It’s swimming season -- time for playing in the sun, splashing with noodles and learning new strokes. But like any other exercise, swimming requires warm-up exercises to prepare muscles for the proper movements. Give your child an adequate chance to loosen those joints with a series of warm-ups designed for young people. As with any sport, remember not to add an unfamiliar technique during a warm-up session; only use swimming moves your child is already comfortable with.
1. Breathing Warm-ups
Help your child practice his breathing to prepare his lungs for swimming. If your youngster is a beginner swimmer, show him how to play “bubble machine” by blowing bubbles onto the water surface, either with just his mouth or by ducking his whole head under water. A wary child could start by blowing bubbles in a bowl filled with pool water to help him get used to the idea. More advanced swimmers can warm up by counting underwater or miming a tea party on the floor of the shallow end.
2. Kicking Warm-Ups
Get those legs moving with a series of warm-up kicking exercises. Beginner swimmers can hold onto the edge of pool and point their legs out straight behind them. Remind young children to keep their backs and legs flat for the biggest splashes. Intermediate or advanced swimmers can achieve the same effect by playing "motorboat." Hand your child a noodle or kickboard to hold onto and have her propel herself across the pool using only her legs.
3. Arm Warm-ups
Loosen arm muscles with a series of movements targeting various parts of the arm. Most of the typical physical education arm warm-ups work for swimming if they are performed underwater instead. Have your child start with arm crosses under the water by pulling his elbows back on either side and then crossing them in front of his body. Next, he could stand in the shallow end with his torso out of the water to wind his arms forward like a windmill. With his chest ducked back underwater, he can do a jumping jack arm motion, keeping his arms straight out in front of him. Have a beginner swimmer practice cupping his fingers and making a paddle motion through the water.
4. Floating Warm-ups
Help your child wake up her core muscles with floating practice. More experienced swimmers can float on their backs, starting at one end of the shallow end and pushing off the side. Have her gently kick toward the other side without moving her arms. A less advanced swimmer will need an adult to hold her during the float. Coach her to keep her back flat and raise her pelvis so that her body hovers on top of the water.
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