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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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Black and White or Colour?

Which do you usually prefer for underwater photography, black and white or colour ?  I am usually more drawn to the black and white. To me, underwater photography is about so much movement, that black and white just strips it down and simplifies it to just those most intriguing elements of movement.  

Which do you prefer? 

Colour

colour-1.jpg

or black and white?

black and white-1.jpg

Why?  

What are you going to shoot more of this summer? 

Cheers,

Jennifer

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The Challenge of Underwater Photography in Lakes

I promised a while ago to write an article about underwater photography, and I have been so swamped I haven’t been able to!  BUT I thought I would start by sharing at least one before and after, so you can see what shooting in a lake can be like. I chose this shot because it gives you the sense of what the conditions in the lake are like. Literally pockets of light in very murky water that you have to learn to see. Personally, thats what draws me to keep shooting in the lake despite the challenges. 

I will show you what I mean. Below is what you often encounter in lake conditions. This was taken later at night. I find you can get images under water when there is little light left, often past what you would expect to be able to.  The light was fairy flat, except for the neat pockets of really pretty light just barely penetrating the water.  I knew when I shot it it would just be about the light, and there would be a lot of shadow fall off, so I looked for interesting pockets of light and how the light wrapped my subject.  

Before

Before

In terms of gear, I was shooting with a wider angled lens, the 17-40mm 4L Canon, at 24mm. It  isn’t my favourite lens to shoot with, but it allows you to get closer to your subject and still get a sense of space, which I like. Because lakes are so murky, its important to get closer to your subject if you want to be able to see them, although I have gotten really ghostly images that I love by shooting further away too. 

For this image,  I waited until I saw the triangle shape made my the bubbles and the spotlight effect on him and exposed more for the light as I do like to add visual interest and structure into underwater photos.

Processing is key to all underwater images, especially those taken in a lake. In my processing, I wasn’t so concerned about anything else but about the way the light highlighted his skin and hair, the bubbles (always a favourite element of mine) and the reflections. The image below was quick to process because I already knew it would be about the light and structure before I took the image. I find you have to add contrast and blacks back into underwater images and this one was no different. A slight crop and you find the image below. To me it speaks to what you find underwater in lakes in the summer, dark, murky and full of mystery. You will find that lakes have the most lovely hues of blue/greens and after seeing images all taken in the pools with the bright blues, I find them a welcome change!  

after.jpg

If you have any questions at all – ask away! I am working on a more comprehensive post about underwater photography.

Cheers,

Jennifer

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