SWIMMING FOR THE FIRST TIME can be a nerve-wracking experience for children—and their parents, too. Without swim instructors who are patient and caring with young children who are about to enter their swimming journey for the first time, accidents could happen or a fear of water could be instilled in children at an early age. With the team and facility at Bear Paddle Swim School, their first priority is safety for their students while building their confidence in the water.
“Our team is very excited to bring the Bear Paddle program to the Marlton area and start long-term relationships with families, local schools and community businesses,” says Robin Everson, director of operations. “Not only do we focus on teaching water safety and swimming techniques within the walls of the Bear Paddle facility, but we also offer free water safety presentations to the community on a firstcome, first-serve basis.”
At the heart of every swimming lesson with Bear Paddle is water safety.
“Promoting comfortable, confident swimmers is the core of a good swim lesson and program,” says Everson. “With safe entry into the pool and basic swim lesson rules, students will learn and internalize safety over the course of each swim lesson.”
A safety skill deemed particularly important in the Bear Paddle curriculum is learning to flip onto your back and breathe, allowing the swimmer to float and catch their breaths. This teaches children who are swimming independently on their stomachs to flip onto their backs to take a breath rather than picking their heads up. The ‘Flip to Breathe’ skill is a level-three skill out of the eight at Bear Paddle.
“The earlier you can teach and learn confidence and comfort in the water the better,” says Everson.
For the youngest of swimmers, ages 6-36 months, the biggest focus is just muscle memory and repetition in the water. “Children are still developing their cognitive processing capabilities and are reliant on the parent or guardian for proper introduction into a water environment,” says Everson. “This means introducing safe entry into areas with water, consistent instruction on when it is clear to get into the water (always with a parent or guardian), instances of properly executed submersion and guided moments of independent movement.”
The younger a child is learning water safety, the more they will require consistent practice in the water to gain the necessary muscle memory, comfort and confidence when it comes to being an independent swimmer.
At Bear Paddle, swimmers are motivated to keep learning and advancing through the eight skill levels the school has established through their skill patch reward system.
“When a student demonstrates they have mastered a skill, they are rewarded with a skill patch,” says Everson. “The skill patch is a 2-inch iron-on patch that is matched by color with the level the swimmer is in and states the skill they have mastered. When a swimmer has mastered all the skills within a specific level and is awarded with all their skill patch rewards, they can graduate to the next level.”
Bear Paddle is unique in that they are constantly monitoring their swimmer’s progress and do not wait for certain test periods to evaluate them. When a swimmer has mastered certain skills and earned the necessary patches, they can graduate to the next level. There is no waiting for a test day or conducting an evaluation later.
While knowing how to swim is a huge plus for children, swimming consistently is what helps build endurance. Swimming is a highly physical activity that uses all the muscles in the body at once. It can be exhausting to swim 30 minutes at a time and yet swimmers can—with practice—swim long distances without stopping.
How is this possible?
Everyone knows that practice makes perfect, but practice also builds cardiovascular endurance and allows students to perform skills correctly over longer distances. By consistently coming to swim lessons at least once a week, students are able to hold their breath longer, kick harder and complete skills quicker. Endurance is just as important for students who haven’t mastered the foundational skills in levels one, two or three.
If a student can’t hold their breath while their face is in the water, has trouble kicking to propel themselves or can’t pull themselves out of the water at the end of a lesson, they have a more difficult time mastering skills that Bear Paddle Swim Schools build on. With exhaustion comes poor technique; the best way to practice skills the right way is repetition.
Coming to swim lessons consistently is a great way to build endurance. If your student wants to progress even faster, Bear Paddle Swim School offers second swim days for just $12.50 per swim lesson (offer expires Dec. 31, 2017). By swimming multiple times a week, your student can master skills faster and become a healthier, more confident swimmer.
Take the plunge with Bear Paddle Swim School and learn how to make your children safe and confident swimmers for life.
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 6 (August, 2017).
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