Alison
Taking Care of Swimmer Skin and Hair

Taking Care of Swimmer Skin and Hair

Chlorine protects us from the harmful bacteria that can grow in our pool, but it can have an averse effect on our body, leaving our skin dry and itchy and our hair dry and brittle. SwimWest Swim Instructor and Mom of 2, Amy Horvath, gives us some tips on how to protect and ward off the effects of chlorine on your body.

Dry Skin and Hair 101 . . .

One winter, my husband and I lived really close to SwimWest. I decided that at the end of my nighttime shifts I was going to change and go straight home to shower instead of showering at work.  Despite showering as soon as I got home, within a week I was itching my shins bloody in my sleep, and my hair felt like something that should be fed to a cow, not reside on my head. Those few minutes had made a huge difference in my body’s ability to protect itself with its natural barriers.

Swimming is one of the most enjoyable things you can do, but it can also take a toll on your skin and hair, especially during the winter.  No one enjoys the feeling of straw-like hair or dry, cracked, and itchy skin.  I am going to let you in on a few tricks that SwimWest instructors use in order to maintain normal skin and hair – call it my “Dry Skin and Hair 101!”

First and Foremost

Take a cool shower before you get in the pool.  I know this sounds uncomfortable, but it will help close up your pores, and your hair follicles will absorb the fresh shower water first so that it absorbs less of the chlorine.   It also keeps the pool cleaner for your enjoyment!

Create a barrier

Put in a leave in conditioner or conditioning spray for extra protection after you take your cool shower to seal in the fresh water.  You can do the same thing for your skin by putting on lotion or Vaseline before entering the pool.

Put a cap on it

Not only does putting a cap on your head keep the pool cleaner and more pleasant to swim in, but it will also help to keep the fresh water in and the chlorinated or salt water out of your hair!

Rinse, Rinse, and Rinse some more

As soon as you are done swimming, you should rinse your hair and body with fresh water.  If you wait to rinse the water from the pool, it will eventually evaporate from your hair and skin, leaving behind the chlorine or salt, resulting in a dry and itchy sensation.  After you rinse, there are special shampoos and body washes, such as Triswim, that help to remove the chlorine and salt from your skin and hair. After showering, applying a heavy leave in conditioner or oil, like coconut oil, to your hair and lotion to your skin will help maintain your natural oils.

Weekly Prevention

Conditioner and lotion shouldn’t be something you only decide to apply on swim days.  If you use them regularly throughout the week to maintain healthy skin and hair, it will go a long way to preventing straw-like hair and dry, cracked and itchy skin from the pool.

Follow these tips and you will hopefully avoid the dry and itchy pitfalls of swimming.  I can’t promise your hair won’t turn green, though, so check back soon for tips on getting rid of that lovely green buildup in your hair that makes it look like your hair is molding…

Parenting is HARD

Parenting is HARD

baby hand in parent hand

Parenting is not for the weak!

SwimWest’s own, Amy Horvath, is this months guest blogger with some parenting tips and a little commiseration on the headaches of parenting:
“The first thing I figured out when my second child was born was that being a mommy to my baby was relatively easy and straightforward compared to parenting my 5 year old.  A baby wants to be held, to be fed, kept at a comfortable temperature, have a clean diaper, and, above all else, they want to be loved.  I can do that!  It’s not complicated.  It is demanding, but not hard per se.

As children get older, though, they start to require parenting.  It starts small at first, with things like what they can and cannot put into their mouth and where they can and cannot go.  For the most part (at least in our house), this meant redirecting and distracting the baby, which is fairly easy with their short attention span and curious nature.  Our babies may have not liked when we took something away or moved them away from an area, but in general they moved on quickly to something else.  When they try to go back to doing what you just took them away from its understandable because they are just learning.  There is no talking back, no attitude and you know that they are not purposely ignoring you.  Repeating yourself and remaining consistent is 98 percent of parenting from the very beginning.

For as easy as being a mommy is, parenting is HARD….”Well DUH!” you say.  If parenting were easy, everyone would do it.  We’d have an overpopulation problem and parents wouldn’t look perpetually tired.  Businesses that cater to kids wouldn’t be able to make money off of ‘Parent’s Night Out’, and babysitters would not be getting rich off of parents who are literally going to die inside if they don’t get a night off.

There are some days were I feel like all I do is get frustrated and upset with my 5 year old who is not listening or following directions (among other indiscretions that I don’t even want to talk about because I’ll get stressed out).  There are consistent strategies that we use to deal with these issues, but, there are days where I feel like I am talking to myself.  On those days it is especially hard to find the good and remember to find time to be her mommy, not just her parent.

There are all kinds of parenting philosophies that suggest that you focus on the good and go out of your way to praise your children when they are doing what they are supposed to be doing.  I agree 100 percent with this philosophy and was able to manage it when she was younger.  Now, a lot of times I feel like a boxer on the ropes desperately trying to duck and weave as she throws punch after punch of attitude, back talk and general unpleasantness.

Enter in last summer, when, for the first time, our daughter went to Swim & Gym Camp for a few weeks.  One of the first days she was there, she got a ‘Caught Being Good’ card.  One of her camp counselors had noticed that when she was told to get dressed after swimming she did it quickly and quietly, so they gave her a ‘Caught Being Good’ card.  When I went to pick her up from camp that day she ran up to me to show me her card.  She was extremely proud and excited and told me if she could get four more than she would get to pick out a prize.  I decided to help her celebrate with some ice cream and we called everyone we knew to tell them what had happened.

The next week we started a ‘Puffball Jar’ at home.  If we catch her doing something good like following a direction the first time, doing something without being asked, doing something she doesn’t want to do without whining or complaining, etc. then in goes a puffball.  When she fills up the jar, she gets to pick a fun activity for the whole family to do together.  Her current go to activity is pizza and a movie at home.  It hasn’t fixed our behavior issues completely, but it has helped my husband and I take the time to let her know that we are noticing the good, not just the bad, and it has motivated her to get attention in positive ways instead of by any means necessary.”

Tips for Swimming in the Winter Months

Tips for Swimming in the Winter Months

While it might seem easier to take a break from swim lessons during the school year, and particularly the winter months, we have found swimming year round helps our kiddos keep up their skills and their love for the pool. Anytime we’ve taken “breaks” our kids inevitably get rusty and that makes it so much harder to feel confident and excited about swimming! Plus, it gives us something to do to get out of the house and stay active when it’s too cold for the park.

Here in Wisconsin it can literally be cold for nearly half the year, so here are a few simple tips we have found make winter swimming MUCH easier on us all!

  1. Make sure to pack a hat. Swim West has hair dryers in the locker rooms if you have the time, but it’s so much quicker and easier to throw a hat on after swim class.
  2. Wear loose fitting clothes. We have made the mistake of wearing tights to swim class and it is SO MUCH HARDER to get dressed in tight fitting clothes when your skin is a bit wet. Skip the leggings/tights/layers and think simple, loose fitting sweatpants or warm, snuggly sweaters. Slip on shoes (like furry Crocs or sherpa lined boots) are also great choices!
  3. Rinse off and lotion up. My kids get very dry skin in the winter, so we always make sure we rinse off the chlorine after swim class and pack lotion in our swim bag. A dab of Vaseline or Aquaphor on the cheeks really helps prevent chapping, too.
  4. Enjoy the warm water! Pretend it’s not 15 degrees outside and come enjoy our warm water pool. Bring your kids to open swim and watch them show off their skills and help them practice what they’ve learned in class.

Those are our best tips for winter swimming. Let us know if you have any other ideas and hope to see you at the pool!

Top 10 reason to swim during the summer at SwimWest

Top 10 reason to swim during the summer at SwimWest

  1. SwimWest incorporates water safety in every lesson. Families are around lakes and pools all summer long.  Keep those safety skills strong!
  2. At SwimWest, there is no wind, the water temperature is a wonderful 89*, and the the pool area is always warm. Less shivering!
  3. No sunblock needed at SwimWest (and no sunburns)!
  4. No rain cancellations.
  5. Consistent, expertly trained, CPR certified instructors.
  6. Keep swimming with our strong program to avoid regression of skills and keep building upon established skills.
  7. Small class sizes at SwimWest!  (most of our classes have no more than 4 swimmers per instructor)
  8. Swimming is one of the best exercises out there for all ages!  Good for the mind and the body.
  9. A lot of options for busy summer schedules at SwimWest! (see section below)
  10. Sign up with a friend and if they are new to SwimWest, you’ll receive a $50 referral bonus.
  11. It’s fun!

Register for our West Madison location here & Register for our Fitchburg location here.


Busy summer? We have options for you!

Want to enroll for just the first part of summer? You can enroll now and give us your desired end date. Enroll online and put your desired end date in the comment section or contact the front desk. Enroll for multiple classes a week or just one a week.
Want to enroll for just the middle or last part of summer? You can contact us this summer up to 2 weeks ahead of when you want to swim and we can get you set up.
Know you might miss a few? During the summer, we allow flexibility with our makeup policy. Even if you miss more than one a month, you are still eligible to do makeup lessons for each. The makeup lessons just need to be done by August 26 or you can always pick up a family swim pass.
Want to give your swimmers a boost in a short amount of time? Enroll in our Everyday for Two Week lessons. Details below.

Everyday for Two Weeks lessons (Fitchburg location only)
Give your swimmers a boost with our Everyday for Two Week Lessons.  Monday-Friday throughout the summer.
Some of our classes are full, but below is a list of of openings. Not all are available for online registration, so you may need to contact the front desk at 608 276 7946 or fitchburg@swimwest.com to register.

6/11-6/22 8:30am Seal
6/11-6/22 Noon Jellyfish, Manatee, Whale

6/25-7/6 (closed 7/4) 8:30am Little Snapper, Angelfish, Blowfish, Clownfish, Jellyfish, Seal, Seahorse
6/25-7/6 (closed 7/4) Noon Jellyfish, Octopus, Manatee, Whale

7/9-7/20 8:30am Little Snapper, Angelfish, Blowfish, Clownfish, Jellyfish, Seal, Seahorse, Octopus, Manatee, Whale
7/9-7/20 Noon Angelfish, Blowfish

7/23-8/3 8:30am Little Snapper, Angelfish, Blowfish, Clownfish, Jellyfish, Seal, Seahorse, Octopus, Manatee, Whale
7/23-8/3 Noon Angelfish, Blowfish, Seal, Seahorse

8/6-8/17 8:30am Jellyfish, Seal, Seahorse
8/6-8/17 Noon Seal, Seahorse, Blowfish, Clownfish

Car Seat Ponchos

Car Seat Ponchos

For the last couple weeks it had been negative degrees outside with the wind chill.  Today it is close to 40 degrees, but have you been outside?  It’s the bone-chilling kind of cold that makes it hard to get warm again.  I’ve been trying to decide if I’m a ‘really cold and low humidity’ person or a ‘cold but damp’ person.  While I may never resolve my internal debate one thing is for certain: I DO NOT WANT TO GO OUT WITH MY KIDS IN TOW IN THE COLD!  (Insert childish foot stomp here. J) I can’t just run in and out of anywhere and nothing is quick and easy especially with all the winter gear we need to feel comfortable in this weather.  BUT, we have to go places if not only to maintain sanity, we have errands to run and prepaid lessons to attend.  So how do we make this process a little less painful?

For those of you with young children who are still in a 5-point harness, have you heard of the wonder that is the Car Seat Poncho?  We all have heard that you aren’t supposed to put a jacket on a child that is sitting in a car seat because it’s not safe and there is ample evidence to prove it. See following video:

Posted by Kate Valese Wilms-Crowley on Thursday, November 9, 2017

Well, that’s great and all but my kid is cold which leads to whining and a cranky mommy!  Not to mention that fact that Mommy is cold while she is getting said child out of their car seat and putting their jacket back on at every stop we make.  Like it isn’t hard enough to get your kids to places in a timely manner and in and out of the car on a good weather day!

Some genius has had to have come up with a solution to this problem right?!?! YES!  The miracle of miracles that is the car seat poncho is a simple, functional solution that makes it easy to keep your kids warm as they sit in their car seats and get in and out of the car.  How does it work?  Well, it simply goes over your child’s head and you do the straps of the car seat underneath it.  It creates a sort of halo that covers your child and their seat like this:

Where can I get one like yesterday you say?  Well, you have a couple different options:

  • Go on youtube.com or Pinterest and search ‘car seat poncho’. You will find tons of DIY options.  There are ones that you sew, there are ‘no sew’ options, there are patterns with and without hoods, double layered, reversible and made with a variety of different materials.  And that is great if you have the time, energy and inclination to DIY.
  • I, on the other hand, do not.  I am a firm believer in supporting the economy and the creative juices of someone else who likes to do these kinds of things.  Me I’d rather chop off a toe.  For those of you who feel this way, there are tons of lovely people on websites like ETSY willing to make you a poncho for a price.

So how did we end up with a double layered, fleece, hooded, Frozen themed poncho for my daughter?  She has a creative Aunt who thinks they are a cool idea and she doesn’t have children of her own to spend this kind of energy on-thank goodness!  I wish upon you a relative or two like her.  In the meantime stay warm, stay safe and happy ponchoing!

As the season of giving looms

As the season of giving looms (and yes I definitely mean LOOMS!) and family starts asking for our Christmas lists my husband and I are trying to figure out where we are going to put all the stuff our daughter is going to receive for Christmas.
I find myself stressing about the stressing. What would you call that? “Pre-stressing?” Ahhhhhhh!
We have storage, but it’s rapidly filling despite our best efforts. Now keep in mind we purge on a regular basis, but do we want to purge more of her things when we have another baby on the way and don’t want to repurchase toys for a second child? And let’s talk about that second child whom my husband and I have already decided cannot possibly have anything new because where will it go? Poor kid. Talk about second child syndrome!

When I think about what it is that my daughter cherishes the most, its time and the memories made within that time spent with my husband and I. On a regular basis she says ‘Mommy! Do you remember when we went to (insert super fun destination here) with Daddy? That was so fun! Can we do that again?’ Ultimately it boils down to the fact that she really just wants to be with us spending time doing things we all enjoy. How can I say no to that and give her a toy instead?!?!

I brought up this idea to one of the 90+-year-old women who attend SwimWest’s Water Aerobics classes regularly. I asked her what she has on her Christmas list this year. I was curious what you give a 90+-year-old woman. She said she regularly asks for ‘consumables’, such as a gift card for Panera where she and her fellow water aerobics classmates meet after every class to socialize. Money has gotten tighter as she has gotten older and living space has gotten smaller, so she says ‘you can’t take it with you!’ so you might as well ask for things that will make your time on this earth memorable and enjoyable. So we have decided that instead of more ‘stuff’ our children will be receiving experiences or consumables from us and we will be encouraging our families to follow suit.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying our children will never again receive a material gift from us because they most definitely will as they grow older and their interests change. BUT, putting a priority on experiences and family time spent together instead of material things will help us focus our financial energy as well as help us maintain some semblance of sanity when it comes to finding places for everything and everyone in our home.  If you decide to do something similar let us know how it goes.

Happy Holidays and good luck!