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What are the things I want to teach children through swimming?

My grandpa, who I was named after, loved to read and write a lot. During my summer breaks, I would spend plenty of time with him at the river, in a boat where he used to read and fish while I was swimming. He loved the water and the peace around it even though he could not swim. Why couldn’t he learn how to swim? I have never found out. Because every time I asked him that, he would just shrug his shoulders and carry on with his reading. One morning when he was fishing, I came to tell him what I wanted to do in my life. My grandpa laughed at me and said: Dear child, all you want to do is playing around! Get a book in your hands for a change. You’ll waste your life playing and swimming.

That’s what actually happened.

Today, thirty years later, I’ve spent two decades on swimming, playing, and teaching others how to swim and play in the water.

What are the things I want to teach children through swimming?

Before I give you the answer to this simple question, let me just make a couple of questions for you.

1. Do you know what the largest “playground” in the world is?

Even though he was a walking encyclopaedia with the rich life experience, my grandpa, mentioned at the beginning of the story, never had the privilege to play or enjoy that playground. Why? Because he didn’t know how to swim!

2. What is the size of the “tunnel” in the race of the fastest ones that the “future swimmer” is supposed to cross in order to get a woman pregnant?

A tunnel having the diameter of a single hair. An incredible fact, right? And so, once the “future swimmer” finishes that race and comes to life, it is up to all of us, not only the parents, to teach him/her how to “swim” in the “playground” and also through life. And is there a better way to do so than by playing?

My children have been in the water since the age of four months. Of course, that does not mean they had trainings every day… but that they got relaxed enough to enjoy the water. They learnt how to swim with a smile on their face, while playing in the water and around it. Little Shark learnt how to swim when he was two and a half, while Little Fish made her first swimming strokes when she was three.

With swimming, children also learn that:

1. Swimming, just like writing and reading, is a life SKILL.

2. Just like in everyday life, in swimming also TIME is the key.

3. Positive atmosphere, and the TEAM spirit in any sport, in swimming, but also in family or business, is more important than the mere quality of an individual.

4. EDUCATION and swimming must go hand in hand.

5. Swimming gives PEACE to your body and your soul.

6. It is possible to ACCEPT A FAILURE, that there is a possibility to be defeated.. That it doesn’t mean they are not good enough if they don’t win a medal, but that it is important to keep trying and that their team spirit is nourished in the way which will make them more self-reliant, persistent, happier and more successful later in life.

7. FEAR of water knows no age, or profession, or the fact that you are a swimmer or not.

8. It’s not hard to be nice! There are certain rules of conduct, both at home as at the pool. They exist to provide some order and ensure that SAFETY of all comes first.

9. Water and swimming are there for all children. What matters is WHAT YOU WANT!

10. Gaining TRUST in swimming is not a piece of cake.

11. Swimming is like an apple a day – PREVETION in every sense!

12. If you really want to swim THERE ARE NO obstacles and limits!

HAVE FUN while you’re swimming!

You remember my grandpa, the one I was named after, from the beginning of my story, who didn’t know how to swim but who knew how to play? Even though he was fond of books he would never ask me questions of history, biology or chemistry. He didn’t care if I knew the names of Nobel Prize winners, who invented the first bicycle, the first car, how far the Earth is from the Sun, who was the president of the Eastern Bloc in 1980s…

He was more interested in hearing my stories about my friends I loved and shared my sweet and bitter moments with. About my teachers who were my idols and who taught me interesting things. About my coaches who made me feel special. About my neighbourhood that inspired me. About my cousins I loved to talk with most. About my friends who made me laugh and who I could play with from dusk till dawn.

Today, I know why my grandpa found these things more important.

Because the people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. But the ones who care.

By swimming with playing and exploring we “feed” our children with knowledge, skills which trigger not only their mind and body, but also their heart, the skills which awaken their dormant curiosity for their entire life. Our task is to help them master the swimming as easily as possible, if possible, in the most interesting way, so that they could feel safer and more secure today and tomorrow at the “playground”.

This is what gives me strength every day to jump into the pool and teach children the most wonderful life skill.

Life is more beautiful when you’re swimming!

P.S. Help our children, but also yourselves to stay true to themselves whatever they do, and also when they swim, and not to spend their life trying to be someone else!


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