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Summer’s coming to a close and most of the families I’ve worked with throughout the season have been on a vacation where they’ve expected to have their swimmers in the water. Naturally, when my families plan trips, they come to lessons beforehand with this question in mind – “What should we work on while we’re on vacation?”

Working on skills while on vacation can be bittersweet. We want our swimmers to love and respect the water without the feeling that being in the water is indefinitely associated with work – which can often come about when we continuously push drills and exercises while at the pool, so there are a few ways to approach working on water safety while away on vacation.

When traveling, acknowledge that swimmers are going to respond differently to being in pool than they would normally be while in a pool during lessons. Generally, swimmers between the ages of 6 months and 3 years old on vacation and outside the pool they take lessons in, will be more comfortable performing skills they tend to be more opinionated about, but that doesn’t always mean that we should work on them while we’re away.

My rule of thumb when approaching swimming lessons while on vacation is simple – practice the skills that aren’t usually detrimental to a swimmer’s confidence or ability to enjoy themselves in a body of water. We always want to encourage growth, but if a swimmer begins experiencing all forms of swimming as work, instead of seeing it as exciting and fun, is it really worth the money we pay and the time we spend to ensure that our children are exposed to the pool?

Here are a few simple ways to continue working on lesson skills, while giving swimmers the space and independence to create a respect for the water:

  1. Give your swimmer some extra independence with the support of life vests, or water wings
    • This is a simple form of acclimation that gives your swimmer the ability to feel their own weight in the water, but also understand that they’re safe to move around and play as they wish.
  2. Blowing bubbles
    • Working on bubble blowing or breathing in general is a simple exercise that can get swimmers engaged in the water without the sense of feeling overworked.
  3. Jumps/Dives
    • If your swimmer enjoys jumping in or diving, encourage them to do so with limited support. If they’re comfortable, let them experience the reality of jumping in and getting their face wet. Maybe even get them kicking back to the wall if everything seems comfortable.
  4. Get your swimmer’s ears wet
    • Oftentimes, young swimmers don’t love the sensation of getting their ears wet during lessons. If you’re experiencing a swimmer who’s feeling more comfortable outside their standard lesson pool, give this a try and see how they respond.
  5. Turn strokes into games
    • If your swimmer is working on different strokes during lessons, instead of asking them to swim laps while on vacation, set up a game or activity that can include different aspects of the strokes their working on in the objective. Play tag with freestyle, or reach for sinking toys while only using breast stroke kick. There are countless ways for us to incorporate strokes into fun activities that take the weight away from the practice they’re getting in the water.

Overall, these skills seem pretty simple to implement and should never jeopardize a swimmer’s willingness to be in the water during a vacation. Just being able to get them in the water and acclimating them to the standard sensations that they experience regularly is more than sufficient while away on break. As an instructor, I have two objectives – to ensure that my swimmers are water safe and teach them to love the water! So have fun on your vacations and let your kids get their feet wet in a welcoming, exciting environment.

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