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Swimming and hydration: A swimming child cannot dehydrate!

What should I bring with myself to the pool tomorrow? A five-year-old girl who’s starting with swimming has asked me this. Water! She smiled and said: But really, what should I bring with myself to the pool? I said it again: You must bring a small bottle of water and make sure it’s full! If you forget it then there won’t be any swimming for you. So she did it.

A swimming child cannot dehydrate! That’s not true. A child can definitely dehydrate while swimming or playing in the water. Regardless of the season, the child’s organism needs water before and after swimming. In summer months this is even more necessary, when children play more in the pool, river, lake or the sea, it is more than necessary to hydrate the body.

We often neglect the fact that when a child is in the water swimming, playing, or diving, the body sweats the same way as when they are doing any other sport. While in the water, children wear out in the same way as when they are running after a ball on the grass. Some of them sweat more and some of them sweat less. It is more obvious when they are on the dry, but when they’re in the water, it is less visible. It is unlikely to see a child’s forehead beaded with sweat while the child is swimming. This is why children should drink enough water before entering the pool so that the body could get well hydrated.

Why is hydration important for children while swimming? Because in swimming, like in any other sports, the body functions are reduced if the body isn’t hydrated enough, especially in competitions when the scope of swimming is big and the time spent in the water is longer. This increases the risk of dehydration. Of course, children having more strenuous trainings have a higher need for liquids during and after the training. I’m not talking about gulping a lot of water but taking one sip after another.

A swimming organism needs water. It’s not just the intensity or length of the training which makes the body dehydrate, but also the conditions, if it is hot outside, if the water temperature is high, it all makes the swimmers need hydration and water. This is why a child should always have a bottle of water and leave it next to the pool. As the child makes breaks during the training, he/she will take a sip or two and hydrate his/her body. Also, once the training is over, it is necessary to drink some liquids so that the body could recover faster. I’m not talking about coloured juice, but the water, especially if we’re talking about the youngest children.

I hope that now the things are much clearer for you, especially if we go back to the five-year- old girl from the beginning of this story, and there is also another key reason why it is important to have the water with you all the time – Because in this way the water keeps the effective time of the class. How?! Well, in this way the kids will stay in the pool the whole training, without having to waste their time by going to the toilet to drink some water.

What about the kids who don’t drink enough of water? How can we alarm them to drink water before and after swimming? Or more importantly, how can we make children drink water instead of juice? We usually tell the parents having this problem to squeeze a bit of fresh lemon into the bottle of water (with no sugar) or just put in a slice of fresh fruit their child likes to get the aroma and thus make their child drink enough of water.

There are kids who don’t want to drink water at all. In that case I ask the parents to bring a bottle of water and a slice of fresh fruit and that we will prepare our “special” refreshment together.. Trust me, children love being independent and having a secret mission their parents don’t know about. Of course, there are those who don’t give in after all. For them I have a story about their muscles being inflated and pruned as a dry sponge if they don’t drink enough water. For girls, there is always a beauty-related story. If that still doesn’t work, for those who are older I take out a story about their idols in swimming.. But the most important thing here is to motivate them to drink water instead of “coloured” juice after swimming, and this is something we can show them by doing it ourselves.

What about the babies attending baby swim lessons? Do they need a bottle of water? For babies under six months of age the breast milk is priceless and quite enough to keep the baby hydrated before and after swimming. As for a bit older child of 6-9 months, it is recommended that they should not drink a lot of water or eat a lot before the class, so that they could feel light and ready for swimming. As their trainings take about less than 25-30 minutes, they don’t move independently in the water, they are less likely to get dehydrated, only if it is hot outside, then it is good to have a small bottle of water at the pool just in case.

Are you thirsty while you’re swimming? If you are, then you’re already dehydrated to some degree. As the thirst is controlled by the blood volume in the centre of your body. Once the brain feels the lack of blood, it is then when you feel thirsty. The water in the pool makes the hydrostatic pressure on you, pressuring your blood from the surface part towards the inner part of your body, thus tricking the centre which controls dehydration.

No matter if swimming is a leisure activity for your child, or he/she is a competitor or is just playing in the water with friends, he/she needs to get his/her organism hydrated enough.


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