Many of our SwimFin fans, upon receiving their SwimFin delivery, wonder how to go about taking their first steps with their SwimFin. In order to make the transition smooth from the beginning, we have some recommendations that will help you and your little shark to be comfortable and confident from the start. We also encourage you to watch our First Steps video featuring SwimFin Head Shark, Kevin Moseley:
Unpackaging and Fitting your SwimFin:
First of all, remove all packaging. You will find, in the packaging, your SwimFin and two straps. Feed the straps through the SwimFin to prepare yourself for fitting the SwimFin on your child. When the SwimFin is positioned on your child and secure with the hook and loop straps, the SwimFin logo should read correctly (not upside down) and the SwimFin should be sitting on the back as on the back of a shark. We have seen several customers putting the SwimFin on backwards which will not affect the efficiency of the SwimFin but is simply not how it’s worn. Have a look at our SwimFin fitting video to see how quickly your child can be up and splashing. We do recommend that if your child has sensitive skin, wearing a UV swimming top will help to eliminate any skin irritation that might occur from wearing the SwimFin.
When the SwimFin is fit on your child, the straps should be fairly tight which will prevent unnecessary movement of the SwimFin on your child’s back. SwimFin should only be worn on the back, NEVER on the front.
Getting in the water:
Once your child has their SwimFin on, the best way to proceed whether in the pool or in open water, is to get yourself in first and hold your child close to you to get used to the temperature of the water. If your child is reluctant to enter the water, even with you holding them, sit them on the side of the pool and get yourself in the water. Allow them to kick and splash with their feet while getting used to the idea of getting in the water. When they are ready, either hold them close to your body and lower into the water with them or hold their hands and support them as they float in the water in front of you. The most important things to remember is to remain positive at all times, smile and be confident in yourself and go slow.
It’s not a race to get them swimming as quickly as possible. If you take your time and proceed when your child is ready they will acclimatise far faster and will be more secure and confident in the water. This progression may take several sessions! Never put your child in a position that makes them uncomfortable or fearful and refrain from being negative or cross with your child. If they have worries and are old enough to communicate them to you, listen to them and proceed at their pace. All children experience water wobbles from time to time. What you don’t want is for them to have a negative experience and to become unwilling to get in the water in the future.
Progression from those first swimming sessions:
Once your child is comfortable in the water with you, work to get them holding your hands and encourage them to kick their legs. They will be in a fully vertical position but by holding their hands and encouraging them to kick or pedal their legs you can move them about gently in the water. The SwimFin will fully support your child in the water but they will sit a bit lower in the water than you may have experienced with arm bands, flotation vest or swim rings. Your child’s chin should rest on the top of the water and they will comfortably bob in the water.
If they are confident enough, let go of their hands! Always remain within touching distance of your child at this stage. If they are unsure, try holding just one hand. One of the benefits of SwimFin is the full-range motion of your little shark’s arms and legs. Once they are happy to be in the water without direct support from you they will be able to move their arms and legs freely in the water. Encourage your child to paddle their arms and legs and move around in the water. They can also practice leaning forward slightly to move forward more efficiently. Again, they will be fully supported when they are vertical in the water. It is only when your child becomes horizontal on the top of the water and their SwimFin is fully out of the water that they are no longer being directly supported by their SwimFin and are instead, swimming on their own!
Another challenge to try is to have your child lean onto their back while being supported by you. The SwimFin will fully support your child while on their back and acts as a sort of rudder in the water. Encourage your child to spread their arms and legs in a starfish shape to maintain balance on the surface of the water. This is a great exercise to perfect before working on back stroke. Of course, SwimFin is suitable for all 4 swimming strokes including backstroke!
Safety First, Last and ALWAYS:
SwimFin allows young, learner swimmers to feel safe and secure in the water. However, no swimming aid should be relied upon to keep your child safe without your immediate and direct supervision. It only takes seconds for a drowning to occur, especially with young children. Until your child is fully confident in the water a parent needs to be within arms reach at all times. Never allow the SwimFin to be your life guard. If you cannot be in the water with your child, your child should not be in the water at these early stages. If your child is confident and you have been in the water with your child and know they are capable of paddling, moving and righting themselves then you may not need to be directly with them in the water at all times. However, you must maintain your supervision of your child in the water and never allow them out of your sight.
Periodically check your SwimFin on your child throughout their swimming session. Straps can sometimes slip so it is good to check their tightness periodically. Also, do not allow your child to stay in the water too long and get tired. Accidents are far more likely to happen at this stage. When your swimming session is done, get in the habit of caring for your SwimFin by rinsing the SwimFin and straps in cool tap water and remove the straps to dry flat. If the straps are continually left on the SwimFin after swimming sessions and are not rinsed and allowed to dry properly, the strength of the hook and loop strap can diminish. If cared for properly, your SwimFin and its straps will last for years. If you do need different or larger straps as your child grows, you can always order additional straps from our SwimFin Shop.
Now get out there, strap on a SwimFin and start splashing about. We know you’re going to love the benefits of SwimFin!