The chilly temps Chicago has seen lately might already have your kids bouncing off the walls, but there is one place especially great for all of that pent-up energy while kids learn lessons that could save their lives: a 91-degree swimming pool.
“Winter can be a challenging time for parents to keep kids moving,” says Chris DeJong, a former member of the U.S. National Swim Team and owner of Big Blue Swim School.
Swim lessons are great during the winter months because they keep kids active, burn energy and help them sleep better at nap and bedtime.
We reached out to DeJong recently to get an insider’s view on swim lessons in Chicagoland.
Since swim lessons reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent, starting early is a plus, he says, adding kids 6 months and older are ready to begin swim lessons. “The earlier your kid becomes comfortable in the water, the easier learning to swim will be,” he says.
Big Blue, for instance, offers lessons for all ages and all abilities. The company is about to open its fifth location to make it even easier for parents to find.
The type of instruction matters.
DeJong, who was ranked fifth in the world in the 200-meter backstroke, advises parents to make sure the teachers are full-time since he says part-time teachers rarely receive the level of training necessary to get your child to make real progress in a reasonable amount of time. Classes at Big Blue, for instance, are kept to three kids per teacher to avoid large, intimidating group settings.
“To be safe, your kid needs to know breath control, balance in the water and individual propulsion. Kids even as young as 2½ should be swimming back and forth throughout their lesson and not just sitting on the wall waiting for their turn,” he says.
The type of swim school matters, too.
Swim lessons should be fun, DeJong says. Plus, they should fit a family’s ever-changing schedule easily. Look for schools that offer free make-up lessons and don’t require you to pay registration fees again if you have to sign up for a different time. Also, look for schools that track kids’ progress not by age, but by distances they are able to swim.
“We create big moments in a child’s life, and we show kids they can do anything by realizing their full potential in the water,” he says.
About Big Blue Swim School
Big Blue Swim School specializes in teaching children ages 6 months to 12 years how to be safe, happy and confident swimmers. Their full-time teachers are dedicated to providing your child a learn-to-swim experience unlike any other.
The school is opening its fifth location at 4207 N. Western Ave., in Chicago’s North Center neighborhood, in March. Find other locations nearest you here.
Visit bigblueswimschool.com for more information.