All posts by Elle Henley

6 Aquatic-Themed Halloween Costumes For 2019

All month long, fans of spookiness, the supernatural and sweets have been waiting for this moment, and it’s finally here: Halloween 2019 is officially happening tomorrow.

However, no matter how good your intentions to plan everything were, we understand that life may have got in the way of you putting together a killer DIY Halloween costume for your little one. But now, time has run out. They’re due to be at their friend’s Halloween party in less than twenty-four hours, it’s too late to order anything from Amazon that will come in time, and there’s no way you can put getting to the shops on tomorrow’s to-do-list… Sounds stressful.

So, what’s the solution? Luckily for you, we’ve got your back with our list of fang-tastically simple Halloween costumes. Not only are our 6 different outfits mostly made from everyday items, but they can also be completed in a few easy steps. So take a deep breath, relax, and get stuck into making them with your little swimmers – we can promise you’ll be able to save the day, and have plenty of fun whilst doing so!

1) A Scuba Diver 🤿

You will need:

  • Two litre sized water bottles
  • Two rolls of duct tape to cover the bottles, in grey and black
  • One scuba diving mask
  • A pair of black trousers
  • A black fleece
  • A black ski hood
  • Some flippers
  • A diving mask
  • And finally, some yellow cord

Instructions:

Step one – Firstly, grab hold of the water bottles. Take the grey duct tape you have and wrap it around them, ensuring that they are both fully covered.

Step two – Then, using the black duct tape, cover a strip at the top of the bottles and another near the bottom, so they begin to look like a scuba diver’s tank. You should do this so that the bottles are joined together.

Step three – Take your yellow cord (or wool failing this), and glue two lengths of it to the top and bottom of each bottle. This should be done in the fashion of a backpack, so the bottles become wearable!

Step four – Dress your little one in the black trousers, ski hood, black fleece and some flippers. To finish the outfit, add the diving mask over the ski mask and get them to wrap a piece of cord around each arm so that they are wearing the tank as a rucksack. And there you have it – your own little diver, ready for some Halloween trick-or-treating! For slightly different instructions with handy photos, click here.

2) Bubble Bath 🛁

You will need:

  • A plain white top
  • A pair of white trousers
  • A packet of white balloons, preferably large ones
  • (And optionally: a bubble wand if you’re after a little something extra!)

Instructions:

Step one – Dress your child in the white top and trousers.

Step two – Taking your time, blow up each white balloon individually. Alternatively, you can use a balloon pump to do so.

Step three – Once step two is complete, carefully pin the rubber part of each balloon (the part which is visible once you have tied them up) to your child’s top. Make sure to do this precisely, so there is no chance of the pins poking through the material. Aim to completely cover them until there is no space on the top left.

Step four – Violá, that’s it! Not only is this costume incredibly simple, but you can guarantee that your child will be the only one who looks like masses of frothy bubbles this Halloween. As an add-on, you could also consider purchasing a bubble wand so that they can cover their friends in bubbles too!

P.S. Should you wish to make this into a Halloween costume for your whole family, visit this page.

3) A Jellyfish 🎐

You will need:

  • An umbrella (a clear one is best)
  • Five rolls of assorted curly ribbon, usually used for wrapping presents
  • Two or three strings of LED lights, which are powered by batteries
  • Some strong, clear tape
  • Pieces of white and black felt

Instructions:

Step one – Firstly, begin making the tentacles. Taking some of the rolls of curly ribbon, cut it into pieces which are around twenty-five to thirty inches in length. Once you’ve completed this, attach them to the outside of your umbrella using the tape.

Step two – It’s now time to create some lighting, which is entirely optional due to it being slightly tricky. If you’re not feeling too adventurous, or you’re slightly strapped for time, then this costume works perfectly fine without it. Start by attaching the battery packs of each string of LED lights to the inside of the umbrella, using tape. Then, string the lights across the stretchers which stop the umbrella from closing, doing so evenly. 

Step three – Lastly, for some extra cuteness, cut out eyes shapes from the white and black felt. Do so by cutting egg shapes from the white, and smaller circles from the black, and sticking them together! These should then be placed on the outside of the umbrella. Feel free to dress your child in any coloured clothes they like – however the costume does speak for itself, so perhaps a black top and trousers would be best. To see what the end product should look like, click here.

4) An Octopus 🐙

You will need:

  • Four pairs of matching coloured tights, a pair of which should fit your child
  • A long sleeve shirt, which matches the colour of the tights
  • A beanie hat, in the same chosen colour
  • A belt
  • Some white and black felt
  • Some cotton stuffing

Instructions:

Step one – Start by filling the tights with your cotton stuffing, doing three pairs to begin with. Ideally, stuff them to just about the crotch area of the tights. By doing so, this will give the tentacles you’re making a full look, and yet they won’t bunch when you wrap them around the belt.

Step two – After this, lay the belt flat. Begin wrapping the top part of the tights around the belt, and secure them with a safety pin so they don’t move.

Step three – In a similar fashion to the jellyfish costume, cut out two large egg shaped ovals for the whites of the eyes, and two smaller circles for the pupils. Glue one white piece of felt and a black piece of felt together, so that they become an eye. Repeat this for the second eye. These separate pieces can then be glued or pinned to the hat.

Step four – Get your little one to put on the unstuffed pair of tights, so that they are wearing them normally. Follow this by dressing them in the coordinating long-sleeve shirt. Finally, wrap the belt with the stuffed tights around them and fasten it, whilst completing the look with the hat! If you need some pictures as a reference whilst making this, visit this link.

5) A Lobster (in a Pot) 🦞

You will need:

  • One red playsuit or jumpsuit
  • A pair of red leggings or tights, should you decide to use a playsuit
  • A red knitted hat
  • Some red felt to make claws
  • Some white felt
  • A black permanent marker
  • A pot for photo opportunities (but definitely not trick-or-treating unless you’re willing to carry them!)

Instructions:

Step one – Dress your child in their red playsuit, or jumpsuit, and add red tights underneath it. (NB: there is no need for tights should you choose to utilise a jumpsuit instead).

Step two – To make some lobster claws, cut out four matching pieces of red felt into claw shapes. This should take the form of two crescent shapes to make the pincers, and a longer, almost rectangular part underneath so that they can be worn as gloves. Sew these two separate pieces together, so that the claws can be put on your little one’s hands.

Step three – For the eyes, cut out oval shaped white circles, and then draw black dots on them for the pupils. Attach these eyes to the hat, and put it on your child’s head. Ta-da! All done. If you need a more visual guide, feel free to click here.

P.S. If you fancy going that bit further, you can always put your little lobster in a pot for effect, and then dress up as a chef yourself! Simply grab a white shirt, white trousers and purchase a tall chef’s hat.

6) A Mermaid 🧜‍♀️

You will need:

  • A shiny long green skirt
  • Matching shiny green leggings
  • Extra shiny green material
  • Some cotton stuffing
  • A needle and thread
  • A few pins
  • A purple shirt
  • A long wig

Instructions:

Step one – Dress your child in the green leggings. After this, ask them to put the green skirt over the top of the leggings so that they double up.

Step two – Taking the extra piece of shiny green material, cut it into two equal pieces, which are both the shape of a fin. Carefully sew the edges of the two pieces of fabric together, leaving a slight gap. Your cotton stuffing should be fed into the part which hasn’t been sewn, so that the tail becomes 3D. After you have finished filling the tail, you should then sew it up completely.

Step three – Gently gather up the back of the skirt. Then take your tail, and using the pins, fix it to the area of the skirt which you have slightly bunched together.

Step four – Get your little one to put on the purple shirt. Finish the look with the wig, for some ultimate beachy mermaid hair. For those who wish to channel ‘The Little Mermaid’ this Halloween, we’d recommend going with long red locks!

So there you have it, 6 different aquatic Halloween costume ideas for those who love to swim. If you’ll be using these projects as a great excuse to get crafty, please let us know! We’d love nothing more than being able to see your finished outfits.

Finally, for more information on our lessons or our ethos, visit https://www.swimmingnature.com/sn-public/.

6 Perfect Holiday Destinations for Families That Love to Swim

Autumn is officially in full swing. The cold weather has set in (surprisingly quickly!), your children are back at school, this year’s Summer holiday is gradually becoming more of a distant memory and you’re probably already thinking ahead to Summer 2020.

Have you chosen your next holiday destination already? After reading this article, you might be swayed to try one of the places from our list! If your child can swim, a wealth of different options open up where breaks are concerned. Worrying about their safety whilst they’re in and around water will become a thing of the past – and you can consider visiting one of these incredible locations! You’ll soon find that the water will be calling your name.

1) The Philippines – Swimming with whale sharks

whale sharks swimming in the Philippines

You might know of the Philippines for its volcanoes, gigantic shopping centres and friendly locals. However, the opportunities to swim in the beautiful reefs and oceans which surround the Archipelago outshine any other activity for us. It’s hardly surprising that there’s so many options, as bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Bashi Channel to the north and the Sulu Sea to the south, this group of over 7000 islands boasts more than 150,500 kilometres of coastline.

When diving into The Philippines’ reefs, visitors are able to marvel at the tranches of tropical and colourful corals. Living in this underwater world are groups of turtles, rays, and most incredibly – whale sharks. Discovered in the fishing village of Donsol in 1998, these gentle giants are one of the most majestic underwater creatures. Perfectly child friendly, as children under 12 are only restricted by having to enter the water with direct adult supervision, seeing these creatures in their natural habitat is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Tourists should, of course, make sure that they are swimming with the sharks in a sustainable way. The creatures should not be exploited, stressed or injured. Bays such as Sogod Bay in Southern Leyte offer this. Thus, you can make sure that you and your little ones have an unmissable encounter, in an ethical way.

2) Iceland – The Blue Lagoon

a family swimming in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland

Iceland’s Blue Lagoon is one of the top tourist destinations in the world, and for good reason. Formed from a natural hot spring, this location is perfect for those who are looking for something different, and not just a standard beach holiday.

A natural geo-thermal spa, conveniently located between Reykjavik City and Keflavik Airport, the Blue Lagoon is amazingly beautiful with its cloudy blue-white water. However, the lagoon is also considered to have notable regenerative qualities, as its water is incredibly rich in both silica and sulphur. The temperature in both the slightly raised bathing area, and swimming area, sits at around 37-39 degrees. This makes it an ideal warmth for complete relaxation. Just sit back, apply some white silica mud mask to your faces, and feel your worries wash away.

Not only is the lagoon completely accessible for children, as children as young as two can enter, Iceland’s culture itself is particularly child friendly. With a societal attitude of general safety, it’s common for Icelandic children to play outside alone, even after dark.

The Blue Lagoon is just one of Iceland’s many magnificent features. From glaciers, waterfalls and whale watching being just a few of the activities you can do, you will never be bored for choice!

3) Mexico – Cenote swimming and diving

family diving in a Mexican cenote

Home to Chichen Itza, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, there’s no question that Mexico boasts a rich ancient history. For those that love to swim, cenotes form part of the peek into an archaic world that visiting Mexico presents. These vast and beautiful sinkholes exist throughout the Yucantan Peninsula. Due to their size, they have been major scuba diving, swimming and snorkelling attractions for many years.

One of the best rated cenotes to visit is Ik Kil Cenote, situated just outside Piste in the Tinum Municipality in Yucatan. This perfectly round pit, which is complete with flowery vines which hang down from the sinkhole’s opening and waterfalls, is an unbeaten natural beauty. Take a dip in the crystal clear blue waters which are at least 40 metres deep, explore the underwater limestone formations, or rest on one of the docks which are available for sunbathing.

Alongside this, be safe in the knowledge that there is a platform around part of the pool, as well as large wooden ladders to assist in getting in and out of the cove, making it a great place for children to explore.

4) Alaska – Chena Hot Springs

Alaskan Chena Hot Springs

For those that aren’t keen on a beach holiday, and are after something slightly colder, perhaps consider visiting the Alaskan Chena Hot Springs. Centred around the hot spring lake, this amazing resort was discovered in 1905, and became famous for curing those who experience crippling aches and pains. Each year, people still rush to this spot for the rich mineral water’s intense healing powers. Relax in the 41°C water, and feel your worries melt away.

However, the Chena Hot Springs are more than just a wild thermal spring in which you can swim. Visitors are almost guaranteed to witness the Northern Lights, due to them being visible a whopping 200 out of 365 nights out of the year. If seeing the dancing lights of the Aurora Borealis isn’t enough for you, you and your family can enjoy hiking, horseback riding, sled-dog cart rides, rafting, canoe trips… you name it, the resort offers it!

5) Jordan or Israel – The Dead Sea

family swimming in the Dead Sea in Israel or Jordan

We’re sure you’ll have heard of this destination. Famous for its hypersaline water, this lake is one of the most talked about bodies of water in the world – and we’re sure you’d find that it lives up to its reputation!

An amazing natural wonder, the Dead Sea sits at nearly 430 metres below sea level. This makes it the lowest place on Earth. Its name comes from the lake’s salinity, which averages at about 35% – an inhospitable environment for fish, as no marine life can survive in the waters. However, for humans, the other surprising result of the lake’s saltiness is that you can sit in it without sinking! Due to this, the lake has attracted visitors for thousands of years, including individuals who are curious about the renowned health and healing properties the water holds. We can promise that swimming here will be an utterly unique experience, for you and your loved ones!

6) Scotland – Wild swimming

family swimming in a wild glen in Scotland

Last on our list might not be the most exotic location… but the opportunities to swim are second to none! For those who long to be in a cooler climate, spending a week or two in Scotland is the answer. There’s something so invigorating about deciding not to wear a wetsuit, running into the fresh water and experiencing nature first-hand through wild swimming – or swimming done in outdoor lakes and bodies of water.

Wild swimming in Scotland is highly recommended during the Summer. This is due to the waters having warmed up to around 15°C country wide. At this time, the Scottish landscape is breathtaking and beautiful. When visiting, you’ll be surrounded by picturesque rolling green hills and bright blue sky, as you have the opportunity to get back to nature and take the kids away from those screens.

With plenty of different locations to take your pick from, you and your family will be spoilt for choice. We’d recommend Glen Rosa in the Isle of Arran, which offers plenty of swimming spots, in both rivers and seas. With emerald green pools and a fairly low-lying glen which makes for an easy walk up to the waterfalls, Glen Rosa is spectacular. However, the valley is also practical for those swimmers who are just starting out. When swimming with young children, this is important. Although there’s nothing inherently dangerous about wild swimming, you should always try to choose a river or lake with a gentle slope. Parents should also make sure to check for depth and deeper holes before they let their little ones paddle. 

Feeling inspired?

From places with hot and sunny beaches, to destinations which are a little more niche, we hope that our list encourages you to try one of the amazing locations which we have discussed. Which one appeals to you the most? Let us know in the comments below.

Should your children be in need of learning to swim, or improving their swimming technique before you embark on an incredible adventure with them, visit: https://www.swimmingnature.com/sn-public/.

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.