3 lessons from a summer holiday ‘intensive program’

I’ve just returned from three weeks in Gisborne, NZ, the town I grew up in.

It was one of those holidays where the weather and beach conditions came to the party, so we made the most of it.

Mornings at the beach and afternoons in the pool.

The great thing about this holiday was watching my daughters, Bailey, 4, and Jessie, 2, develop their skills and confidence in both the open water and the pool.

It was a classic holiday intensive swim program.

In fact, as confident as they already were in these environments, I reckon their development was astronomical over this time, or, as Bailey would say, “we developed so so so so so so much, up to the sky!”

There were three things I believe helped them take a giant leap forward, and the lessons are directly relatable to adults, too. 

1. They played, a lot

The girls wanted to swim ALL the time and they didn’t want to get out.

There’s nothing like spending hours playing and self-learning. Time in the water counts for everything and it’s best when it’s unstructured and unlimited. 

Lesson: Make it happen, make it fun, set up safe boundaries and let it rip!

2. They learnt from older kids

The girls are usually the most confident in the water of their age group, so their ability to copy and learn from others they swim with is limited (except, as the younger sibling, Jessie does benefit from copying Bailey). 

This time they had older cousins (some much older) who knew new tricks, played new games, took more risks, and were a bit rougher in the water. 

Lesson: Find a friend who can get you out of your comfort zone and stretch your limits.

3. They varied their environment

The girls, like most of us, are used to routine and familiar surroundings. On one hand, something as simple as a ‘freaky’ pool filter in a new pool can be enough to put them off, and on the other, getting used to gentle waves that didn’t want to wipe them out all the time took some time to adjust to.

On this trip, they adapted to new beaches and pools up and down the coast and also widened their love for the water through play on the neighbour’s inflatable water slide and the town’s 98m hydro slide and diving boards.

Lesson: Get out and explore new environments to broaden your experience.

Whilst all holidays must come to an end, the learnings and lessons don’t need to.

In 2024 I challenge you to play more, be a student, and choose more adventures – both in and out of the water. 

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