Best & Worst Sunscreens For Kids

Whether you’re camping, hiking, swimming, or just hanging in the backyard, don’t let a sunburn damper your child’s fun! Applying a safe, effective sunscreen to children is one key to protecting them from sun damage. Easier said than done.

10 Water Safety Tips Every Parent Should Know

Swimming is one of the healthiest, most enjoyable summer activities. To truly enjoy your family’s time around water, we encourage you to educate yourself about drowning prevention. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. among children under 14 and the leading cause of accidental death for children five and under.

Keep your family safe this summer by following our list of water safety tips:


Never leave a child unattended near a bathtub, sink, bucket of water or toilet. Be within an arm’s length from your child when they around water in the home. Drain all standing water immediately after use.

Do not play/talk on the phone or try to do other chores while your child is playing in or around water. Distractions are deadly!

A fence and a reliable gate are the best ways to make your home pool a safe environment for your family and visitors. Safe Kids reports that in 63% of drowning cases, the victims entered the pool through an open or unlatched gate! Never assume a gate is locked! Securing a pool from unintended access is a crucial step in pool safety. Families may also consider pool alarms and rigid covers as additional layers of protection, but neither can take the place of a fence.

CPR saves lives. Performing CPR provides oxygen to the brain and other vital organs and dramatically increases a victim’s chance of survival.


Children should never swim alone. When children are playing at pools, water parks, lakes, rivers or oceans an adult “Water Watcher” should be designated at all times. The “Water Watcher” should know how to swim, be free from distraction and be trained in rescue techniques. The “Water Watcher” should also wear a physical reminder (bracelet, pin, lanyard, rubber band or sticker) to help remind him/her and other adults that they are responsible for the safety of the children. When the “Water Watcher” needs a break, he/she must find a replacement and pass the “duty” verbally and physically to another responsible adult. Lifeguards should only be considered as a backup safeguard. No one will watch your child as closely as you – especially at pool parties where adults can be easily distracted.

Don’t leave toys or other equipment that may attract a child in or around the pool. Train your child to never retrieve a toy out of the pool unless you are present. In addition, create a special word/verbal cue that you (and only you) must give to your children before they are allowed in the water.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children ages 1 to 4 may be less likely to drown if they have had formal swimming instruction. Finding a qualified instructor is important – research your public and private community swim programs and look for one that provides year-round development of swimming skills. Teaching kids to swim is a process, not a one-time event. Like any skill set, swimming needs to be practiced consistently to develop proper, life-saving responses and confidence.

Water wings are not an approved lifesaving/buoyancy device. Assuming they have such capability, puts your child in jeopardy. Water wings can slip off or pop while you are not watching your child. Your child may get out of the pool to take a break, remove the wings and then forget to put them back on. Water wings promote a false sense of security in parents and make children overly confident. Moreover, water wings hinder movement and do not promote good body position in the water. By promoting a vertical body position, water wings are creating a habit that is very hard to break once a child is learning to swim. If your child is already in lessons, water wings have the potential to undo all the proper muscle memory he/she has been taught. If you must use a flotation device, purchase a Coast Guard approved lifejacket – these are especially critical while riding on boats or playing in or around moving bodies of water.

Who can hold their breath longer? Who can swim more laps without a breath? These are everyday pool dares, but ultimately risky games. The Centers for Disease Control recently issued a report linking underwater breath holding to fatal drowning incidents. Shallow-water blackout is loss of consciousness from intentionally restraining from breathing while underwater, usually in the shallow end of the pool. Basically, swimmers can overexert themselves and pass out underwater. Children and adults should never avoid the urge to breathe while swimming.

Drowning doesn’t look like the stereotypical splashing and yelling scenario you see on TV. A distressed/drowning swimmer may be active and splash around and yell for help. However, they will only be able to struggle at the surface of the water for 20 seconds or so before sinking for good. Other signs of distress/drowning are not as obvious and include gasping, bobbing in the water or face-down floating. This is why drowning is called a silent killer and why it can occur even when lots of people are present.

Water safety is important year-round, not just in the summer months. In the pool, at the lake, or even in your own home or backyard, water can be dangerous unless you take precautions and educate yourself and your children.

With these water safety tips in mind, we hope families spend a lot of time around the water this summer. We encourage all of our swimmers to practice their hard-earned swim skills. Remember that swimming year-round helps your child avoid regression, reinforces safety skills and is good for their health!

Welcome To Bear Tracks

We are excited to introduce you to our new blog – Bear Tracks. Bear Tracks is a place for us to pool our thoughts, ideas, and philosophies in order to share them with you! It is a venue to express our two passions: swimming and kids! We will also cover fun parenting tools and other family-centered information.

First things first. . .

Let me start by introducing myself (or re-introducing in most cases) and giving you a little bit of our swim school’s history. My name is Katie Hall and my husband Tim and I own Silver Bear Swim School. I am also a mom to three amazing kids ages 6, 9 and 11.

Staring Silver Bear has been the best part of my swimming journey thus far, but that is not where the story begins.

Swimming has been something that I have done since I was six years old. I barely remember a time when swimming was not a huge part of my life. I grew up participating in a summer recreational swim league and eventually moved to a United States club team for my high school years. I was fortunate enough to earn the opportunity to swim at the collegiate level and swam at U.C. Berkeley under Olympic Coach, Teri McKeever for four years. Swimming at Cal was the culmination of countless hours of hard work and time spent in the sport. More than anything, swimming in college brought me a new appreciation for all the gifts/tools swimming gave me and the desire to share those lessons with others. However, it took me a while to see how to apply them.

Feeling a bit water logged after college, I set off to find my “real” job in San Francisco. Even though I swore I would never set foot in another pool, inevitably I found myself staring at the black line again in no time. Enter the Olympic Club, an athletic club that had a masters swim program. Swimming with the masters team is how I met Tim. Yep. We met at a pool. Wearing speedos. How apropos. It is our perfect aquatic love story. Tim was swimming with the team while training for an Ironman, and I was trying to fight corporate life boredom. While I would never regret those years in the S.F. corporate world – after all it was how I met my husband – I did feel like I was unfulfilled in my professional life. When I thought about what really inspired me, I kept coming back to working with children, but the aha moment was yet to come.

It was around this same time that Tim got relocated to Reno for a new job opportunity. So what does a swimmer do in a new town when she feels lost and alone? Find a pool to make her feel more at home. Easier said than done in Reno! Looking for a pool to workout in made me realize how limited and seasonal most of the learn-to-swim aquatics programs in the area were. This is ultimately how the idea of SBSS was born.

With a desire to fill a community need and encouragement from wonderful mentors in the industry, we opened our Reno pool in 2006 and have been teaching babies and children to swim for 10 years and counting. in 2012 we expanded into Sparks and have enjoyed serving that community for the last four years.

I often get asked why I wanted to work with beginner swimmers. Why not coach elite swimmers? The answer is easy. Elite athletes are singularly focused, under a lot of pressure and often fighting burn out. I want to be there when a child first finds his love for the water. I want to be a part of the swimming journey in the most fun phase – before the pressure of competition kicks in. Before a swimmer grows out of creative and imaginative play. Before swimming in a pool becomes work or a job. I love when children are in the “soak it all up like a sponge” stage. I delight in seeing the light bulb go on. I triumph when I know a child has truly learned to respect the water. Most importantly, I love the role I play as a teacher in their lives.

Children need to be encouraged. They need to be reminded of how wonderful they are. They need to be believed in, told they are brave, smart and capable. Children need to have fun. This is our lesson approach and philosophy. How is that not the best job ever? I would not change it for the world.

My swim journey is not over yet – after all swimming is a lifetime sport and our work in this community is far from over! Tim and I look forward to creating the rest of our Silver Bear story with you in the years ahead.

In the meantime, have fun wading through our pages as they become available – we look forward to sharing with you!

Incredible Moments In Swimming

Swimming has featured on the program of all editions of the Olympic Games since 1896. (yes, 1896) The very first Olympic events were freestyle (crawl) or breaststroke. Backstroke was added in 1904.


In the 1940s, breaststrokers discovered that they could go faster by bringing both arms forward over their heads. This practice was immediately forbidden in breaststroke, but gave birth to butterfly, whose first official appearance was at the 1956 Games in Melbourne. This style is now one of the four strokes used in competition.

Women’s swimming joined the Olympics in 1912 at the Stockholm Games. Since then, it has been part of every edition of the Games. The men’s and women’s programs are almost identical, as they contain the same number of events, with only one difference: the freestyle distance is 800 metres for women and 1,500 metres for men.

If you were on the Olympic Swim Team, what would be your preferred stroke? (comment below)


The Best Cereal Commercial

Now, we may be biased, but his is by far one the best cereal commercials we have ever seen! PLUS, this gets our entire team pumped up for the 2016 Summer Olympics! 

Swimming builds character, confidence, perseverance and above all, its fun. We would encourage every parent out there to start talking about the Olympics with your children. Its a great way to let them witness the benefits of hard work and be introduced to role-models that were exactly like them at their age. (We’ll keep you posted once the team is selected at the beginning of July).