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Articles by Tiffany Harmon published on SantaCruzParent.com…and Growing Up in Santa Cruz.

Tiffany Harmon , owner of Seahorse Swim School, is an American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor Trainer and has been teaching swimming lessons since 1985. She holds a BA in Psychology and a Teaching Credential in Health and Safety. Jr. Guard Programs, swim lessons, swim team and parent tot classes are offered through Seahorse Swim School in Aptos and Santa Cruz. Visit www.SeahorseSwimSchool.comfor program information.

Preparing for Jr. Lifeguard Programs
Tiffany Harmon Article Published May 2015

Jr. Lifeguard programs in Santa Cruz County are very popular with parents and kids alike. While some children are enthusiastic about swimming in the ocean, others are not quite ready for the deep blue sea. Fortunately, there are both pool and ocean Summer Junior Lifeguard programs for young swimmers in Santa Cruz County.

To prepare your child for the program that suits them best, follow these tips:

~ Check the brochures or websites for the prerequisites to ensure that you know what is expected of them in order to pass and join the program of choice. There are varying requirements and schedules, so consider all of the factors and leave enough time to get ready. If your child has not been in the water since last Summer, consider the swim lessons or pre-training to make the experience safer and more enjoyable. Take advantage of multiple testing days in case your child needs to try out more than once to be successful.
Lesson: if you don’t succeed at first, try, try again.

~ Swimming skills usually digress from the previous Summer unless the individual is training regularly. To refresh form, build confidence and improve endurance, enroll in a Spring swim lesson program at least a month prior to be well prepared and successful on testing day. When short on time to prepare, private swim lessons can hone in on the skills needed to pass the tests and provide quick results.

~ Get suited up! Protection from the elements (sun, wind and fog) is key to ensure that they are comfortable for full days of activities. Ocean water temperatures range from 51 to 58 degrees in the Summer and Santa Cruz if often foggy in the morning, so consider a wetsuit or rashguard to help them stay warm no matter what the weather report says. Waterproof/sweatproof sunscreen is imperative even if foggy (apply before leaving the house). Don’t forget lots of towels (or a shammy to preserve towels), hats and sunglasses to protect from the elements. Pack drinking water and snacks full of fiber, protein and carbohydrates to give them energy to happily participate in a full day of activities.

To help the participant get acclimated to the environment, visit the program site or get in the ocean with them in advance of your program possible. Swim often and swim as much as you can prior to the program start date. If your children are water lovers, they may do very well on a a year round swim team or water polo program.

With enough time, practice and preparation your child will be the star of the Program!

Techniques to Help Shy or Fearful Children Learn to Swim

by Tiffany Harmon, Seahorse Swim School

We come in all shapes and sizes, with past experiences and fears and with our own personalities and ways of learning new things. In our aquatic community, it is important that every person, young and old learn to swim. Below are a few techniques to simplify the ways we can get your shy or fearful child to their first swim lesson.

Communicate with your instructor in advance of the lesson to identify the participant’s fears. Discuss how the fears surface and how they are handled at home. Ask the instructor what the process will be for the first swim lesson so that you can discuss this with your child in advance of the first lesson.

Validate the child’s fears and explain that they are going to be learning new skills in a safe place. Explain the process & let your child know what they can expect from the lesson in advance. Often, if we know what is expected of us early on, we are able to relax and open up to learning new things. Visit the pool before your lesson & have them watch a current class. This will give the child a chance to see what they may be doing and will help acclimate them to their new learning environment.

Bring a favorite waterproof toy to the lesson to assist the child in being comfortable in their new aquatic environment.

Maintain consistency to allow the student to develop trust with the teacher. Limit the variables: same time, same location, same instructor, same positive feedback. Consistency is key. Keep coming back. Make swimming part of their ongoing schedule.

Reward the learner by taking notice to things they did well big and small. Ask them to tell/show you what they learned that day; what was the best part of their swim lesson. As we learn new skills and techniques, we like to know we did a good job. Reinforce the learner by noticing and commenting on their accomplishments.

Tiffany Harmon, owner of Seahorse Swim School, has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from UCSC. With over 25 years of experience, Tiffany has nurtured the development of thousands of swimmers, as well as Water Safety Instructors (WSI) & lifeguards in Santa Cruz County. Tiffany is an Instructor Trainer for the American Red Cross; she trains swim instructors and lifeguards in Santa Cruz County. (831) 476-7946

Article published April 2011

The Benefit of American Red Cross Learn-to-Swim Programs
by Tiffany Harmon, Seahorse Swim School

Happy Swimmers Commodore Wilbert E. Longfellow, developed the American Red Cross’s Learn-to-Swim Program in 1914, and published his first article in the May 1921 Edition of the Junior Red Cross News. He said that the first step in learning to swim was to overcome fears of the water. The next steps would be to learn how float like a jellyfish, to breathe in and out with your mouth making sounds like a motorboat, to glide & slide through the water and to use your windmill arms and powerful kicks to push yourself through the water like a steamboat. The last suggestion he gave was to practice, practice, practice.Red Cross swim programs continue the traditions by utilizing the century long ways of the Learn-to-Swim program. Through a progressive, six-level instructional approach, Water Safety Instructors teach to the individual and include water safety topics in the lessons. Whether in a group environment or in a private lesson, instructors focus on helping each swimmer overcome their fears by providing a safe learning environment. As participants gain confidence in the water, they begin to open up to learning new aquatic skills.
Happy SwimmerClear, concise instructions are paired with positive corrective feedback to teach and correct the motor skills used for each stroke. Swimmers are coached to repeat skills, allowing them ample practice time within each lesson.
A Red Cross Learn-to-Swim Program emphasizes water safety while increasing swimming skills and overall fitness. Each participant is taught with patience, encouragement and expertise.Happy SwimmerA new Red Cross Learn-to-Swim program for adults, infants and children, adult lap swimming, a non-competitive swim team, water aerobics, public recreational swim times and a Pool Jr. Guard program opens this summer at Santa Cruz High School. These programs will continue the Commodore’s technique of encouraging “bathers to be swimmers and swimmers to be lifesavers.”
Tiffany Harmon, owner and operator of Seahorse Swim School, is an American Red Cross Instructor Trainer in Water Safety. She earned her Bachelors of Arts degree at UCSC in 1997, specializing in Child Education and Development and holds a California Teaching Credential in Health and Safety. You can find Tiffany and her instructors at Toadal Fitness, Seascape Sports Club, Chaminade and Santa Cruz High School. (831) 476-7946 or SeahorseSwimSchool.com for more program information.