18th August 2009
My dad used to dangle me by the ankles over the deep end of my grandma’s pool. MEMORIES.
My first official swimming classes were at a horrible place called Water Babies (I just did a search but can’t tell if they’re still around — if they are, it’s probably safe to say that the technique has changed). They would just THROW the children in the pool. The natatorium just echoed with the terrified screaming! (I think I was maybe three?) To this day, I can’t really mention it to my mom — she still feels guilty! While I just think like it’s an interesting view into how stuff has changed.
By the way, no lasting damage — I swim, though I sure as hell didn’t learn from those Water Babies crazies!
see, and i was one of those “under a year” kids thrust under water by their parents in a “swim class”. ugh! i still don’t like to be in the water all that much.
juxtapose that with my husband, whose parents put him in swimming when he was 5 to curb his hyperactivity. he swam like a champ all through high school and still competes to this day!
I think it’s important for parents (and peers) to understand that because of genetic issues, some kids’ eustachian tubes are angled differently and sometimes narrower – and become difficult to clear of water. This can contribute to a painful feeling of being water-logged whenever they go under the water. (i.e. If not completely plugged, water can seep in through the nose and ears and settle there.) These kids are often the ones with the chronic sinus and ear infections. The angle can correct itself as the head grows, but not always. (Raises hand) – I *can* swim – but I could drown in the shower!
I can’t remember NOT knowing how to swim — my parents took me to a special swimming class for babies at the YMCA when I was 6 months old. In some ways it makes the most sense, because I wasn’t old enough to be afraid of the water or argue with them.
Like Rose I learned to swim as an infant and have always been comfortable in water. My kids however just this summer took their first swimming class at ages 3 and 4 and while it was rougher on the younger one, they both seriously learned to swim and love the water now. I was quite impressed with the class at the YMCA and plan to continue with it through the winter so the girls won’t lose that comfort level. Also (added bonus), swimming makes them sooooo tired!
I’m a certified Red Cross Swim Instructor and Lifeguard, and I can say that kids really don’t need “swimming lessons” until they are about 5. The Learn-To-Swim program (which is what most YMCA’s have) is great, from Level 1 to Level 4. Once they pass Level 4, sign them up for Swim team! There is really no need for lessons past Level 4 unless they want to swim competitively.
Before your child is 5 (the age for the Learn-To-Swim program) you can practice front floats and back floats in the water with your child much easier than an instructor can in class. They also trust you more, which is a huge plus. You can also practice kicking and doing “big arms” or “monster arms” when they are in the water. I think that really, them being comfortable in the water is the most important thing. If you feel that you need ideas on how to best do this, go to your local YMCA and hire an instructor for a few private lessons. You’ll learn MUCH more for not very much more money!
One more note: Please don’t put your kid in water wings. It kills their sense of buoyancy which is super dangerous. You can put them in a lifejacket when they are at the beach or on the lake or river, but if they are in the pool, let them go with nothing but a swimsuit. If they fall over in the water, wait a few seconds to lift them up, so they can try getting up on their own. Kids need to know their boundaries. Swimming is fantastic and so are lessons, but if kids don’t know they can drown, they will … when the parents backs are turned or when they find a pool in someone else’s back yard and think they can swim without an adult.
I grew up lifeguarding and teaching swimming and was all set to leave a long-winded comment with almost EXACTLY all the same points as Sabrina….but now I don’t! Swimming lessons (specifically baby swimming lessons) are such a crock…as long as you are comfortable in knee deep water, you can do MUCH better at teaching your own kids water safety and skills.
The only thing I would add is that now that I have a kid is that I can attest that for me…this approach HAS worked. My child is 18 months old, loves being in the water (and underwater) more than anything else. It’s fun for all of us and it’s great to see him learn boundaries, balance, breathing/breath holding etc….The pool is such a fun environment and great way to beat the heat in the summer.
Comments are closed.