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My oldest could swim at the age of 2, very well, I might add, but now that she's older, she seems to have forgotten what she used to be able to do since we took some time off from the pool due to changing seasons a few years back. Lesson learned. Now we make it a point to take a dip at least once a month, but we try to go more often if time and money allow.
Some great year-round indoor pools you may want to check out include the Fairland Aquatic Center in Laurel, PG Sports and Learning Complex in Landover, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Indoor/Outdoor pool in Silver Spring.
- Keep a waterproof swim bag packed, with towels, underclothes, socks, pool shoes, small water toys (if allowed by lifeguard staff) and goggles. We use a re-usable grocery bag because it's lightweight and will dry easily if it gets wet, but it's really big and holds all our towels and other goodies.
- DON'T PACK THE SWIMSUITS! Have everyone put on their swimsuits at home under their clothes- it saves time and they'll be so excited to just get in, it'll likely be a bother to change at the pool.
- As far as clothes and little ones go, don't put on anything too complicated so that they can easily use the bathroom in a hurry if need be.
- Leave all flotation devices, including kick boards and arm floaties, at home. Usually pools these days don't allow such things in the water. It takes a lot of the fun out of swimming, but it's for safety reasons so that lifeguards can see clearly if your child is in danger. Such things can block their view by cluttering up the pool.
- Lockers are usually available so take some quarters along to safeguard your valuables. Or just leave some things at home if you can do without them while you're out.
- Snacks are so important. While you generally can't eat in the immediate pool area, there should be some other areas where you can take a quick siesta to refuel and ward off crankiness. Since the mere effort involved in swimming can be draining, everyone will be tired and incredibly hungry when it's all said and done, so put a few quick snacks in your swim bag and have a stash in the car for the ride home.
- Pack a plastic garbage bag to hold wet towels and wet clothes after you've changed out of them before you head home.
- Be sure not to forget their hats! As long as you bundle them up (and you, too, Mom!), they should be fine and generally won't get sick from taking a cold-weather swim at the local indoor pool.
- Some pools offer great family monthly or yearly passes. If you plan to go often, this can save you a lot of money. For those with young kids, outings can be unpredictable and I personally enjoy the freedom a family pass offers because we can drop in whenever we like, without worrying about losing out on money in the event we have to leave a lot sooner than we anticipated. Some passes will get you in to more than one facility, as well.
- Always go online AND call ahead to verify the facility you'd like to visit is open. Things like swim meets or annual maintenance can cause a shut-down or limited access to pools. Also, if there's a training or "kiddie" pool, verify that it hasn't been closed due to someone getting ill in the pool or a child having an mishap of the potty kind in the pool. This can cause an hour-long shut-down, sometimes more.
- If your kids are tall enough to stand and responsible enough to play safely, you don't always have to get in with them. That's what the lifeguards are there for- at least that's what they told me. Take a good book, Mom and unwind a bit while they play. I prefer to be in the water with them myself, engaging and teaching them, but don't let the feeling of not wanting to get wet on any given day keep your kids out of the water.
- If you plan to teach them to swim yourself, try not to pressure them and make it fun and easy. If they don't want to do it just yet, back off and try again a little later. If they're still resistant to you teaching them, try outsourcing and enroll them in a swim class.
- Last but not least, ALWAYS, ALWAYS encourage and teach water safety so everyone has a good time and your pool outings are as stress-free as possible.