are skills that are easily practiced in the family tub. We also encourage you to take advantage of Open Swim times at our various community pools. Open Swims are an excellent opportunity to increase your child’s exposure to the water, allow them to practice skills they have learned in class and just have fun in the water! You can always ask your child’s teacher for suggestions of what to work on at an Open Swim.
How will I know what progress my swimmer is making? At the end of each session of lessons, your child’s teacher will give you a written progress report and talk with you about skills they are doing well with and what areas still need some work. This will let you know what the teacher is looking for before moving your swimmer up to the next level. Please remember that the skills listed at the end of every progress report are designed to be the most challenging skills in the level and they are the ones that it will take the most time to master.
Why don’t all swimmers progress at the same rate? Remember that every child comes to us with varying abilities and life experiences. Some of the things that might influence how quickly a swimmer progresses include: co-ordination, strength, buoyancy, balance, relaxation, fine motor skills, temperament and past experience in or around water. Every child learns at their own individual pace. It is important for parents to have realistic expectations for their children. Please avoid comparing your child to others. Positive reinforcement and consistency are vital to your child’s success.
Why do you ask us to give written notice if we are not registering for the next session? We do our best to plan our class schedule around our current swimmers. Giving us notice by the scheduled deadline, allows us to better plan for those who will be participating in the next session.
My child has been invited to a pool party. What can I do to ensure their safety? Make sure you ask the following questions before allowing your child to attend the party: what type of supervision will be provided? Are the individuals who are responsible for supervising the swimmers trained in CPR, first aid and water safety techniques What will the ratio of adults to swimmers be? Will there be adults in the water with those children who aren’t yet skilled swimmers?
Prior to the party, you might want to review the pool rules we have at Country Swim School with your child (i.e. no running on the pool deck, no diving in shallow water, no pushing other swimmers into the water, etc.). Additionally, you may want to attend the party so you can supervise your child.
When will my child be water safe? NO ONE, child or adult, is ever completely water safe. We want our students to love and respect the water. The skills we teach at Country Swim School will help a child become safer in the water, but they are not a replacement for parental supervision. A child should never be left unattended in or near the water.
When might my child be ready to be done with swim lessons? We want to know that your child can not only function in a pool, but if necessary could handle an open-water incident.
We would strongly recommend that at a minimum your swimmer should be able to:
Swim 500 yds. of continuous Front Crawl using good form.
Be able to swim an equal distance using a variety of other strokes.
Tread water and survival float for 30 minutes or longer.
Be able to function in the water while wearing clothing.