| Tuesday, February 28, 2017
What is a bridge program? Often called Pre-Team, Pre-Competitive, Stroke School, or Youth Fitness, bridge programs are an extension of swim lessons where competitive strokes and skills are taught and refined. Bridge programs often prepare a swimmer to join a swim team but we have learned that there are multiple benefits to the swimmer and the parent.
Around the age of 3 parents begin to enroll their children into all kinds of lessons, dancing, music, karate, gymnastics and swimming. Of all of these, swimming is the only one that can save a child’s life. However, sometimes children drop out of swimming lessons before they are really capable of taking care of themselves in the water.
The bridge program meets this need for continued learning. Without this program there is a huge gap between swimming lessons and truly being safe in the water and/or moving onto a swim team.
Bridge programs may offer some different techniques that keep the child’s interest a little longer than merely continuing to take swimming lessons. The child will learn competitive strokes and skills. As the swimmers starts using different muscle groups in learning other strokes, they become stronger. Their muscles and cardiovascular systems are being challenged and, in turn, the swimmers become safer in the water. This is of course the most important benefit, but additionally, the swimmers learn skills that prepare them to join a USA Swim Team.Below are two studies from USA Swimming that talk about key components to running a successful bridge program.