Ulrika Faerch is a former elite swimmer, published author, family counselor, and an expert in infant and children’s swimming whose life’s work is helping to create strong and healthy emotional bonds between parents and children through swimming.
Following a childhood that centered on elite swim training and competitions, Ulrika opened her first swim school for infants and children in Sweden in 1994. With a particular sensitivity to the delicate dynamic between parent and child in the pool, Ulrika developed a teaching philosophy based on the power of the shared experience between parent and child. Ulrika later earned a family counseling credential, which uniquely qualified her as a swimming expert backed by education on healthy family relationships.
Ulrika’s swim school led a staff of more than 25 people that taught 3400 individuals each week and achieved a remarkable 90 percent client retention rate and an average customer lifespan of 7 years.
In 2016, after 22 years in business, Ulrika sold her swim school to write her new book and to assist swimming industry professionals and businesses worldwide to reach their full potential. Her travels take her to prominent swim schools throughout Europe, Australia, Asia and North and South America where she educates swim school teachers and parents in her training program with an emphasis on the “whole people perspective” that is the core of Ulrika’s program.
Additionally, Ulrika lectures internationally to communicate how strong and healthy emotional bonds between parents and children can be created through swimming. She has spoken at and delivered keynote speeches at swimming conferences and events worldwide including at the Nordic Baby Swim Conference in Stockholm, United States Swim School Association Annual Conference, Australian ASCTA Annual Conference, INATI Conference in São Paulo, and the World Aquatic Development Conference in Lund, Sweden.
Ulrika has published two books in Denmark and her first book in English, Baby Swimming - With the Relationship in Focus, will be released in the United States and worldwide by the end of 2017.
When Ulrika opened her first swim school for infants and children in Sweden in 1994, she was a new mother and sensitive to the emotional connection between infants and parents. It quickly became obvious to her that parents had the power to make or break the child’s success by the way they interacted with them in the pool. All parents had the best intentions, but many were placing pressure or stress on their children by being impatient, nervous or pushing them too soon. When tension levels became too high, the child’s interest and joy was damaged or eliminated.
Noticing this delicate and important dynamic, Ulrika taught parents to relax their expectations on how quickly their child would learn and focus instead on helping them to develop their parental leadership, which enabled the child to feel secure and safe in the water. When Ulrika taught parents about the important role they played in their child having a positive experience, they understood the need to see and nurture their child’s curiosity and interest, and provide the environment for them to truly discover and enjoy.
Ulrika evolved her approach over the following years to focus the parents on allowing the child to push their boundaries in the water within the security of their parent’s watchful eye. The results were quickly noticeable. While parents became more confident and their parental leadership skills developed, the children started to develop more confidence, self-esteem and grit – critical essentials for any kind of learning and reaching one’s full potential.
Humans have an innate desire to share experiences together and it became clear that when the parent and child shared in this process together that magic was truly created. With both parent and child participating equally by pushing their individual boundaries, they simultaneously grew together and formed even stronger trust bonds. A particularly surprising outcome was that the children actually learned more in less time.
Without realizing it, Ulrika had developed her signature teaching philosophy: an approach focused on prioritizing the shared experience between the parent and child that pushed each other’s boundaries in a healthy way, strengthened trust bonds, and allowed children to develop the confidence and skills that would help them in the pool and throughout life.
Even more rewarding was the feedback from parents about what was happening outside the pool. By redefining what “success” meant, many parents experienced growth and empowerment themselves, and started to use the same approach on their child’s schoolwork and overall development. Instead of placing pressure on children to achieve certain grades, they participated more in the learning process with their child and placed less emphasis on grades. As a result, the good grades often came naturally because the child performed well out of a genuine love of learning.