Friday, December 16, 2011
Monkey See Monkey Do
Why do we use goggles?
La Petite Baleen uses goggles in our swim lessons and we are often asked why. We even have our tiny babies wearing goggles.
There are a handful of reasons why we want our swimmers to wear goggles:
Balance. Probably the most important reason we encourage our swimmers, (even the littlest babies) to wear goggles is because it gives them visual feedback. Doctors would call this peripheral vestibular information. Boy, is this a big one for development! Not only does swimming use both sides of the brain mimicking the crawling motion but gives this neuro-visual stimulation through goggles. In layman's terms, they can see better therefore balance better with goggles on in the water.
Protection. While it is safe to swim in our pools without goggles, it certainly is more comfortable to wear goggles and keep the chlorine out of their eyes. Eyes are very sensitive. Most of us adults have experienced red burning eyes from too much swimming underwater without goggles. No one wants to see their baby red eyed and crying after swim class.
Fun! Looking underwater at toys and for direction (swimming into stairs) gives the child a sense of accomplishment and independence. This is what we are looking for in Level 1 and Toddler and Me. The child swims by themselves to an island or stairs, a good 5 -6 feet with paddle arms. Being able to focus and zone in on a landing spot underwater is supported by goggles.
I prefer my baby and toddler classes to wear goggles. I start putting them on them before they can even reach up and take them off. In the beginning, this might disturb their wonderful submersions, causing them to "blame" the goggles. They come up coughing and ripping the goggles off. I keep putting them on though. Most parents are supportive of my efforts and back me up. I'm OK being the "bad guy" when it comes to goggles...it's my job, I just keep putting them on! Around age 1, however, many babies reach what I call the goggle anarchy stage. They start taking them off. Goggles seem to slow them down because they are busy taking off with their kicking and paddling. With the parents support, we do push past this time and the light bulb seems to turn on one day when they spot a ring on the bottom of the pool! Then they just want to keep their face underwater non stop.
"But why does LPB have a 'no goggle swim' in Level 3?" You may ask. While goggles are amazing and we encourage all parents to use them, Level 3 encompasses many safety skills. We want children to know it's OK to swim without them, that they can still do all the skills they know in the pool without goggles on. Some kids (older than toddler age) panic without their goggles on. So, LPB purposely built confident swimming without goggles as a skill into our level system. If an LPB student falls or gets knocked into a pool, we want them to swim to a wall and climb out.
So parents, we want your children to benefit from goggles, not be frozen without them. The ones we use at our schools are specially designed for children's small faces. They fit babies well too. I would encourage you to buy a pair. Use them at home in the bathtub while you do some "swimming homework". Some parents have reported putting them on their kids, lathering up with shampoo and rinsing underwater with no worries about soap in the eyes. While we want kids to be comfortable with water in their face and eyes, this is a clever way to also get them used to and liking goggles.
This post is dedicated to my little 12 month old swimmer Zoe who fights me every week with the goggles. I love her spirit!