Category Archives: General

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.

Swimming Nature Wins Innovative Concept of the Year!

Swimming Nature is delighted to announce that we have won at the Active Training Awards for the category of ‘Innovative Concept of the Year’. With the recent statistics from the ASA showing that 45% of 7-11 year olds cannot swim a length of an average pool, this award comes as validation of the hard work we have been undertaking here to motivate more students to swim longer. Additionally, with the strong industry competition in this category, this award has meant that we can start to bring swimming to the forefront of getting more people engaged.

Our innovative concept is based around our great teaching programmes which we undertake for our instructors, coupled with the data we gather from student assessments on poolside. This important data is used in order to develop our programmes further, as well as target students who require additional training in order to achieve more.

Swimming Nature 2We have also created our innovative teacher lesson plans which we are currently rolling out within the company. These digital lesson plans have been developed in a way that creates a bespoke lesson plan for the students who are swimming in the lesson – personalised to where their progression is at.

We look forward now to developing further, and releasing some of the great new projects to motivate our students further.

More information on the training award winners can be found here.

Swim yourself off the sofa as the temperature takes a dive

As the gloomy winter months start to well and truly set in, we all tend to find ourselves replacing the outdoors for the sofa. With plummeting temperatures and routine rain, even contemplating venturing outdoors for that weekly run you enjoyed in the summer no longer seems so appealing. With the impending festive season, our fitness routine seems to taper off, invariably leading to panic button pushing as soon as the calendar hits the 1st of January.

So, how can we all stay fit without having to jog in the local park in our wellies and woollens? Swimming! Not only is it something which can be enjoyed indoors, it is also low impact and great to keep up your fitness levels. Consistency being essential to not only improving stroke technique, but also keeping the muscles active, and the pounds off. Making swimming a weekly routine is key to success.

According to the NHS, regular swimming can reduce the risks of chronic illness, such as heart disease and a stroke. One of the other main benefits is that it’s a great exercise to release endorphins and lift your mood, which we all tend to battle with as the darkness sets in mid-afternoon.

It’s important to find somewhere to swim which works with your daily routines, whether it be work or other activities. Also be sure to invest in some goggles and a swimming cap. If you are a beginner, lessons are a great way to give you confidence and keep you swimming better for longer.

So there is no excuse to be snoozing through the winter months, it’s time to get off the sofa and start swimming!

Swimming Nature runs lessons throughout London and Edinburgh for babies, children and adults, whether you are a beginner or capable swimmer looking for stroke development. You can find out more about the programmes they offer by visiting swimmingnature.com or by calling 08445040506.

Overcoming your fear of swimming

82c9afd2a64517036730ac64fa576577Swimming is a very impressive sport as it offers something that no other aerobic exercise does: the ability to work out your body without severe impact to your skeletal system. This is because water supports your body as you move (you automatically become lighter), whilst providing resistance to increase your muscular strength and decrease harm to your joints.  Due to these benefits this attracts a variety of people to swimming.

However, no matter what the benefits are there still seems to be quite a few people that avoid the water all together. This could be because of a bad experience in the water or an unexplained fear. Fear can be caused by many reasons such as feeling nervous in an unsettled environment or avoiding confrontation due to feelings of panic and agitation. Over time this fear may build as a mental block resulting in people avoiding swimming all together.

First you have to overcome your fear of the actual water. Once this is done you may find that you don’t even need that many swimming lessons as the anxiety would have worn of.

Here are 13 step by step directions that I have put together to change your attitude towards swimming and help improve your technique.

  1. It is never too late. If you feel that you are too old to start something new. Then why not start with the basics and set small goals and targets for yourself. For instance try to swim 10 meters continuously or count how many strokes it takes you to get to the other side (tells you about your rhythm and timing)
  1. Don’t overthink it. Adults have the tendency to over analyze the technique and as a result they lose valuable time of “real” swimming. As children we are fearless willing to dive right in and try different things, jumping first and looking later. Try to remember this feeling and enjoy the water more. Remember swimming is also about having fun in the water. Don’t think- just swim.
  1. Choose a pleasant environment and teacher. Good communication with your swimming teacher will make you feel more comfortable in the water. You will probably be more willing to improve your skills as you will know what is expected from you.
  1. Use the right equipment. To get the best out of your swimming lessons you need to choose the right gear to suit your body type. Choose a comfortable swimsuit and a good pair of fitted goggles. Shop around and make sure you buy swimming items that are best suited to you. Online shops include: www.swimshop.co.uk, www.sweatband.com and www.milletsports.co.uk
  1. Keep yourself calm and relaxed. It is very important that you keep your body stress-free while swimming. A tight, stiff body will use up more energy. So “Keep Calm And Just Keep Swimming.”
  1. Do not just hold your breath. Carbon dioxide in the blood is raised very quickly when you do not exhale. You should inhale when your face is out of the water and exhale when your face is in the water; essentially you can breathe normally.
  1. Train as much as possible. You can only improve on your swimming technique if you practice again and again. Set aside 2 30 minute workout sessions per a week to maintain basic health and fitness levels. In a single session try stay in the pool until you have done 400 meters of swimming or 16 lengths of a 25 meter pool at a medium to high significant pace.
  1. Try to learn the strokes step by step. If you are a beginner try not to focus too much on swimming a full stroke, instead focus on breathing and then progress to the correct body position which aids in developing kicking and lastly arms. By following these steps you’ll will be swimming in no time.
  1. Keep it simple. While swimming front crawl your arms should move under the central line of your body which means under the middle of your chest and your stomach. Try to keep your elbow higher than your hand at all times.
  1. Close your fingers. You can imagine that your hands are paddles. This will help you to catch more water and increase your swimming pace.
  1. Forget cycling movements in the water. One of the most common mistakes is to bend your knees excessively. This can result in a bad performance in the water. So, remember the leg’ movement begins from the hips. Straight legs, floppy ankles are a great starting point.
  1. Bring a friend. Instead of attending a swimming lesson by yourself why not bring a friend to join in on the fun. You can help each other out and even challenge one another.
  1. Don’t give up. You may not achieve your goal the first time so don’t be too hard on yourself. Try again and work on areas that you need to improve on. Ask your swimming teacher for advice, book more lessons and make sure that you maintain a healthy balanced diet to boost your energy levels and help improve your performance.

As well as being fun, swimming is a great way to keep fit and stay healthy. It is the ideal exercise to improve your physical and mental health. It might take a little while to adjust to the water but with a bit of help you can face your fear full on.

How swimming can help you

Find out how swimming can help boost your confidence and health. You can gain great fitness benefits as it tones your whole body and strengthens your muscles. Whatever your age, it’s never too late to learn to swim and improve your technique.

Swimming itself is a beautiful sport and an excellent non impact exercise. This is a great advantage as it protects the joints from stress and strain. The sport also provides physiological benefit such as stress reduction as water relaxes your body and calms the mind.

Through constant movement and relief; swimming helps encourage a healthy life style.

Through my own experiences of swimming I found that that none of your joints suffer because you are not in touch with anything solid. Not even a single muscle will be stiff during a lesson, as it’s relaxed and enjoyable. As you are utilising your entire body activating all your muscle groups this can lead to burning calories quite quickly and overall improvement of your fitness. You’ll build, strengthen and tone muscles as every bit of your body is moving and learn how to breath efficiently whether you are in water or not as breath control plays a big part.

Get a head start before your first lesson

Now that you’re eager to start swimming. You can start a few everyday exercises that will benefit you once you’re in the water. A simple exercise to start with is stretching your ankles. This can be easily done when you sit in the office every working day; just by pushing your toes against the floor one way and another, top and bottom, makes them more flexible.

This movement will help develop your kicking and is an essential first step in learning to swim confidently.

Now that you have focused on flexing your ankles for a more effective kick you can focus on the next element which is controlling your breath. You can try doing this anywhere, just be conscious about it; in and out, quick breath in and long release. Try to do it while taking a bath: quick in and long bubbles out. Do it a few times in a row when you walk or doing anything else and try not to get tired or out of breath. Breathe as naturally as possible but make sure it’s under control and that your are relaxed as this will help improve your swimming once you’re  in the water.

Once you are confident in the above techniques then it’s time to start swimming. Create swimming goals as this will bring a sense of achievement to your daily exercise routine and remember to have fun and enjoy the water.

Kick start your swimming!

 

With Christmas fast approaching nipping down to your local pool for a dip is probably the last thing on your mind but Autumn and Winter are an ideal time to start training for that summer Triathlon or getting a head start on your New Year’s fitness resolutions.

I am always pleasantly surprised to find my local pool much quieter at this time of year giving me the freedom to cruise along without any collisions or near misses with fellow swimmers. It also means that if you’re a bit more nervous about trying to make a start or improving your swimming you’ll have a more peaceful environment to practice in.

For many who are contemplating learning to swim the biggest step is the first one, just ask Johanna Derry from the Guardian who decided to take a lesson with Swimming Nature’s MD, Eduardo Ferré.

So, whether you only know head up breaststroke or like Johanna are always getting water up your nose and end up drinking the contents of the pool, lessons can help to give you the confidence boost you need to get your swimming under way. It is never too late to learn to swim so take the plunge!