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Guest Blog Post - Swimming Dad!

Today on the Underwater Kids Blog, I am super thrilled to feature “Swimming Dad” aka Vladimir Anušić. An incredible international expert on underwater safety and an advocate of of swimming with your children, the benefits of swimming as a basic survival skill. As the founder of Underwater Kids, all of what Valdimir advocates really resonates with me. I believe we are at a cross roads as more and more photographers make their way underwater,, and much like newborn photography, the safety aspect of what we do, cannot be stressed enough. If you are passionate about photographing families underwater like me, take a few minutes and read this article, then follow “Swimming Dad” to keep up on the tips. Keep yourself, your family and your clients safe at all times and advocate a love of the water and the incredible creatures that live in it.

Jennifer

Tell us a little more about yourself, where you grew up and where you live now - we want to know!  

I was born in SFR Yugoslavia, the country which had a sea and big dreams, the country which would have been a sport super power now, and the country which does not even exist on the world map anymore. I grew up in Serbia, the homeland of many top champions and successful sport stories. As a kid, I would play in the streets of a small town in northern Vojvodina, the town which is still attractive to young swimmers. I’ve been in the world of sport and swimming, as a coach, for more than two decades. Thanks to swimming, I’ve seen the world, and today I work in Dubai and I teach others how to swim.  

I’m currently living and “swimming” with my family inBelgrade, Novi Sad and Dubai. It seems to me that my family sometimes spends more time in the pool than at home. No matter if it’s winter or summer, my kids don’t stop swimming. They have been in and under the water since they were four months old, playing and enjoying it. 

When did you first start getting involved in the world of underwater? 

As if it was yesterday. I was only four and I was on my summer holiday in Croatia, at the Adriatic Sea, when I got my first diving mask and discovered the world of underwater. It was a magical moment filled with uncertainty of the undiscovered depth. I couldn’t even imagine what the water I jumped into could bring to me.. but it was love at first sight. I haven’t stopped enjoying the miracle of the water and the world of underwater ever since. I even spent my honeymoon in the depths of the Red Sea. After that,I indulged in the underwater adventure and the work with babies through the Baby Swim Club. It is a priceless experience I passed onto my kids and it “spreads around” my friends. 

 However, my dearest underwater experience I’ve ever had was when my kids were born. We’ve played in and under the water from the very early days of their lives. The unforgettable experience I had underwater was with my son who, at that time, was not even one year old, in the mountains under the open sky, in winter. Today, when I watch my four-year-old son and my daughter who is two and a half, playing underwater, laughing and having fun, the feeling is incredible. 

 Believe me, swimming and the underwater world are soothing for your body and soul, and that’s why it is my refuge of serenity and peace.

What benefits have you found in swimming and teaching kids how to swim early? 

One the one hand, as I was still working as a general secretary of the Swimming Association of Serbia and was in the world of top swimming on daily basis, I tended to pay more attention to the foundation of swimming, the youngest children, where the swimmers are made. I wanted to understand their challenges and fears, faced both by swimmers and non-swimmers. Believe it or not, even the champions who won the Olympic medals used to have a fear of water. 

On the other hand, it was devastating forme to read in the newspapers or see on TV that someone’s child drowned. Being a swimmer or not! It’s cruel but true that drowning usually comes silently, taking away those who are precious to us so quickly. Children are victims most of the time. The figures can prove also that those are mostly children younger than five or four.  

This is what motivated me even more to start working on education of parents and those who spend time with children, not only next to the pool, but outside the pool as well. And to work on the prevention of youngest children, starting with baby swimming.  

Why? Because children who start with swimming lessons at the earliest age have a better immune system, muscle definition, they sleep better, and have better motor skills. And most importantly, we teach them how to feel safe in water and make them learn about the water environment in order to feel comfortable in it, and of course, to prevent drowning. My children have been in the water since the age of four months. That does not mean they had trainings every day… but they got relaxed enough to enjoy the water. Later on, it’s easier to teach them the swimming techniques and other skills in water. 

What made you start “Swimming Dad”? 

 I’ve been in the water whole my life. So, I can openly say that for me swimming, just like writing and reading, is a basic life skill. Swimming has given me precious experiences, new knowledge and priceless friends. However, once I got the honourable “dad” title, I wanted to give swimming a “touch of warmth and colour”, as I believe we all learn as we live.   

I wanted to share my two-decade coaching experience and knowledge about swimming and growing up from the point of view of a dad and an expert through theSwimming Dad concept www.swimmingdad.com That is why Swimming Dad is not only about my aquatic story, but also a story of my “small” family. 

With the support of my wife and my Little Shark and Little Fish, I created my digital space of endless inspiration about love of water, swimming and children back in 2017.This little corner is designed for those who love swimming, healthy lifestyle, both physical and mental. Both for children and a great fun they can have in and out of the water, and for the parents who are their springboard into the world. 

Though the articles, photos, videos about swimming and growing up I’m trying to use Swimming Dad to educate as many parents as possible, but also future mums and dads, aunts and uncles about swimming, and also motivate them to move and swim together with the children with no fear. All the stories I write are based on my personal experience in the work with the youngest, babies, Olympic and world medal winners, but also pregnant women, elderly and children with special needs.  

What are your hopes and dreams for the “Swimming Dad” community?

Swimming is the beginning of everything. It’s easier to start swimming than start walking. It’s easier to use swimming as prevention than asatreatment. It’s easier to learn how to swim than to have a water-related accident and then start to lean how to swim.  

I believe that using the Swimming Dad concept, a play in the water, concrete examples, educational material about swimming and growing up, I can motivate you to start swimming, feel safe in the water and enjoy it, the way my family does! I find it crucial that even at the micro level, I succeed in raising the awareness of parents, children and their friends about how swimming is such an important life skill. 

I believe that we are all aware enough how water can be useful, and dangerous for our kids at the same time. That is why I would likeparents to realise that swimming is not only a summer thing, but that it is a vital life skill every single child should master. It is never too late to get into the water and learn how to swim. It’s not a shame not knowing how to swim. But, on the other hand, don’t deprive yourselves and your kids of the benefits swimming can bring to you.

I hope that through the Swimming Dad community I can bring swimming closer to others in an educational, interesting and relaxed way, and thus help everyone. Yes, that’s right. To help those who are afraid of water, to those who can’t swim, and those who don’t have that opportunity, those with special needs, and those with corrective physical needs, to the elderly, young, sad, obese, shy and lonely.. EVERYONE. 

I would love to minimize the fears and doubts parents have about swimming at the earliest age. Because, whether we like it or not, we are all role models to our kids even when it comes to healthy life style.   

This is why you should include swimming in your life, before it “excludes” you! 

If you could have one ideal “underwater” holiday of your dreams with your family, where would it be?  

 If I could choose my ideal Under Water holiday for my Swimming Dad family, that would definitely be an exotic place, which can be near the sea, but not necessarily.It could be a magical island with a secret lake in it, where we could explore the abundant underwater world in the magic of the morning light and its flora and fauna. Knowing my family, they can’t stay still for long, so that would definitely be a mix of two or three unforgettable places good for swimming and underwater activities. 

 Once I discover one, I’ll definitely let you know so we could enjoy it together! 

More about Swimming Dad... Who is Swimming Dad?

My name is Vladimir Anušić. I have a degree in physical education, with a Master’s Degree in Sports Management, and I work as a swimming instructor. I have more than 20 years of experience working as a swimming professional with children of different ages ,from babies to teenagers and students. I am also very proud of my work with children with disabilities.

 I am a great enthusiast and always striving for the maximum results. I believe in a continuous and lifelong learning and development. Above all,I believe in good, and not only ”smart” people. I am passionate about basketball and music. I also enjoy playing the saxophone, guitar and singing under the water.

 I am the founder of the Baby Swim club in Belgrade and Novi Sad, currently in the idle phase until I find the right conditions to do what I have planned for babies and children in Serbia.

 Throughout my rich and diverse career, I’ve gained substantial knowledge as the general secretary of the Swimming Association of Serbia, swimming instructor at the Faculty for Sports and Tourism, and Swimming Club Vojvodina. 

 I am currently working for Waves Swim Academy in Dubai

In December 2017, I became the founder of the concept and the author of the Swimming Dad Blog www.swimmingdad.com

 If you would like to get in touch and find out more about my professional experience, my projects and education, you can contact me via my LinkedIn profile or just drop me a line at vladimir.anusic@swimmingdad.com.

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Let's talk underwater housings or as some would call cases, for your dSLR camera

There are a handful of options out there right now when it comes to protecting your dSLR camera underwater.

There are two types really. There are the soft case housings and then there are the hard case housings.

I’ll try to offer you the most precise and clear information so that you will be able to decide easily on which product you want to buy.

The first thing I would consider when choosing your housing is what you are going to be shooting and in what kinds of water. For those who are mostly shooting in swimming pools or just want some splash around photos or near shore, shallow water photos at like a freshwater lake or the beach, then a soft case would likely be a good option for you.

If you are going to be taking your camera into deeper waters, like 10ft or more…and you will be shooting against waves in the ocean or spending hours in a body of water at a time (without the ability to easily get on to dry land in case of a leak) I would say a hard case housing is the only way to go.

There are many differences in soft cases compared to hard casings, but the largest that most folks see first is price. Hard cases start at around the $1800.00 range and go up for additional accessories. You can get a really cheap soft case for as little as $60.00.

I (Amy) personally used the EWA Marine soft bag for years, which held my Nikon d700 with a 20mm lens. I only shoot in pools up to like 8ft, so this bag was great for many years. I since have purchased the Outex soft case, for a few reasons which will be reveiled further in this post.

Jennifer and Christi from Underwater Kids, both have the Ikelite hard case housing. Christi shoots a lot in lakes and Jennifer in the ocean, so this was the ideal housing for them.

The biggest limitation, minus depth limits, to a soft case housing is the inability to use a spherical shaped lens on most bags. You are limited to a flat faced lens, which actually for most folks is not an issue. However, there is not the a DOME option on the soft Outex bag that can be purchased to fit a round nosed lens. I do not know of any other soft case that offers this option. So if you are wanting to use a fisheye, but want a soft case, then the Outex soft bag might be a good option. Side note: domes are a standard option with all hard case housings, just not with ‘bags’.

One of the biggest benefits of a soft case is that one housing will fit like almost any sized camera body. So as you change your equipment over time, you can use the same bag. This is unlike a hard housing which is limited to one, yes, one specific camera body. So for hard cases, if you change camera bodies, you will have to buy a completely different case to fit that new or different camera body.

But hard cases are amazing in many ways and we could list so many reasons why they are justifiable more expensive. First of all they are more strong in their construction and I would say, overall a ‘safer’ option for protecting your gear. And because they are specially fitted for your special camera, you can easier access to you camera controls. You are still able to utilize your controls on the soft bags, although it takes a bit of ‘creativity’ to do at times…hehehe….accessing your settings on a hard case is very precise.

Hard cases are much larger than soft cases. So portability may be something that is important to you if you travel alot. Also, soft cases take less time to put on your camera than a hard housing, in many cases. The hard cases are just more complex overall because they are more ‘robust’ as I would call them.

Just a few final notes. Me, personally, even though I have used soft cases exclusively for over about 500 dips in the pool (between personal and professional photo taking) over the years…. I would never trust a soft case housing with my main or most expensive equipment. I would only use it with a backup camera or equipment valued at maybe $1500.00 or below (camera and lens combined). If you are looking to dunk your Nikon d6 with a $1000+ lens, I personally think that would be crazy to trust a soft case. No way.

And sure, so much of the safety is contingent at some level to user care. These products need a little TLC . Proper attention should be taken with such things before, during and after use. So if a hard case is not assembled properly, it can be less ‘safe’ than a soft case. This is common sense, but worth mentioning still.

So the main players in cases are here:

SOFT HOUSINGS (entry price range)

Outex

EWA Marine

Dicapac

HARD CASES (mid price range)

SPL WaterHousings

CMT Water Housings

HCW Housings

HARD CASES (high price range)

Subal Housings

Nexus Water Cases

SeaCam Housings

Aquatech Housings

Ikelite Water Cases

Seaandsea Cases

Aquatica Housings

Hope this has been helpful and please head over to our Underwater Kids Instagram feed for any additional questions and/or eye candy. Happy Snapping!

-Amy

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Florida 2020 Here We Come!!

The Underwater Kids Retreat was an amazing opportunity to meet with friends who I not only connect with on photography, on business, but on the specific niche that I adore so very much…these women are amazing. This retreat is something I will be forever grateful I invested in for myself and for my business.

Renee Stengel Photography


Visiting and photographing in the springs for the Underwater Kids workshop was AMAZING. I'm itching to go back! I love underwater maternity and the springs just brought it to a whole new level. 

Kimberly Tank Art & Photography

The Underwater Kids Retreat was an amazing experience…Using pool lights and lights from outside the pool, we challenged our artistry and executed our individual visions. This session gave me such a boost of creative energy! I’m practically bursting with ideas for warm-weather underwater shoots here in California…I’m certain there are few places as wonderful as Ginnie Springs, Florida.

Mary Bea Photography

Our hearts are full.

Our first Underwater Kids was such a success that we are booking another one for May 13-16th 2020 in Ocala Florida, where we will again is it the breathtaking Ginnie Springs.

We laughed, we bonded, we brainstormed, we shared our thoughts, experience and ideas. We built community. This is exactly why Underwater Kids was founded. To give entrepreneurs a chance to really explore the niche of underwater child and family photography in a supportive community.

We are grateful and we cannot wait to do it again.

Wont you join us for our Florida Workshop May 13-16 2020?

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Underwater Workshop

Jennifer from Jennifer Kapala Photography here.

I am about to send this session off for printing, and I wanted to share one more. This mom really nailed the pose and the beauty of an underwater session!  Underwater photography sessions are always so much harder than they look and require lots of coaching. At Underwater Kids, we just released some information on an underwater workshop we are hosting in March 2019 in Florida. Guess what?  We will be using real people, not underwater models. If you are a photographer, I am sure you have been to those heavily stylized workshops, with awesome looking models that give you gorgeous portfolio building images, but not practical skills to apply to sessions. Yeah, me too. What did I learn? Not as much as I hoped thats for sure.  I am committed to that not happening, as its especially important when you are interested in adding underwater photography to your business. Your clients come to you with these visions in your head, and its your job to deliver them and keep your client safe. Let us help give you the tools to take your business to the next level by learning how to photograph really clients in real situations, in pools, with lights, backdrops, props and in springs. Capture images that you will you an awesome portfolio, the skills to make that happen every time and ways to apply it to your business.

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Feel free to contact us and ask any questions you have - we hope to see you in March!

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Fl Springs

Hello Everyone! Christi Curtis here... I am new here at Underwater Kids and I am SOOO beyond excited to join these two beautiful and talented ladies {Jennifer & Amy} that started this wonderful page and to see what adventures this takes me on!  I feel so blessed and lucky to be a part of this amazing community.

I thought I would share, for my first blog post, one of my favorite locations to shoot underwater... Florida springs.  Living in FL of course we have plenty of beaches, but did you know we have these amazing little gems all over the state? Natural Springs are so great for underwater photography, with fresh clear cool water, each and every spring has a unique and different landscape to them.  This is why I LOVE to adventure out with my children and visit the springs and discover new ones. These springs are also amazing backdrops for underwater sessions such as children and maternity! 

This week I took my kids and their cousin to check out the natural lazy river that is Rock Springs Run at Kelly Park in Apopka FL.  I did an underwater maternity session here earlier this year and knew I had to bring my kids back to check it out.  This spring is unique because the water moves you through beautiful landscape and over a rocky and sandy terrain down a clear river.  The kids had a blast and I lugged my big Ikelite just to get a few fun pics!  Hope you enjoy!

Let me know if you want to see more posts about my favorite springs in FL.

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