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Swim in the sea, in a lake, in a pool, in a pond, in a well, in any water body. Once you know how to swim, any safe water body can serve as a recreational or fitness option. With our country having about 7,500 kms of coastline and so many other water sources, you might think that we should be a nation of swimmers. However, the reality is that most Indians are uncomfortable in water and cannot swim. The World Health Organisation Media Centre factsheet lists drowning as the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide that accounts for 7% of all injury related deaths. The fact sheet also offer interesting information on scope; who is at risk and how to prevent the problem http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs347/en/.
Several schools now incorporate swimming as a part of their curriculum. In the list of myriad after school activities swimming also features as a popular activity that children are being sent for. It is vital that not just children but adults also learn how to swim and about water safety. While knowing how to swim is not a definite way to prevent an accident, it certainly reduces the risk. The benefits of swimming are not limited to safety alone. This form of exercise is a great cardio vascular workout that benefits the entire body in terms of improved stamina, flexibility, strength and posture. Swimming is also a mood enhancer that enables relaxation due to the natural buoyancy of water.
There is no unanimous decision among experts as to the perfect age a child should be taught how to swim. While some encourage new born babies into water other say wait until the age of 6 years for any formal training. Ideally you should decide what’s best for your child based on your child’s temperament, interests and your own comfort in water.
Almost all clubs in Mumbai offer their members swimming classes and some also invite non members to enrol in classes during holiday camps. Some of the better known swimming courses are conducted at Acres Club Chembur; The Club, Andheri; and Otter’s Club, Bandra to name a few.
Some of the popular swimming classes that are on through the year are conducted by The Sports Gurukul, YMCA and Mickey Mehta’s 360 Degree Pool. For the entire list of options in your locality check out our on-site listings: http://www.mycity4kids.com/Mumbai/Sports/Swimming_bl
Top tips to keep in mind:
Once a child knows how to swim there are so many possibilities now available in our country to explore like SCUBA diving, Surfing and Kite boarding. We tend to believe that these sports are not accessible in India but they are and for more details on SCUBA you can read:
- The Shaka Surf Club in Manipal, Karnataka https://www.facebook.com/TheShakaSurfClub
- Quest Adventures, Mumbai; https://www.facebook.com/questadventures (Kite boarding taught by them)
- Surfing India, http://surfingindia.net/about-us
- Kallialay Surf School, Auroville; https://www.facebook.com/SURFSCHOOLINDIA
- Cocopelli Surf School, Gokarna; http://www.cocopelli.org/
- Soul & Surf, Varkala; http://soulandsurf.com/
Drowning myth busted
The common drowning myth perpetuated by scenes on television and films is that ‘A person who is drowning will display flailing of arms, thrashing the water while crying out loud for help.’ This video will help you recognise the signs of drowning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fyvtNewabM#t=29. Be sure to read the information in the About section as well.
Comfort and confidence are the two factors that will aid your child’s swimming abilities and the right gear is what will set you on the path to happy swimming. Almost all sports shops will stock all the swim gear and accessories you require. Some apparel and toy stores also have pool toys. One store that keeps everything you require for water related activities is Decathalon in Thane. http://www.decathlon.in/watersports
Swim suit or trunks: Look for a piece that fits well and is comfortable. I personally prefer the full length wet suit type as they offer protection from the sun. Sometimes these also come with a cap that is made from the same material as the suit and unlike a regular tight swim cap has fabric to cover the back of the neck too. You could also consider a rash guard.
Swimming aids: These include infant floats, swim sweaters, arm bands and training vests and should be selected based on the child’s age, weight and ability.
Goggles: They protect the eyes from water and improve vision underwater which is a big factor when a child starts learning.
Swim cap: These caps made from one of latex, silicone or Lycra help protect the child’s hair from chlorine damage, keeps the pool free of hair, provides warmth and keeps the hair out of the swimmer’s face.
Nose plugs: Check with your trainer whether your child should use nose plugs. They help in the prevention of accidental inhalation of water through the nose and bring down the risk of infection from exposure to water that may not necessarily be free from contamination.
Earplugs: These are made from foam, silicone, rubber or wax and are a great way to ensure water does not get into the ears while swimming.
Flotation device: Kick boards, swim belts, and Noodles are some of the options. Some classes do not permit the use of any kind of floatation device so check before you invest in them.
Bathrobes: Made from towelling material these often come with hoods and are ideal for immediate wear when exiting the water.
Toys: There are several ingenious toys available to encourage a child to get more comfortable in the water. These range from cute floats and balls that can bounce on water to hoops and dive and grab toys.
Sunscreen: While sunscreen may not be available at a sports store, it should definitely be on your list of must-haves. Ideally look for one with a high SPF number, that is waterproof and sweat proof. Most brands of sunscreen irritate the eyes after being in the water for a while. I personally use the dermatologist recommended Shadowz but have heard that the Neutrogena Dry Touch sun block does not wash off and get into the eyes. Both are available at medical stores in the city.