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Including Kids & Teens in OWS

In the past week, I've had so many people ask whether their kids could participate in the Clackamas Cove Swim, the new race I'm pulling together in Oregon City, OR. This year, we limited the race to swimmers 18 years or older, but being able to include younger adults, teens, and kids in the open water community is definitely a goal of mine as a race director and swimmer.


Including younger folks in our swimming community and events can help expand accessibility, with more individuals and families getting to experience open water. That may encourage government officials to increase access to open water swimming holes and maintain parks and public spaces with the added usage. Encouraging younger swimmers to get involved will also bring more long-term awareness to environmental issues and conservation needs. Selfishly, I also hope incorporating kids in open water events will result in more young people wanting to be involved in putting on events and volunteering within the community, especially in swimming and water safety instruction.


If you're considering encouraging young swimmers to embark on an open water swimming adventure, here are some things to consider:


Vet your swim locations

Not all bodies of water are created equal, so choose your swimming spot wisely. Look for places with calm waters, shallow depths, and minimal currents. Lakes, calm rivers, and protected bays are perfect for smaller bodies and people that are less confident outside of a pool environment.


Adult swim buddies

Make sure kids never go out alone, and that there's an experienced adult swimming with them. Even if there's a whole group of kids wanting to train together, they need to have an adult, even if the adult is in a kayak or paddleboard alongside them.


Invest in safety equipment

Especially for smaller bodies, invest in highly visible tow floats (like the Quackpacker) to triple ensure they're seen by boats and other swimmers. The benefit of bringing a tow float with storage (ahem, Quackpacker) is the kids can bring extra snacks with them.


Encourage kids to attend adult group practices

As long as the group approves, encourage kids to participate in adult group swims so they're exposed to a variety of techniques, personalities, and communication styles. They'll learn so much from the swim pack alone, and likely be told about community activities and events they'll get more excited about than if their parents brought it up. They'll find role models and inspiration in the community!





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