Help kids to embrace swimming in the UAE

From learning to swim to swimming galas

Help kids to embrace swimming in the UAE

Here in the UAE our kids are lucky enough to be surrounded by opportunities to swim in the pool or enjoy activities in the sea, but naturally with that fortune comes parental concerns about water safety for our little ones.

We chat to Paul Donnelly, managing partner at Aquatix, who tells us how to minimise the dangers while discussing how kids can, and should, embrace swimming as they get older.

We know that children are encouraged to learn to swim from an early age, but when is an ideal time to get them in the water?

“As soon as they have had their sixth month injections and your doctor has given them the all clear, we encourage water play and familiarisation. This doesn’t need to be structured lessons, bath-time, general splash and pool play all help the long term development,” says Donnnelly, who is quick to point out the plentiful benefits of swimming for children.

“Obviously the physical element is number one, which in turn promotes better sleep and together this encourages the development of strong bones and muscles,” he says.

“The cardiovascular workout stimulates improved heart and lung function and helps to prevent childhood obesity and reduce the risk of diabetes. Then, not unlike other sports, through commitment and continual practise, swimming enhances social skills and self-confidence, which stay with the child through life.”

There aren’t many activities that successfully target perfection in five movements: your body being in the correct position, kicking, arm movement, and breathing, all at the right time.

So how do you tell whether you have a talented swimmer on your hands, or even a future 100m freestyle Olympian?

Donnelly tells us that while it is possible to tell the difference between a natural talent from as young as five or six years old from those who need to work hard, those that make it to the top of any sport must have a good combination of both.

And if you do have a child who is asked to swim for their school, it’s still important to carry on with their club swimming.

“If school squad training is only once or twice a week… Maybe one or two terms a year… Then children simply aren’t getting enough time in the water. Club swimming is essential to ensure the development of technique as well as fitness,” he says.

But in spite of swimming having all these health benefits, it’s an activity that has a high drop-out rate as kids move from primary into secondary. “We put this down to the introduction of more contact sports such as football or rugby, which on top of the self-conscious teenage years would explain why the numbers decrease,” explains Donnelly.

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