by Elizabeth Wickham
Swimming saves lives. How many other sports can say that? According to the USA Swimming Foundation, “drowning is the 2nd leading cause of unintentional injury death, with the highest rates among children ages 1-4.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states “every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children aged 14 or younger. Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States.”
By enrolling our kids in swim lessons when they’re young, they’ll grow up water safe and enjoy the wonderful weightless sensation of floating and playing in the water—something that more than half the world’s population will never experience. After lessons, the next step is club swimming, which will shape their lives forever.
In addition to water safety, here are six ways swimming can shape your children lives (and yours, too):
By introducing swimming to young children and making it part of their daily lives, they’ll know what it feels like to be in great shape. Also, swimming is a lifelong sport—all you need is a pool, lake or ocean, goggles and a suit. It’s never too late to get into the pool ourselves. I joined Masters a couple years ago, and I didn’t know the four strokes or how to breathe in freestyle. Swimming has been amazing for my children’s health and fitness—and mine, too.
Whether it’s winning a race, learning to flip turn or dive off the blocks, each personal success helps develop confidence. Learning strokes, competing, and improving times enriches children’s lives as they build on their accomplishments.
Everyone gets to play.
Unlike other sports, everyone gets to dive in and compete. There are elite-level meets that not everyone gets to compete in, but there is a meet for all levels of swimmers. Everyone gets a turn to compete and reap the rewards from the experience.
You get out of it what you put into it.
There are swimmers who are exceptionally talented, but without putting in hard work and commitment, their levels of success are limited. Swimming will teach our kids the connection between effort and results.
Success and failures are a part of life.
This is a sport where not everyone gets a ribbon, but everyone gets to measure their improvement. At some point, swimmers experience a less than great swim or miss an event and discover that it’s not the end of the world. Swimmers learn how to pick themselves up and continue on.
Being part of a team.
Club swimming can be an experience where our kids are not the center of the universe, but part of a group of people with common interests and goals. Teammates help create memories, make grueling practices more fun, and may become lifelong friends.
In this world where instant gratification is the norm—with social media, live streaming movies, and packages arriving within hours—swimming teaches lessons that are becoming rare. Swimmers get a chance to experience that “good things come to those who wait.” It may be working through a plateau, or repeatedly falling short for a time standard, but eventually if our swimmers stick with it and work hard, they can get there.
What gifts has swimming brought to you and your children?
Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog.