When To Start Swimming Lessons?
“When is the best time to start swimming lessons?” It is the most common question we get at Hampton Swim School from our prospective parents with young children. Our answer? “As soon as your child is born.” While the number of drownings is still going up in our country, the one thing you can do as a parent is provide that barrier against it. We are sorry to say this, but your backyard pool is not the place to learn.
Last year 248 people fatally drowned and 504 were involved in non-fatal drowning incidents. Although the highest number of deaths occurred in an older age group, the number of near deaths among children should not be underestimated. Children under five have the highest rate of non-fatal drowning of any group and are more likely to drown in swimming pools and bathtubs than adults. About 85% of non-fatal drownings in swimming pools are children. While children are the most likely group to drown because of their age and vulnerability, they are also the most likely group to be rescued because they are rarely swimming alone. For every Australian child under five who fatally drowns, about eight children survive but with brain injury, paralysis, and other serious and lifelong problems (Australian research published in medical journal BMJ Open).
With most (almost) drownings taking place in swimming pools, it makes you wonder why some parents still believe that their backyard pool gives them a reason to delay the commencement of their child(ren)’s swimming education. Yes, it can be helpful in making your child feel comforable in the water, with you in there with them. But you are not there all the time. When these children are left unsupervised, even for a second, they are often unable to rescue themselves when needed. The sooner a child learns water safety, swimming, and lifesaving skills, the better. This is where aquatic education comes in. Swimming lessons offer you and your child so much more than ‘just’ learn to swim. Safety aside, swimming is a great form of exercise and it is fun. It promotes time with the family and opens the door to many water sports such as water polo, sailing and nippers. Without tragic stories.
How young is young?
Whilst we know infants are too young to learn formal and complex skills such as strokes, experience in swim programs bears witness to infants and toddlers being able to swim from an early age. Babies in water will instinctively close their mouths and make motions to propel themselves through the water. Swim lessons afford a further means for babies to learn to relax in water and develop confidence in the water, and they provide a wonderful opportunity for bonding between baby and parent. It is the only activity where babies are completely independent, especially before they can walk or crawl unaided. The water supports their weight, and they are free to move their legs and arms.
For an infant aged 0 to 18 months, there is a natural association between immersion in water and the fluid environment of the womb. From the standpoint of an instructor, this natural affinity of the child with the water is seen to decrease between birth and 14 months, and to decrease further between 18-24 months as toddlers enter the terrible two’s phase when it can become increasingly difficult to teach water awareness and breath control. A creative and interactive swim program can help overcome the obstacles inherent in this developmental swimming stage.
Furthermore, there are some encouraging results from world-leading research led by Griffith University, showing that children who swim demonstrate more advanced cognitive and physical abilities, reaching milestones earlier than other children. They will be ready for school before you are ready to let them go!
So, there it is. We and many swim schools out there argue that the younger the child starts swim lessons the better. However, the decision ultimately comes down to personal circumstances and, as a parent, knowing when you and your child are actually ready.
The most important thing to consider when commencing swim lessons for your infant is to locate a swim school that has gentle, age- and developmentally-appropriate baby and swim programs where skills are gradually introduced as your child is ready. Through play and perseverance in a trusting and secure learning environment, your child will develop an appreciation and love of the water that will follow them through life.
Hampton Swim School would love to welcome you, your baby, your child, your family to one of our programs.
You can find all information on our website. Or feel free to ask our friendly enrolment team any questions you may have: 07 33992004.