Swimming Toys and Games
Fun in the pool can be as simple as children and adults enjoying the water together– splashing, swimming, kicking, dipping, and diving. But sometimes it’s good to enhance family time in the pool with some awesome toys and equipment.
So, this month, our National Aquatic Training Lead, Lynn Goring-Crook, explores some of her favourite swimming toys and how to use them to enjoy and develop skills in the water.
I love swimming toys! They really bring out the fun in the pool and make it easy to create aquatic games. These help to develop swimming skills through game play – this is how children learn best.
Here are my current Top 3 Aquatic Toys and some simple complementary aquatic games to use in the pool:
All Soaked Up
The Zoggy Soakers are three fabulous sponge-like characters that help introduce little ones to water. The characters can be placed in the pool – they then absorb the water which can then be squeezed out.
This is a great tool that allows children to explore their senses and realise how wonderful the water is. Your child will lead the way but maybe they would like to squeeze the water over their hands, arms or head… or even over yours!
Your child is bound to have a favourite character; whether it be the sea-seeking seal, curious crab or over-excited octopus! This is a great toy to throw across the pool for them to swim after - or go and rescue using a float. This is great for practicing kicking legs and reaching and pulling with their arms.
Alternatively, they could cuddle their favourite character whilst kicking on their back. Whatever the fun they decide to create, let their imagination run wild and the enjoyment of the water will follow.
Zoggs makes a fabulous Seal Flip, which is one of the first toys I was introduced to as a swimming teacher. This is still the one I ALWAYS have in my toy kit bag.
This is simple to use and enjoyable for all. Just place the Seal Flip in the water and ask your child to blow bubbles and see if they can flip the toy over to reveal a different coloured seal. Develop this game by including kicking with a zoodle (see below) or trying to blow bubbles with their chin, lips then face in the water.
For further fun try playing Eggs for Breakfast - pretend the Seal Flips are eggs cooking and ask your child to perform a star float on their back, placing the Seal Flip at their feet. When you are ready shout: ‘EGGS FOR BREAKFAST’. The idea is to rotate forward, grab the Seal Flip (or egg) and rotate back into a star float. Great fun for all the family to race against each other and, without even knowing, your child is practicing rotation and floatation skills which are essential for developing their swimming.
Zoggy Dips and Dives
Zoggy dive rings and dive sticks open a world of underwater fun for your child.
Playing with them on steps in the pool or a beach area can be the perfect introduction to your child dipping their face in the water.
One of my favourite aquatic games is to ask children to hold the Zoggy dive ring up to their face and peer through. They then place it in the water and do the same whilst blowing bubbles. Finally, when their confidence has grown, look down through the dive ring with their face in the water and see if they can spot the Zoggy dive sticks on the bottom and count them up.
Don’t forget, with the different colours, it’s a great opportunity to practice colour identification and even counting up how many dive rings and dive sticks they have collected.
Jumping into the water holding a Zoggy dive ring or stick, and then having to rescue it from the water may be just the ticket for encouraging jumping from the side for the first time.
My top tip for all equipment and games - toys are not just for the pool! All those listed above are great for playing with in the bath - and this is often a wonderful introduction before going to the pool.
If your child is struggling to settle at swimming lessons, ask the teacher if you can bring along their favourite water toy, this can often be enough to draw the link between fun in the bath and fun in the pool.
Finally, don’t forget – a Zoodle! Zoggs very own woggle make for lots of fun in the pool.
Zoodle’s are a great, long-lasting piece of equipment that swimmers use on their front or back – or even between the legs - to sit up and tread water.
When my children were younger, I never went on holiday without one and, due to their versatility in being easy to shape, they are simple to pack in a suitcase around your clothes.
When the children have finished having fun, this is your time to nab the Zoodle, lay back and find a relaxing minute to yourself.
All toys and equipment above are available in our Zoggs retail areas at Maidstone Leisure Centre ask one of our friendly receptionists to help you if you need any advice.