Saturday, November 7, 2009

Swimming in the Winter?

So it's a little cold outside, but don't put the swimsuits in the attic just yet, there are still lots of ways to enjoy the water in the Boroughs and swim lessons shouldn't be just a summertime activity.

I started writing today's blog while my kids were taking their weekly swim lessons. I started them in lessons right about age two. At that age parents must accompany their children at lessons.  Now I know there are a people reading this thinking: Hey, I don't really have the body I had when I was 24, I'm not sure I want to grab a swimsuit and jump in the public pool.  Maybe I can wait till the program takes the kids without me.  Most places you can wait, but the places I have attended in the Boroughs are not Ocean City on spring break or the French Riviera, no one cares how much damage a desk job or the general stresses of having kids do to ones body.  I say relax, when it comes to comfort in the water I  believe it is better to start early. 

When I was younger I spent my summers at a YMCA day camp.  I learned to swim through their program and loved every minute of it.  After I was  through all of swim levels at the camp I began teaching.  I taught swim lessons for over 6 years...a long long time ago :-)  Having taught lessons made it easy for me to get my kids started but based on my experiences the program at the Boroughs YMCA still follows the same format, is fun, and reinforces the right skills for kids to be confident in the water.

While living in the Boroughs I have been a member of the Wayside Racquet and Swim Club as the Boroughs YMCA.  I know a lot of friends who are members at the Westboro Tennis and Swim Club, but I really don't know a lot about their programs to date.  As for Wayside, I enjoyed it as an adult playing raquetball and swimming, but I always planned on participating in the YMCA programs with the kids...mostly based on my own childhood.   When it comes to swim I still feel the YMCA comes out on top.

  1. The program - The YMCA does a good job of breaking up the various levels of swim instruction into discernible chunks that kids can complete in a season, and that parents can see the difference with each stage.  Kids focus on one or two things each level.  Especially in the preschool classes the goals are simple and focus on comfort in the water and basic movements.  Most kids start with a bubble and a parent in the Parent and Pike class.  The YMCA program will not allow kids to swim without parents till 3 years old, but I found great value in starting just after 2 with my kids.  When it came time for my youngest to go into a class by himself, he skipped the first level, all of that is because of the earlier practice.  I was also a lifeguard and Red Cross swim instructor years ago as well.  I never really liked the red cross swim program for younger kids.  Without really creative teachers it took a long time to move to each level.  I know lots of kids that got discouraged and bored as they tried to work on the sames things all the time.  Clear obtainable goals lets kids feel progress and want to keep going.

  2. The price - Swim lessons anywhere are not cheap, but these days nothing is.  Comparing to Wayside, I feel the YMCA is cheaper especially when you add in the cost of a family membership and the discounts those memberships get for swim lessons.  As a family member at the Boroughs YMCA an 8 session swim class is $56.  A family member at the Wayside will pay $88 for the same number of classes there.

  3. The people - one of these people.  Now I have to be fair, I felt the teacher I had for the Parent and Pike class for the three sessions I attended was not that good, but still she was trying to get people through the basics.  I bet that with a few pointers she would have been better.  She just needed to talk to the parents and teach them how to teach the children.  But Donald who teaches Pike and Eel classes is so amazing he more then makes up for any others I have met to date.  At this point I feel helps carry the program.  I  hope I was that good of an instructor all those years ago.  Donald is very relaxed, he listens to the kids and he lets them play.  Preschool kids need time to laugh, to explore the drain at the side of the pool to hear the instructor laughing and excited with them.  It makes their overall experience great.  Donald is that type of teacher.  To be honest I don't even know Donald's last name, but if you are at the YMCA you can recognize him as the man with the picture of a lion head and the word HONOR tattooed on his back.  My kids adore Donald, they can't want to see him and are eager to impress him because they have FUN every time they swim.  Associating lessons with fun is a win in my book.
If you haven't checked out the YMCA swim programs, I do recommend them.  I know the fall/winter/spring sessions are pretty busy and full, but the summer sessions do seem to have space for even non-members.  You can also check out more details on their website:  The "programs" link has a PDF with swim information.

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