Summer Sanders: Make a (safe) splash

As a mom, I have two big goals in mind this summer when my family is near the pool or the beach. First, I need to make sure my kids are water safe. No matter whether you're an Olympic swimmer or you're someone who doesn't like to swim, your kids should learn this life skill. You can't be next to them every second, so they must be able to relax in the water and get themselves to safety.

When you're at a public pool or in your friend's backyard, knowing that your kids can get in and out of the water and protect themselves can make all the difference in the world. Something as simple as being able to flip over and get to the ladder can save a life. You can start your kids in lessons as early as you want -- it's never too soon.

Second, this is the season to fall in love with swimming, so I want my kids to get that opportunity -- goal No. 2! For young kids, that means the pool temperature must be right. Competitive swimmers are used to 76- to 78-degree water, but for a young kiddo, high 80s is best. That's why so many places have smaller pools for the littlest kids -- those pools are kept warmer and are shallow enough to get them used to the feel of the water.

As parents, we should help our kids find their comfort level in the water so they know what to do. Sometimes we need to push them to learn something they don't like at first. I cried through every lesson when I first started swimming. Believe it! I was 18 months old, and a man named Mark came to our house to teach us. My mom says I was 3 when that all changed. I was in our pool with a floatie around me, and I put my hands up and let myself sink to the bottom of our pool. She figured it was the moment of truth. I popped up and swam to the deep end, smiling. After that, I copied everything my brother did in the pool. No more tears!

Daily repetition matters when a kid is learning to swim. It can be 20 minutes in a lesson or an hour practicing for a couple of weeks. You'll see the results. Swimtoday.org is a great resource, and the best recommendations often come from friends.

Swim equipment isn't on everyone's mind, but the right bathing suit or swim shorts and goggles or a mask are crucial. Those long swim trunks can weight down a small kid. I got Speedo Jammers for Spider, and he had much less drag in the water. You can find online sales or check out a discount store like T.J. Maxx to keep prices reasonable. Wash out that suit in cold water after each swim and save it for things like swimming lessons so it remains special and lasts longer.

The first lesson my kids got about the ocean was to respect it. You can never turn your back on the ocean when you're dealing with tides and currents -- factors beyond your control.

You have to be the CEO of your family on the water. CEO stands for "constant eyes on," and it's something I never forget. We recently spent five days on a houseboat on the Utah side of Lake Powell with Erik's family. Skye, 7, and Spider, 5, did the swim team earlier this summer, so I felt really comfortable about this trip with them.

On the houseboat we had a slide off the back, a stand-up paddleboard and a beginner's water ski. The kids loved learning to water ski there. Once Spider got it and skied into the wake, Skye had to do it, too. She angled right for it, and our whole boat erupted in applause. It was such a fun trip for our family.

I've also been testing out new fitness trends this summer -- from Pound at Crunch, which is a drumstick-pounding workout to 80s rock music -- to SUP yoga. Being on the water on a stand-up paddleboard made me more comfortable trying new yoga poses. In class, I always feel like I'm going to be the domino that takes everyone else down. Shavasana couldn't have been more peaceful out on the water.

I'm going to keep finding new ways to stay fit this summer. If you have a new trend you love, tell me about it. From Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp to the Warrior Dash, I'm trying it all. Isn't that what summer's all about?

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