Mark Foster 
World Champion & Olympic Swimmer 

I am often asked by parents how can they motivate their children to swim. The short answer is you can’t. Motivation comes from within.

However, what we can do for our young swimmers is to encourage and inspire them. And hope they themselves will grow to love the sport and stay motivated and focused.

Swimming is a healthy release from studying, they gain fitness, form friendships, learn time management, toughness and perseverance.

There are many life lessons to be learned from swimming – chasing goals, sometimes achieving them and learning how to deal with failure.

Here are five tips on how parents can encourage their little swimmers:

  1. Tell your child that you like to watch them swim. Don’t coach or critique their performance.
  2. Remember that the sport belongs to your child. Let them take ownership and responsibility for their success.
  3. Make the atmosphere and experience fun. Don’t pressure them with unrealistic expectations or compare them to other swimmers.
  4. Be involved! I’ve noticed the parents who volunteer are the ones who have successful swimmers. Parents who drop their children off at the kerb outside the pool and never watch them practise usually have children who quit.
  5. Give them room to breathe. The pool should be a place where they go to see their friends and have fun. So, don’t hover. Give them the freedom to become the best they can be on their own!

These are just my thoughts. They don’t just apply to swimming though, but as swimming is a life skill and I believe all children need to learn to swim, it’s a good place to start. If your children can't swim yet, enrol them on a course! The earlier they start, the easier it is to learn.

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