Keep kids swimming- for smarts!

There are surprising benefits to year-round swim lessons.  As the weather turns cooler and summer ends, keep ’em swimming!  It can make their learning easier.

Research out of Australia   proves that children, who were taught to swim by 5 years, had statistically higher IQs.

Turns out, some of what you learn in the classroom (or in your day-to-day experiences) is similar to what you learn in a pool, says lead study author Robyn Jorgensen, Ph.D. is a professor and senior fellow at the Griffith Institute for Educational Research.

SWIMkids USA  provided data for this highly regarded study. Called the Early Years Swimming Research Project, it included date with 45-swim schools across the globe. Researchers surveyed the parents of more than 7,000 children age 5 and under and found that the age kids learned to swim correlated with when they began accomplishing certain skills.

5-Reasons to Swim for Smarts!

  • Jorgensen’s study found, the earlier the child started and the longer they remained in the swimming lessons, the greater the gains.
  • Kids who are taught to swim at an early age hit certain physical and developmental milestones faster than kids who learn later in life.
  • In pre-school, early swimmers had better visual-motor skills (like cutting paper and drawing lines and shapes), but also fared better as they got older (i.e. understanding directions, math, and writing and reading skills).
  • There’s a strong synergy between language and action with swimming that’s essential for many cognitive and motor skills as they grow older. Kids learn at an early age to hear language and make connections with their bodies (for example, counting to 10 while kicking).
  • It doesn’t take long to see the effects. When researchers observed swimming lessons, they found that the kids’ eyes blinked in preparation for the ready cue — “one, two, three, go! ” — a clear sign that young kids can understand language and react accordingly even if they can’t communicate everything clearly.

From swim lessons to swim teams, let us at SWIMkids USA know how we can help you with your child’s success!

SWIMkids USA  -where children love to learn.

Olympic Dreams Begin Here! SWIMkids USA

The same night as the Parade of Nations for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Rio’s Maracanã Stadium was going on, a second Parade of Nations was happening in Mesa at SWIMkids USA.

The Rio parade was awe-inspiring as it featured top athletes from across the globe marching together including Gilbert gymnast Alex Naddor, Tempe diver Sam Dorman and legendary swimmer with Tempe ties, Michael Phelps who was carrying the American flag.

The Mesa Parade of Nations was charming as it featured children from Gilbert, Tempe and other East Valley cities who were waving flags from different countries around the world as they marched around the SWIMkids USA facility where they are in the early stages of  learning to swim or do gymnastics.

Even if the little swimmers and gymnasts are not taking lessons to be a future Olympian, they are gaining so many life skills from simply participating in sports. They are learning discipline,  goal setting and they are gaining self confidence.

Every athlete in the games of the XXXI Olympiad started learning in a facility just like the swim school they East Valley students are learning in. It is in community swim, gym centers or recreation facilities where the foundation for their future success was laid. The athletes then with long and hard hours of learning and practicing became the elite athletes that everyone can admire.

The children who were in the Mesa parade see from the Arizona athletes in Rio that Olympic dreams begin in cities just like the ones they are growing up in. They see that friendly competition can be fun and they learned by being part of a the SWIMkids USA Parade of Nations that the world is a wonderful place.


Swim Lessons Save Lives (and other facts)

How do you think it sounds when someone is drowning? That drowning victims make a lot of noise is only one of the false-assumptions around water safety, which keep drowning tragedies too often at the top of the daily news.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention –  in the United States, 300 children die each year and about 3,000 children are taken to emergency rooms from drowning.

Arizona is fourth in the nation for incidence of childhood drowning, notes Pool Safely.

Can you debunk some of these common myths about drowning?  True or False?

  1. Arm floaties are a good way to keep a child safe.
    False:  Arm floaties should never be used. They slip off, puncture and give a child a false sense of security.
  2. By age 3 a child is finally ready to start their swim lessons.
    False: EARLY swim lessons save lives! A child can begin swim lessons with their parent before they learn to walk and become dangerously mobile.
  3. Children drown more often than adults.
    False: Adults drown 70 percent of the time and children drown 30 percent of the time according to Children Safety Zone.
  4.  African American individuals drown more often than other races.
    True: Among children ages 5-14, African American children drown almost three-times the number of white children, according to the CDC.
  5. Men are often stronger than women yet they drown more often than women.
    True: Nearly 80 percent of individuals who drown are men.

The weather is hot and pools are a wonderful place to cool off but they are also dangerous. If you would like more information about swim lessons please call the experts at SWIMkids USA at (480) 820-9109.

Why SWIMkids USA began

SWIMkids USA has won the Healthcare Leadership award for community impact given by AZ Business magazine. The award reflects the hard work of staff and the passion and direction of Lana Whitehead who started her business back in 1971.We thought this was a great opportunity to share Lana’s story of why SWIMkids USA began.

My story– By Lana Whitehead, Founder of SWIMkids USA

I began to develop the SWIMkids USA swim method when my first son was an infant. I knew how vitally important early swimming instruction was in the southwest. The sharply increasing number of home swimming pools in the warmer climates had contributed to the higher incidence of childhood drowning in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. Also, by introducing my child to the water at an early age, I could help prevent the terror and resulting fear which often accompanies a negative aquatic experience.
In 1971, I started taking my son Lance to the YMCA in Pleasant Hill California to get him acclimated to water. He was only four months old at the time. The experience was so bonding and enjoyable for the both us, that he was paddling underwater and floating on his back in a matter of weeks. The director of the Y observed our private water sessions and asked me to develop a baby program for their facility. The classes were popular and grew very quickly. The next thing we knew, our program was being featured on all the San Francisco Bay area news programs.
During 1972 when our program was in its infancy, a friend’s son was found floating in her parent’s backyard pool. After days of stay in the intensive care unit with no improvement in his condition, three-year-old  Todd was removed from life support. I was there when my friend, Trutti on the advice of physicians had to make the decision to take her son off the breathing machines. Todd and my son Lance had been playmates in their nursery, primary and Sunday school classes since they were infants.
I will never forget the sadness I felt for Todd’s sweet mother as she made the selfless decision to let him leave this life in peace. A year later another sweet sister from church lost her three-year-old son in a similar backyard drowning. After experiencing these tragic deaths with my devastated friends, I vowed I would dedicate my life to water safety and drowning prevention. In 1974, I dedicated my first book “Incredible Swimfants” to the memory of Todd Gleason and Brian Westburg. Two precious young boys who were tragically robbed of full lives because they were unacquainted with water safety techniques and there were no barriers around the pools.
After moving to Arizona in 1998 we were contacted by NBC to publicize baby swimming. Since that time, SWIMkids USA has been featured on the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, CBS Morning Show, That’s Incredible, Omni Medical Documentary, Montel Williams Show, PM Magazine and numerous local news broadcasts as advocates for water safety and drowning prevention.

SWIMkids USA has assumed a leadership role in drowning prevention awareness and demonstrated outstanding achievement in creating awareness of proven drowning prevention strategies with its regular speaking appearances at conferences all over the world. We have made a significant contribution to improve water safety and successfully promoted the use of new drowning prevention technologies by developing the SWIMkids USA method which has taught over 50,000 children. SWIMkids USA is viewed as an advocate for drowning prevention by increasing public attention at the policy making level by appearing regularly in the media, and authoring five books on the subject.

Come to class with me! How an invite changed my life.

By Marie Carter –  Gymnastics Director/SWIMkids USA

Growing up, I was always a relatively active child. The two things I loved in life were my friends and anything that got me moving or out of the house!

It didn’t take long for my grandparents and mom to notice this. My grandma jumped at the opportunity to enroll me in swim lessons from a young age. Then volleyball and softball quickly came after. I remember how much I enjoyed the games or team parties because I was surrounded by all my teammates who were also among my best friends. Having an opportunity to see all of them weekly was reason enough for me to enjoy being involved in sports teams!

However there was one day I will never forget when my best friend (the “we can’t be separated” type of best friend) asked me to go with her to her new gymnastics class.

I’m sure my thoughts went as follows-

  • My best friend would be there🙂

  • something new!

  • getting out of the house

  • meeting new friends!

The class was one of the hardest classes I had done but I LOVED it. All I remember from that first class was how in my head I was pretending I was an Olympic athlete. I was trying to emulate their finesse on the spring floor which was so much fun and from that moment on I consistently begged my mom and grandparents to invest in gymnastics.

After I had caught the gymnastics bug, this same friend asked me to try out for the cheer squad. Again my thoughts ran through my screening process; best friend, something new, getting out of the house and meeting new friends!

Marie image1Before I knew it I was on a cheer squad going to games, practices and competitions! This is where I discovered I had the heart of a performer. I found my stride and loved every minute of it. Whether it was a  half time performance or competing at nationals, the important thing to me was that  I was making lasting friendships and gained a new confidence in myself.

I know that’s why I hold “Bring a friend to gym” week and the upcoming showcase so dear to my heart. As silly as it sounds – and permit me to be cheesy for just a bit – I might not be where I am today without my friend asking me to attend her gym class. I found a love of the sport, which then lead me to seek out a job teaching and oddly enough lead me to be newly engaged to an amazing guy that I met here at SWIMkids USA!🙂

SWIMkids USA Gymnastics Events ScrollSharing what you love with those around you makes for happier children and adults. I was fortunate enough to have a friend who did that with me.🙂

Ho Ho Holiday Gratitude

Happy December. We want to extend a heartfelt thank you to you for making your family a part of our family!

Reflecting on the past year, we are tremendously grateful SWIMkids USA received numerous prestigious awards that distinguished our organization and our leadership as best-in-class.

We appreciate knowing these designations are validations that we’re on the right track with the specific methodology we follow to help children love to learn.

This year’s honors include:

  • 2015 Best Aquatic Program – Arizona Parks & Recreation Association
  • 2015 Most Admired Leader, Lana Whitehead – Phoenix Business Journal
  • 2015 Best Place to Work – The Arizona Republic
  • 2015 Best of Mesa Recreational Activity – East Valley Tribune newspaper
  • 2015 Safety Geek Award – Maricopa County Safe Kids Coalition
  • 2015 Adolph Kiefer Safety Commendation Award, Lana Whitehead – USA Swimming. (This highly prestigious honor from USA Swimming Convention goes to an individual or organization that has made a significant contribution to safe swimming in the United States.)

Here are more things we are grateful for!

Melissa Sutton: I am grateful for my family, health and work and for the heightened way that during the holiday season we often think of others. We try to visit family more often during this time or reach out to friends and family we haven’t spoken with in a while. When I was a child, we used to go out to the family’s 40 acres and spend hours searching for the perfect Christmas tree to cut down, haul back and set up in our living room.Those trips also included instructions on how to get the tree down (if in a dense part of the forest) and how to drag it out – especially on those instances we had hiked a mile in. And then, the decorating began! That was worth every moment of cold and hiking through snow up to my waist. Oh, how I loved to decorate the tree – and still do!

Nathan Askins: I am so grateful for all the wonderful families and children that I have been blessed to teach this year. They all have played such a wonderful part in my life and I am so happy to know all of them. On Christmas when I was a kid, my sisters and all my cousins would sleep over at my grandparents’ house. We would wake up early and my grandpa (who loved Christmas more than any kid) would line us up youngest to oldest. He would bring us to the door that led us to our Christmas present. He would let each child peek through the door for a millisecond, building up the anticipation before Christmas morning began!

Shaunna Risinger: I am grateful for my family. I am also grateful for being able to work with so many amazing families and little ones each day. I love my work family and I have the best boss anyone could ask for! My favorite would have to be road tripping to Arizona for Christmas with my family. I loved spending Christmases out here as I grew up in Michigan and loved packing shorts and t-shirts for a December/January trip. SO many great memories were made on these trips.

Britt Kimball: I am thankful for my job at SWIMkids USA because I know I’ve made a difference in the lives of my students. As an aquatic instructor, I equipped my students with the skills they need to be safer in an emergency. I taught them how to live active, healthy lives. I built muscle, smiles and brain power. I can share these ideals because Lana Whitehead has taught me how to articulate them. She started SWIMkids USA because water safety is her passion, which inspires my passion as well. I truly think that the curriculum she created is the best in the country


Baby CPR – These three things may surprise you!

When Amanda Acuna’s daughter was a baby, one minute her girl was eating Cheerios in her high chair and quick-as-a-wink, the next minute, her daughter was choking.

“I thankfully was able to quickly draw on specific choking management strategies I had learned in a CPR class,” Acuna recalls. “I was able to perform a series of back blows to dislodge the Cheerio.”

The hope is that we’ll never be put in the scary position of having to save a baby’s life, but the truth is there are many quick-as-a wink situations that can and do happen. Babies can and do choke on food or slip under the water in a pool or a bath tub, the list goes on.

CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and it is a lifesaving procedure you can perform when an accident happens. CPR is often used in drowning and drowning is the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 4 in Arizona.

In addition to being a mom who expertly helped her child in a choking situation she is a master aquatics instructor, lead StarGuard/ASHI Trainer and CPR instructor for SWIMkids USA.

Here are the top three things she says often surprise parents about CPR.

1) CPR for infants is different than CPR for adults and children!
“That’s because all three have a different body-size and lung-size,” explains Acuna. “It’s important to choose a course that provides training for all three: infant, child and adult CPR (like we provide at SWIMkids USA ).”

2) Most CPR classes will also have a part about choking strategy.

3) CPR DOUBLES a person’s chance of survival in an emergency.
“When someone has an emergency where their heart can’t pump blood through their body efficiently, cells begin to die and brain cells die within minutes, resulting in permanent damage after only 4-6 minutes,” Acuna explains. “With effective CPR, a rescuer can move oxygenated blood to the brain to help those brain cells stay alive.”

CPR makes a difference. Be the one who makes a difference.

SWIMkids USA has a mission to save lives, and family education is a part of that. We encourage every family to provide layers of protection against drowning. These layers include supervision, barriers (like pool fences), swimming lessons, and CPR. Drowning incidents leading in death are greatly reduced when more layers of protection are in place. This is why we offer drowning prevention education, survival swimming lessons, and CPR classes.
Amanda Acuna teaching
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