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The Benefits of Swimming – Part 1

Swimming is a wonderful sport and provides healthy recreational exercise to all participants.  The sport of swimming is popular in many countries around the world and every young child should be offered the opportunity of learning to swim.

While many children in developed countries begin swimming lessons to preserve their own life, those who continue into squad training and develop a strong swimming ability can play major roles in saving others.  Whether it is volunteering as a lifeguard at the local beach, being paid as a Surf or Pool Lifeguard or just being in the right place at the right time, there are many stories over the years of current and former squad swimmers saving other people’s lives.  The ability to save someone in the water is just one of many skills that children who continue in swimming programs possess.

The sport of swimming has produced thousands of participants who have established and developed a multitude of skills that will be useful throughout their entire life.

The skills developed by participating in a structured swimming training program include improvements in discipline, commitment, dedication, time management, independence, taking responsibility, working together; and winning and losing.  While for many involved in competitive swimming winning and improvement are heavily valued at the time of participation, the life skills learnt by swimmers at training and competition will assist them for their entire life.

Participation in squad training will assist your child to become fit and combined with a healthy eating plan, provides them with the foundation for a healthy life.  As each stroke uses a large variety of muscles, young swimmers will develop muscles evenly across their body including their arms, legs, shoulders, back and abdomen.

Swimming also develops a child’s sense of independence.  While swimmers at a young age will depend on their parents for assistance in packing their swim bags before training or competitions, parents should encourage their child to pack their own bags by the age of 10 years.  By all means double-check they have everything for a few months but then leave it for them to do – all the time.

Swimmers should also be involved in what food they take to the pool and take responsibility for packing it.  All swimmers should have a water bottle at the pool and they should take responsibility for filling it prior to training and refilling it as necessary.

Many swimming clubs will introduce swimmers to the experience of travelling, often starting off with a one day trip.  These trips will expand to include an overnight trip to a weekend swim meet as a progression to participating in longer training-based or competition trips of three to eight days.

While early in a child’s development swimmers may want the security of their parents being there for them at competitions, it is important that parents allow their child to become independent and travel by themselves with their Club team or Squad group by the age of 12 years.  The independence and confidence gained by children from these experiences can be life changing for many of them.

Many children begin swimming because of problems with asthma.  Their doctor advises them to do swimming and over time they develop a passion for the sport and continue with squad training and participating in competitions.  Swimming is a great way to assist people of any age who have asthma.

There are many other benefits of encouraging your child’s involvement in swimming and more of these can be found in part 2.

Gary Barclay

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