Warm-ups are simply ways to prepare our bodies for physical activity. We increase the heart and respiratory rates so that more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to our muscles. It’s important to warm up – especially before swimming – so that we can reduce our potential to have cramps and get fatigued.
Anytime kids are going to swim, they should warm up, not just before lessons. After all, we all want the fun of water play in pools, lakes or even the ocean to be safe. So it is important to reinforce a warm-up routine of 10 minutes or so as a required part of their activities.
Warm-up before stretching
Warm-ups should come before stretching since stretching cold muscles can cause pulls and tears. Warm-ups should include light aerobic and cardiovascular activity so that kids lightly work the muscles that they will use in swimming.
Kids can do these exercises to mimic swim strokes:
- Raise their arms above their heads and then pull them down to the sides of their bodies
- Push arms out from their sides and back in again
Kids can also lie on their backs, raise their legs up and bring them back down in a bicycle motion.
All warm ups should be done at a slow and steady pace.
Stretch before swimming
After the warm-ups, it is good for kids to do two or three stretches to increase their flexibility and range of muscle motion before they enter the water.
Show them how to:
- Stretch their arms high above their heads and slowly bend their torsos from side to side, keeping feet shoulder-width apart and facing forward.
- Bend down and touch their toes to stretch legs and back muscles.
Each stretch should be held for 10 to 30 seconds.
Are there warm-ups that are especially good for nervous swimmers?
Yes – as a matter of fact, there are!
You’re bound to have some children who are afraid to enter the water – especially when they are just learning how to swim.
Help them to acclimate themselves to being in the water by giving them low stress water activities to do.
- Sit in a shallow area and encourage the child to put his mouth to the water and blow bubbles.
- Have the child hold the edge of the pool and kick.