I was absolutely delighted to receive an email at the start of the summer asking if Little Miss C and Master C wanted to work with SwimFin trying out their funky swimming aids. Imagine being a child and being able to swim along pretending to be a shark whilst singing the Jaws theme tune to yourself and that’s exactly what SwimFin allows you to do.
We saw a couple of these in action at our local leisure centre earlier in the year and all three of us just stood their open mouthed at how utterly cool they looked and I’d even gone home and done a bit of google work to find out all about them. Initially I’d assumed that they were all just for show, a bit like fancy dress for the swimming pool, but how wrong I was.
The SwimFin is a shark’s fin shaped flotation device that can be worn on a child’s back and is held in place with two wide velcro fastening straps that go around their torso. It leaves their arms completely free to swim, unlike if they are wearing arm bands, and it looks damn cool!
When children first learn to swim the act of lying horizontal in the water is somewhat alien to them, and if you watch a pre-schooler swimming next to a child of school age you might notice that the pre-schooler is much more vertical in position whilst a school child who has been learning to swim for a while is more horizontal. The SwimFin works with children in both of these scenarios and on a younger child you will notice that the SwimFin is almost totally submerged to keep the child afloat, as their swimming position improves more of the SwimFin is above the surface of the water.
This was illustrated perfectly with my children over the summer. Master C is very nearly three and has been going to parent and child swimming lessons with me for the last year. He can now make some attempt at doggy paddling with a floatation device, but he is still very vertical in the water and wary of lying on his back. In contrast Little Miss C has been having ASA swimming lessons at our local leisure centre for just over two years now and after Easter moved up to ASA Stage 3. Her position is much more horizontal than her brother’s and she can swim up to about 10 m now unaided, but her actual swimming strokes still require quite a bit more work.
Little Miss C chose a pink SwimFin, as you might expect of a five year old pink-obsessed girl and as soon as it arrived she was incredibly keen to try it out. As soon as she went in the pool with it on I instantly noticed an improvement in her position in the water. It also instantly seemed to give her a huge confidence boost. Having moved up to lessons in the “big pool”, where she can only just touch the bottom, the timing was perfect as she suddenly was able to throw herself into what she was doing (literally) and particularly enjoyed repeatedly jumping into the pool in different ways and not worrying about not quite being able to reach the bottom. This confidence has carried over into her lessons (where she doesn’t wear her SwimFin) and it’s been great to see.
One thing that particularly impressed me with the SwimFin is the fact that you can still use it when swimming on your back, and in LMC’s case it’s actually really helped her swimming style. Her teacher had particularly pointed out that when she swam on her back LMC wasn’t very good at lifting her torso up in the water and so when she swam on her back her legs almost trailed behind her, lower in the water than they should be. Practicing with the SwimFin on has been so useful for her as it has pushed her torso up in the water and she’s to learnt to mimic that when swimming without it too.
For Master C, he was much more cautious when he first saw the SwimFin. He really liked it, but so much so that he didn’t want it to get wet on its first trip to the pool. Not really compatible with swimming with it on – but that’s two year olds for you!
The second week things were so much more successful though. With his SwimFin on Master C happily went into the pool and within a minute was happy swimming around on his own! This was straight after his usual thirty minute parent and child lesson and his teacher was still pool side and shocked to see just how confident he was with his SwimFin on. It’s no exaggeration to say that this SwimFin has also given him a huge confidence boost. So much so that just last week he was moved up to the pre-school ASA stage 1 lessons – a month before his third birthday. He completely embraced that first lesson without me at his side and was so proud of himself too.
The SwimFins have been so successful for my two this summer that it’s almost hard to believe. And even better is the fact that both children have enjoyed using them so much. Every time we’ve used them, either at the local leisure centre of at the Haven Pool in Hafan Y Mor where we spent our summer holiday (much much more on that to come soon), there have been admiring glances from other people and parents and children pointing at them and saying to each other “Wow, look at that shark’s fin! How cool is that?” The kids almost felt like celebrities when they had them on! Plenty of parents came up to me and asked me where they came from and how good they were too.
I’m in no doubt that the SwimFins are going to come to the pool with us regularly now and I really hope that they’re going to continue to help both children develop their swimming further. They’ve been far better than I even hoped them to be. A fantastic Swim Fin Summer all round!
Disclaimer: We were sent two SwimFins to try out this summer in exchange for blogging about them and featuring them on social media. All opinions here are completely honest and remain my own.
You can buy SwimFins online here in a range of cool colours – including the proper shark grey for anyone really keen to get that Jaws impression right. They each cost £21.99.