The first and most important thing we want for our children when they swim in the sea for the first time is to have fun! If the first experience of swimming in the sea is associated with moments of joy and lots of fun, little ones will want to go back to the sea and do it again and again and fall in love with open water swimming.
At first, going to the beach doesn’t necessarily have to mean swimming in the sea. Little ones can play in the sand, make castles, chase the waves, put their feet in the water to feel the waves, surf on a surfboard – whatever.
In the process of preparing children for swimming in the sea it is important to choose the right beach. Look for beaches with shallow, calm water and a smooth entry into the sea, where your child can gradually get used to the water and practise swimming techniques. The beach in Sfântu Gheorghe meets all the conditions for a pleasant start in this sport.
A great idea for training your little ones is to practice swimming in the pool with them to make sure your kid is able to swim 1000m freestyle in the pool without stopping.
Why is this important?
When swimming in the pool you can stop, hold onto the edge of the pool if you are tired and rest if you need to. When you swim in the sea you don’t have this option! There’s nowhere you can stop and rest if you’re tired… Therefore, before you take your child swimming in open water, make sure they feel comfortable enough to swim 1000m in a pool without stopping and feel comfortable doing so. Remember that open water swimming is more difficult, therefore your child needs to be in good shape to make the transition from pool to open water. Think of the pool as the “lab” where you can practice and “test the waters” before heading out into the real world.
Walk through the swimming process with your child before entering the water. Tell your child what you will be doing, where you will be swimming, how long it will take and encourage them by telling them they are a good swimmer and will easily succeed! This will help them get over any anxiety your child may have before getting into the sea.
Don’t rush them into deep water – start with swimming sessions, dives and shallow floats first. Only once your child is comfortable and adjusting to the sea water can you move deeper, but still swim close to shore, about 100m from the shore and let your child know you are close to shore, also to reduce their anxiety.
Start with short distances
Somewhere between 500m – 900m will be easy for your little swimmer after practicing the 1000m swim in the pool, so start with these shorter distances to give them confidence!
After the swim, tell your child how amazing it was. Make sure your child knows they did a great job! Even if he was scared and had difficulty swimming, make him feel like a brave star. Tell your family, friends, and just about everyone how great he did, and by doing so, help him gain confidence and turn this experience into a great one, even if it wasn’t.
Don’t risk it the first time
“There is no second chance for a first impression”. If your kid doesn’t enjoy their first open water swimming experience, it will be hard to convince them to do it again. So do your best to make his first experience good and easy, don’t take unnecessary risks such as swimming when the sea is high or too cold or trying to swim a longer distance than suggested… Make it great and your child will come back again and again and again!