When will they really learn how to swim?
That all depends on how you define swimming. It is not necessarily the ability to swim the crawl stroke–although to many folks, that is swimming. In pre-schoolers it can be very different. Swimming can be described as being able to comfortably move through the water. Initially, for very short distances. With practice, gradually your child will be able to achieve longer distances and then to become watersafe have the ability to “get air” either by popping up their heads for a new breath, or rolling over and floating. For the average child age two years and older in our program this will take about thirty lessons. Since every child progresses at their own pace, be patient, loving and supportive, and your child will get there.
Will my child be drownproofed after taking swim lessons?
There is no such thing as drownproofing. Caution must always be in effect in and around water. Adult supervision and barriers between your child and the pool are your best defense for reducing the risk of an accident. However, swim lessons can only increase the chances of your childs ‘s survival if an unsupervised water entry were to occur. Swim Lessons should never give parents or caregivers a false sense of security. Swim programs must make it their top priority to educate parents on all aspects of water safety.
My pediatrician says I should wait to start lessons until my child is 4 years old?
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that children are not developmentally ready to learn to swim until they are 4 years old. I would agree that this is true in terms of learning the formal strokes: freestyle, backstroke, butterfly and breaststroke. However, in thousands of swim lesson programs around the world, infants and toddlers can learn to “swim”. (see above)
The AAP is also concerned about water intoxication, which can be an issue in programs where children are taught by well-intentioned parents as opposed to experienced, certified instructors. Seek out programs which offer credentialed instructors, nationally recognized methods, state of Florida curriculums, and follow safe teaching guidelines. Before enrolling your child in any swim program ask to view a class in advance and make sure you are comfortable with their teaching methods, the water temperature, the age and experience levels of their instructors and that they welcome your presence and questions.
The biggest concern is that parents will become complacent once their children can perform water-safety skills. We find the opposite to be true. Responsible, well informed parents who have taken the time and made the investment in swim lessons will continue to take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of their children, especially around the water.
What is the best age to start?
We have found the optimal age to start babies is between 8 months and 12 months old. At this age the majority of infants are very comfortable in the water and strong enough to begin learning basic skills. However, a window of opportunity for ideal learning still exits up to 18 months old. At approximately 19 months to 24 months toddlers can begin to enter the “tough twos” phase. It is easier to teach breath control and floating before this stage begins. However, it is never too late to learn to swim. Our instructors (many of whom are mom’s themselves or former pre-school teachers) have a broad range of experience with children of all ages and are able to build a relationship and interact with your child through the one on one lessons. This unique relationship of trust in the water motivates children to participate and flourish at any age.
If we take a break over the winter, will they forget everything ?
No. But sometimes, children’s swimming abilities can become “rusty” without practice. In our experience, for each month your child is away from lessons or cannot practice, it takes approximately 1 to 2 lessons to return to their previous level. So, if you take a 3 month break from swimming, when you first return to the water it may appear that your child is starting from scratch. However, somewhere between the 3rd and 6th lesson, you will be amazed at how their swimming abilities begin to return and quickly improve over the previous season.