Dara Torres is a 5-time Olympian and an expert on swimming. I am so honored to have her as a guest on my blog today. Dara competed in her first international swimming competition at age 14. In total, she won 12 medals throughout her entire Olympic career. She is the spokesperson for USA Swimming’s SwimToday campaign to educate parents on the benefits of swimming. More information at www.swimtoday.org.
As a lifelong swimmer and the mom of an eight year old who loves to swim, I always get asked if my daughter Tessa will follow in my footsteps and become an Olympic swimmer.
If you ask Tessa, that’s exactly what she’ll tell you she wants to be, but for me, like a lot of parents, I got her into swimming not to become an Olympic champion but to make her safe around water. The fact that she loves swimming is a bonus. I’m happy she found something that’s fun, will allow her to make friends, build confidence, and learn a skill-set she will benefit from for the rest of her life.
Swimming is one of the best sports a kid can do, yet a new USA Swimming study shows nearly 80% of parents don’t consider swimming as a youth sport once their kids learn how to swim! Parents overlook swimming mostly because they don’t know enough about it or have misconceptions about what it is. The good news is, parents who do try it, like it, and the majority of those kids stay in the sport.
Benefits of Swimming
Health & Fitness. From a fitness perspective, swimming is one of the best total body workouts a kid can get. Nothing beats the cardiovascular benefits of swimming. I tell people who don’t believe me to run a lap and then try swimming a lap to see which is the better workout. When my daughter gets out of the pool, I feel good knowing the kind of activity she’s had, not to mention the energy she’s released which sends her straight to bed when we get home. It’s also a sport kids can do for life and continue to benefit from long after they leave a swim team.
Low Risk of Injury. At a time when parents are more concerned than ever about injuries in youth sports, the risk of injury in swimming is minimal. It’s low impact, which means, it’s easy on the joints. As a parent, I love having the peace of mind knowing my daughter isn’t likely to get hurt.
IT’S FUN! Swimming is the funnest sport there is! My best memories as a kid were piling into the back of a station wagon with pillows and blankets, going to swim meets with my friends and our parents, cheering each other on and having a blast. Swimming is a very social environment, not just for kids but for parents too!
Teamwork. One of the biggest misconceptions I hear about swimming is that because it’s an individual sport, it lacks a teamwork element. I always tell parents swimming is one of the best experiences in teamwork a child will ever have. The camaraderie is amazing and the friendships you build training side by side with teammates, going to meets together and cheering each other on is unlike anything else.
Confidence, Self-Esteem & Other Valuable Life Lessons. For kids, swimming builds self-esteem and teaches them a combination of teamwork and setting individual goals. I love seeing these changes in my daughter because I know from my own experiences, these benefits will trickle down into every other aspect of her life.
Easy to Learn and No Benchwarmers. Compared to other sports, swimming is relatively easy to learn and you don’t have to be particularly athletic to swim. I also love that it’s inclusive. There are no benchwarmers. Everyone feels like they are part of a team.
Pools Are Everywhere. While parents often cite lack of proximity to a pool as one of the top reasons why their kids don’t swim, most people in the U.S. actually live less than 15 minutes away from a swim club!
Finding a Club is Easy. When we moved to a new state, I had to find a new club for my daughter and learned firsthand just how easy it was. It’s as simple as going to SwimToday.org and typing in your zip code. In one click you get a list of all the swim clubs in your area and contact information for each one. It’s an incredible resource.
As a parent, I see what activities other parents are choosing for their kids and I encourage them to take a closer look at swimming. Considering how much fun I had, how much I learned and how, at 47, I’m still able to enjoy it and reap the health benefits, I know more parents would consider swimming if they knew how much it had to offer.
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