All posts by Elle Henley

How to Make Your Next Summer Holiday Even Better for the Whole Family

‘According to a survey by NUK, 87 per cent of mothers feel guilty at some point, with 21 per cent feeling this way most, or all, of the time’.

After reading through Guilty Mother’s blog, I stumbled upon the above statistics. Needless to say, they threw me. Does parenthood really have to mean automatic guilt? Every mother, or father, wants to parent their child in the correct way – which translates into doing what we see to be the best for our kids. But when did this inherent self-accusation become so deep rooted in our society, that parents have lost sight of ensuring that their own health and well-being is preserved? Surely parental wellness is inextricably linked to that of their children’s – and therefore wanting to take some time for self-care should be met with understanding, not judgement. This could mean wanting to pop to the gym, enjoy an hour of downtime, or relax when you’re on holiday… but can this ever be a possibility?

When setting off on a family break, I’m sure that parents would appreciate a stress free and untroubled time, which is not always easy when your child is in, or around, water. Although children should never swim alone, and should always be supervised – the ideal goal would be for a mother or father to be rest assured that their child is a confident swimmer. To achieve this, every little one should be taught the principles of floatation along with energy saving, which in turn enhances water confidence and safety.

With this in mind, what exactly should be implemented in terms of making sure an individual is safe when swimming? The RNLI offers plenty of useful advice on this topic, as part of their ‘Respect the Water’ campaign. In order to minimise the risk of drowning, the RNLI have produced ‘5 steps to float’, which simply and succinctly explains how float on your back. Firstly, it’s suggested that you should fight any instinct to thrash about, and instead lean back until your body is parallel to the water, whilst you extend your arms and legs. If appropriate, moving your limbs to help you assume this position is advised. You should then float until you have complete control of your breathing, and only then should you call for help or swim to safety.

                Championing this approach relates to our own unique practice of teaching, which rests on encouraging all students to float before they learn any form of swimming technique. Some traditional methods instruct children to swim a few metres, before they are completely in control of an aquatic environment. This is outdated, and falsely gives parents the impression that their child is safe, when they are not. Instead, every little one should initially learn to float on both their back and front to encourage water confidence, safety and relaxation. When floating on their front, the water should hit the pupil’s hairline, and the body should naturally find the right buoyancy. Legs should be straight, with no movement at all to preserve energy. Similarly, when floating on their back, students should have their ears in the water, with their hips up and feet kept underwater.

                Alongside this, our method encourages water confidence in a manner of different ways too. The aim of building water confidence is to prevent fear, which can lead to panic. By teaching children about the properties of water, you can help to reduce or eliminate this fear by showing them how to have fun and be safe. Building on this, we don’t use armbands or floatation devices in our teaching, which encourages a sense of achievement and control when swimming. Additionally, when on holiday use of a lido or other inflatables can be hazardous– as they can cause the tide to take you out to sea, and they may ‘pop’. Ultimately, by exercising every possible avenue to instil the best way of acting in the water, we give children the highest chance of staying safe when they swim for themselves.

                Having enrolled your little one in our lessons, you can relax a little on holiday, knowing that they will feel safer and more confident when swimming. Although we would never recommend sitting back and assuming your child is completely secure around water, do feel comforted that they will be equipped with the correct protective practices. So battle that seemingly innate guilt – instead book an even better adventure than last year, and enjoy yourself (whilst your children do too)!

Why Swimmers Have a Higher Self-Esteem

There has never been a better time to get into swimming. Really.

In a world of constant distraction, screen-gazing and information fatigue, it’s no wonder that our psychological health is under threat. Body image is currently at an all-time low, with 80% of women admitting that they don’t like how they look, whilst 34% of men are dissatisfied with their physical appearance. Combine that with the fact that rates of anxiety and depression in children and young people have reportedly risen by 70% in the last 25 years. Our self-esteem, or ‘a person’s overall sense of their value or worth’, clearly needs attention – and one solution is swimming.

So why do swimmers have a higher self-esteem?

There’s proof that the natural change in hormones which occurs during swimming has a major effect on both body and mind. Swimmer’s bodies start to release more endorphins, because swimming is one of the best all-round exercise regimes. Many of our instructors report getting out of the pool with big grins on their faces, having done a mere thirty minutes of exercise! So, if you can commit to swimming a few times a week, just imagine how you will feel all the time – AMAZING. This natural endorphin high leads to a more positive mental attitude, as well as happiness.

However, this isn’t the only link between swimming’s improvement of the body and a raise in self-worth. A regular swim not only builds endurance, it also tones muscles, improves strength and provides an all-over body workout. By making swimming the basis of your fitness or exercise regime, you’ll see your body shape change naturally. This will do wonders for self-confidence – when you feel you look good, you’ll automatically feel great at the same time.

Aside from the link between body and mind, those that swim also gain a sense of achievement. This particularly applies to children, as swimming races encourage a natural sense of competitiveness, which will stay with them for life. Soon, you can guarantee that medal after medal will be won, as swimmers find themselves standing on the podium after all their hard work. This leads to far more natural, rather than enforced optimism, as a strong sense of self-belief becomes the norm. This goes hand-in-hand with a shift to being more self-assured, which will positively impact on other facets of life, including the achievement of goals and dreams.

Swimming can help distance us from the stresses and strains of daily life that can prevent self-reflection, as it creates more independence and a self-starting mentality. As swimming isn’t always a group activity, a session in the pool gives you the ability to spend time processing your individual thoughts.

It’s a fact that being taught, and subsequently mastering any skill, builds confidence. However, swimming in particular provides the added bonus of learning to be in control of an environment which can potentially be unsafe. Once grasped, this makes every swimmer feel as though they can achieve anything! For children, this new found confidence translates into the classroom, the playground, the football pitch and almost any other part of their lives. Who wouldn’t want this for their little one?

If you or any of your children struggle with low self-confidence or self-esteem, why not give swimming a try? Your mental and physical health will thank you for taking just thirty minutes out of your busy week to visit your local swimming pool. If you’d like to find out more about self-esteem and its link to swimming, please click here, or here.

Have you felt swimming raise your self-esteem? Let us know in the comments.