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winter swim lessons Markham Swim School

Skipping Winter Swim Lessons Might Cost You More

This blog post about winter swim lessons has been shared to us by one of our swim school parents: Jennifer Wu. Thank you, Jennifer.

Okay parents – level with me here – how many times have you had the “What activities should we sign them up for?” discussion with your partner? As parents, there are a ton of choices we have to make when it comes to extra-curricular activities for our kids. We choose based on our schedule, our budget, and our goals for our kids. While we’d love to give them the opportunity to try out a wide variety of experiences, that’s not reality. As a mom of three, I am 100% with you on this.

Hockey, soccer, dance, gymnastics, karate, art lessons, piano, skating, robotics, drama . . . the sheer number of activities is enough to leave me and my wallet feeling totally drained. My kids are 8, 6 and 2, and they’ve bounced around to many different activities, never really committing to one. There is only one activity that we don’t give our kids a choice about. We do swimming lessons year round, regardless of weather and schedule and budget. This includes winter swim lessons!

winter swim lessonsIt wasn’t always like this. We used to do lessons only in the summer, thinking that was sufficient because that was the season that we’d most likely be around water. In the past couple of years, we’ve come to some realizations and have made swimming lessons a priority for our family year-round. Let’s get into why we changed our minds.

It’s a Life Skill – Literally

While many people think of swimming as something fun you do on warm summer days or on vacation, it is truly a life skill. Water hazards aren’t limited to a backyard pool or the beach in the summer. It might be a frozen pond that isn’t quite frozen, a laundry tub, your winter tropical vacation or the community centre recreational swim.

Initially, we thought that since Grandma & Grandpa have a pool in their backyard, it was important for our kids to learn to swim to the edge even as toddlers in case they fell in. When we thought about it though, the backyard pool wasn’t the only place that they’d need their swim skills. As they got older and got more adventurous, we’ve realized that safety skills around water could come in useful in a variety of situations. Frankly, swimming is the only one of my kids’ activities or sports that may assist in saving a life – either theirs or eventually someone else’s. That is enough to make it important to our family year-round.

Consistency is Key

We’ve all heard the phrase that consistency is key, applied to so many situations in our lives. I compare the regularity of swimming lessons once a week to the gains you make in strength and endurance from going to the gym. Would you go to the gym every week for 6 months and then stop for 3 months and expect to maintain the same level of fitness?

We had this experience with my son and learned our lesson. A couple of years ago, we had Mason in lessons for the summer and fall, then took the winter swim lessons session off. We noticed a difference even from taking that one session off. His swimming skills regressed in that time, and he lost some of the strength and stamina that he had worked hard to gain. He spent the following two sessions repeating the same level in order to retrain improper technique habits and relearn skills that he had forgotten.

Discipline Helps

This could be said for any regular activity that your kids participate in. The regularity of the routine gives my kids something to look forward to, and a way to mark our weeks passing. They know their swim lessons are on the same day every week, and that predictable routine is a foundation for them. I also believe that it helps them to have goals to progress toward. I think the repetition and routine have been instrumental in developing their discipline and work ethic.

winter swim lessonsWe found this to be true even for Zara, who just turned 2. We didn’t think she was old enough to develop habits or routines in the same way that our older two kids would. This past summer, we took her out of swimming lessons figuring that she’d get comfortable in the water on vacation and swimming in the backyard pool. Upon returning back to Russell Aquatics in the fall, we quickly realized that routine had been key to keeping her comfortable and confident in the water. Trust us, it was way harder to spend the first 5 weeks of the fall session hiding out of sight of our crying toddler. (Yes, that’s us on Monday nights, hiding in the kids colouring area, so come say “Hi!” if you see us). Thankfully, her wonderful instructor has handled it so well, but we could have saved ourselves a lot of heartache by maintaining our weekly swimming routine to keep her confidence level up.

We invest our hard-earned money in our kid’s activities because we want them to learn a skill, develop discipline, and get some physical activity. The bottom line is that as parents, we all want the same thing: the best for our kids. I’d love to know – what factors are important to you when choosing your kid’s activities?

reluctant first time swimmers Markham Swim School

What to Expect for First Time Swimmers

We’ve all seen (or rather heard) it. The screaming, crying and uneasiness of first time swimmers who just don’t seem to be enjoying their lesson. Maybe it’s your child or maybe it’s someone else’s but the bottom line? It’s perfectly normal. We see this every day.

reluctant first time swimmersWhen someone is first learning to swim, the prospect of water can be incredibly scary. Whether you’re an adult or a child, many first time swimmers face unique challenges that we recognize can’t simply go away. It takes trust, perseverance and time. For children, being away from parents and interacting with something that’s only been introduced at bathtime is strange and new. For adults, fear or discomfort around water can be deep-rooted and stem from a negative experience. From 3 months to 93 years, it’s never too early or too late to start swimming lessons and we take pride in making that experience as easy and smooth as possible.

First lessons are often challenging for parents and guardians.

During lesson times, we ask that parents remain in the viewing area. Often times, seeing a familiar face can actually make children more upset. While we acknowledge that it can be difficult for parents to watch their child cry and remain distant to the situation, your child is in good hands. Being in water can be scary and we typically see an adjustment period of about 4-5 classes before they understand that water can be fun. Hang in there! Things will get easier. We promise!

Often, we hear from parents that they are embarrassed or feel guilty that their child can be heard from the viewing area. Please don’t worry! Our staff complete 40+ hours of specialization training on top of their current instructor qualifications. We see resistance every day and many of the parents in the viewing area have been in your shoes.

Feel free to grab a coffee, run to the grocery store or just sit back, relax and enjoy your child-free time.

reluctant first time swimmersSomething else that parents may be faced with is their children not wanting to attend swimming lessons at all. While swimming may not be the choice sport for everyone, it’s an important lifelong skill that is key to ensuring the safety of your child. If your child is expressing that they simply don’t want to go to their lesson, it’s a good idea to try and decipher why.

Are they too tired? Do they find that as they are getting older, there are other things that they want to do instead? If this is the case, it might be of value to try an alternative lesson time. If your child is old enough, speak with them about when they would like to take their lesson. Maybe a Friday night isn’t ideal if they’re missing out on plans with friends every week. If there’s a time that you can both agree on, that may help with feeling excited about coming to class! If they don’t feel that their instructor is a good match for them, let us know! Perhaps they’re feeling discouraged by a lack of progression through levels. We can help with that too! Whatever the reason, we are here to help.

We want to ensure that all our fish (including our first time swimmers) have the best experience possible and that means our older students too.

If you are an adult and feel hesitant about starting lessons, you are not alone. In fact, our adult classes are quite popular and fill quickly! Our adult program is about goal setting and building confidence in and around water. Believe it or not, adults actually fall into the highest percentile for drowning. It’s never too late to learn how to swim! It’s not a matter of whether you’ll need to know how to swim but when. Our adult classes are offered at quieter times in the pool so that you don’t need to worry about space, distractions, and the eyes of everyone in the viewing area. Our instructors are well-versed in the best techniques for helping to combat fear and uneasiness around water and will gently encourage you to reach your goals. reluctant first time swimmers

Ultimately, we want to ensure that everyone’s experience, including our first time swimmers, at Russell Aquatics is the best it can possibly be. If you are concerned about your child showing resistance towards lessons or you, yourself are nervous when it comes to pool time, we are always happy to help. Speak with one of our team members and we can give you some helpful tips and tricks to make lessons easier for the whole family!

Markham Swim School

Meet the Team: Cassidy

Meet Cassidy – our General Manager at Russell Aquatics! Cassidy oversees facility operations, scheduling, backyard lessons, manages administration staff and trains all of our instructors to ensure that the quality of service offered at Russell Aquatics is second to none. Cassidy is a certified National Lifeguard and First Aid instructor, examiners and instructor trainer. She has attended several international conferences where she has been able to learn from experts in the field to bring world-class instruction to Russell Aquatics. Her love for aquatics and passion for teaching make her a great asset to the Russell team and go-to for any questions or concerns.

As long as she can remember, Cassidy has loved the water. From bath time as a baby to participating in triathlons as a teen, it’s no surprise that she decided to pursue a career in the aquatic field. “Growing up, my family always seemed to be in the pool,” says Cassidy. “I developed a love for water early on and that early exposure really helped in ensuring that I was never afraid to jump right in”. With swimming lessons beginning before she can even remember, Cassidy is an advocate for getting kids in the water as early as possible. “It helps to prevent the development of fear and is a huge sense of relief to know that in the event of an accidental fall-in, your child knows what to do”.

Cassidy worked as a lifeguard and swimming instructor throughout high school, where she learned of her love for teaching – both swimming lessons and essential lifesaving skills. After graduation, she went on to pursue a career in nursing but quickly found that her passion lay in aquatics. After working for several swim schools and gaining hundreds of hours in experience, Cassidy found her home at Russell Aquatics. “I feel like I belong at Russell Aquatics,” says Cassidy. “Everyone shares the same passion as me in teaching such an essential life skill and it’s great to feel supported in doing work that is so important to me”.

Outside of work, Cassidy is the older sister to younger sister, Kaitlin and brother, Spencer – both of whom are also members of the Russell team! She happily lives with her boyfriend of six years, Justin and they adore their “son”, Bear – a small mixed-breed dog who captures the heart of anyone that crosses his path. Cassidy loves to spend time with family and friends, is an avid fan of the Montreal Canadiens and loves Disney movies. In fact, one of her nicknames amongst family is Neem (a short form for Nemo), due to her passion for swimming and love for the movie “Finding Nemo”.

Next time you see Cassidy at the swim school, feel free to say “hi” and pick her brain on all things aquatics. She is one of our most knowledgeable staff and will always have an answer!

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