Holly Waters, a Philly personal trainer, fell in love with swimming at a young age, and there’s nothing she likes more than sharing that love with little ones. She’s built up a serious local following for her ability* to get infants, toddlers, kids and adults (especially pregnant moms) comfortable in the water, building confidence and strength. (She’s also loved because of her upbeat, encouraging and fun personality.) She offers private and group swim lessons at Fitness Works in South Philly, or will come to any pool you have access to. Here, she breaks down everything you need to know about turning your land loving tot into a water baby.
Q: Why should parents get their little babies in the water?
A: At the infant stage, it’s all about teaching muscle movement and getting them comfortable with the feeling of having their ears and eyes in the water, so they aren’t afraid. I want to see them floating on their back and bellies, and working on the natural instinct of blowing bubbles. It’s very relaxing for babies — you’ll notice how tight they are and how their arms are bent and they sleep all pulled in. The water is like a baby massage that’s very comforting. It’s not only for the comfort of the baby, but for mom and dad too.
Q: What’s the ideal age for a baby to start swimming?
A: I like to work with infants who are five months and older. At that stage, it’s all about comfort and development. I have clients of all different ages and even work with families.
Q: What can parents expect?
A: As the child gets older, I want them to associate words with movements like “kick kick kick” for thirty minutes. They figure out what those words mean, and so they are learning through swimming as well. I do things like “123 jump” outside and inside the water — I think of it as coaching body development and body movement through the water.
Q: What if a child doesn’t love the water?
A: Not every kid has to be a great swimmer, but the movement of the water is in us all. Water training can help kids or adults who are runners, who like to dance or who play soccer, too — like working on the hip flexers for stronger kicks and doing pliés in the water. I love to see kids gain confidence, awareness and coordination as they get better. Clients have told me that their kids love “playing swimming” at home — running around their house in robes and bathing suits pretending they are swimming with Miss Holly.
Q: What’s a parent’s role in all of this?
A: For the little kids, I like to school mom and dad on how to be comfortable rolling baby over from belly to back. Parents sometimes clench up and so the child might not get comfortable and feel leery about the whole thing. After we get over that, it’s very relaxing.
A: You work with adults too?
Q: Yes, I like working with adults! I have group sessions a few times a week, and will also do one-on-one sessions. I’ve worked with adults who never learned how to swim, people who like the fact that it’s a great workout that’s also gentle, and runners who have hip issues or need some physical therapy-type moves after races. Water aerobics are also great for pregnant women because they can get stronger and open up their hips and the water takes away some of the pressure.
*Don’t just take our word for it. Watch this short video of Holly teaching a teeny-tiny baby how to swim. It’s amazing!