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My oldest son started having formal swimming lessons relatively late, compared to most of his peers, but has very quickly become a confident and very competent swimmer. He now goes swimming three times every week, including once a week as a family, so we try to make it as much fun as possible to keep up his enthusiasm and have ended up buying a few products to encourage him.
Our latest purchase has been a set of 'seal dive sticks' made by Zoggs. These are simply weighted sticks which are designed to be used in pools as an aid to encourage swimmers to dive and retrieve them. As a Zoggs product, these are not exclusive to the ELC, although they can be purchased from there for £11.99 for a pack of four or from Argos at £9.99 for a pack of three. As far as I'm aware, they aren't available singly but three or four offers more play value, I suppose. The sticks are small, fairly lightweight and flexible rubbery tubes which are a practical design to slip inside a swim bag without taking up too much room.
Although I'd heard of these sticks before, I didn't realise why they were called 'seal' sticks until we actually bought them and I got the chance to look at these close up. Each of the sticks has been amusingly designed with the feat and head of a small seal, complete with a set of goggles! I don't think the design really adds much to the stick's overall performance but they do look very cute and have certainly attracted the attention of my toddler, who loves to suck, chew and play with these whenever he gets hold of them. Fortunately, as I've found with other Zoggs products, these seem very durable and well made and have withstood this treatment without any ill effects so far.
Much as my toddler might disagree, these are not a baby toy. As a swimming aid, the sticks are intended to be thrown into a swimming pool. The little feet attached to the end of each stick are weighted slightly, so they sink to the bottom of the pool and always remain in an upright position, where children can then dive down and attempt to retrieve them. The sticks have a couple of holes, so they quickly fill with water which helps them to sink very rapidly. When used as they are intended, the sticks form a useful aid, particularly when encouraging swimming to dive and to swim underwater. Some children can feel wary about swimming underwater, particularly if they are in deep water, and these sticks can help with confidence in the pool as well as providing a bit of a distraction.
I first came across these Seal Dive Sticks when observing them used during one of my son's swimming lessons. There they were being used as a kind of competition between the swimmers in his group, as there was a contest to see who could collect the highest number of sticks and swim back to the edge of the pool. My nine year old is very competitive so this game instantly appealed to him and he made sure that he won that particular task. Each stick is brightly coloured, making them easy to spot even underwater. In our set, every stick is a different colour, making it possible to set different tasks or to create games such as instructing my son to collect them in a particular order.
The sticks are intended for children who are already able to swim unaided, so from around five or six years upwards, depending on ability, although the packaging suggests these are suitable from three years upwards, under supervision. Although my oldest son is the only competent swimmer in the family, these sticks do help to involve his younger brothers too and make swimming a fun activity for all of the boys. They love throwing the sticks for him to retrieve - effectively playing a game of 'aqua fetch' with their older brother!
These are a fun but simple way of encouraging young swimmers to enjoy swimming and to develop their confidence and competence at swimming underwater. They are a little expensive for what are essentially a set of rubber tubes, however cute they may be, but are still a recommended purchase.
Set of 4 dive sticks with flexible soft tube construction for safety.Dive and retrieve the most to win. Age range: From 3 years.