Want a new activity to do with your children? Introduce them to snorkeling!
This article was originally published here.
Enjoying the beach with family often means swimming, sand castles and collecting shells... If you're looking to diversify, have you thought about snorkeling? A snorkel, mask, fins and a few precautions are enough to get into this sporting and educational activity with your family.
Learn how to help your diving apprentices succeed with their first fin kicks...
1. STARTING SNORKELING
Suitable equipment is essential for your future little snorkelers!
Snorkeling is also known as water hiking, swimming with fins or FMS (Fins, Mask, Snorkel).
These 3 basic accessories, fins, mask and snorkel aren't enough when it comes to introducing the youngest children (from 6 years old) to surface diving. In fact, snorkeling doesn't require intense physical effort so there's a risk that your child will quickly get cold in the water.
This sensation can appear after as little as 10 minutes of snorkeling, even in temperate summer waters, hence the importance of providing your kids with good thermal protection in the form of a snorkeling suit, a shorty or a neofun top.
A suit also protects your child's fragile skin from sunburn, amplified by the water, and possible scratches on the rocks. In the absence of a wetsuit, and if you intend to dive with your family in a water at 28°C, an anti-UV T-shirt is an absolute must. Just like applying waterproof sunscreen, especially to the back of your arms and legs!
2. CHOOSE A GOOD SPOT AND FAIR WEATHER
Reassure your children on their first snorkeling trip.
Make things easy on your kids by picking a day with good weather, calm seas and a time when there aren't too many swimmers. This reassures your young beginner, while providing the best chances of coming across fish and shellfish in clear water.
You don't need to go too far out! The bands of rock along the shore are home to many animals and species that will delight your children. Stay close to your kids and make sure that they can stand on the sea floor. This is a matter of safety of course, but also comfort, that way they can rest if necessary.
For initial outings, there's no need for fins. Start by testing the mask and snorkel in a spot where your child can stand in the water. Once they've cracked this stage, then they can use fins! If you put on your fins on before going in the water, you should walk backwards rather than forwards in order to avoid a ridiculous and potentially painful fall.
And of course, racing with fins from the beach to the water is also a big no-no...
3. INTRODUCE YOUR CHILD TO SNORKELING WITH A MASK AND SNORKEL
It's time to put your head under water!
To get to this crucial stage of snorkeling, get your children to use their masks and snorkels out of the water, breathing only through their mouths. They can learn this in a swimming pool... or in the bathtub! If you want them to first try this at the beach, then have them use the mask and snorkel on the water's edge, sitting or standing. Once your children are familiar with these two tools, you can then equip them with fins, but only if they know how to swim...
Be aware that going from a vertical position (standing on the bottom) to horizontal (swimming in water) is an important step. It's important for your children to use a snorkel of the appropriate size. If you make them use your snorkel, the mouthpiece, diameter and length will be too large. This is extremely important... Using a snorkel that's too big will make your little snorkeler quickly get winded. Indeed, the size of the snorkel must be proportional to the child's lung capacity.
If it's too large, the snorkeler will breathe in too much of the CO2 previously breathed into the snorkel, called "dead space".
Your apprentice snorkeler isn't too comfortable with handling a snorkel? From 10 years old, you can have your child try the Easybreath® mask. It makes it possible to see “and” to breathe under water through the nose. No feeling of suffocation, nor any risk of foggin or water getting in if the water gets choppy!
Another key factor in making this first snorkeling outing a success : ensure good floating balance for your child. Younger ones feel more secure with a waist belt, while older kids can get support from an inflatable noodle or board. Well stabilized, they can kick along and observe the seabed in peace.
4. EXTEND THE SNORKELING ADVENTURE!
Share this activity with your family and enjoy discovering underwater life.
If your tribe loves snorkeling, why not take it a step further by joining a specialised club? Clubs like Planet Ocean, our technical partner, offer snorkeling and introductory sessions for children in the open sea.
You can also follow beautiful aquatic routes together on the Island of Port-Cros, the reserve of Cerbere-Banyuls, Bonifacio, etc ... Globe-trotters are already heading towards the Galapagos Islands, Mauritius, the Egyptian coast of the Red Sea, or the marine reserve of Belize ...
Each trip is an opportunity to educate your children about respecting aquatic flora and fauna. “Don't draw attention to yourself, don't feed the animals, and don't touch the ecosystems” are the watchwords of any snorkeler! To support awareness regarding flora and fauna, you can also take a nature board with you to identify any fish you might come across or seabeds you could admire.
One last bit of advice? Keep an eye on your young divers, even if they learn fast. Drifting with the current, cramps or disorientation can happen quickly when we have our head in the clouds... Or should we say bubbles?