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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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 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.

The Day They Went Under

Robbie and Kelsey at David's weddingYou would have thought I was opening a treasure chest.

My 3-year-old daughter, Kelsey and 4-year-old son, Robbie watched as I pulled clothes out of our suitcase. On top was Kelsey’s delicate lavender dress with its satin sash. Then, Robbie’s nice slacks and his little-boy-sized red tie. Tucked under them was the “treasure” they were really wanting. Their swim suits!

We had traveled to Park City, Utah to attend my brother’s wedding. The fancy clothes were for tomorrow’s festivities, but the swim suits were for now. We were going to the pool! Our home in Los Angeles did not have a swimming pool, but the mountain lodge we just checked into did.

I enjoyed hearing their giggles and splashing as they played. I sat in a chair on the edge, loving the mountain air. How cute they were! Without a care in the world, I was happily watching their joy.

What happened next unfolded quickly.

They moved into a deeper area of the pool than they had previously been playing in. They were holding the edge. They let go and paddled out to deep water, then went straight down. I’ll never know why it happened. I’m guessing they were frightened or felt panic. For whatever reason they could not get back up for air.

Fully clothed, I went in after them. I am truly grateful that I’m a former competitive swimmer for whom swimming is my lifelong love. I was also a professional lifeguard for several years. I knew what to look for and could discern quickly that they were not joking around. Their drowning was absolutely silent.

My denim jacket had a padded/quilted lining and the longer I was under the heavier it got. Why I didn’t cast it off prior to jumping in is a question I ask of myself. Thankfully, lifeguard training prepared me to do a rescue while fully-clothed.

If you are the designated water watcher this summer, please take minute to read these 5-tips from Lana Whitehead, founder of SWIMkids USA.   Lana is the recipient of a 2014 Health Care Hero award from the Phoenix Business Journal for the impact she has had on educating our community about the dangers of drowning.

Water watcher tips:

  • Young children require close supervision. How close? “It should be within an arm’s length,” Lana says.
  • It is best is to be in the water with the child. “That way you have your ears, your eyes, and the tactile benefit of feeling the turbulence of the water if the child is struggling,” Lana explains.
  • If you cannot be in the water, sit on the side with your feet dangling in the pool.
  • A designated adult should be watching children at all times with no distractions. SWIMkids USA provides free water watcher wrist bands that say “I’m in charge! Lifeguard on duty” to anyone who would like one.
  • Switch the person who is watching the swimmers every 15 minutes. This person must know how to swim.

The chance for distraction is great when the sun is shining and the kids are having fun. But, think of the image of a professional lifeguard. It is not the same as babysitting. A designated lifeguard is never involved in any other activity such as reading, playing cards, talking on the phone, or mowing the lawn while supervising children.

My children came up coughing-up water and crying. They were successfully rescued. They say today that they learned a valuable lesson from the experience. I also thought about how I had Kelsey in dance lessons and Robbie did baseball (T-ball). After that, I made time in their afternoons for more swim lessons.

To get your free water watcher wrist band contact SWIMkids USA at (480) 820-9109. Or visit their website for contact here: SWIMkids USA

For more information about water safety read this from the Centers for Disease Control.

CDC Water Safety Information

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.

Music therapy inspires pediatric patient to help others through Blake’s Miracle Festival

Music and Massage Therapy

By Sue Breding

My heart filled with pride when I saw her in December 2014. It was winter and yet this second-grader was all decked-out in a swim suit, goggles and a very determined look.

Aria Anderson started her first day of swim lessons and began her goal of participating in the annual Blake’s Miracle Festival’s SWIMkid-a-thon which raises money for Banner Children’s at Cardon Children’s Medical Center.

Aria looked at the lap pool and took a deep breath.  Then, the 7-year-old from Chandler, Ariz. jumped in and made it to the center before she stopped. She was too afraid to go to go all the way to the end. It wasn’t long, though,  before she grew stronger and more confidant through her weekly training sessions.

But for Aria, this is nothing new.  Overcoming fear is a skill she knows a lot about.

The first time I met Aria was in February, 2014 and she had braids and monkey pajamas.  She was lying in a hospital bed – a patient at Cardon Children’s Medical Center where medical experts were helping her overcome complications from brain surgery.

Aria had endured multiple stays in the hospital and weeks away from home.

But the one bright spot amid the treatments and technology were visits by Angela Wibben, a music therapist, at Cardon Children’s.  While playing instruments and singing may seem  like pure fun, it really helps children cope with pain and anxiety during their hospital stay.

“It’s someone who’s coming in, who’s not going to poke them and who’s there to have fun,” her mother, Tina Anderson, said.

During  her stays at Cardon Children’s Aria welcomed the various  forms of integrative therapy,  such as massage, pet and aromatherapy, that was available.

“All of these things teach children coping skills they can use for the rest of their lives,” said Teri Reyburn-Orne, Cardon Children’s Pain Management team manager.

Once out of the hospital Aria’s focus switched focus to other children currently in Cardon Children’s with the goal of participating in the Blake’s Miracle Festival’s SWIMkid-a-thon.

Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music to accomplish individual patient comfort goals with the help of a board certified music therapist when a child is in pain.

Research shows music therapy can be used to:

  • Reduce pain and enhance the effects of medication
  • Reduce stress and anxiety due to illness and hospitalization
  • Foster socialization and communication to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness
  • Normalize the hospital environment

Since 2006,  Blake’s Miracle Festival has raised about a quarter of a million dollars to make  integrative therapy free of charge at Cardon Children’s. Music therapy is usually not covered by insurance.  The Whitehead family started this event to create a miracle for other children after the loss of their precious family member Blake, who was almost two-years-old and fought a brave battle with leukemia. Just like Aria, Blake loved to swim and loved the music therapy he received when he was in the hospital and in pain.

To find out more about Blake’s miracle, please visit.

Top 3 Reasons to Have Your Child Participate in a Swim Meet

There are many reasons to have your child participate in a swim meet, but we’ve managed to whittle down our list to an all-star top three.

1. Stress Management– Meeting new people, swimming in an unfamiliar pool and having a hectic schedule all contribute to your child’s stress levels. However, working with the swim team to compete in an encouraging environment will help your kiddo make it through, and learn how to manage stress at an early age.

2. Healthy Competition–  Did you know that team activities and competition can boost performance and learning? Your child has the chance to make friends, exercise and compete- all wrapped up into one experience. And as much as we cringe to say it, everyone has to experience losing every now and again. (We can’t be perfect all the time!) Learning not to be a sore loser early benefits everyone.

3. Pride in Accomplishments– There’s nothing quite as satisfying as working hard and accomplishing a goal. Success at a swim meet means that your child did their best, and is able to enjoy the fruits of a win, whether personal or with the team.

If you have any questions about SWIMteam USA or Desert Thunder Elite Aquatics Club, give us a call at (480)820-9109.