22
Sep

Swimming During a Thunderstorm: Why It’s a Terrible Idea

You’ve probably heard the advice that swimming during a thunderstorm is dangerous. Maybe you’ve wondered just how dangerous it is.  Should you listen to that advice? We’ll help you understand the science behind the danger, and why “don’t swim during a thunderstorm” is good advice.

Lightning Bolts Are Powerful. Just how powerful are they?

First, a definition. Lightning is “a sudden electrostatic discharge that occurs during a thunderstorm.” It can happen within a cloud, between two clouds, or between a cloud and the ground.  This is why lightning seems to travel in every possible direction. There’s a lot of power behind that giant static shock. Let’s illustrate.

Lightning bolts vary in power.  On average their current is between 10 million and 100 million volts, with an average amperage of 30,000 amps. The rapid transfer of so much energy has a dramatic effect on the matter around it.  The air around a bolt heats to temperatures as high as 54,000 Fahrenheit.  That’s hotter than the surface of the sun.

It can be hard to wrap your head around those numbers. They’re so far from our everyday human experience with electricity.  So let’s keep it simple and just say that it’s enough power to vaporize solid sand. That’s right, in the millionth of a second it takes for lightning to strike, it turns solid matter into a gas.  Practically alchemy.

What Happens When Lightning Hits Water?

When lightning strikes a body of water, what happens is simple. The electric charge doesn’t penetrate far into the water.  This is why there aren’t dozens of dead fish popping up after every storm.  Instead, it spreads along the surface, discharging horizontally. As for how far it can spread, estimates vary.  The power of the bolt itself has an impact on the distance the current can travel, so it’s really hard to tell.

Not that you should be gambling your safety on those numbers, whether they be 20 feet or 20 yards. Even if you’re outside the range of the lethal electric shock, when a bolt strikes water it creates sound up to 260 decibels as far as a mile away. You could lose your hearing instantly at that volume. It’s that dangerous.

So is There Anywhere I Can Swim During a Thunderstorm?

With these facts in mind, it may be apparent why avoiding a lightning strike is a good idea. But is water really that big of a target for lightning? Is lighting attracted to water?

There are three qualities that primarily determine where lightning will strike: isolation, height, and shape.  The most dangerous place to be, typically, is an open field.  There’s nothing else around to attract the lightning.  Being on or in the water is a close second.  That wide, flat surface area creates many of the same conditions.

At Sea

Out in the ocean, lightning doesn’t strike very often. Despite its rarity, it’s still very dangerous.  Your boat and your body may be the only things sticking up for miles. Salt water is also a better conductor, so the surface electrical discharge spreads farther than across fresh water.

At the Beach

A day at the beach is probably the most dangerous place to be in a thunderstorm.  Warm updrafts from the land create the perfect conditions for lightning strikes. You’re still in salt water, and you’re a lot less likely to be scuba diving (which might get you deep enough to be safe). Your head bobbing out of the surf is still the highest point for quite some distance.  Very often, a shelter isn’t close.

In Pools

Even pools aren’t safe. While you’re less likely to be directly struck in a pool since there are things around you to draw the strike (especially in an indoor pool), the charge can still reach you while you’re in the water.  Metal elements like the pipes and plumbing can conduct electricity.

How Can I Keep Myself Safe?

Staying safe is a matter of staying out of the water during a storm. Lightning can strike as far as 10 miles ahead or behind the rainclouds of a storm. Even if it’s not raining on you, lightning can still strike you.

Your best bet is to designate someone as the lookout.  Then use the 30-30 rule: when you see the flash of lightning, count to 30. If you hear the thunder at or before 30 seconds, you’re within 6 miles of the storm, and you’ll want to get out of the water and seek shelter. Every 5 seconds is another mile closer or further away.  If you’re only counting to 10 before you hear the thunder, the storm is right on top of you.

 

Remember, lightning is dangerous.  Always take precautions to protect yourself and those that are with you.

15
Sep

9 Developmental Benefits of Swimming for Babies

Swimming is not only a fun activity for babies and toddlers, but it provides many physical, emotional, and social benefits. At SwimJim, we offer swimming lessons that will stimulate your little one’s development, giving them a happy and healthy start in life.

Here are nine surprising developmental benefits of introducing swimming at an early age to your child.

Bonding Time

Everyone’s lives are busy, and having a structured class like baby and toddler swimming lessons blocks out a time frame when it’s just you and your baby. You have each other’s undivided attention without the normal distractions of life.

Development of large motor muscles

Large muscle motor skills are the first to develop with your baby. Swimming is a gentle activity that develops those muscles in her whole body. Proper large motor development will contribute to timely crawling and walking skills for your baby.

Balance

In a study conducted by Hermundur Sigmundsson, a professor of psychology at NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), and Brian Hopkins, a professor of psychology at Lancaster University, discovered that babies who swim have the best balance and reaching abilities compared with babies involved in other physical activities.

Improved balance also correlates to increased coordination. Swimming babies are simply more physically adept than non-swimmers, setting them up for healthy motor skills development.

Prevent Drowning

Some parents fear that early exposure to swimming will make their children too comfortable in the water, increasing their risk of possibly drowning. Quite the opposite is true. A baby’s gag reflex will keep him from inhaling water. Newborns can even hold their breath under water. Swimming lessons taught at an early age will give your baby life-saving skills and an understanding of how to properly behave in and around water.

Drowning is the leading cause of death in young children and babies, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. A study done in 2009 showed that when children take swimming lessons from ages 1 to 4, their risk of drowning is decreased by 88%.

Healthy Metabolism

Gentle physical activity strengthens your baby’s cardiovascular system and stimulates healthy metabolic processes. Swimming can improve your baby’s appetite and help regulate an occasionally upset tummy.

Better sleeping patterns

Regular full-body physical activity uses a lot of energy and will require your baby to get more sleep. If your baby struggles with getting a full night’s sleep, swimming will help to normalize his sleeping patterns (and yours, too!).

Improved Cognition

The bilateral physical activity of swimming stimulates both sides of the brain, creating new neural pathways at lightning speed. A healthy, stimulated brain performs better academically and improves language skills.

Social Development

Swimming lessons are an activity where children learn to share each other’s space and cooperate with each other. Learning these skills early on will help them when they are older and attend school. Your child will be more comfortable in groups and have an easier time sharing.

Self Confidence

Learning new skills in swimming lessons gives your little one a sense of accomplishment, helping them feel confident in themselves. Early exposure to learned skills helps children to be willing to try new things and develop a healthy self-image.

Sign up With SwimJim Today!

Swimming is a beneficial activity for anyone, but the specific benefits for babies and toddlers give them an accelerated start in life. At SwimJim, we have classes structured for babies as young as newborns and toddlers 3 years of age.

Babies start out with balancing on their backs and tummies, and they learn to comfortably and safely explore the water. By the time your little one is 3, she’ll be able to understand how to control breathing and how to propel herself in the water. Sign up for baby and toddler swimming classes today! Stock up on swim diapers and see for yourself the difference swimming with SwimJim can make with your little one’s development.

8
Sep

Swimming is an excellent, low-impact, way to lose weight

Common fitness goals for most people usually include losing weight, increasing endurance, toning up, and improving overall health. Some types of exercise are better than others at helping you achieve some of these goals, but few types of exercise actually give you all of those benefits. Swimming, however, is perhaps one of the most effective forms of exercise that can help you do all of those things at once.

The Benefits of Frequent Swimming

Several studies show that those who swim habitually as part of their regular workout routine benefit from several health improvements compared to those who regularly engage in other forms of exercise and do not swim. Some of the many benefits of swimming include:

Fat loss

Just how effective is swimming for losing weight? Because of the density of water, your body is constantly moving against resistance. This means each movement requires extra energy and effort from your body, which means burning more calories. You can easily burn 500 calories with an easy swimming workout, and much more with a more vigorous swim.

Muscle tone 

Because of the resistance of the water, your muscles must work harder to kick, push, and pull yourself through the water. Consistently challenging your muscles in this way can help you build lean, toned muscles. What’s better is that swimming requires the efforts of all muscle groups, so your arms, back, chest, legs, and core will all benefit and grow stronger from consistent swimming.

Injury prevention and longevity

Unlike running or weight training, swimming requires no impact on your joints because the water makes you essentially weightless. Many professional athletes recovering from injuries use swimming to keep themselves strong and maintain their endurance. There is a very low risk of injury associated with swimming, and it can actually help you maintain your youthful vitality. It is one form of exercise people can continue even into their later years of life.

In fact, regular swimmers experience far better health as older adults than their non-swimming counterparts and can be up to 20 years younger health-wise than their actual age, according to swimming expert Joel Stager, Ph.D., director of the Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming at Indiana University at Bloomington. His research found that many of a swimmer’s important health components, including blood pressure, cholesterol, cardiovascular performance, central nervous system functioning and cognitive functioning, compared to much younger participants. It just goes to prove that you’re never too old to get into shape.

How to Get Started

All of this sounds great until you realize that swimming requires some technique you must be taught. While it’s true that swimming takes a little bit more preparation than walking, there are many readily available resources, which makes adding swimming to your regular routine very easy.

First of all, if you’re an absolute beginner you should sign-up for swimming lessons for beginning adults to learn some basic strokes. Technique matters, and knowing the basics can help you swim more efficiently and effectively, delaying fatigue and burnout. You can ask a swim instructor to teach you the best swimming exercises for weight loss, endurance, or any other specific goals you have and can tailor a swimming workout that will best meet your goals.

Next, be realistic in your expectations. There will be an adjustment period while your body adapts to the constant resistance. The best way to ease into swimming is to swim a lap or two, or even less at a time, followed by a resting period. Several rest periods may be needed, and that should be expected. Your heart rate will stay elevated during your brief rest period and you will not forfeit any benefits from resting, but will actually improve your experience by avoiding burnout and over exhaustion. You’ll be more likely to maintain a consistent routine if you pace yourself and don’t over-do it.

Lastly, consider recruiting a friend to be your workout pal and go swimming with you. Learning together and supporting each other can help you stay accountable and committed. You will share a new hobby and enjoy the health benefits together as you make swimming part of your new healthy lifestyle, one that will hopefully last as long as your prolonged life.

1
Sep

Do You Experience Exercise-Induced Asthma? Try Swimming!

If you have poor workout performance or a cough and wheeze for up to a half hour afterward, you may have exercise-induced asthma. Experiencing these and other symptoms of this common ailment can have a drastic, negative effect on a person’s ability to get their physical fitness needs met.

Running, cycling, and other strenuous activities can feel out of reach for those who suffer from exercise-induced asthma. However, swimming offers a great alternative! Here are the reasons why you should try swimming in order to keep your body healthy and strong.

Experiencing Exercise-Induced Asthma (Bronchoconstriction)

Shortness of breath during exercise is normal. However, if you are still feeling it 5-10 minutes after you stop, and experience coughing and wheezing or chest tightness along with it, you may actually be feeling this way because your airflow is being obstructed by exercise-induced asthma (bronchoconstriction). This is the most common form of asthma in teens and adults.

Other symptoms that point to this ailment include fatigue during exercising or the feeling that you aren’t performing as well as you should expect, especially if you are in good physical shape.

Typically, symptoms (either mild or severe) of EIB resolve themselves after 20-30 minutes but some individuals experience a second bout of symptoms 4-12 hours after completing a workout. These “late-phase” symptoms are usually mild but can take up to 24 hours to go away.

So what causes EIB in teens and adults? The simple act of breathing, especially in cold and dry air, can quickly cause you to develop airway narrowing, inflammation, and the production of mucus. Other causes include breathing in pollution, high pollen counts, ice rink resurfacing chemicals, smoke, or strong fumes. Also, if you have recently had a cold, you are more likely to feel this way.

What You Can Do About It

If you are experiencing EIB symptoms, make a quick visit to your doctor to be sure there isn’t something else that could be causing you to feel airway obstruction. Once other conditions such as vocal cord dysfunction, allergies, lung disease, arrhythmia, or gastroesophageal reflux disease are ruled out, your doctor will perform a series of tests.

These include measuring your breathing before, during, and after exercise along with the functioning of your lungs. Other possible challenge tests can include a methacholine challenge, eucapnic voluntary hyperventilation (EVH) challenge, or a mannitol challenge. You will also be asked a series of questions about your symptoms and exercise routine.

 

After a diagnosis of EIB, your doctor will help you properly manage it with the following steps:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a scarf when exercising in cold air.
  • Warm up for 5-10 minutes before vigorous exercise.
  • Avoid triggers.
  • Carefully watch your respiratory status before, during, and after exercise.
  • Take a prescription medication, if necessary.
  • Learn what to do should you ever experience a full-blown asthma episode.

Why Swimming Is a Great Alternative for Sufferers

It is important for EIB sufferers to be able to continue their active lifestyle and reach their physical potential. Keep in mind that just because some activities can trigger your asthma doesn’t mean there aren’t others that can be done comfortably and safely. Swimming, especially when done in warm water, is one of them!

Due to the humidity of the pool and the low-impact nature of swimming, it is rare for this type of exercise to induce coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

Even though swimming is low impact, it is still considered an excellent workout that provides many benefits. Just ask Michael Phelps’ abs! As desired as it is, maintaining a tight waistline is only one of the perks. A regular swim routine will also contribute to more muscle overall, as it requires a multitude of different body parts to propel yourself through the water. Your legs, hips, glutes, chest, biceps, triceps, and back muscles will also be worked.

Depending on the type and intensity of your swim routine, you can burn at least as many calories as when you go for a long run without the strain on your ankle, knee, and hip joints.

How to Boost Your Swim Workout

If you are still skeptical about getting a good enough workout, don’t be! There are many exercises that can be paired with your basic swim strokes to up the fitness level for anyone.

For example, use a kickboard and practice your dolphin or frog kicks. Tread water for 30-second intervals. Water jog in waist-deep water while engaging your arms and rotating through your core. By adding these tweaks, you will not only boost your heart rate but your muscle mass as well.

Whether or not you suffer from exercise-induced asthma, sign up for swimming lessons to learn how to perfect your strokes!

25
Aug

Get Your Dream Abs from Swimming

If you’ve ever watched a professional swimming competition, one of the first things you’ll likely notice is the incredible physique of the athletes. Take the world’s winningest swimmer Michael Phelps, for example. Not only did he top Men’s Health Magazine’s Top 100 Fittest Men Ever, but with just one look at his stats, you recognize immediately how fit he truly is—at 6-feet 4-inches tall and 194 pounds, Phelps’ chest size measures in at 46-inches around. His waist, on the other hand, is a slender 34-inches. And while he’s undoubtedly an incredible athlete with incredible fitness, he wouldn’t be the person he is today if it was wasn’t for the sport that got him there in the first place: swimming.

Michael Phelps celebrating with Caeleb Dressel

Rio de Janeiro – 2016 Olympic Games

Phelps’ abdomen is one of his most famous features and a lot of that can be attributed to the sport of swimming. If you are someone who perpetually struggles with achieving the ab structure you want, this article will give you helpful insight into why and how swimming can be the key to helping you achieve the muscle structure and tone you’ve always wanted.

Why Abs Are So Hard to Get

For decades, six-pack abs have been the ‘defining factor’ in being physically fit. And while having abs is often a common attribute of athletes, visible abdominal muscles don’t always come easily to a majority of people. There are several reasons that some people struggle to develop the chiseled, quintessential abs. Along with easily controllable things like dehydration, lack of sleep, excessive alcohol intake, and stress, abdominal development can also be hindered by factors like genetics, minimal carb consumption, and binge eating.

How Swimming Can Diminish These Obstacles

Swimming is unique because it works muscles throughout the entire body. Along with strengthening your hips, legs, and glutes through kicking, swimming is also a great way to build significant upper body strength in the arms, back, chest, and major muscle groups. More than anything, however, swimming consistently exercises the core muscles and enables your abs to aid in overall stability and body control.

Simply put, core muscles like abs, hips, and lower back are completely engaged when you’re swimming. Not only do these muscles help you balance and stay on the water’s surface, but when kicking, they have chief control over your speed and agility through the water. In correlation with your core’s rotation as you stroke, the repetitive up-and-down movement of your legs directly engages each muscle group in your abdomen. And while this rotating movement is only used in two strokes—backstroke and freestyle—other strokes like butterfly and breaststroke require your body to use a leverage-like movement that also directly targets your abs.

Regardless of which swimming stroke you favor the most, you can rest assured that not only are you getting a great workout that builds total body strength and increases endurance, but you’re also getting one of the best, most effective abdominal exercises possible.

3 Additional Water Exercises to Pair With Swimming

Along with practicing the traditional swimming strokes, consider the following pool exercises to help you get the chiseled abs you want.

  • Kicking sets: Grab a kickboard and practice various types of kicks including the flutter kick, like in freestyle and backstroke where you alternate legs; dolphin kick, where your legs pulse together like a mermaid; and breaststroke kick where you imitate frog kicks by pulling your heels up toward your glutes and sweep them out, back, and around. Focus on engaging your abs during each kick.
  • Treading water: In deep water, spend 30-second intervals switching between treading as hard and aggressively as you can and floating on your back for 30 seconds. This high-intensity exercise helps you firm up muscles all over and is a big-time calorie killer.
  • Water jogs: Similar to treading water, this exercise is done in short-burst intervals and can greatly work your core. In waist-deep water, spend 30 seconds jogging aggressively making sure to engage arms, raise knees, and rotate through the core. Between intervals, spend 30 seconds lightly walking in a large circle.  

Exercise Education

If you think you’ve tried everything to get rock-hard abs with no results, consider hitting the pool for regular swimming workouts that strengthen the whole body, target the abs, and increase endurance. For more information on how you can find your fittest self, check out the services and other blog posts offered by the swimming experts at SwimJim, today.

18
Aug

Top 5 Health Benefits of Swimming

Swimming is one of the most popular sports in the US today. With well over 400,000 members on the USA Swimming registry, it begs the question: what is so great about swimming? In this article, we will explore that various and diverse ways that swimming can positively impact your overall health and well-being.

More Muscle

Swimming works virtually every muscle in the body and engages muscles that aren’t typically used in other sports or exercises. Unlike running, an activity that largely builds leg muscles, swimming requires a multitude of different body groups to move throughout the water. The muscles in your legs, hips, and glutes, for example, are constantly engaged throughout the repetitive up-and-down kicking motion, while your chest, biceps, triceps, and back muscles are worked with every stroke you take.

More than anything, swimming is a wonderful way to build core strength. The alternating kicking-stroking motion is all powered by the muscles in your core – your abs, hips, and lower back. Strokes like freestyle and backstroke require you to pivot through your core which can be incredibly effective in developing chiseled, ripped abs.

Say Goodbye to Stress

Like other exercises, swimming is a great way to boost endorphins – the “happy” chemicals in your brain. The more you’re able to increase your endorphin levels, the less stress you’ll feel and the better your mood will be. Unlike other exercises, however, swimming has its own unique way of releasing endorphins. Because water has a beneficial way of dulling the amount of sensory information that constantly pummels your body on a daily basis, being in the water brings a sense of weightlessness and calm that can relieve feelings of depression and further boost your sense of happiness.  

End Inflammation

The cardiovascular benefits of swimming are plentiful, but perhaps one of the greatest is its ability to reduce the type of harmful inflammation that leads to atherosclerosis build-up in the heart. Because swimming is such an aerobic activity, it can also eliminate the type of inflammation that leads to the rapid progression of diseases in other areas of the body as well. People with arthritis, for example, can greatly benefit from the swimming as it can help reduce joint pain and stiffness that’s often present in parts of the body.

Boost Calories Burned

Though it’s common knowledge that swimming is a great way to burn calories, many people don’t quite understand the capacity at which these calories are eliminated. Depending on the type and intensity of your swimming workouts, you can burn as much or more calories than you would if you went for a long run and you won’t be putting a damaging strain on your ankles, knees, and hips.

Furthermore, with swimming, you don’t have to worry about sweat getting in your eyes or ruining your shirt. To put things in perspective, a 10-minute run can burn around 100 calories. A 30-minute moderately-intense swimming session can burn 150 more calories than if you were to run a 5K in half an hour.

Smart Swimming

While we’ve explored how swimming can have a positive impact on things like stress and depression, research has shown that children who grew up taking swimming lessons show better results in language development, fine motor skills, confidence, and physical development than kids who were described as non-swimmers. Researchers also believe that swimming can also help improve math skills, as participants have to regularly calculate distances swam, set times, interval drills, and more.  

More Swimming Smarts

The aforementioned benefits of swimming hardly graze the full spectrum of just how advantageous this sport can be. If you’re interested in learning more about swimming, how you can benefit from it, ways to improve your skills, and more, check out the wealth of information on our SwimJim blog site, today.

10
May

Swim Faster and Smoother with these Freestyle Stroke Techniques

Whether you have watched people swimming lanes at the local pool or freestyle Olympic competitions on TV, you have more than likely seen the freestyle stroke, also known as the front crawl. The freestyle stroke maximizes speed and efficiency which is why it is the most preferred stroke of athletes and competitors.

Learn more about the freestyle stroke, common mistakes often made while attempting this stroke, and techniques you can try to improve your front crawl in the tips below.

Freestyle Stroke

The freestyle stroke is done from the prone position in the water, which means face down in the water.

Arms – To execute this stroke, your arms alternate movements from an overhead position moving backward towards the hip, propelling you forward, to coming from the hip and out of the water to the overhead position.

Legs – The freestyle stroke requires your legs to kick up and down in the water with pointed toes which is a simple technique called a flutter kick.

Watch the freestyle stroke in action.

Breathing

In order to front crawl stroke successfully, you must breathe at the right time during the recovery phase. Inhale the moment your mouth clears the water on your recovery side (side your arm is out of the water reaching forward) and begin to exhale the moment your face turns downward into the water.

You can use this technique to breathe unilaterally, every other stroke, which means you’re always breathing when the same arm is recovering, or bilaterally which is every third arm stroke. Bilaterally is more balanced and helps you learn to breathe on both sides.

Common Freestyle Mistakes

Wide Arm Recovery

Wide arm movements during recovery expends too much energy and leads to an inefficient freestyle stroke by forcing more of your body to sink into the water.

Technique: Let your elbow lead the recovery allowing your muscles to be as relaxed as possible. Your hand should be loose with your forearm dangling as soon as your arm exits the water. Prevent overreaching by entering the water with your recovery arm close in front of your head.

Better understand your buoyancy and how reaching effects it by swimming on your side and noting how your body sinks deeper into the water the higher your arm reaches. Knowing this correlation will help you intentionally prevent overreaching.

Looking Forward

Though looking where you’re going is a natural instinct, it creates a problematic body position during the freestyle stroke. Facing ahead means you’ll be working harder and going slower because it puts your body in a position that creates more resistance.  

Technique: Look at the black line at the bottom of the pool to track where you are going. This will not only ease your resistance, but relaxing your neck by looking down will allow your core to do most of the work which will put less strain on your back.

Adopt a head position that works for your body type and swimming technique. A mid-head position, used by many of the best swimmers in the world, lets you see slightly in front of you, but still keeps your body in a high position in the water. For a good mid head position, your hairline should be just cresting the top of the water and though you’re looking down at the black line, you’re seeing about 1-2 meters ahead at the bottom of the pool.

Crooked Arm Pulling

Fully extending your arm when reaching in front of you during the freestyle stroke can cause you to pull crooked, fishtail, and put extra stress on your shoulders.

Technique: Imagine there is a line down the middle of your body from head to toe, you do not want your arm to cross over this line onto the other side when reaching your propulsive arm out and into the water.

Be sure to rotate in order to prevent pulling crooked from the start. Practice rotating your shoulders and your reach with your back up against the pool wall.

  • First, start with both shoulders against the wall and reach in front of you to see how not rotating makes you cross over that imaginary line to enter the water in front of your body.
  • Then try it with only one shoulder on the wall with your body rotated, you’ll see your arm directly in your field of vision setting the stroke up correctly.
  • Practice this rotating while swimming a few laps paying close attention to whether your arm is pulling straight back or still cutting underneath your body. Seeing the error will assist you in adjusting your arm movements.

It’s never too late to learn and perfect your swimming skills. Dive into some swimming lessons for adults and make waves with the experts at SwimJim. Looking for private or group lessons for a variety of ages? Contact us today to see how the SwimJim team can help!

17
Apr

Swimming Lessons for Children with Autism

For a child on the autism spectrum, the benefits of learning how to swim are priceless. Its inherently therapeutic nature provides a comforting space for the child and aids in reducing stress from the outside world. Swimming lessons serve as a stimulant towards the child’s engagement in social interactions, which in turn helps their speaking skills, self-esteem, and other cognitive faculties. Additionally, knowing how to swim could save a child’s life.

Because April is Autism Awareness Month, here’s what any parent of a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) should know about swimming lessons and how they can help their child develop.

Water is a stress reliever

Water has a calming quality that soothes our bodies and reduces stress, and the therapeutic benefits of swimming and aquatic therapy are well documented. For example, the hydrostatic pressure of water creates a cradling and “weightless” environment, which helps relax your muscles.

For a child with ASD, these qualities of water are even more valuable because they help decrease hyperactivity and aggression. Instead, their focus can be turned to the concentration needed to keep themselves afloat. The gentle rhythms of floating in the water and the support of the water surrounding their bodies means the children don’t have to exert too much force on their bodies.

Additionally, the feeling of weightlessness that comes from swimming and treading water helps the child control their body movements so they do not harm themselves. Swimming also helps those with a strong sensitivity to touch get introduced to new sensory experiences in a safe, calming environment. 

Drowning prevention

Drowning is the leading cause of death among children with ASD, according to the National Autism Association—it’s estimated that 91% of deaths of children on the spectrum ages 18-years-old and younger are the result of drowning. Most of the time, these cases involve wandering away from home.

The rate of children with ASD wandering from their home or away from a safe environment is four times higher than among the general population of children. When children on the autistic spectrum wander, they often find themselves attracted to water. In nearly all cases dying after wandering, the cause of death is from accidental drowning or suffocation.

Many children on the autism spectrum are unable to relay their address or phone number to other people, especially if they do not know them. Therefore, teaching them how to swim and be safe around bodies of water is a matter of life and death for a child on the autism spectrum.

Swimming helps autistic children learn and communicate better

In swimming lessons, children often perform exercises that use facial muscles, which serves as reinforcement for speech therapy. For example, when a student blows bubbles in the water, or motor boat noises, they are practicing the phonetics of p, b, and m sounds.

Additionally, learning how to hold and control their breath aids in articulation and enunciation. That way, they develop better communication with their parents and instructors. Parents of children with ASD who have taken them to swimming lessons have noted that their cognitive processes have improved, meaning the child is able to intake information and acquire knowledge better. This is due to the individualized nature of a swim lesson, which does not give them too much information to focus on all at once.

Social skills and self-esteem

Children on the autism spectrum benefit greatly from group lessons in which team-building and interpersonal relationships are essential. Apart from the pride associated with a child’s personal achievements in learning basic swimming skills, they can also learn how to support other team members and successfully interact with them. As part of a team, they can learn how to cooperate and have friendly competition, all while experiencing the positive feedback from their individual efforts.

Children will also develop listening skills that allow them to understand and follow instruction. Putting children with ASD in these kinds of social situations allows them build confidence in a safe space that is not too demanding.

Swimming lessons provide so many opportunities to improve and supplement an autistic child’s learning and development. In addition to improved social skills, it also gives them a chance to succeed at what may seem at first like an impossible task. This sense of accomplishment can help propel them forward to achieve even more than they ever thought possible.

27
Feb

Why Swimming Lessons in Winter Are Important

why winter swimming lessons are important

When you think of enrolling your child in swimming lessons, what comes to mind? Do you think about long summer days watching your child splash happily in the pool or cheering them on as they swim in their first race? Maybe you think about spending summers at the lake or beach and watching your child swim with confidence and ease.

What you might not think about, however, is just how important it is to keep your child enrolled in swimming lessons throughout the winter. Though the short, cold days may seem like an unlikely time of year for swimming lessons, there are numerous advantages to wintertime swimming lessons.

1. It Helps With Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that appears at the same time each year. For children, winter can be a particularly difficult time as daylight hours become shorter, normal summer-fun routines get cut back, and cold weather prevents them from enjoying time outdoors. All of these can lead children to feel symptoms of depression or unexplained fatigue. However, by keeping your child enrolled in swimming lessons throughout the winter months, they can engage in regular exercise that’s been proven to help children get better sleep, keep energy levels and appetites up, and provide other relief to these symptoms.

2. They Create More Opportunities for Socialization

In the winter, your child doesn’t have as many opportunities to play with friends or meet new acquaintances at places like parks, playgrounds, or picnics. However, with weekly swim lessons, your child can have a much-needed break from the confinement of the indoors while also having the chance to socialize with friends both new and old. Not only does this help thwart the loneliness that can often accompany long winter months, but it keeps you child on a reliable schedule that they can look forward to throughout the week.

3. They Can Stay Healthy

Moderate exercise is proven to help boost the immune system and keep your child healthy during a time when sickness tends to run rampant. And while it’s best not to put additional stress on your child’s immune system if they are fighting an illness, keeping them enrolled in swimming lessons when they are healthy will help them build a strong immune system. Additionally, swimming helps your child stay healthy in the following ways:  

 

  • It improves cardiovascular health by keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels (for all ages!) low.
  • It’s one of the most effective exercises for kids to strengthen every muscle in their body.
  • It helps your child burn off the calories in fat that builds up and clogs arteries.
  • It helps prevent diabetes and childhood obesity.

4. Winter Swim Lessons Facilitate Year Round Safety

Perhaps one of the most important reasons to keep your child enrolled in swimming lessons throughout the winter is to ensure their safety and security around water. Unfortunately, the statistics on child drownings are very grim: an average of 350 children under the age of five drown in pools each year – a majority of which occur in June, July, and August. And while having a few months of swimming lessons here and there will no doubt help to give your child safe exposure to water, keeping them enrolled throughout the winter will give them the skills and techniques they need to stay safe in the water.

The basics of swim safety teach your child to turn over and float independently in case they accidentally find themselves in deep water. As the foundation of toddler and kids swimming lessons, instructors will help your child build upon these skills so they feel comfortable and confident while swimming in any body of water – from the bathtub to the ocean.

After a winter of swimming lessons, you can have peace of mind come summer when pools open, vacations call, and your child longs to get swimming!

As you can see, there are several key benefits of keeping your child enrolled in swimming lessons throughout the winter. Sign your child up for swimming lessons at SwimJim, today!

18
Dec

Ever wondered why your skin wrinkles up like a prune in the water?

Have you ever enjoyed the relaxation of a long bath or soak in a hot tub, only to find your skin wrinkled and pruned once you get out? Maybe you’ve experienced the utter exhaustion after a day of playing at the beach or splashing around at a pool party. While these side effects are virtually harmless and natural for all humans, you might be surprised to learn the science behind this pruney problem.

The Waterproof Properties of Skin

It is important to remember that your skin is actually waterproof! Think about it: your skin doesn’t soak up the water like a sponge when you get out of the shower or tub – instead you use a towel to whisk away the moisture on your skin. To talk more scientifically, the sebaceous glands in your skin produce an oil called sebum (SEE-bum) that acts effectively as water-proofing while also lubricating and protecting your skin. We tend to think of ourselves as walled off under our skin but it is actually this sebum that keeps us from bloating up with water every time we get into the pool.

Why Do We Wrinkle?

When determining what factors contribute to dish-pan-hands, we must turn to the concept of osmosis. After soaking in the tub or pool for an extended amount of time, your skin loses the protectiveness of the sebum layer, becoming more porous and prone to water exposure. After some time submerged in a body of water, the dead cells on your skin’s outer layer start absorbing water, which causes them to swell. This swelling causes the outer layer of skin to stretch, but because it’s still attached to the tight layers of skin beneath the surface, the expanded outer layer is forced to wrinkle.

Though osmosis undoubtedly plays a role in post-water wrinkles, scientists believe that this spontaneous reflex is mostly the result of human evolution. As explained by the Scientific American, several laboratory tests indicate that wrinkly fingers help improve our grip on wet or submerged objects. This natural occurrence channels water away from fingers and toes during wet conditions, which helped our ancestors maintain tighter grips while gathering food from wet vegetation or streams.

Mark Changizi, an evolutionary neurobiologist, found that not only are the wrinkles strategically placed, but that this pattern helped drain the skin’s water away from the fingertips to help provide a drainage network that ultimately improved grip. He conducted a study in which participants picked up wet or dry objects, like different sized marbles with normal hands or with fingers that had been soaked in water for 30 minutes. The results were fascinating: the subjects with wet, wrinkled fingers were able to pick up the marbles much faster than those with dry hands.

How Long Does It Take To Wrinkle?

Oddly enough, wrinkles typically don’t appear until you’ve been submerged in water for at least five minutes. This means that intermittent contact with water isn’t enough to prompt this unique response. Furthermore, it takes significantly less time to wrinkle in freshwater than it does in seawater.

In fact, it’s very rare that you will ever leave seawater pruny and water-logged. Why? Well, it goes back to osmosis. When you are in a pool, the salt concentrations of H2O in your skin are higher and so the water from outside goes in. Well, when in the ocean, the salt content in the seawater is much higher and therefore draws the water in your skin, after the sebum has rubbed off, out into the ocean.  Can you imagine?  Your body trying to equalize the salt content of the ocean?  That’s a lot of water to give off.  

This highlights the important fact that should be remembered in the Summer when you are making a trip to the beach. If osmosis is working against you in salt water (taking water from your skin cells), then you need to counteract this by drinking extra water or a drink like Gatorade that is full of electrolytes. Doctors suggest about 8 cups of water a day, more if you are going to be active. We suggest 15 cups of water to drink during a day you’re spending at the beach, which is roughly equivalent to about 10 cans of soda. This might seem a lot but just remember that with the combination of that sun beating down on you, and the salt water sapping H2O from you, it’s crucial that you stay hydrated while having fun in the surf and sun!