Thursday, October 22, 2015

Swim Social Blog: "No wifi? Stop moaning kids, let's hit the pool and have some fun!"

Blog by Chris Kane: It’s the October school holiday and I’m writing this from a Holiday Park in Morcambe.  My kids, Katie (8) and Matthew (6) are reading books, having finally stopped complaining about the lack of wifi in the caravan. We’re off to the swimming pool again shortly – one of our favourite family activities when we’re on holiday. This is the first year that both of my kids have advanced enough with their swimming lessons that they can really enjoy the pool without having to swim within touching distance of the edge.  That’s really enhanced our shared experience – particularly as I don’t have the constant pain of a slightly panicked small person trying to pull himself out of the water using my chest hair as a handle.  It also means we get to play games in the water.  Scottish Swimming provide a range of materials to help coaches keep an element of fun in the serious business of teaching swimming skills – and one of these resources is a book of pool based games.  I’ve been delving into it for inspiration and thought I’d share some of our favourites.

The “Bean Game” pairs actions with types of beans and when called, we all have to perform the associated action. If “French bean” is called, we have to stand with our legs apart and our bodies straight in an impersonation of the Eiffel Tower. “Kidney Bean” makes us curl up in a kidney shape and float in the pool. “Runner Bean”, as you would expect, has us running around the pool. “String Bean” involves floating on the surface being as straight as possible without moving. “Jumping Bean” has you bouncing on the spot. The kids enjoy it and it also gives me a gentle workout, which on a caravan holiday is a good foil to the white wine consumed when the kids go to bed. 

One of my favourites is “Poison Ivy”, probably because I have an unfair strength advantage which I can use against whichever of my kids has whined “more sweets, pleeeasse” the most that day.  We hold hands in a circle and put a floating toy in the middle and then try to move the circle by swimming in an attempt to get the toy to touch somebody. Whomever the toy touches first loses the game.  My strength advantage does help even the scales between my six year old and my eight year old. 

“Mr Shark” is fun when the pool is quiet. One of us stands in the middle of the pool looking towards the far side. The others stand against the wall on the near side and call out “What’s the time, Mr Shark”. The player in the middle calls a time such as “it’s 4 o’clock” with the number being the amount of steps the players at the edge have to advance towards the middle.  At any time the “Shark” can answer “it’s dinner time”, turn around and try to catch the other players who must try to swim back to the edge to avoid being caught. The first player caught is the new shark. 

Next up, we’re going to try a variation of the bean game called “super heroes and villains” which will have us doing things associated with comic book characters – pushing off from the edge with one hand outstretched like Superman flying, or crabbing along the wall like Spiderman, and so on. 

These are games that build water confidence and help with agility and balance – so I’m having fun with my kids and doing my bit to enhance their skills.  I’d love to know what games you play with your kids in the swimming pool – leave a comment below with your ideas and share them with Swim Social readers. 

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