Where there’s a will, there’s a wave, and Goldfish kiddos made a big splash this Love and Friendship Month!

Continue reading to learn more about how Goldfish swimmers stayed social while distancing over the past year, and how that won them fintastic prizes along the way, thanks to some help from our friend and World Champion Swimmer Ryan Murphy. And, dive into Dr. Molly’s take on safe social interactions for kids during these times, and why swim lessons are on the list!

Celebrating Staying Social While Distancing

This past year has been an adjustment for all of us, but especially our kids, who took their friendships to the next level with COVID-safe activities.

In February, our favorite swim buddy, Ryan Murphy, helped us celebrate their creativity and willingness to go above and beyond to stay safe! Ryan joined us in giving away Goldfish prize packs that winners could share with friends, which included free swim lessons and Goldfish swag, and two very fintastic little girls won the GOLDEN prize! Isla (5) and Mazie (3) Fortney from Elmhurst, IL got to host a virtual party for their friends, with a visit from everyone’s favorite fish friend Bubbles, and Ryan Murphy himself!

To celebrate their birthday over the pandemic, the sisters hosted a “drive-in” style party in their backyard. Their friends all got to create their own cars to sit in (socially distant, of course) while watching a movie and enjoying their own snacks, like they would at a real drive-in. Ryan, and the entire Goldfish team, was so impressed with their initiative and creativity to give their friends a truly Golden Experience during these trying times!

Children sit in cardboard box cars with snacks and blankets while watching a movie in the backyard

Isla, Mazie, their friends and parents had a great time virtually hanging out with Ryan chatting about swimming, the Olympics and their favorite colors and ice cream flavors! There was a lot of conversation about sharks (much to Bubbles’ dismay!) and the kiddos showed Ryan their gold medals, while Ryan showed off his collection-which he hopes to add to after the 2021 Olympic Games this year! Ryan also shared some words of encouragement with the little swimmers about working hard, sticking to their goals and Celebrating life’s accomplishments!

After the Zoom Party, Ryan shared, “These kids have all been stuck at home away from their friends for nearly an entire year now. Being able to host this virtual party for them brought me so much joy and pride! They’ve done such a great job adapting to the times, and have remained so positive throughout the past year. They’ve inspired me as much as I hope I’ve inspired them!”

While the drive-in birthday celebration ultimately took the top prize for Fintastic Friendships, there were many honorable mentions. We loved seeing all the creativity, imagination and heartfelt giveback initiatives kiddos took part in!

Collage featuring Bubbles greeting a child, two girls posing by a birthday cake, and a girl holding a snow tube

Some of our favorites included a little girl who learned how to sew so she could make stuffed animals for her friends to hug when they missed her, and another girl who made hug-hands from construction paper to send to family! We saw children making valentines for a local senior home and making signs for first responders. There were also plenty of Zoom calls, nature hikes, and of course, swim lessons! We celebrate each and every child who shared their socially distant stories with us – FINTASTIC JOB!

Swimming is Better with Buddies

Two moms hold their babies in the pool

If anyone from the Goldfish Family knows how important fostering strong friendships is to reach your fullest potential, it’s Ryan Murphy, who has experienced this first hand throughout his life and swimming career!

Swim buddies are what made Ryan’s childhood swimming experiences so memorable, and have impacted him throughout his career. The friendships he’s made through learning to swim as a child, and then through teams and competitions, have encouraged and motivated him-both in, and out, of the water!

The Fintastic Friendships campaign encouraged kids to prioritize and celebrate their social interactions in and out of the pool during a time of distance, as recommended by our friend Dr. Molly O’Shea, a lifelong swimmer and board-certified pediatrician at Birmingham Pediatrics + Wellness Center.

“Socialization is such an important part of a child’s development. The pandemic’s restrictions have made it difficult for everyone to prioritize it, but these kids have really impressed us all with their resilience and excitement,” she said. “Even during these times, there are ways for children to get those essential socialization skills. It’s great to see parents helping their children facilitate in-person activities in a safe way to encourage all kinds of interactions.”

The social component of learning in the pool is one of the most important. In many cases, watching peers do something is encouraging and helpful to children trying to learn a new skill, since kids are observant by nature. In addition to having fun and engaging in play, kids are learning based on their peers’ actions. Watching a swim buddy offers opportunities to pick up on social cues, learn new techniques, grow confidence and find encouragement.

Additionally, pools can be safe settings for children to be together during these times, as chlorine acts as a disinfectant, and each Goldfish Swim School is equipped with astate-of-the-art air ventilation system that continuously circulates fresh air into the building, further minimizing the spread of any airborne virus.

Swim with your Swim Buddy, and Get Rewarded!

Two girls wearing masks hug one another with one holding a thumbs up

Swimming is always better with a buddy! Reach out to your local Goldfish Swim School to learn more about group lessons and our referral program to help your child grow in the water while you gain rewards for introducing family and friends to our Golden Experience.