Life Skills We Teach
In addition to teaching proper swimming technique, racing skills and building endurance and fitness, we also work all the time on the same life skills you are teaching your child at home. Here are some of the age-appropriate life skills we work on at each level and some tips for helping us teach these skills to your child. Keep in mind that the general age ranges are just rough guidelines, as each child develops physically and emotionally at different rates. As your child progresses through the program, we continue to reinforce skills taught at younger levels while introducing new skills.
Little Blue – Ages 5-8
Responsibility – Little Blue swimmers need to arrive at practice with all necessary items. Once they arrive at the facility, they are in charge of their time and need to get to their group on time.
How YOU Can Help – Let your swimmer pack his or her own bag, with suit, goggles, towel and a water bottle. If you drop off your child late, encourage him or her to get dressed and over with the group as soon as he or she can.
Respect – Little Blue swimmers keep their head above water and listen when the coach is talking. They learn proper lane etiquette and strive to be a good teammate.
How YOU Can Help – Reinforce good listening skills. Redirect negative comments about teammates. Talk to us if your child is being disrespected by other swimmers.
Adelie – Ages 7-10
Positivity – Eliminate the words “can’t” and “won’t” from his or her vocabulary when trying new skills, working to refine previously acquired skills and trying new events.
How YOU Can Help – Encourage your child to try new things with an open mind. Remind him or her that although new things may be scary, your child will feel a sense of accomplishment after mastering a new skill or tackling a new problem.
Hard Work and Discipline – Hard work and discipline are the keys to success in swimming and life in general. We try to coach in a way that makes hard work seem fun, but just like life, not every minute of every practice is going to be filled with joy.
How YOU Can Help – Reinforce the concepts of hard work at home and in the pool. Praise your child for his or her work ethic, not results.
Focus and Overcoming Little Obstacles – We try to teach your child to focus on the task at hand, namely the swimming skill or set. When children continually stop for every little thing that bothers them – water in their goggles, someone else passing them in the lane, asking the coach about the next set – they lose sight what we’re working on in the pool. The ability to focus on the task at hand is a skill that will help him or her avoid distractions at school or work.
How YOU Can Help – Reinforce that small obstacles shouldn’t affect your child’s focus on what is important.
Rockhopper – Ages 9-12
Resilience – As children are faced with more challenging sets and goals, they will inevitably fail. We strive to teach them to use this failure as both a learning experience and a motivator to work harder and smarter. Swimming has many opportunities to do it again, and we want them to brush off the disappointments and attack challenges as second (or third or fourth) time.
How YOU Can Help – Allow them to fail, and support them through those disappointments. Encourage them to try again, and learn from each failure. Teach them that life has its ups and downs and we need to be able to deal with both the good and the bad times.
Goal Setting – Once child has been swimming long enough to get a sense of the landscape – how meets work, which things affect meet results, where their times are in relation to standards and how much work they want to put into getting better – we will start to work on setting realistic, meaningful and reachable goals.
How YOU Can Help – Ask your child if he or she is willing to share his or her goals with you. Support them in these goals and stay positive whether or not your child attains these goals or falls short. Make sure they know you love them no matter what.
Support of Teammates – Even though swimming is an individual sport, most children really enjoy going through workouts and meets with others. We want them to encourage their teammates, particularly if they are having a rough day in practice, at a meet, or in some other aspect of their lives.
How YOU Can Help – Listen to your child when he or she talks about his or her friends. Take an interest in learning about their friends. If your child says mean or unflattering things about their teammates, make sure he or she is still treating teammates with respect, and encourage befriending teammates. Many times a child acts out because he or she feels lonely or ostracized, and the kind words of teammate can make a huge difference in his or her attitude.
Magellanic – Ages 11-14
Looking at the Big Picture/Delayed Gratification – Swimming is a long-term sport. All successful swimmers have put in years and years of work to get the payoff. We encourage kids to see where they fit in the larger puzzle, and teach them that the work they put in as middle schoolers sets the foundation for success in high school, college and beyond. Just because they are not seeing immediate results does not mean that they are not making progress.
How YOU Can Help – Encourage your child to take a long view of his or her participation in the sport. Refrain from quantitatively assessing your child’s performance in front of him or her. Recognize the effects of puberty and that a child’s size and development have an influence on results. Refrain from comparing your child to other swimmers, especially in front of him or her. Your child is unique and will develop at his or her own speed. Make sure he or she knows you value that uniqueness.
Setting a Good Example – We encourage the older swimmers to set good examples for the younger swimmers, both in practice and meet conduct. Younger kids look up to the faster kids and often try to emulate them.
How YOU Can Help – Make sure your child is aware that younger kids are watching his or her behavior and encourage him or her to be a good role model. Enforce appropriate language and conversation topics.
Making Healthy and Positive Life Choices – The hidden training elements, like getting adequate sleep, hydrating properly and choosing healthy foods, have a huge effect on how well children swim. They also set the tone for healthy living and making good life choices.
How YOU Can Help – Provide a variety of healthy food choices for your child. Make sure protein and a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables are always available. Encourage your child to go to get enough sleep and assist with time management if he or she becomes overwhelmed with responsibilities. Talk to us if you see unhealthy eating habits (particularly eating disorders in girls) or if you need assistance in nutrition advice.
Gentoo – Ages 13-18
Dedication – As swimmer progress through the ranks, they will need to make choices about which activities are important to them. In many cases, they will not be able to handle other fulltime sports (and possibly other extracurricular), and will need to dedicate themselves to swimming.
How YOU Can Help – Be supportive of your child and allow him or her to decide which activities are important. Assist with time management and prioritization skills. If your child chooses fulltime swimming, be supportive through both the ups and downs, and reinforce that you love your child no matter what the result.
Leadership and Contributing to the Community – The oldest swimmers are the leaders of our team and swimming community. We teach them to speak up when they see something wrong, and to advocate for the smaller and younger kids. We occasionally mix the ages of kids in practice so that the older swimmers can teach the younger ones, both skills and good training habits.
How YOU Can Help – Encourage your child to be a leader, and to call out questionable behavior. Encourage him or her to reach out to younger swimmers.