By Ashley Twichell, Open Water Source
MISSION VIEJO, California, March 8. ARE you a coach attempting to get your younger athletes interested in open water swimming?
If so, it may be a difficult task if not approached in the right way. The idea of open water swimming, particularly to younger children, may be intimidating, especially on shorelines with waves.
Here are some helpful tips to help facilitate an enjoyable first experience in the open water for a novice – of any age.
1. It is best for a young swimmer's first open water event to be more about the fun, rather than the competition. Open water races can be overwhelming as is. There is no need to add on the extra pressure of placing well. Try to find a race that is low-key and relaxed, and stress the importance of having FUN, being out in the sun and enjoying summer. The competition factor can be added in after the joy of open water has been established.
2. Encourage your young kids to partner up with a friend or two to swim with. Open water rookies are likely to feel much more comfortable if they are swimming with people they know, as opposed to being one person lost among a sea of people. If your athlete's friend has swum open water before, he or she can help guide and show your swimmer the ropes. If it is both kids' first experiences, they can take comfort in the fact that they are going through this experience together.
3. Bring your swimmer to the open water venue at least once prior to race day. Allow them to become comfortable with the surroundings, so that there are no unexpected surprises the day of the event. If possible, it would be very beneficial if he or she were actually able to get in the water at the course venue around the same time they will swim the event. This way, the young athletes will be able to become familiar with what they will be most likely be experiencing on race day. If they know factors such as water temperature, the course route, current, tides and presence (or lack of) sea creatures before the actual event, they will feel much more comfortable on race day.
Open water swimming can be extremely fun and enjoyable. If introduced and presented to athletes in the correct manner, it will hopefully become a lifelong passion.