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Skills ALL Swimmers Should Know!

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Have you ever wondered what the some of the most important skills we expect for our swimmers to gain from being in lessons with us? Having spent over 50 years developing our curriculum, we believe that each little piece is an important piece of the puzzle, but to narrow down a few, here are 4 major things we believe each swimmer should be able to do.

  1. Safe Water Entry:

Jumping into the pool seems like the best way to get into the water, but it can also be a major safety hazard for you and your swimmers. Safe Water entry is the very first skill we teach in all of our classes, no matter the age or the level. We also require our swimmers to obtain permission from an adult before entering the pool. This teaches little swimmers the important of never getting in the water without parental supervision. The second step we teach is to slide in on their bellies – feet first. This ensures that swimmers never jump or dive in the body of water, sight unseen, accidentally hitting their heads or bottoms in a shallow pool or on some obstruction in the bottom of a body of water. It is very important for your little swimmers to know how to sit down, slide in and enter the pool safely and properly – it’s even more important for them to know that getting out of the pool is just as easy (elbow, elbow, tummy, knee, knee)! We even teach our little Flippers how to monkey crawl along the wall of the pool and hang there until help comes or until they can pull themselves out. Safely entering and exiting the water is a must at Miller!

  1. Roll Over and Back Float:

Let’s talk about a major safety skill! Back floating is an essential element in water safety. Whether you are an exhausted swimmer, a child that has fallen into the water, or a stranded swimmer waiting for help, back floating can help save a life! We start our swimmers on their backs from the very first lesson. The sensation of getting water in their ears and sometimes eyes, can take some getting used to. But, once they get the hang of it, starting in either Diaper Dolphins or Level 1, they continue to use the skill in various way all the way through Level 8! We want our swimmers to be prepared for every situation they may encounter!

  1. Breath Control:

Another set of skills we teach right off the bat are water acclimation and breath control. Water acclimation is the process of becoming comfortable in and under the water. Some swimmers are best eased into this process, while others are ready to jump right in! Following water acclimation, we work on breath control – aka – blowing bubbles. Breath control plays a bigger role in swimming than many people realize! Having proper breath control ensures that when swimmers go under water they are blowing air out instead of breathing water in. Sounds simple huh? Research shows that holding the breath helps a child to avoid uncomfortable sensations such as sniffing, inhaling or excessively drinking the water during a submersion. Children as young as 4-6 months can use breath control for a successful submersion. As children progress in their swimming development and begin to learn overarm freestyle, good breath control is again advantageous. They can swim with their faces in the water, which in turn puts less stress on the body and less strain on the neck and spine. Having in in the lungs also aids with floatation and promotes efficient body position (streamline with head down), which in turn makes it easy for the arms to clear the water with a nice, high stroke.

  1. Treading Water:

Have you ever jumped into a pool and it was deeper than you expected? Or have you been wading in a pool or the ocean and before you knew it you were swept out to deeper water where you could no longer touch? These are both ideal situations for needing to know how to tread water. Little swimmers playing in the shallow end can quickly and easily be swept into deeper waters without warning! If they cannot get into an immediate back float, they should at least be able to tread water long enough to keep their heads above the water until help arrives. Surprisingly, there are various ways to tread water – some more efficient than others. When learning to tread, the most efficient techniques may be the scissor kick, Breaststroke kick, or a Rotary kick. Remember also to practice treading with your clothes on, a skill we introduce during our two safety weeks! If you or your little one were to fall into the water, you may not always be prepared in a swim suit, and treading water fully clothed can be tricky and requires more stamina if you have not practiced for it!

Why We Swim Year Round – Even in the Winter!

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Swimming? In the Winter? YES!

As we prepare for our winter sessions each year, I notice that some of our parents take their children out of class “as a precautionary measure”. They are convinced that their child will catch cold or the flu from being in the pool and getting wet during the winter. When these same swimmers return early in the spring, I am often told that they still caught colds or the flu during the winter months. Not only do these children miss out on the benefits of winter swimming during the “lay off” period; in most cases, their skills noticeably regress.

Colds and flu are generally transmitted by casual contact with an infected person. There is more likelihood they will catch a cold or flu from a sibling (or from you) than from swimming. One rule of thumb to follow: if your child is sick, keep him/her home to minimize exposure to others.

What are the benefits of winter swimming? Children who swim through the winter maintain continuity and increase their skill levels as they practice each week. Physical fitness is increased, and children who swim year round actually tend to be healthier than their non-swimming counterparts.

The deep breathing that occurs in swimming helps keep the lungs clear of accumulated mucous, reducing the chance of respiratory problems. In fact, swimming is a preferred exercise for asthmatics because of the warm, moist environment we maintain. The type of deep breathing that occurs in swimming helps to pump the cerebrospinal fluid through the body, assisting the body in maintaining a high intake of oxygen to the brain and the blood.

It is amazing to watch young children enjoy themselves in the water. Even our youngest babies have a look of sheer pleasure on their face. Research has shown that when we enjoy ourselves, the brain produces very powerful biochemicals called endorphins, which are the strongest painkillers known to mankind. Not only do endorphins ease pain, they boost the immune system, which is a vital part of staying healthy during the cold, winter months.

So, parents, here’s the prescription for a happy, healthy child this winter:

  • Keep them home when they are sick.
  • Dress them warm by layering when it’s cold outside.  Keep those hats on, because 70% of the body’s heat is lost through the top of the head.  Several layers will insulate better than one big, thick layer. And our water is kept at a warm 89 degrees, which makes the air feel chilly when they get out of the pool (similar to getting out of a warm bath or shower!), so have a towel ready at hand!
  • Feed them a nutritionally sound diet-really push those fruits and vegetables!
  • Keep them physically active by enrolling them in swim class at Miller-where you will find excellence in aquatic education!

Summer Water Safety Reminders

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  •  Teach children water safety and swimming skills as early as possible.
  •  Always brief babysitters on water safety, emphasizing the need for constant supervision
  •  Appoint a “designated watcher” to monitor children during social gatherings at or near pools.
  •  Post CPR instructions and learn the procedures.
  •  Keep rescue equipment poolside. Don’t wait for the paramedics to arrive because you will lose valuable life-saving seconds. Four to six minutes without oxygen can cause permanent brain damage or death.
  •  Maintain constant visual contact with children in a pool or pool area. If a child is missing, check the pool first; seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  •  Don’t use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision. Never allow a young child in a pool without an adult.
  •  Don’t leave objects such as toys that might attract a child in the pool and pool area.
  •  Don’t rely on life preservers, or other equipment to make a child “water safe.”
  •  Never assume someone else is watching a child in a pool area.
  •  Don’t leave chairs or other items of furniture where a child could use them to climb into a fenced pool area.
  •  Don’t think you’ll hear a child who’s in trouble in the water; child drowning is a silent death, with no splashing to alert anyone that the child is in trouble
  •  Empty all tubs, buckets, containers and wading pools immediately after use. Store them upside down and out of children’s reach.
  •  Never leave your child unattended around water. We know it sounds strict, but there is no room for compromise on this one. Babies can drown in as little as one inch of water.
  • Put the cell phone away, forget about all the other things you have to do and give young children 100 percent of your attention when they are near or around water

Benefits to Year Round Swimming

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As summer comes to an end and fall approaches, many families are under the impression that the swimming season is over as well. This, however, is not the case! Miller Swim School believes that swimming should not be seasonal, but instead, a year-round activity that proves to have several advantages.

Children who swim year-round (and from infancy) are significantly stronger and more coordinated than those who do not according to several studies. The use of the entire body mixed with the water resistance improves strength and flexibility while minimizing injuries that are more likely to occur in other sports.

A scientific study found that children who swim year-round scored higher in problem solving skills.

Also, children who swim year-round are less likely to become ill than children with a less active lifestyle. Swimming keeps the immune system in shape and exercise invigorates the entire body. A healthy lifestyle leads to a healthy child!

Consistent swimming (and especially learning to swim) helps children succeed throughout their life. Swimming encourages setting and attaining goals, overcoming fears to assert independence and finding new and fun ways to stay active. Something as simple as being able to play independently in a pool with friends is a huge accomplishment for young kids and the confidence that it builds is seen in school, social situations and in other recreational activities. We see a drastic change in the confidence and self-esteem of the children we teach throughout the school year. Children who were once very timid and unable or afraid to swim with their peers are now independent, confident swimmers at birthday parties, lake trips, and at camp. This new found confidence is then transferred across to school and other extra curricular activities which we find increases performance and drive.

Swimming skills, just like skills needed for any other activities, can be lost over time. If a child goes the entire school year without swimming, they lose many of the skills they may have had the summer prior which can actually be quite discouraging. Unlike riding a bike or playing soccer, if a child forgets how to swim, the consequences can be much more devastating.

There are many articles and studies listing all of the benefits of year-round swimming, which serves to suggest that children benefit from year-round swimming for a multitude of reasons.

Wrens’ Water Journey Part 3

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It has been almost a full year since we began Swim Lessons, hard to believe how time flies! Within that year we went from Diaper Dolphins to Flippers and now incorporate a little one-on-one swim time with Mommy or another instructor once a week in addition to our Flippers class with Daddy, Ms Donna and all of our swim friends!

What a year it has been! Not only have we hit major milestones in our daily life – we WALK (life as Mommy knew it is now over!), we can finally crawl, and we talk all the time- but we have also hit several milestones in our swim class. Here are a few examples of what we have accomplished this year:

Breath control. We haven’t quite figured out how to blow bubbles on a consistent basis (sometimes we get lucky and see a few!), but we now know to close our mouth each time we go under water or have water poured over our head. Consistently following the count, “One, Two Ready, Go” has played a huge part in this accomplishment.

Floating on Our Back: We still need some assistance with this, but we are SO much more comfortable laying on our back with our ears in the water. This skill did not come immediately, but took a few months of practice in the pool and in GiGi’s bath tub! It also helps that Twinkle Twinkle Little Star happens to be our favorite song.

Rowing and Kicking: We can now “row row row” and “kick kick kick” on command. Sometimes we even row our hands outside of the pool and we ALWAYS row when we hear the “Row Row Row Your Boat” song! This is such great progress. In Diaper Dolphins we were lucky if we didn’t soak the whole class, since all we wanted to do was splash (sorry Mommies!!) But how encouraging that in such a short amount of time we have created a strong foundation for swimming!

Sit Jump and Dive: This is probably our favorite thing ever. We could sit on the side of the pool, sing Humpty Dumpty, clap our hands and dive in the water on repeat for the entire 30 minutes of class! We can even “put our Rockets up” and do a sit dive without any assistance!

Climbing Out of the Pool: Who are we kidding – we totally can NOT do this one yet. But it is our next goal. Actually, just hanging onto the side of the pool will be out next goal, baby steps here! This is such an important skill and would make Mommy and Daddy much more at ease if we knew that if something happened, our little girl was able to hang on to the side of the pool and wait for help. This is a BIG one.

Going Down the Slide: Ok, this one is just for fun – but now that we can sit up on our own, going down the slide is SO much more fun!

We are so proud of our little fish but moreover, we are eternally grateful for the skills she has learned and will continue to build on in swim class. We know that while swimming is fun (and sometimes “just another activity in a busy schedule”) it is one of the only “activities” Wren will do that could SAVE HER LIFE. That fact alone will keep us swimming every single week.

Welcome to Miller Swim School

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Miller Swim School was established in 1960 by Larry and Rita Miller in order to teach students to respect and enjoy the water, and to be safe, happy, successful swimmers.