Take the plunge

  • Photo courtesy Orlando Anaya

    Younger swimmers in a past Mokihana Aquatics lesson show their stuff under water.

As parents we strive to do what is best for our children. By enrolling your child in a swimming program, all of you as parents have shown that commitment to your children.

Should you decide to participate in our program or not, I would like to make some suggestions and fill you in on some insights that my 43 years of experience have shown to be beneficial.

1) Young children learn a physical skill best by participation. Swimming is a critical life skill. Also the number one rule of water safety. “Learn To Swim”. (LTS) These skills should only be taught by trained, knowledgeable professionals, because of the inherent safety factors involved.

Please do your homework. Who’s the instructor? What experience does he/she have? Question them, it’s your child and your money — you have a right.

2) It’s quite difficult for parents to teach their own children how to swim. The fact is that in more cases than not, in our zeal to see our own children learn this critical life skill, we push too hard and cause more damage than good. Quality instructors are trained to observe as children learn these skills.

While instructors will on occasion push your child, remember that it is in a controlled environment. To support your child’s growth in ability in swimming, we as parents should provide our children with the opportunity to attempt new skills on their own, free from restraints, with very diligent observations.

We should not play the role of instructor, but as a loving supporting mother or father. Let them play; you will be pleasantly surprised at what they can accomplish once basic skills are known. With the exception of class itself, your children should be the ones that decide when it is time for them to push themselves.

3) Young children not exposed to an aquatic environment will forget how to swim. While it may be true that once you learn to ride a bike you never forget, the opposite holds true for swimming. Contrary to opinions of some in my field, man by nature is not a swimmer. Swimming is a learned skill. Young children are learning to read, write, walk, talk, learn social skills, and ride a bike.

If a young child learns sound swimming skills and is not regularly exposed to that environment while all this other learning is going on, he / she will forget. Remember that young children learn physical skills best by participation.

4) It is not uncommon for a beginner swimmer to have to go through two or three complete sessions before actually passing. It’s important for us as parents to monitor what’s going on in class.

Children all learn at different rates and paces. Don’t compare. Asking why my 8 year old is not doing well but my 5 year old is, will have you do things that inhibit progress such as trying to be the instructor and pushing your own child too far, too hard, too fast.

Again, this will only inhibit their progress and in some cases, have such adverse effects that children tend to regress instead of progress. Again, monitor what is going on.

While your children may not learn to swim after several courses, there should always be progress. This is something that we are proud of, as all our participants improve in every one of our programs.

A mom whose child has taken our beginners program twice already and will need to repeat her child a third time was quoted as saying, “This is the best money I spent in my life.” While her child still can’t swim yet, there has been tremendous progress. Your children will need to learn that you as their parents recognize this progress and support it.

5) The better swimmer your young child becomes, the more dangerous they are around water. With this obvious fact, a quality program should have incorporated within it a water safety component.

Beginners must be able to hold their breath and should be able to roll onto their backs. Advanced beginners and above should go through advanced survival and basic rescue skills. Our program has the highest standard of safety incorporated in our learning.

It is great to see so many come out to witness our survival test. It is awesome!

It should be noted that this information was obtained by my 43 years of actively teaching tens of thousands of children safely how to swim.

Many of you were students yourself of Uncle “O” and have brought your children back (and in some cases your grandchildren) …”oh my goodness has it been that long already?”… to experience what you yourself have, and that is the greatest compliment of all. Driving from as far away as Kekaha and Haena shows your commitment, and that is appreciated. The children are fabulous.

On a personal note, Mahalo plenty for supporting all the efforts of Mokihana Aquatics, truly Kauai’s best in family recreation. And, oh yeah, wear sunscreen.

•••

Orlando Sonny Anaya is the owner and director of operations for Kahu Kai (Overseers of the Sea) an Aquatic Recreation and Safety Specialist Firm. He is also head coach and founder of Mokihana Aquatics Swim Club.

Wanna swim?

Mokihana Aquatics is accepting registration for the summer LTS programs.

Mokihana also offers free adult swimming every Sunday morning at Kauai High School pool. Call for information. Aquasize and lap swimming also available free of charge through a grant from the Kapaa Rotary Club.

Info: 821-0587 or visit www.mokihanaaquatics.com

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