We catch colds from being exposed to viruses. These viruses are usually transmitted through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is impossible to catch a cold just from being cold - we must come into contact with the cold or flu virus to ‘catch it'. As these viruses can't live in the air for long we can only catch them around people who have them!
In fact, "Colds are more common in winter because people (especially children) spend more time indoors and are therefore exposed to more germs." (University of California - Berkeley)
Why do only some people exposed to these bugs actually catch them? Truth is, some people have stronger immune systems than others and this helps them to fight off the nasty bugs. Becoming very cold can temporarily lower our body temperature and challenge the immune system making us more prone to picking up those airborne viruses.
So, how do we strengthen our immune systems? Eating a well-balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals from fresh fruit and vegetables is the first line of defence. The second is to maintain a regular exercise program. Children who swim regularly are fitter and maintain stronger immune systems to fight off the viruses they come into contact with. In fact, children who swim throughout winter seem to catch far less colds and flu.
State Swim pools are heated to 32°C all year round and the air temperature is also maintained at a comfortable level making swimming the ideal exercise through the winter months. It is also important to ensure children are appropriately dressed on the journey to and from the swim school.
With the improved fitness gained from swimming regularly, swimmers improve the probability of having strong immune systems to ‘fight back' the next time they cross the path of someone else's cough or sneeze!!!
This is a common question asked of us at all levels of our program. Once a swimmer has turned 4 years of age and has been promoted to either Penguin or Seal, their progression from this point on is skill based. It is very difficult to place a set length of time that a child will spend in a particular level as there are many variables. Having said that - applying the following principles to your child's swimming experience will assist you in determining whether your child's progress is reasonable.
Assuming that your child is attending their lesson on a regular weekly basis, you should be able to see evidence of gradual improvement. However, it is unlikely that you will see improvement every week. Both children and adults all experience times when we don't perform as well as we have previously and there can be many reasons for this, e.g. fatigue, lack of attention. Sometimes progress is rapid, at other times it is gradual - seemingly miniscule. But no matter how small the progress, it is still progress. If your child has attended 6 to 8 lessons (consistently) and you have not seen any signs of progress, we encourage you to approach your Supervisor to discuss the situation. As I mentioned earlier, there are many possible reasons for this and your Supervisor will quickly be able to determine the best course of action.
It is also important to know that your child may progress quickly through one or a number of levels but then spend a little longer in others. They may grasp the basics of Freestyle and Backstroke quickly whilst Breaststroke doesn't come to them quite so naturally. Our Supervisors and Instructors recognise how vitally important it is that the swimmer receives continual positive feedback and encouragement at this time, otherwise they will quickly become disheartened.
It is State Swim's philosophy to always 'celebrate the small stuff'. Every tiny bit of improvement should be seen and recognised rather than saving it all to the day that promotion to the next level is achieved.
Like any other skill, swimming is one that can easily be forgotten if not practiced on a regular basis. So, not only do children and adults need to achieve a certain skill level, they also need to continue to refresh these skills on a regular basis.
I was speaking with a friend only the other evening, who, many years ago, was learning to speak Greek. She became reasonably fluent over time but it had been quite a few years since she had last used the language and so, although she still remembered aspects of it, she had, in her words, become "quite rusty"......swimming is no different.
Over a period of non-use, your skills will become rusty and it will take time to bring them back to where they once were. Regardless of what level you or your child reach, allowing those skills to lie dormant over a period of time will inevitably see them decline.
We encourage every swimmer to continue our program until they are able to swim 400 metres of continuous freestyle. This equates to graduating from our Superfish class. Many parents query why their child has to learn all of the other strokes over this time - a valid question.....here are the reasons why:
Breaststroke and Backstroke not only assist in developing strength in the swimmer but are considered 'survival strokes' and therefore play a very important part in ensuring that your child is able to help themself in the event that they get into difficulty in an aquatic environment. Both of these strokes allow the swimmer to conserve energy which is critical when in difficulty.
Butterfly is also a tremendous stroke for strength building and works hand in hand with the development of the Freestyle stroke. Again, when confronted with a life threatening situation, the swimmer will need to call upon reserves of stamina. Skills developed with both Freestyle and Butterfly will build these reserves.
With many children commencing their swimming education at a very young age, graduating from Superfish can seem quite a daunting prospect. It is very important to remember that a swimmer will probably have a break or even multiple breaks over the journey....and that is perfectly understandable. The key is to make sure the breaks are not for too long, up to 3 months is a good timeframe - this will allow the swimmer time to feel reinvigorated without seeing considerable skill loss.
Having graduated from Superfish, the swimmer may then decide that they no longer wish to pursue swimming as a sport. It remains important from that point on, that they continue to swim regularly - whether this be once a week in a squad program as part of their health and fitness regime, or simply recreationally on a regular basis - their skills will remain with them for a lifetime.