Swimming can save your child's life Featured

Marlene Smith, a swimming instructor, tells us more about water safety. 

Tell us a little more about yourself. When did you start coaching? And the training you did?

I've been a swimming instructor for 15 years now. And love every minute of it. First as a assistant instructor with my mother who was a learn to swim instructor for more than 40 years. I myself swam on a professional level. Swimming is in my blood from a  very early age. I am a qualified learn to swim instructor with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) qualifications.

What do you enjoy most about training kids?

I love kids and know that every child must know how to swim as it can save their lives. But the best part is seeing them enjoying the water and the satisfaction when they realize they can swim and help themselves in the water.

From what age can child have swimming lesson?

Opinions differ but i prefer from 12 months.

What is the first thing you teach your swimmers?

Water safety. Safety is the most important thing. To be comfortable in an around the pool. 

How do you teach children to float on water?

I use a method called the push and glide, my students call it the dead fish. They must learn how to float on their backs as well as their stomach.

Some kids are very afraid of going into the water, what advice do you have to make them less scared of the pool?

First I gain their trust and help them to be confident in the water by playing games with them in the pool. The games will relax them and also make it fun.

When is a child ready to swim alone?

When they can dive in and swim from one side to the other. BUT children should never be allowed to swim alone even if they are good swimmers.

What are your most important rule/motto about water safety for kids and parents?

Respect the water and never swim without supervision. It is the parents responsibility to make sure that their children are water safe and to introduce them to water and swimming lessons at a very early age.

Some kids or even adults are very sensitive for the chlorine in water. Do you have any advice for that except to wear goggles?

Goggles is the best protection for your eyes in the water. But always remember to rinse your eyes out after swimming. Always stay hydrated and moisturize. 

In your opinion what should one never do when coaching a child how to swim? Either if its a professional trainer or the parent.

Never force them to do more than what they are ready for. Every child differs and you as instructor or parent must adapt to the child's pace. And always always remember to praise and encourage them as you go along.

Do you have a few basic tips for parents how to teach their children what to do when they fall into the water?

Water safety begins at home. Teach your child the dangers of water and the correct responsible behavior in and around the pool. Starts by teaching them how to float and how to hold their breath when under the water and never to panic. This will help them if they ever fall into the water. Most important enroll your child for swimming lessons as soon as possible. Never leave a child unattended by the water whether they can swim or not. All parents should be educated in basic CPR. - Alta van Wyk 

Splash Water Academy is situated in Kimberley. For more information contact Marlene Smith at 082 462 8284.

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