Monday, February 4, 2013

The Best Valentine’s Day Present You Can Give Yourself? A Healthy Heart

The Best Valentine’s Day Present You Can Give Yourself? A Healthy Heart
Swim Strong Foundation Offers Affordable Ways to Be Good to Your Heart
Feb. 4th, 2013, Queens, NY— This year make Valentine’s Day plans that will truly make the heart grow stronger.  The Swim Strong Foundation is offering affordable swim programs, 4 days a week, throughout Queens and Brooklyn for children and adults..  These swim programs aim to change and save lives through the sport of swimming.
 Swim lessons may not sound romantic, but nothing shows how much you care about your loved ones than an activity that will help you be able spend many more Valentine’s Days together! According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, claiming the lives of about 600,000 Americans annually.  The only way to prevent this is to make heart-healthy choices early on in life.  This includes incorporating exercise into your daily routine.  In fact the CDC reports that just two and a half hours per week of aerobic, physical activity, such as swimming, bicycling or running can decrease the risk of chronic heart illness. 
Swimming is different than other forms of aerobic exercise because it uses both the heart and lungs.  According to Harvard Family Health Guide published by Harvard Medical School, swimming trains the body to use oxygen more efficiently resulting in declines in resting heart rates for swimmers.  Swimming is also the aerobic sport least likely to cause injury as it’s easy on the joints.  Therefore, all ages, including seniors, as well as people with arthritis can work their heart out in the pool.   
For more information on these programs, please visit
Make a positive change for you and your family’s life today!
About Swim Strong Foundation:
Swim Strong Foundation is a non-profit, volunteer run organization that saves and changes lives through swimming. Lives are saved by offering affordable swim programs from the most beginning levels through competitive. We are stopping the drowning. Lives are changed educating families about the importance of nutrition and exercise, challenging children to learn the life lessons of commitment, goal setting self-discipline, persistency, team work and resiliency through competitive swimming, and inspiring strong swimmers to explore other water based sports, some of which offer college scholarships.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Developing Mental Fitness

Developing Mental Fitness & Toughness
 By:  Debra Resnick, Psy.D.

Learning to develop mental fitness and “toughness” will serve you well, not only in the pool, but also in life!  Many of the mental strength skills that you need to reach your swimming goals will also contribute to a sense of empowerment and ability to cope in your relationships, family, school and work as well as boosting your self-esteem. Let’s
examine two important elements of mental training:  Goal Setting and Motivation and
 Coping with Setbacks and Pain.

I  Goal Setting and Motivation
 Asking yourself some questions about why you swim can help you set realistic goals.
Identifying why you swim can help your goal setting.  Goals can be “external” or objective and also “internal” or subjective. Whatever it is be sure to set realistic goals.  Here are three questions  to help guide you in your goal-setting for swimming:
1.      Identify up to 3 swimming skills you can already perform without any help.
2.      Identify up to 3 swimming skills you can perform with some help.
3.      Identify up to 3 swimming skills you cannot yet perform but would like to learn.

The first is your “independent” level.  The second is your “assistance” level and the third
is your  “frustration” level.  Ideally, to maximize training and motivation, you want to be
incorporating all three levels.  Your swim instructor or coach can help you translate these into more personalized goals.
To enhance motivation it is important to use some of the following techniques, which
will depend on your age and what you find works best for you over time.  Some of these
strategies include the following:
1.      Recite or write coping affirmations—they can be “positive” but it is more important that they are encouraging.
2.      Develop awareness & accountability.  Remember that your mind and your body are connected & this is supported by much research.  The choices you make affect your thoughts, feelings, and ultimately translate into your swimming behavior.Developing awareness is the first step to change.
3.      Join a team or group.  Being a part of something “larger than yourself” can be a great motivator .This may be met by participating in an organization such as Swim Strong Foundation, your school team, or an adult master’s class.

II Coping with setbacks and pain
If you have been swimming for awhile, or even if you are just starting out, learning to
cope with setbacks, frustration and pain that eventually will come your way.
Here are some strategies that can help:
1.      Accept that setbacks, frustration and pain are “part of the deal”  Practice trying to “accept” rather than “fight” against these feelings or situations. Research on mindfulness meditation has been able to demonstrate that this approach is helpful.
2.      Practice encouraging mantras.  Mantras can be auditory—ways to encourage yourself mentioned above.  Mantras can be visual. Mantras can be funny. Pick any Matras as long as it is not distracting.
3.      Anticipate and rehearse problems you could experience.  This is especially helpfulif you are competitive. Control what you can.  Develop a “non-judgmental” attitude to setbacks.  Re-frame failure as an opportunity to learn rather than beating yourself up.
4.      Praise yourself for at least one accomplishment, no matter how small!

Goal-setting, motivation, coping with setbacks and frustration are extremely valuable
components of swimming and in life.  This article reviews just a few ways you can practice these skills and learn to enhance and bring out the mental toughness that lies
within you.

Debra Resnick, Psy.D. is a Clinical Psychologist in private practice in Ft. Washington,
PA.  She is interested in sports psychology and is a supporter of Swim Strong Foundation.

Water Safety Tips Pt. 2

Here are a Few More Tips to help you make your Water Activities a Safe and Fun Experience.
If at the Beach add these tips:
*      NEVER turn your back to the ocean -- you may be swept off coastal bluffs or tide pool areas and into the water by waves that can come without warning
*      If caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore until free, don't swim against the current's pull
*      Stay over 100 feet away from jetties; piers; fixed objects in the water.
*      If you are in trouble, call or wave for help
*      If you run into some jellyfish or Portuguese man-of-wars and get stung, you can treat it immediately with vinegar, but you should seek medical assistance.
*      Read and Heed posted surf warnings
*      Follow regulations and lifeguard directions
*      Swim parallel to shore if you wish to swim long distances
*      Scuba dive only if trained and certified -- and within the limits of your training
*      No glass containers at the beach -- broken glass and bare feet don't mix
*      No beach fires except in designated areas -- fire residue and superheated sand can severely burn bare feet -- use a barbeque that is elevated off the sand
*      Report hazardous conditions to lifeguards or other beach management personnel
*      Stay clear of coastal bluffs, they can collapse and cause injury

Rip currents are a natural hazard and they are with us always. They pull victims away from the beach. The United States Lifeguarding Association has found that 80% of the rescues affected by ocean lifeguards involve saving those caught in rip currents.

A rip current is a seaward moving current that circulates water back to sea after it is pushed ashore by waves. Each wave accumulates water on shore creating seaward pressure. This pressure is released in an area with the least amount of resistance which is usually the deepest point along the ocean floor. Rip currents also exist in areas where the strength of the waves are weakened by objects such as rock jetties, piers, natural reefs, and even large groups of bathers. Rip currents often look like muddy rivers flowing away from shore.

Try to avoid swimming where rip currents are present, but if you become caught in a one, swim parallel to the shore until the pull stops and then swim back to shore.  Repeat as often as necessary. It may take several attempts before you reach the shore and you may find yourself several blocks away from where you originally entered the water.  The key is to remain calm; not to panic or tire yourself by “fighting” the current.  If you are unable to return to the beach, tread water and wave for lifeguard assistance.

Going Boating:
v  Children should always wear life jackets in a boat or anytime there’s a chance they might accidentally fall into the water.  Adults should set a good example by wearing one themselves.  Make sure your child’s life jacket is appropriately sized and read the instructions and warning labels before using. It should be Coast Guard approved.
v  Swimming behind a running boat is extremely dangerous.  Not only do swimmers risk coming into contact with the motor’s blades, the carbon monoxide from the exhaust can quickly overcome a swimmer, who may pass out and drown.
v  Dock Safety – Be prepared for the worst with a hook, rope and throw ring attached to the dock.  Practice their use but don’t allow the kids to play with them.  To help prevent accidental falls, paint a line several feet in from the edge of the dock.  Insist that the line is not to be crossed unless the child is holding the hand of an adult.  All docks should have safety entrance gates equipped with alarms.
Finally, some last tips and pointers:
Supervision – According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly 70 percent of child drownings occur when one or both parents are nearby.  Never, ever turn your back when your child is in or near the water.  And if you are at the beach, where waves and currents can hamper even the best little swimmer, always stay within arm’s reach of your child.  And be clear with the other adults as to whose turn it is to watch the kids.
Bright Colors – Wearing bright colors will make your child more visible on the shoreline and in the water.  And if you always dress your children in the same bright colors at the beach and lake, it’s even easier to pick them out of the crowd.
Pictures – Hopefully you won’t need it, but having a photo of your child dressed in his or her beach clothes can come in handy.  Keep it in a waterproof plastic bag in case you need to show it to the life guard.
Cell Phones – In case of emergency, you need your cell phone close by and fully charged. Keep it in a plastic bag to protect it from sand, salt and water.

Be Safe
Have Fun

Shawn Slevin
Swim Strong Foundation, Inc.

Water Safety Tips

Water Safety Tips 

 Did you know that?

Ø  Drowning is the 2nd largest cause of death for children 14 and under here in the US?
Ø  African American children drown 3x more than any other demographic?
Ø   Drowning is the 2nd largest cause of death GLOBALLY for people of all ages? 
Ø  Drowning can happen in less than 2 minutes after a person’s head goes under water?

What can YOU do to make a change?  Where ever you are…..LEARN TO SWIM!

 In general:
*      Always, swim near a lifeguard
*      NEVER swim alone
*      Supervise children closely, even when lifeguards are present
*      Don't rely on flotation devices, such as rafts or floaties, you may lose them in the water; or they may deflate.
*       Alcohol and other drugs and swimming don't mix
*      Don’t swim after dark
*      Know your limits and don’t push them
*      Stop swimming if you hear a storm approaching; go for shelter
*      Drink plenty of water and juice to stay hydrated and avoid heatstroke. What are signs of heatstroke? Headache, dizziness, muscle weakness or cramps, and nausea and vomiting. Get medical help right away if you have these warning signs: Hot, dry skin; confusion or loss of consciousness; frequent vomiting; shortness of breath or trouble breathing
*      Use sun screen to avoid burns
When at the Pool add these tips:
v  Don’t run.  Slips and falls can result in broken bones.
v  Look for the depth markers…the big numbers painted on the side of the pool. Higher numbers mean deeper water.  Be sure to look before you jump into a pool.  Diving into shallow water can result in a broken neck and death.
v  Swim at a depth that is safe for you. If you're just learning to swim, stay in the shallow end.
v  Don't push or jump on others. You could accidentally hurt someone or yourself.
v  Don't chew gum or eat while you swim — you could choke.
When at Lakes and Ponds add these tips:
v  You can't always see the bottom of the lake or pond, so you don't always know the depth of the water.  ALWAYS go in feet first!
v  Watch out for weeds and grass, which can trap even a good swimmer. If you panic and try to yank yourself free, you may get even more tangled. Instead, shake and pull your arms and legs slowly to work yourself loose or call for help.
At the Water Parks
Ø  Wear a life jacket if you don't know how to swim or if you're not a strong swimmer.
Ø   Each ride is different. Read all of the signs before going on a ride. Make sure you are tall enough, old enough, and don't have any of the medical conditions that are listed. If you have questions, ask the lifeguard. Always make sure there's a lifeguard at each ride and listen to his or her instructions.
Ø  Wait until the rider ahead of you has passed a safe point for you to go down the slide.
Ø  Always go down the water slide face up and feet first.
Ø  When you go from ride to ride, don't run — it's slippery!

v  Be Safe
v  Have Fun

v  Shawn Slevin
v  Swim Strong Foundation, Inc.