Kids swim lessons: Learning to swim also boosts self-esteem for one young swimmer

Second in a Series: Kids Swim Lessons

“Chicago Blue Dolphins creates an environment of encouragement and understanding from the moment you first make contact…”— Kathryn Day, Chicago

Private Swim Lessons Create Watershed Moments for Son

Kids swimming lessons, Kids swim team | Chicago Blue Dolphins

Kathryn Day (lower left) and her oldest son, London (top right).

In Australia where Kathryn Day grew up, swimming is a way of life and kids learn to swim when they learn to walk. So understandably, she wanted her son London, 12, to grow up with same love for water play as she did.

When Kathryn and her family moved from Philadelphia to Chicago several years ago, she was happy to learn swim lessons were within walking distance from their home at Swift Elementary School, a satellite location for the Chicago Blue Dolphins. They had neighbors whose children had done really well with CBD, and she enrolled London in private lessons so he could learn more quickly.

At the time, London was 4.5 years old and Katherine felt they had already lost valuable time getting him acclimated to water. “We had moved here from Philadelphia, and our experience [with swim lessons] in Philly was not as positive as the experience we had with Chicago Blue Dolphins,” she says. At the other swim school they had tried, they felt like a number or like the coaches were not very knowledgeable.

But at CBD, their experience was very different. London’s first coach was also a member the U.S. Coast Guard. “He was so patient and he developed a really good rapport with London,” Kathryn says. “We felt like we found the perfect place for lessons.”

Coaching Styles Make a Big Splash

Over the years, London has also worked with Coach Elia and now is on the Chicago Blue Dolphins Swim Team with Coach Fitz. The improvements in his swimming and his self-esteem have increased exponentially over the past few years. Kathryn credits the coaching style and the supportive culture of Chicago Blue Dolphin families.

“The coaches take an interest in each individual child, meeting them where their skill levels are and encouraging them from there,” she says. “Originally, when he went swimming, he would do it and seemed to enjoy it, but now he won’t miss it. We have to re-arrange other activities so he can go to swim squad.”

London has been with the swim team for about a year and swims with the team two to three nights each week. While the coaches work the kids hard, Kathryn says they also create an enjoyable environment, providing them time to play while still improving their swimming abilities.

“Chicago Blue Dolphins creates an environment of encouragement and understanding, from the moment you first make contact, to lessons with Coach Fitz, to the young lady who does the organization at the swimming pool,” Kathryn says. “Everyone is on the same page with regard to service. Even the other parents are encouraging. It’s really a positive experience.”

Swim Lessons Keep Young Swimmer Awash in Positive Self-Esteem

London now is mastering everything from the butterfly to the breaststroke to open turns. The benefits of swim lessons at CBD have surpassed all of Kathryn’s expectations. “My hope was that London would gain confidence in the water and have the ability to swim,” she says. “Those expectations have been exceeded. Now, when we go on vacation, all he wants to do is be at the pool, regardless of how cold the pool is. He’d rather swim at the pool than go to a theme park. He’ll even swim in Lake Michigan.”

London’s swimming achievements have also led to positive benefits outside the pool. “It has made an enormous improvement in his swimming ability and to his self-esteem,” Kathryn says. “He has a sense that he’s good at something. And he hears it from everyone from Coach Fitz all the way down…He even comes home from school and says, ‘I’m the best swimmer at my school.’ When he tells me that, I can tell that he’s really encouraged.”

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