Q:1 . How long before my child can swim?

Sometimes lessons can feel like a treadmill with no clear end in sight. This uncertainty about a definite timeline can leave parents wondering when their child will ever “complete” the task of learning to swim. With swimming lessons there can sometimes be a belief – that a child will take some lessons, learn to swim and then be finished. Such an “event based” mentality can be a dangerous assertion to make. A realistic way to approach swimming lessons is as a long-term process. Attending lessons as a regular part of a child’s weekly routine through their infant, preschool and early school years is a great plan to ensure proper development of their aquatic skills. Along the way, a child should be allowed to learn at their own pace, practicing skills appropriate to their developmental level. So, when do lessons stop? Reaching a particular goal, such as being able to swim 400m freestyle comfortably, should not cause a swimmer to now leave the pool. It is still important to keep up the skill, continue to improve and consider the wide range of aquatic sports that will be fun, challenging and beneficial into the future. Swimming lessons are not just another option on the list of activities for children, along with soccer, dance, gymnastics, etc. They are an invaluable life saving activity offering many benefits for the learner and for the more accomplished swimmer.

Q:2 . Should we continue lessons in winter?

There are compelling reasons, to continue with swimming lessons year round and to make swimming a top priority for your child and your family’s budget. Following are some important reasons for you to consider. The risks posed by drowning don’t go away in the cooler parts of the year, so neither should the lessons – they are one of the most proactive things a parent can do for their child. In addition to safety issues, continuing lessons is important to build and reinforce existing skills. This is particularly true with children under 5 years whose long-term skill retention and muscle memory are just beginning to develop. A break in lessons that stretches over many months will often result in a loss of skills. Even when parents can’t see substantial progress every week, the child is at least maintaining the current ability level, and that is progress in itself. Don’t let all the time and money spent on lessons go to waste, keep up their skills. Most pools are maintained at constant temperatures throughout the year, so even when it is cooler outside, it can still be a comfortable, year-round, summer experience in the water. With a little extra attention, such as keeping children warm and drying them off well when they leave the pool, swimming will stay comfortable and beneficial all year. Keep these ideas in mind as you continue with your lessons. Swimming is one of the best activities for children and it’s a shame if it only happens in the summer. Whenever possible, enjoy your swimming all year through!

Q:3 . Should I stay and watch my child during the lesson?

A: In groups 7 to 10, Bronze and Entry Squad, you have an option to observe the training sessions if you wish. But in Gold and Silver squad, the pool deck and stands are closed to only coach and swimmer, except for Friday of course where you can stay and watch the session. However, it is our strong recommendation, that a parent does whatever he/she can to cause a child to take ownership of his/her training. The more you are there to assist him with his equipment, discipline him when he is not performing, the less likely he is to swim for himself, and more for you. You may unwittingly compromise long-term results by micro-managing performance. If your child’s effort in training is sub-standard, be assured the coach will either enforce the needed discipline or notify you if he does not improve. Often this is easier to enforce, when a parent is not on deck then when a parent is on deck.

Q: 4. Should I force him to go to swimming?

A: You should not force your child; you want his participation to be his decision. However, you may explain your expectation that he fulfill the commitment to train for a season by attending practice on a regular basis. A haphazard schedule is detrimental to the swimmer’s overall development.

Q: 5. What will happen to my child’s gala results if he only makes half of the offered sessions because he is participating in other sports?

A: At this stage of development, it is important for children to enjoy a variety of sports. Will another child who makes all practices have better results? Most likely, since he is working solely on swimming. Tell your child that he should not compare his results (neither should you) to that of his teammate, but to focus on the fact that he is benefiting from and enjoying both sports.

Q: 6. It looks like my child has too much fun, shouldn’t she be working harder?

A: Be happy that your child is having fun! According to a study conducted by USA Swimming, children who experience fun while participating stay in sports longer (Tuffey, Gould, & Medbery, 1998).

Q: 7. Why all those drills?

A: Your child needs to develop a solid foundation in stroke mechanics. Drills serve the specific purpose of teaching skills and fundamentals. Drills develop motor coordination, motor skills, and balance. In fact, we may prescribe a particular drill, just for your child, in order to improve a part of her stroke.

Q: 8. My son complains that some of the kids in the lane skip laps. He doesn’t think that’s fair. What should I tell him?

A: Praise him first for completing the workout the coach offers. Remind him that he is there to improve his own swimming and he can’t control what his teammates do. Tell him however, that if he continues to do things right others may actually be influenced by his good example. In the long run, he will reap the benefits of his hard work.

Q: 9. My daughter just moved up to a higher group and is expected to attend more sessions each week. Is this really necessary?

A: One specific principle of training we apply is the ‘progressive overload principle’. A person must be stressed slightly more each day over time to continue to improve. The additional training sessions in the week become necessary for us to develop young athletes to their maximum potential.

Q: 10. What type of commitment is needed for this level of swimming?

A: While a swimmer's performance is influenced by numerous factors, there are three that exert the greatest influence: physical, technical and mental. As your child progress, a greater commitment, of both time and energy, is needed to enable him/her to address all of these factors. Additionally, the swimmer is asked to take more responsibility for and ownership of his practice and competition performance. A lifestyle that makes for good swimming performance includes proper nutrition, adequate sleep, time management, managing extra-curricular activities.

Q: 11. What do you mean when you say that my daughter controls eighty percent of her training?

A: We have already talked about the importance of your child taking full responsibility for her swimming. Having a good attitude, developing proper time management, and demonstrating a strong work ethic are important both in and out of the water. A swimmer, even a child, is in most control of her effort and attitude in training, even to some extent, her eating habits, sleep habits and training attendance. This may actually add up to more than 80%.

Q: 12. If my child shows potential in one stroke should the coach not concentrate only on that event?

A: In foundation stages, your child needs to acquire a wide range of skills and the aerobic development necessary to allow for this specialization. At age group level, the physical development of a child does not allow training for specific events. Rather, a child has to first reach the physical maturity necessary to specialize in particular events for which they are best suited. Of course, the coach is well aware of a child’s leaning toward one stroke, and will enhance this potential at the right time.

Q: 13. My child was the fastest in her age group when she was 7 years old. How can I help her reach the next level? (i.e. North vs. South, BSSA Nationals, Botswana Team etc)

A: Throughout her career, you have been very supportive. This support is still needed but it may have to be a little different than in the past. While you are an important part of her support network, realize though that your daughter, at this level, should be taking on more ownership of her swimming career.

Q: 14. My son is complaining that his shoulder is hurting after practice?

A: Do not panic. Swimming is relatively safe for children when performed within reasonable guidelines. Children often seek to push their limits, which can result in injury. Or they may injure themselves in another sport and the injury manifest itself in the pool. In addition, the movements in swimming are repetitive and can result in injuries of the soft tissues in the shoulder, knee and hip. Proper strengthening, stretching routines and stroke technique can reduce the risk of injury to these joints, especially to the shoulder. If pain occurs, inform the coach and leave to the coach. In the majority of instances, the injury will never be serious enough to require medical attention.

Q: 15. I want my child to get a medal at the Nationals/ North vs. South so badly, but he always comes second to another child. What can he do to break through?

A: It is important for you to acknowledge that this is your child’s goal. Your expectations may actually be putting undue pressure on his performances. There are two types of goals that swimmers can set. Outcome Goals focus on the end result of performance such as “win" or "get a medal.” Process Goals relate to the process of performance. Examples are “breathe every 3rd stroke" or "streamline.” Swimmers have much more control over Process Goals. Outcome Goals are uncontrollable since they also involve the performance of other competitors. Swimmers and coaches should concentrate on Process Goals since they involve aspects a swimmer can control. Focusing on a time is outcome driven. Although you want what’s best for your son, encourage him to talk to his coach to clearly identify Process Goals to work on to achieve improvement.

For help with these or any other questions please feel free to talk to the Instructors at any point. If time is needed, we will arrange an appointment.

Contact: 71619388 / 3973383 | Email: info@dmss.co.bw