5 Things to Consider when Looking for A Swim Class

The American Academy of Pediatrics is putting a spotlight on baby swim lessons by recommending swim lessons begin at age 1. Their previous guidelines recommended the starting age as 4 years old. The new guidelines also recommend that all children learn to swim to keep them safer around water.

“At SWIMkids USA, we are extremely pleased to have the support of doctors taking this strong stance and letting parents know the importance of the benefits of lessons as a drowning prevention measure,” said Lana Whitehead, President and Founder of SWIMkids USA school in Mesa, AZ and one of the creators of the Water Smart Babies Program. “Swim lessons, along with CPR training, pool fencing, and very close supervision are also absolutely vital.”

Here are Lana’s 5 things to consider when looking for swim lessons for your child

Class Size is Small

There should be at least one instructor for every 4 to 5 children with the parents holding the children and participating in the (parent/tot) lessons. The teacher student ratio should be small enough so that an instructor can give each child individual instruction in addition to group activities. There must always be a lifeguard on the deck.


Instructors are Highly Trained and Credentialed

Instructors should be certified as a lifeguard with yearly re-certifications in CPR and First Aid for the professional rescuer. In addition, they should complete an intensive certification course for baby swimming which includes childhood developmental education, safety in-services, and practical sessions in the pool. This assists the instructor in understanding the developmental phases his/her students will pass through during their aquatic education and provides him/her with the tools to teach a successful program. Background checks should be required for every instructor and for staff.


Water Safety Skills are Taught

Check the class curriculum and make sure it includes drowning prevention skills. The goal for water safety lessons is to prepare the child for an emergency if he/she falls in the water accidentally. When a child learns to hold his/her breath, kick to the surface and then roll over onto his/her back, he/she can rest, breathe and call or yell for help. The child should then learn the swim-float-swim sequence. This water survival technique is the standard in the swim school industry. The student is trained to climb to the top of the water, rotate to his/her back for a short rest period. Then he/she rolls in a horizontal position back onto his/her stomach, rolls back onto his/her back to rest and continues a swim-float-swim sequence until he/she reaches the safety of the wall or steps and climbs out. Thousands of children in California, Arizona and Florida continue to be saved by this proven technique.


Nurturing Instructional Style

A good program builds upon a child’s successes. The instructor should always be nurturing, positive and supportive. If the child is constantly fearful, frustrated, and unable to perform the skills, some changes should be made.

  • An aquatic instructor should show (visual) the student; tell (auditory) him and guide (proprioceptive) him, before she expects him to act in an adaptive manner.
  • Then he/she must walk the child through the skill, without submersion, using gentle guidance, manipulating his/her every move before expecting him/her to perform the skill under water.
  • Patient preparation and practice is critical to the child’s security, confidence, and enthusiasm for water safety lessons. The most important ingredient for success is loving, gentle support, and never imposing techniques on a child with the use of force.


Clean Facility

The pools must be permitted by the local government agency such as the Health Department or County Department of Environmental Services. These agencies regularly test water quality, safety and cleanliness of the facility.

  • The pool must be heated to ensure that it is warm about 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

The air temperature must also be warm and comfortable, approximately 80 degrees.

  • Young babies can become cold very quickly. So, they should be kept in the water away from cool drafts and wrapped in a towel immediately upon exiting the pool.


SWIMkids USA is celebrating 48 years in business this summer. Check out our amazing classes (including free classes for babies) at www.swimkidsaz.com or call us at (480) 820.9109

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.

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. 🙂

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
<img src=”https://swimkidsusablog.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/infant-cpr-photo.

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition! The FAST TRACK to success.

Koryne at practiceKoryne ballet photo
Here’s a quote that caught my attention today! “A baseball swing is a very finely tuned instrument. It is repetition, and more repetition, then a little more after that.” (Reggie Jackson, 1984)

That quote is courtesy of the inspiring former baseball player who was nick-named “Mr. October” because of his talent for coming up with the “big” hit.

Reggie Jackson was the athlete who could make the game deciding-hit for his team and repetition was his secret to success.

We have an awesome little swimmer at SWIMkids USA and Desert Thunder Aquatics Swim Club who makes a difference for her team. Her name is Koryne and she has set 8 team records during her four years with SWIMkids USA!

Koryne, age 6, goes to work out with her DTAC Swim Club 8 & Under swim team not just one time a week. She goes every Tuesday and Friday.

Her coach, Justin Richardson will tell you that her best stroke is butterfly and her greatest accomplishment this year is “making it to the swim team at such a young age, and completing the 100 individual medley on her first try without disqualifying”.

Coach Justin says is her secret to success is exactly the same as that of “Mr. October”. “It is her consistency in practice, a true passion for the water and her regular swim meet and practice attendance,” Richardson says.

Koryne’s mom, Eunice agrees, repetition, repetition, repetition!

“Koryne constantly pushes herself to do better, besides practices and meets, she takes it upon herself to practice at home almost daily,” Eunice says.

Everyone who has had the pleasure of watching Koryne agrees, this young lady’s determination and love for the sport of swimming at such a young age is exceptional.

In her free time, Koryne studies ballet, gymnastics and plays soccer.

For athletes like Koryne, SWIMkids USA created .FAST TRACK It runs between Sept. and Feb.as a way for families to save money when they sign their child up for a second weekly activity.

SWIMkids USA Founder Lana Whitehead says another bonus of FAST TRACK is that winter is the best time to take swim lessons because outdoor home pools are too cold for practice. “If young children discontinue their lessons during colder months, they tend to lose the swim skills they have been learning all summer,” Whitehead says. “When they continue their lessons during the Fall and Winter, their progression continues preparing them for the skills they need to be safer and more proficient around water.”

Year-round swimming participation accelerates the physical, cognitive and social development of our little athletes. Because we are all so inspired by Koryne we used her as the model in our ad this month! Check it out in the September editions of AZ Parenting magazine and SWIMkids USA ad September 2015 AZ Parenting 

Keep swimming – for smarts!

The year was 1971 and new mom Lana Whitehead took her baby son Lance in the water at the YMCA to be her student in a solo swim lesson.

Bystanders watched in amazement!

There was baby Lance, bonding with his mom and learning interesting movements designed to make him safer from drowning..

Soon the YMCA managers were asking Lana if other moms and babies could join her in more formal class.

In a nutshell, that’s how SWIMkids USA  started and fast-forward to today and baby Lance grew up to be smart!  He does the accounting for his family business, which is the largest one location swim schools in AZ and one of the most highly respected swim schools in the USA.

A few years ago, because it is so highly regarded in the swim industry,  researchers turned to SWIMkids USA as one of the global sites to provide data on a very cool project about swimming and the connection to how it makes kids smart.

Check the results out here:  Griffith University Swim Study  

It proves that children who were taught to swim by 5 years, had statistically higher IQs!

“Some of what you learn in the classroom is similar to what you learn in a pool,” said lead study author Robyn Jorgensen, Ph.D., a professor and senior fellow at the Griffith Institute for Educational Research.

“While we expected the children to show better physical development and perhaps be more confident through swimming, the results in literacy and numeracy really shocked us,” lead researcher Jorgensen said.

Called the Early Years Swimming research project, it included data with 45-swim schools across the globe, including SWIMkids USA in Mesa. 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 All Year

  • Jorgensen’s study found, the earlier the child started and the longer they remained in the swimming lessons, the greater the gains.
  • Children taught to swim at an early age hit some physical and developmental milestones faster than those 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 synergy between language and action with swimming that’s essential for many cognitive and motor skills as children grow older. Small children learn to hear language and make connections with their bodies (for example, counting to 10 while kicking during a swim class)
  • It doesn’t take long to see the effects. When researchers observed swimming lessons, they found that the students’ eyes blinked in preparation for the ready cue — “one, two, three, go! ” — showing that young kids can understand language and react accordingly even if they can’t communicate everything clearly.

From swim lessons to swim teams, the professionals at SWIMkids USA know how to help your child experience learning success. Also, if you don’t visit us all-year-round, you are missing another way Lance rocks your child’s world.

No matter what the season, it is Lance who creates the ever-rotating and always beautiful welcome displays around the facility that reflects the business of the organization he helped create: SWIMkids USA -where children love to learn.

May is “National Drowning Prevention Month

Swim lessons save lives. Our parents have shared stories of seeing their child use a skill they learned in class to help themselves when they got in an uncertain situation in the water. We are thrilled to help parents in their effort to make their child safer around water!

No matter how old your children are, you have the power to affect their development and even their success in life. By selecting activities for them that contribute to their emotional and physical development, you are helping them to achieve their dreams and assisting them with becoming self-confident and optimistic adults.

A case-controlled study conducted by Ruth Brenner and her colleagues discovered that participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children aged one to four years. The authors concluded that swimming lessons “should be considered for inclusion as part of a complete prevention program.” In a case-controlled study in rural China, Dr. L. Yang and his associates reported a 40% reduction in drowning risk in open bodies of water for children participating in formal swimming lessons.”[1]
In a case-controlled study in rural China, Dr. L. Yang and associates reported a 40% reduction in drowning risk in open bodies of water for children participating in in formal swimming lessons. [2]

The resistance of the water stimulates tactile receptors and establishes a deeper emotional bond
Scientific studies by Dr. Tiffany Field have shown that touch therapy promotes wellness of the newborn, improves growth and development and enhances bonding between the parent and infant. [3]
The skin is the largest organ in the body. It is the boundary of self and contributes greatly to a sense of awareness.
Touch from the parent provides the child with emotional nourishment, a feeling of attachment, commitment and connection.

In a longitudinal study, Dr. Liselott Diem and her colleagues reported that children who had taken part in baby swimming lessons from the age of 2 months to 4 years were better adapted to new situations and had more self-confidence and independence than non-swimmers. [4]
Swim class has abundant opportunities to share space with other children and to explore movement together. [3] The child cooperates within a social structure to learn by observing and mimicking.
Feeling special, loved and wanted builds self-esteem through a sense of belonging. “Being part of a group also contributes to the child’s social development.'[5]

Studies conducted at Norwegian University of Science and Technology with Dr. Hermundur Sigmundsson and his colleagues found baby swimmers developed better balance, movement and grasping techniques than non-swimmers. This difference persisted even when the children were five years old; the baby swimmers still outperformed their peers in these skills. [6]
Zelazo and Weiss reported that baby swimmers made “considerable gains in movement required for turning 180 degrees and reaching for a wall (underwater) for the 16 to 20 month old children.” The researchers concluded buoyancy most likely boosted the infant’s motor development. [7)

At SWIMkids USA, we love to help you with your child’s development and safety. We work every day to provide an environment where children love to learn, experience the joy of swimming, and where their success is inevitable!

Happy May!

Lana Whitehead / President and Founder of SWIMkids USA


1. Brenner R.A. Gitanjali S.T., Haynie D.L., Trumble A.C., Qian C., Klinger R.M., Klebanoff M.A., Association between Swimming Lessons and Drowning in Childhood: A case control study. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 2009; 163(3):203-210
2. Yang L. Nong ll, Li CL, Feng OM, Lo SK “Risk factors for childhood drowning in rural regions of a developing country: a case-control study.” Injury Prevention 2, 13(3): 178-182.
3. Field T., Scafidi F., Scanaberg S., “Message of Preterm Newborns to Improve Growth and Development.” Pediatric Nursing.; 13: 385-387.
4. Diem, Undeutsch, Lehr, Olbrich, “Early Motor Stimulation and Personal Development: a study of four to six year old German Children.” Extract by Editor. Swimming World 21 (12):14, 1980
5. Connell G., Todd A., Reference Manuel for Early Childhood in Water. Auckland, New Zealand: Swimming New Zealand; 2007.
6. 15. Sigmundsson H., Hopkins B. “Baby Swimming Exploring the Effects of Early Intervention on Subsequent Motor Abilities.” Child: Care, Health and Development, Science Daily 210, 36 (3): 428 DOL:10.1111/j.1365-2214.2009.00990.x. May 7, 2010.
7. Field T., Scafidi F., Scanaberg S., “Message of Preterm Newborns to Improve Growth and Development.” Pediatric Nursing. 13: 385-387.