If you don’t know how to swim, learn now. If you have kids, get them lessons now. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death of young children. Car accidents are number one. Every summer we read and hear about children as well as adults drowning in pools, lakes and the ocean. While learning to swim won’t take away all of the risk, it will certainly reduce the risk. If you have never learned to swim properly, sign up for a lesson at you local YMCA or health club. Sign your child up too. While you’re waiting for the class to begin, here are the basics. If you have use of a pool either at home, in the community or at the YMCA, spend some time getting comfortable in the water but don’t go deeper than you feel comfortable.
To really swim, you need to be able to put your head underwater. This is the hardest part for a lot of people, particularly hard for adults. Kids seem to be able to do this instinctively which is one reason it’s best to learn when you’re young. Watch people who know how to swim, do laps. When you go to sign up for the swim lesson, take a walk over to the pool and watch the people in the lap lanes who know what they’re doing. Watch there head and you’ll see they swim with their face in the water, just coming up to the side to take a breath. They will alternate side to side. Typically, a swimmer will take a breath every three strokes, alternating the side of the head. You can try doing this at home in your bedroom where it’s safe and dry, just to get the feel.
The first stroke you’ll learn is freestyle. It’s what most people think of as swimming. The other strokes that you’ll see in competitive swimming are breast, butterfly and back. For freestyle, keep your body straight and horizontal in the water; thought you don’t want to be too stiff. Keep your legs straight and kick your legs up and down. The kicks should be strong but you don’t need to make a big splash. Stretch your arms out and take long strokes, moving your arms like a windmill. Cup your hands and pull through the water. You want your arm movements to be long and strong. You’ll have to bend your elbows to make the complete stoke with each arm. You will have your face in the water, and then turn it to one side to breathe, than back in the water and then the other side to breath and back in the water. While your left hand is out in front of you, you turn your head to the right to take a breath and vice versa. But remember, you only need to take a breath probably every three strokes, so your head is not moving back and forth every time with your arms. There is a rhythm to swimming. Watch the people swimming laps and you will be able to see exactly how the windmill of the arms and the breathing are timed.
Learning to swim and teaching your kids to swim is imperative. Even if you aren’t a big fan of the water, your kids will be invited to pool parties, lake trips and beach outing as they grow up. They will thank you some day for making them feel comfortable with other kids in those environments. You will be glad that you did everything you could to keep them safe.