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.


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


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

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.

Fighting Childhood Depression with FITkids USA

At SWIMkids USA, we highlight the development of the entire child, rather than simply focusing on swimming alone.

A new study has found that keeping your kids (especially girls) in shape helps to fight the symptoms of depression. We’re not surprised! After all, how many times has a walk in the fresh air made you feel better? Imagine the benefits of daily exercise!

Here’s an excerpt from the press release from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. You can read the full article here, or check out what the APA wrote here.

” ‘Fitness is not a cure-all, but it’s a small piece of a larger problem,’ said Ruggero. He noted that depression is also linked to a higher body mass index (BMI), a measurement used to assess if a person has a healthy weight for their height. In addition, middle school is a time when fitness levels drop off, weight increases and depression increases.”

In the spring, we realized that we needed to do more to combat the American obesity epidemic. In response, our team of childhood development experts created FITkids USA, and piloted the program this summer.

Now, it’s here to stay.

The hour-long physical conditioning class is for both the elite athlete and the sedentary child. We work to develop their skill in everything from plyometrics to flexibility and core strength.

Give your kids what they need for a more confident future.

Check out our Facebook page for our latest updates and information about FITkids USA!



DANCEkids USA Boosts Brains!

Our dancers are already excited for the 2014 Winter Recital!

Our dancers are already excited for the 2014 Winter Recital!

Lately, we have been blogging all about the brain boosting benefits of swimming at an early age.

But did you know that dancing helps develop the brain, too? At SWIMkids USA, we cross-train athletes in dance to improve coordination and rhythm. Whether it’s hip-hop, ballet, tap or jazz, our DANCEkids USA program does it all.

So, why is dancing so beneficial to a child’s brain development? Well, it helps the brain to form better judgement and forethought, and helps the organ produce a protein that stimulates neural communication- that means smoother social interactions, and faster reaction times.

How can your child reap those benefits?

The answer is simple. Dance at least once per week! And that could mean formal classes, or casual dance parties around the dishwasher during chore time.

In fact, we’re giving you the chance to try the fruits of dance! Saturdays August 23 and September 6, we’ll be bouncing to the beat with our Back to School Dance Parties, and on Saturday, August 30, we’re hosting a Family Fitness Zumba Party. It’s only $5 for each participant, so sign up and get dancing!

Call us at (480)820-9109 for more information, or to sign up for a dance trial class or one of our parties.

And remember- keep dancing!