April is National Autism Awareness Month. The Autism Society notes “National Autism Awareness Month is an excellent opportunity to promote autism spectrum disorder (ASD) awareness, autism acceptance and to draw attention to the tens of thousands facing an ASD diagnosis each year.”
ASD kids respond particularly well to swimming and thus swim lessons. But as for every child, drowning risk is the first and foremost consideration. Water is a nonnative environment, and drowning is silent, fast and very complex.
The National Autism Society reports that children and adults with ASD are often attracted to water sources such as pools, ponds, and lakes; drowning is the leading cause of death for a child or adult who has autism. There is a 91 percent chance that a fatal accident impacting a child with autism 14 and younger that wanders away from their home, school, or caregiver will be caused by drowning. It is truly grave and serious. These facts bring a lot of ASD kids to swim programs of all kinds everywhere.
We sat down with some SwimJim families impacted by ASD to hear what swim lessons mean to them. When asked why her son Mikey should learn how to swim, our parent Sheryl responded
“I have a strong belief that every child needs to learn to swim for safety. This is even more important for Mikey with his limited receptive and expressive language as there is a great fear he will not understand dangers or be able to call out for help if he is in a dangerous situation. I also hope for a secondary benefit for Mikey in the sensory input the water offers him, as he tends to be under reactive and needs extra stimulation. This also makes the safety issue more imperative as he is drawn to water.”
Children with ASD typically have a limited sense of danger. And like most people, they have an innate and ancient affinity for the water. When you put those two things together, the risk of a drowning incident dramatically increases. That is why we believe it is imperative to teach children with ASD to swim.
Other than safety, there are many other benefits in a child with ASD learning to swim. In Swimming with Autism, the authors Tammy Anderson-Lee and Cathy Ball explain that
“The hydrostatic pressure (water surrounding the body), turbulence (movement of the water) and viscosity (the thickness of the water) are all properties of water which help to aid a person with sensory awareness challenges and autism spectrum disorders. When the body is submerged in the water, the hydrostatic pressure is very calming.” People without ASD can relate to this.
The book continues
“Aquatic activities can also help to improve fine and gross motor movement, coordination, independence, attention span, language development, as well as be a way for children to learn the hazards in and around the aquatic environment.”
“The benefits [of Jason learning how to swim] are multiple. Jason learns how to interact with people in a new setting, how to follow directions, and how to gain greater control over his body. It is a healthy form of exercise that seems to leave him much calmer afterwards.
I like to think, too, that it gives him a feeling of accomplishment as he makes slow but steady progress in his swimming. It also gives us something that we can do together as a family and that Jason can do with his cousins and friends. Besides the therapeutic reasons discussed above, it is also important to us that Jason knows how to be safe in the water. Like many autistic children, he is drawn to water, and we want to make sure that if he were to fall in to a pool or pond, he would know how to swim, even in water over his head.”
Through swim lessons, we help the student accomplish what some ASD practitioners believe is impossible. We set goals these students can achieve and gently push them to self-challenge a little more each week. As a result, they are able surpass successive milestones and develop self-esteem. Working with every child is the SwimJim Team’s greatest privilege, but the results achieved by our students with ASD are particularly and deeply rewarding.
Esther has three children, one with ASD. Esther says
“The most important benefit of knowing how to swim — for Natasha and for my other two children — is safety. To me, knowing how to swim is a necessary life skill for being safe around water. Swimming also brings Natasha health benefits. It keeps her active and athletic and gives her great, effective, regular exercise.
For Natasha in particular, as a person with autism, learning to put together the steps necessary to do the crawl, the backstroke, the elementary backstroke, to dive is important to her general ability to learn to follow instructions, to repeat and string together steps and to connect with people in different environments.
If my main goals were safety and exercise when I first started Natasha in lessons (she was four months old then, and showed no signs of autism), I continue them for those reasons and because swimming makes her happy. Period. She loves being in the water and being a swimmer. And swimming brings her peace, a sense of calm and a clear sense of accomplishment. What more could I ask for?”
SwimJim is a dedicated advocate for inclusive class environments for all our students. Those with autism spectrum disorders are no different and receive love, acceptance and appreciation. We are very lucky to have them in our classes and to build the relationships and results with them that all of us enjoy.
What are your experiences with ASD and swimming? Does a friend or family member have ASD? How might swimming help them. We would love to hear from you. Let us know at email@example.com
Not all wetsuits are created equal. Here are the important features to look for when you are purchasing a wetsuit, along with a few of the best picks for different water sports.
There are a few different types wetsuits. A full wetsuit covers everything but the neck and head, wrists and hands, and ankles and feet. You can add a hood, gloves, and booties if you want entire coverage. A shorty or spring wetsuit has shortened arms and legs. A short John has short legs and no sleeves. A long-john is a full suit but without sleeves. Other options include wetsuit jackets or vests which are great for swimming and doing water aerobics in pools.
When it comes to choosing your personal style, more and more designers are looking to add color and sass to their wetsuit line. If you don’t want to sacrifice style, look to the brands Roxy, Saint Jacques, Cynthia Rowley, and Glide Soul.
Each wetsuit comes labeled with a number rating, which represents the thickness of the material. Thinner suits are best for warm water and thicker suits are rated for cold water.
When you see a suit with two or three number ratings, it signifies different thicknesses for the arms and legs.
When considering the construction of a wetsuit, look at the waterproofing of the seams. For warm water, overlock stitched seams or flatlock stitched seams are fine. For colder water, you will want seams that are sealed, taped or glued, and blindstitched.
If your wetsuit fits properly, then you will have less sagging and pooling of water against your body. Also, being able to move and rotate your arms won’t be a problem. When you first try on a suit, you may be surprised at how snug it feels. This is normal, as long as it’s not constricting. When wet, the fabric stretches.
When choosing between a back zipper or a chest zipper, consider comfort and price. Back zip suits are somewhat less expensive and are easier to get on and off. However, they may be less flexible and leaks can be bothersome. Chest zip suits can be tougher to get on and off, but leakage isn’t usually a problem.
There you have it! Now you know everything you need to find the perfect wetsuit for you. To find out more information about what to look for in swim gear, read our other blog posts!
Not only is snorkeling a great way to stay active, but it gives you a front row seat to some of the earth’s most enchanting spaces. Even today, the ocean is still full of mystery in many ways. Snorkeling allows you to experience it firsthand.
Is a beginner snorkeling trip in the near future for you? The key to making it a successful undertaking is to be relaxed. It’s normal to be nervous about a new experience, but try to keep it under control and not think about it too much. With enough practice, those nerves will disappear and the ocean will become a spellbinding wonderland.
If you’re just getting into it and are wondering how to snorkel, here are a few tips to make it as enjoyable an experience as possible.
Start out practicing with your snorkel outside the water first. Just put on your mask and breathe through the tube, holding it gently in your teeth so your jaw doesn’t tire out quickly. Get yourself really accustomed to it by practicing some simple breathing exercises, such as equal breathing (inhale for a count of four, exhale for a count of four) or the abdominal breathing technique (place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly, inhale deeply and slowly through your nose using your diaphragm to stretch your lungs—so your belly should move, not your chest).
When you feel confident breathing with it on land, it’s time to take it to the water. The best way to get the hang of it is just floating calmly facedown at the surface. If you feel anxious at all, try to concentrate on the things you can see under the water. This will help you to just focus on your breathing.
To get the proper snorkeling experience, you need to wear fins. You want fins that fit snugly but aren’t too small. If you can’t straighten your toes or they hurt even a little bit, get a bigger size. Squished toes lead to foot cramps, so it’s better if your fins are a bit too big than too small.
Try getting your feet wet first before pulling them on–this helps them to slide on smoothly.
This is probably the most important snorkeling advice–your mask needs to fit your face. To check the fit of your mask, hold it to your face and inhale through your nose. A properly fitting mask should seal and stay in place without you holding it up. Because if air can leak in, water can too.
A lot of times hair can get in the way and loosen the seal. So keep your hair back and your face shaved. If you don’t want to shave, some lip balm or petroleum jelly below your nose can help secure the seal.
Mask straps are designed to be worn at the crown of your head, which is the widest part. If the strap isn’t in the right spot, water is more likely to leak in.
Another good skill to learn is how to defog your mask. After all, the whole point of snorkeling is to see the underwater world. There are materials you can buy that keep your lenses clear longer, such as gel products, special types of crushed leaves, or even a drop of Johnson’s baby shampoo rinsed out with seawater can help keep out the fog.
There’s something about being on and around water that simply feels good. Water provides a cool reprieve from summer heat, invigorates and inspires us, builds memories, creates nostalgia, relaxes, and renews our minds. And while it’s easy to enjoy the benefits of aqua-serenity, being properly equipped and wearing the right gear can make the difference between having a good time on the water and having a great time on the water.
This quick and easy guide will help you discover the advantages of having proper water-friendly footwear and how to choose the best water shoes for your needs.
Sticks, rocks, hooks, plants, shells, broken bottles, debris—these are just a few of the potential hazards lurking beneath the water’s surface threatening to injure your feet and mar your plans of enjoying any future water activities. By wearing proper water shoes, however, these threats are immediately reduced.
Along with providing reliable toe and foot protection, water shoes also offer excellent traction, boosting both ease and safety in and around water. If you’re active in water sports, especially in rocky and rough conditions, water shoes don’t just keep you safe, but they also make it easy for climbing in and out of the water. Unlike tennis shoes that quickly absorb water and bog you down or old school water shoes with flimsy support and sub-par materials, today’s water shoes offer innovative design features and are created with high-tech materials that combine functionality and style to make them ideal for everyday use in and around water. Use the guide below to help you find which the best water shoes for your type of water activities.
Thanks to their versatility, water sandals are the most popular type of water footwear on the market today. Far superior to flimsy flip-flops or cheap generic sandals, water sandals provide excellent traction for virtually any type of water activity. From slick river banks to soggy lake beaches, water sandals have the grip needed to keep you steady on your feet and the design features that make them easy to slip on and off. Often considered the best water shoes for swimming and floating, water sandals are also the perfect go-to for romping around town and wade fishing.
Designed for water lovers who spend ample time participating in water activities, water shoes offer many additional features that water sandals do not. Along with superb traction, water shoes also feature foot and toe protection for added safety. With the comfort of an everyday athletic sneaker and grip of a hiking shoe, water shoes are versatile enough to wear while walking on rocky trails or navigating wet, rocky terrain. Water shoes are perfect for water lovers interested in overnight float trips through rocky and varied terrain, hiking and wading adventures and day hikes in moist conditions.
More of a bootie than a shoe, wet shoes are typically the go-to footwear for guided float trips and swimming at the beach. These neoprene booties fit snugly around your foot to add insulation and warmth in the water. Because wet shoes have virtually no sole, they aren’t meant for hiking around or wading in rocky, rough terrain. Essentially a wetsuit for your foot, these boots are ideal for water activities such as ocean swimming and river rafting (in-raft use only).
By choosing the perfect type of water footwear for your activities, you can keep your feet comfortable and safe during all of your fun adventures. Check out the Swim Jim blog for more fun and interesting water-related articles.
In the late 1950s, a man by the name of Robert Byers developed a small recreation park on the banks of the privately-owned Lake Dolores in the middle of the hot Mojave Desert. What started as a personal retreat for his family was soon opened to the public in 1962, after which water slides and other exciting water attractions were slowly added in an effort to provide the growing number of visitors an enticing reprieve from the scorching desert heat.
Though he doubtfully understood it at the time, Byers’ miniature water attraction was the first of what would quickly become a growing sensation across both the US and the globe: water parks. In 1977, Orlando’s notorious Wet n’ Wild water park cued its inaugural season and set the mold for other modern-caliber water parks to follow. Today, with thousands of water parks worldwide that attract nearly a billion visitors per year, the standards of amusement and excitement have far superseded Byer’s old-school blueprint.
For thrill-seekers and adrenaline-junkies looking to ride the tide of excitement, check out these 7 top water parks in the world.
Where: Sicily, Italy
Features: With 18 water slides, three amusement parks, and even a technically advanced laser show, this jungle-and-dinosaur theme park is the pinnacle of European inventiveness.
Where: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Features: Aquaventure Waterpark is often considered one of the Middle East’s greatest amusement attractions. Home to the world’s widest water slide, the Middle East’s longest zip line, and a river ride that floats for nearly 1.5 miles, this park also offers a 2,296-foot-long private beach, several water coasters, and even a Shark Lagoon where visitors can hand-feed stingrays.
Where: Beijing, China
Features: Beijing’s National Aquatics Center, aka the Water Cube, allows visitors to swim, splash, and play in the same place athletes of the 2008 Olympics once competed. With a wave pool, lazy river, spa area, and 13 water slides and rides the 12,000-square-meter Water Cube is the largest water park in Asia.
Where: Orlando, Florida, USA
Features: Two massive wave pools, a white-knuckle water slides, and a dolphin-filled aquarium make Aquatica one of the coolest water parks in the U.S. Furthermore, a soft, white, spanning beach and a South Seas-inspired garden with over 60,000 different plant species transport visitors to a relaxing, tropical oasis.
Where: Bali, Indonesia
Features: Voted the #1 waterpark in Asia by TripAdvisor, Waterbom features world-class water slides, breathtakingly beautiful landscaped gardens and water systems, and an eco-reserve that’s home to a number of endangered native species. With award-winning dining options, G-force waterslides, and tranquil relaxation areas, Waterbom offers a memorable experience for the whole family.
Where: Porto da Dunas, Brazil
Features: As the largest water park in South America, Beach Park is also home to the tallest and fastest waterslide in the world. Aptly named the Insano, this notorious waterpark sends riders jetting down 135-feet of slide at a breathtaking 65-miles-per-hour.
Where: Spreewald, Germany
Features: As Europe’s largest tropical holiday resort, Tropical Islands features swimming pools, sports facilities, a thrilling Whitewater River, a 10,000-square-meter Sauna & Spa complex, and the world’s largest indoor rainforest. The Tropical Islands is the go-to attraction for both those who seek thrilling water adventures and those eager for rest and relaxation.
From simple lake slides in the middle of the desert to modern marvels the world over, water parks continue to offer thrills and shrills for adventure seekers across the world. For information on more fun water parks, helpful pool tips and tricks, and much more, check out the Swim Jim blog, today!
Do you know how to swim? If so, welcome to the elite group of just 56 percent of Americans who can perform the five core swimming skills needed to qualify you as a capable swimmer by the American Red Cross. Often referred to as one of the most difficult sports to master, swimming is a sport that can be traced back thousands of years. This article will explore the history of swimming as a sport—from its days as a men-only sport to one of the most popular activities in the nation.
The history of swimming begins in 36 B.C. when the Japanese held what would today be considered the first type of swimming races. However, it wasn’t until the early 1800s that swimming was turned into a competitive sport when swimmers would face the monumental challenge of successfully navigating the English Channel. During the early days when swimmers gauged their ability on simply making it across the English Channel, one’s speed, technique, and style didn’t particularly matter.
The origin of swimming all changed when a group of American Indians was invited to attend a swimming competition in London in 1844. Unlike the steady breaststroke that was the norm in competitions early days, the North American Indian swimmers propelled themselves through the water using windmill-like arm movements—a technique that was soon deemed far superior to that of the breaststroke. After the Australian swimmer Richard Cavill mimicked this over-arm recovery in the early 1900s, the stroke was soon dubbed the “Australian crawl.” In 1912, swimmer Johnny Weissmuller broke the one-minute barrier for the 100-meter freestyle using the “Australian crawl.” It wasn’t soon after Weissmuller’s accomplishments that this form of swimming was officially named freestyle.
The same year Weissmuller introduced freestyle to the swimming world, women also made their debut in Olympic swimming competitions. Though they weren’t initially allowed to compete in all Olympic swimming events, women were first welcomed formally into the sport by being able to compete in the 100-meter individual freestyle race and the 4×100 Freestyle relay race during the 1912 Olympics.
Just 14 years after the inclusion of women in the Olympics, 19-year-old Gertrude Ederle conquered the English Channel, deeming her the first ever woman to complete the arduous stretch of water. Along with outswimming the contemporary men’s record by more than two hours, Ederle also made history as the first woman in a major sport to beat a record previously set by a man.
As many sports do, swimming quickly progressed in both its efficiency and its technique. While breaststroke and freestyle were dominating the scene, both swimmers and coaches began experimenting with the various ways in which swimmers could swim the length of the pool at the quickest times possible. Unlike the freestyle stroke which involved an arm-over-arm movement, Americans David Armbruster and Jack Sieg developed the double-over-arm recovery in the 1930s. When paired with a dolphin kick, this tactical stroke proved to be a challenging, yet remarkable way to navigate the water. Soon deemed the “butterfly” stroke, this innovative technique was declared a separate, valid stroke by the Olympic committee in the 1950s.
Prior to butterfly being added to the swimming stroke roster, backstroke was also included as one of the valid forms of Olympic swimming. Similar to the freestyle stroke, swimmers did the backstroke by repeating an arm-over-arm recovery while remaining on their backs, facing up, for the entirety of the race.
Now, thousands of years later, swimming continues to be a sport enjoyed by both trained competitors and leisure participants alike. For more interesting swimming history facts and to learn more about the popular sport of swimming, visit the Swim Jim blog, today.
Are you one of the millions of Americans who swims on a regular basis? Whether you swim for exercise and competition, or you just love lounging at the pool with friends and family, you probably know just how hard chlorine can be on your body. Along with drying out your skin and slowly dissolving your swimsuit, chlorine also causes severe damage to your hair. Used as a disinfectant in most swimming pools, this powerful class of disinfectants (of which there are several different chemicals) quickly eats away at the hair’s keratin, proteins, and amino acids, causing it to become dry and brittle.
Fortunately, you don’t have to give up your favorite sport or pastime just preserve the health and appearance of your hair. With these three swimming hair care tips, you can take the necessary measures to protect and repair your hair from harmful chlorine exposure.
Wearing a swim cap or bathing cap is a must if you wish to keep your hair in good shape. While a cap won’t always keep your hair completely dry or sealed off from water, it does protect it from the direct exposure chlorine. Thanks to advances in swimwear fashion and functionally, today’s swim caps come in all different materials, styles, and colors, allowing you to choose the best design for your needs.
Consider the following materials for your swimming purposes to reduce your chances of having serious chlorine hair:
By preventing your hair from making direct contact with the water, you can significantly slow the damaging effects of chlorine.
Make an effort to rinse off your hair and get it wet before you go into the pool. Unlike dry hair that’s thirsty for hydration, wet hair stalls the chlorine from soaking into your strands. Think of your hair as a sponge: If you get into chlorinated water with dry hair, your strands will quickly absorb this chemical-laden moisture. If your hair is already saturated with clean, chlorine-free water, however, it won’t have the capacity to soak up much pool water.
Having a hair-forward routine post-pool time will make a big difference in the health of your hair. At the very minimum, make a point to thoroughly rinse your hair after getting out of chlorinated water. If possible, immediately wash your hair with chlorine-removal shampoo and follow with a protein-rich conditioner to replenish any of your hair’s vital defenses that may have been destroyed by the chlorine. You can also use a leave-in spray or conditioner with added protein to ensure optimal protection.
By following these three helpful tips, you can prevent your hair from the harmful risks of chlorine exposure while still being able to enjoy your favorite pool-time activities. For swimming secrets, pool tips, and more, visit Swim Jim, today.
Swimming is just about the ideal workout: it’s low-impact (meaning it’s especially great for those with joint issues or past injuries), has a low risk of injury, and exercises almost every muscle in the body. But does it build muscle? Well, the water provides a constant resistance that stretches and contracts your muscles, making them both more flexible and stronger. It’s a great combination of both cardio and strength training, working not only your heart, but your arms, torso, and legs as well.
While swimming in general uses all your muscles to a degree, each stroke targets a particular group of muscles. So in order to get the most out of swimming, switch up your strokes when you do laps. Keep a note of which strokes are your least favorite–often these are the ones that may benefit your body the most because they probably work your weakest muscles. Below is a list of which muscle groups are best worked by which swimming stroke.
This stroke involves your arms pulling and pushing underwater, while also requiring you to maintain the position of your torso in the water. The backstroke tends to be less demanding than the freestyle or breaststroke, so if you’re looking to do some recovery laps between intense workouts, or for a good way to ease back into swimming after an injury, the backstroke is a great go-to.
This stroke works your biceps, triceps, deltoids, abs, glutes, pecs, rib intercostals, and hip stabilizers. The backstroke also uses a flutter kick to help propel your body forward, which works primarily your hamstrings, but also your calves and feet muscles.
The front crawl is a fast-paced stroke that tends to work muscles harder because of the greater force it generates. It’s the stroke most often used in the freestyle event because it’s the fastest and most efficient, and tends to be the preferred stroke of experienced swimmers. Your arms must move quickly from above your head down to the sides of your body which builds your muscles and improves your speed.
This stroke mostly targets the pecs, lats, and other back muscles, but your arms, shoulders, and hips are also worked. Like the backstroke, it also employs the flutter kick, but since you’re facedown in this stroke it’s your quads that are targeted here.
This popular facedown stroke requires your upper and lower body to move in tandem. Both arms move together in sweeping movements underwater, while your legs perform a whip kick that requires them to move simultaneously, instead of separately like the flutter kick. The breaststroke is ideal for beginners because it’s not super physically demanding, so you can swim longer without getting tired. However, it does require you to lift your head out of the water to breathe, which surprisingly depends on arm and leg strength rather than the neck.
These synchronized arm movements work the pecs, biceps, deltoids, and finally triceps as you thrust your arms forward for another stroke and lift your head up for a breath. The whip kick engages your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves.
The butterfly stroke tends to require the most physical exertion, and engages your chest and hips just as much as your limbs. It’s great for quickening your metabolism and will have your core muscles screaming. Your torso is thrust towards the surface with every stroke, as your arms move forward synchronously back into the water and then down to your sides.
The butterfly works your abs, shoulders, back muscles, hips, and glutes, and is ideal if strength-building is what you’re after.
If you’re interested in the full-body workout that swimming provides, sign up for one of our classes today.
Narrowing down the list of the world’s most famous swimmers is a tough job, but there are a few stand-out swimmers who have undoubtedly made a huge impact on the industry. We’ve gathered a stellar list of athletes who’ve made innovations, grown the sport, blazed a path, and brought important changes to swimming over the years.
Check out our other posts for more stories of the world’s most influential and accomplished swimmers.
No matter whether you want to learn how to swim for competition, exercise, or safety, it’s best to learn several different swimming strokes as each offers different advantages in different situations.
For competition, the versatility will allow swimmers to compete in multiple events. For exercise, different muscles are used for different strokes; learning all of the strokes provides a more comprehensive workout. For safety, different strokes can be used depending on the dangers of a particular situation.
The front crawl is likely the first stroke you think of when you picture swimming. It is commonly called the freestyle stroke as most swimmers choose to use this stroke in freestyle events as it is the fastest.
To execute the front crawl, you lie on your stomach and propel yourself forward with alternating arm movements in a sort of windmill motion that starts by pushing underwater and recovers above water. Your legs should propel you with a flutter kick, which is performed with pointed feet as your legs move up and down in alternation. You take breaths in time with the strokes.
The backstroke requires similar movements to the front crawl, but it is done, as the name suggests, on your back. Doctors often recommend this stroke to individuals with back problems as it provides a great back workout.
To perform the backstroke, while floating on your back, alternate your arms with a windmill-like motion to propel yourself backwards. Like the front crawl, your arms should start the circular motion by pushing underwater and recovering above water. Your legs should engage in a flutter kick. Your face should be above the surface as you look straight up.
The breast stroke is the slowest competitive stroke, and it is the most commonly learned stroke. It’s often taught to beginner swimmers because it does not require putting your head underwater. However, in competitive swimming, swimmers do submerge their head and breathe at designated points in the stroke.
This stroke is performed with your stomach facing down. Your arms move simultaneously beneath the surface of the water in a half circular movement in front of your body. Your legs perform the whip kick at the same time. The whip kick is executed by bringing your legs from straight behind you close to your body by bending both at your knees and at your hips. Your legs then move outward and off to the side before extending and coming back together. The movement is often compared to a frog.
The butterfly is an advanced stroke that provides an excellent workout. It can be more difficult and tiring to learn, but it is also a lot of fun. It is the second fastest competitive stroke, and the favorite stroke of Olympic legend Michael Phelps.
To perform the butterfly stroke, start horizontal with your stomach facing the bottom of the pool. Bring your arms simultaneously over your head and push them into the water to propel you forward and bring them up out of the water again to repeat. As you move your arms into the water, you will push your head and shoulders above the surface of the water.
Your legs will perform a dolphin kick, which requires your legs to stay together and straight as you kick them similarly to how a dolphin’s lower body and tail moves.
Sign up for lessons at SwimJim in order to learn and master the different kinds of strokes in swimming.