“Should we take swim lessons during the winter?”

If you want your child to learn to swim as quickly as possible, then year-round swimming provides the best results. Swim lessons take place in many different climates around the world.  Children learn to swim in far lower temperatures than our 28-32 degree Celsius pool.  Our year-round facility is designed for the comfort of your children.

Your child will not catch a cold from the water. The reality is that most bacteria and viruses are dead within 1 minute in a properly treated pool. Contact with sick people will make your child sick! Colds are viruses and your child probably has more chance of catching a virus from attending day care, preschool, school or playgroup than from the treated water in a swimming pool.  The humid environment is good for asthma and allergies, the deep controlled breathing is great for lung strength, and moderate exercise is proven to help fight infections. We also don’t avoid showers and bathing during the winter we just take care to dry off before we go outside.

Children who participate in swimming during the winter do not get more coughs and colds than their non-swimming counterparts.  In fact, parents of children who participate in year-round programs report that their child has had their best winter yet.  This is not surprising as we know that exercise strengthens the immune system and that swimming is a very healthy activity, especially for the lungs.

So perhaps try swimming to help prevent your child getting ill, rather than the other way around.

There are 3 other reasons, apart from the above, why parents wonder about giving up swimming in the winter.  This should help you to make your decision…

Reason #1: My child always gets sick in winter, so we’ll miss too many lessons

What is the best way to prevent illness?  Good diet and regular exercise.  And what do we tend to do in winter?  Wrap up, close the doors and sit around eating ‘comfort’ food.  A recent study in Germany showed that those who exercised moderately for 20 minutes a day fought off infection better than those who did no exercise and those who exercised heavily.  So get that body moving, get the heart rate up, get those endorphins going, and stay healthy.  And what better way than a full-body workout suspended in warm, relaxing water.

Reason #2: Swimming is a summer sport

This is true of swimming at school, especially as there are very few schools with heated pools. It is also for this reason that schools only host galas in summer. But, with access to a heated pool facility there is absolutely no reason why your child can’t swim all year round, and if your child is not yet water safe or has only just grasped basic skills, year round swimming lessons should be non-negotiable until they are strong and confident swimmers.

Reason #3: My child just doesn’t want to

Difficult to argue with that one.  Or is it?  There’s often quite a big difference between what children want and what’s good for them!  I would find out the reason why they just don’t want to – chances are they’ll feel the same in summer anyway, so you might as well tackle the problem now.  Is it because swimming is too difficult, it makes them too tired, they’re struggling to keep up, and they don’t feel like exercising?  Excellent reasons to push through and improve their stamina and techniques – nothing in life gets easier, you just get better at it.  How often do you dread the thought of exercise, but enjoy it once you’re doing it?  I believe that every difficult situation presents a learning opportunity and teaching your child to commit and persevere is an excellent life lesson.

“What if my child has been unwell?”

Your child should only attend lessons if they are fit and well. If your child has been suffering from any sickness or diarrhoea then it is very important that they should not come to lessons until they are fully recovered.

“Does swimming cause ear infections?”

There are two types of ear infections. The first is an outer ear infection or swimmer’s ear. This can occur when there is water left in the ear canal from a pool or bath or lake. This can allow bacteria to grow and cause an infection. This can be prevented with ear drops available at any pharmacy. These drops contain alcohol or boric acid and speed the drying of water in the ear canal.

The second type of ear infection is an inner ear infection. Studies show no link between this type of infection and swimming.

“Can my child go swimming if they suffer from Eczema?”

Yes, your child is able to swim, however if they are having a flare of their eczema your doctor or nurse may suggest your child may need to stop swimming until the eczema improves. Prior to swimming apply moisturiser to the skin. After swimming remove the chorine/salt water in a cool freshwater shower with bath oil, and then apply a moisturiser before dressing.

“Can my child swim with a cold, flu or diarrhoea?”

These are potentially two different questions. As a guideline, you should not be in the pool if you have a fever, a cold with a sore throat, or diarrhoea. If you have a “cold” with no sore throat or fever, you may swim but be careful about the level of activity.

“Is it true that it’s not safe for children to swim right after eating?”

No. This one’s an old and familiar rule, but there’s very little truth behind it.

There’s no question that water is a huge hazard for kids, with drowning the second leading cause of accidental death among children ages 1 to 14. But these drownings simply have no connection with eating beforehand.

After eating, the body does direct blood to the stomach to help with digestion, so it’s conceivable – though unlikely – that swimming with a full stomach will lead to stomach cramps. Contrary to popular belief, a stomach cramp may be painful but it doesn’t make people sink and drown.

“Can my child swim with head lice?”

Yes. Data shows that head lice can survive under water for several hours but are unlikely to be spread by the water in a swimming pool. Head lice have been seen to hold tightly to human hair and not let go when submerged under water. Chlorine levels found in pool water do not kill head lice.

Head lice may be spread by sharing towels or other items that have been in contact with an infested person’s hair, although such spread is uncommon. Children should be taught not to share towels, hairbrushes, and similar items either at poolside or in the changing room.

Swimming or washing the hair within 1–2 days after treatment with some head lice medicines might make some treatments less effective. Seek the advice of your health care provider if you have questions.

“Are leg cramps anything to be concerned about?”

Cramps are uncomfortable, but they will not endanger your life unless you panic. The best remedy is to massage the affected area or carefully stretch the involved muscles. Be particularly careful about overuse of specific muscles through activities like kicking with fins.

“Why is everything very blurry when I open my eyes under water?”

Based on the normal vision standard of 20/20, vision underwater is 20/4000 without the aid of goggles or a mask. Most states consider persons with 20/200 vision to be legally blind. The use of goggles will restore normal vision underwater and also help to protect the eyes from the potentially irritating effects of chlorinated water.

“Why do I sometimes have dry, itchy skin after swimming?”

Some people are naturally more sensitive to the chemicals that are used in a pool’s purification system. There are some very important steps you can take to help prevent any adverse reactions. To protect skin and hair, you should always shower before and after using the facility. Ideally, showering should occur without soap and with cool water. This helps to cut down on any contaminants that you may be bringing into the pool as well as any with which you may leave.

To prevent excessive drying of your skin and the development of any rashes, apply baby oil or highly emollient lotions to your body after showering. This is especially important if you have sensitive skin. If you use these preventative measures each time you swim in chlorine, you should not have a problem with how your skin reacts.

“Why do I see halos around lights after swimming?”

Many swimmers see halos or rainbows around lights after fifteen minutes of entering the pool. This is nothing to be concerned about and is the result of water being absorbed into the eyes. The water in the pool has less salt than the fluids in your eyes (tears) and as a result the pool water moves into your eyes by osmotic pressure. This water accumulates in the clear part of your eye and this temporary swelling is called corneal edema. Some cells are lost off the surface of the cornea causing the symptoms of blurred vision and sensitivity to light (photophobia). After leaving the pool your eyes may remain more sensitive to light and irritants like smoke for a short period. These effects usually disappear within 30 minutes of leaving the pool. Using goggles will help to lessen the temporary effects of corneal edema.

“Can children swim if they have ear tubes (also known as a grommet)?”

If your child has ear tubes — tiny cylinders placed through the eardrum to drain fluid and allow air into the middle ear — ask his or her doctor about ear protection for swimming. Some doctors recommend that children who have ear tubes wear earplugs or swimming caps while swimming to prevent bacteria from entering the middle ear. However, routine use of earplugs may only be needed when children dive or swim in untreated water, such as lakes and rivers.

“Is it risky for children to swallow pool water?”

Your child is bound to take a few gulps of pool water at one time or another, especially when first learning to swim. A little swallowed pool water isn’t typically cause for concern, but too much pool water can lead to illness. Don’t allow your child to drink pool water and encourage your child to spit out any water that gets in his or her mouth.

“What about red eyes after swimming?”

Exposure to chlorine may leave your child with red or puffy eyes. To ease discomfort and reduce redness after swimming, rinse your child’s eyes with a sterile eyewash or an artificial tears solution. To prevent red or puffy eyes, encourage your child to wear goggles while swimming.

“Can children swim when they have cuts and scrapes?”

Yes, as long as the wounds aren’t bleeding.

“Does swimming cause asthma?”

There is no convincing evidence that swimming in chlorinated pools causes asthma in otherwise healthy people. In fact, doctors often prescribe swimming for their asthmatic patients. They say the benefits of swimming as a healthy form of exercise offsets any potential respiratory risk.