Little Waves Family Swim School
We’re Swimming Again!
By Jackie Byers
Eight years ago, Mike McKamy founded Little Waves Family Swim School to pursue his ongoing goal of teaching children how to be safe while they have fun in the water. After a 10-week shutdown to comply with coronavirus-related business restrictions, Mike is delighted to announce that Little Waves is open for lessons again!
This is an especially important time for water safety, Mike points out. “When public pools are closed or at reduced occupancy, backyard pools and even kiddie wading pools are a big draw, but a child can drown in really shallow water. Any child near any water needs eyes on them 100 percent of the time. When so many parents are working from home, the challenge comes from having to ignore distractions. Knowing water safety saves lives.”
Mike knows his way around a swimming pool. He began competitive swimming at age seven, in Waterloo, Iowa. He continued competing through high school and college, after which he focused on coaching and teaching swimming. He has taught and coached at Millard Aquatics, UNO, Westside High School, and elsewhere. Among his pupils over a lifetime are competitive swimmers who went on to earn scholarships to compete in college. Other former students have competed at the Olympic Trials level.
With 45 years of swimming under his belt, Mike is a master teacher and swimmer. He still competes nationally when his business and family allow him time. Little Waves is very much a family affair, Mike says. His wife, son, and daughter have all taught at Little Waves. “My wife is a really enthusiastic teacher,” Mike shares. “When she is in the water with our youngest students, everybody has fun.”
“At Little Waves, we start teaching children as young as six months how to have safe fun in the pool. In those lessons, one parent is in the water with the child at all times until the child is over the age of 36 months.” The child learns to enjoy the water while feeling the safety of the parent’s control. The next level of classes begins to teach stroke production to go along with water fun.
The safety position of the back float is emphasized at every age level. “We stress this float position because it needs to become an automatic response when a child feels fatigue or is struggling in the water,” Mike says. “Panic is a dangerous feeling! Once a child can roll onto his or her back, we give lots of practice on how to move through the water with arm strokes and leg kicks.” This extensive practice teaches children what steps to take when they’re struggling in the water. This helps them stay calm and move to safety.
Though Mike has a passion for competitive swimming, Little Waves is about safety, not competition. “At Little Waves, I don’t coach a competitive swim team,” Mike shares. “We keep our pool at 90 degrees, which is too warm for the exertion of competition. Swimming without competition still offers a lifetime of water fun, fitness, and safety.” Little Waves does offer a pre-competitive swim class that gives older students a chance to see what competition involves without the year-round time commitment and expense of swim club.
“In normal times, our average enrollment is more than 700 students,” Mike notes. “The Olympic swim trials in Omaha have really increased local awareness of what swimming can be.” Certainly, the pandemic has changed things at Little Waves, but they are again offering swimming lessons in a way that prioritizes the safety of the children, their families, and the staff. “We are strictly following all the guidelines during the pandemic,” Mike outlines. “We have limited numbers in classes and reduced lesson times. Even the number of socially distanced observers is temporarily limited, and masks are required to enter our facility.”
“To minimize virus transmission, our instructors teach their classes one-on-one while wearing full-face snorkel masks,” says Mike.
Classes meet weekly for children aged six months to about 10 years. To learn more and see what kind of classes your child could take at Little Waves, visit them online at littlewavesfamilyswimschool.com or call the pool at 402-932-2030. Little Waves Family Swim School is located at 175th Street and West Center Road, in the same parking lot as Chick-Fil-A. Let Mike and his staff teach your kids how to be safe while having fun in the water!
Mike McKamy, owner