Lee-Anne McQueen, a local swimming teacher, shares her experience with us.
As a swimming teacher and a swimmer, I want to say no, never stop swimming! The benefits by far outweigh any reasons you could give me for stopping swimming, ever.
But as a mum, I have to admit that sometimes those reasons win, and you have to do what’s right for you and your family.
In my experience there are 4 main reasons why parents wonder about giving up swimming in the winter. This should help you to make your decision…
Reason #1: Swimming in the winter will make my child sick
This is a myth, and is totally based on an old wives’ tale. Contact with sick people will make your child sick! In fact, research has shown that children who swim in the winter are generally healthier than those who don’t. The humid environment is good for asthma and allergies, the deep controlled breathing is great for lung strength, and moderate exercise is proven to help fight infections. So perhaps try swimming to help prevent your child getting ill, rather than the other way around.
Reason #2: My child always gets sick in winter, so we’ll miss too many lessons
Quite a valid argument, but I would refer you back to reason number 1! What’s the best way to prevent illness? Good diet and regular exercise. And what do we tend to do in winter? Wrap up, close the doors and sit around eating ‘comfort’ food. A recent study in Germany showed that those who exercised moderately for 20 minutes a day fought off infection better than those who did no exercise and those who exercised heavily. So get that body moving, get the heart rate up, get those endorphins going, and stay healthy. And what better way than a full-body workout suspended in warm, relaxing water :).
Reason #3: Swimming is a summer sport
Yes, at school they only host galas in summer, so your child might want to take up other sports in winter. And with their busy lives these days, who can blame them. While we spent most of our childhood climbing trees all afternoon, our kids have to contend with school sports, private coaching, OT, Physio, extra this that and the next thing, and still fit in concert practice, outreach clubs and compulsory extra handwriting classes! So if they’re just too tired to fit in swimming in winter, I understand completely. Having said that, if your child is not yet water safe or has only just grasped basic skills, swimming lessons should be non-negotiable until they’re a strong, confident swimmer.
Of course if you’re not into any other sports, swimming all year round is an excellent way to stay fit and be guaranteed to get a full body workout. It’s also a fantastic way to de-stress, the rhythmic action has a meditative effect which helps you to process life’s daily happenings, it is known to improve concentration, and swimmers also enjoy better quality sleep. Also, an important point for those sporty kids out there: you can’t beat swimming for cross-training, increasing stamina and endurance, improving fitness and speeding up muscle recovery time – an excellent complement to your team sports.
Reason #4: My child just doesn’t want to
Hmmm difficult to argue with that one. Or is it? There’s often quite a big difference between what children want and what’s good for them! I would find out the reason why they just don’t want to – chances are they’ll feel the same in summer anyway, so you might as well tackle the problem now. Is it because swimming is too difficult, it makes them too tired, they’re struggling to keep up, they don’t feel like exercising? Excellent reasons to push through and improve their stamina and techniques – nothing in life gets easier, you just get better at it. How often do you dread the thought of exercise, but enjoy it once you’re doing it? I believe that every difficult situation presents a learning opportunity, and teaching your child to commit and persevere is an excellent life lesson.
Once again, carrying on through winter is essential if your child isn’t a strong swimmer yet, but if they’re water safe and their strokes are fairly established, you need to weigh up the pro’s and con’s. And hopefully this article has helped you to do that!
Granted, my opinion might be slightly biased in favour of swimming, but it’s such an excellent sport, form of exercise, de-stressor and cross-trainer, how could you not want to swim?!