By John Bainbridge, BA, MA
Founder, Australian Swim Schools, Inc.
Most of us are conditioned that learning to swim occurs in the summer. This is dictated by our warm climate here in the Southwest and promotes cities and high schools to build outdoor pools. These pools are all competitive pools that have large areas of deep water and are not heated warm enough for young and beginner swimmers. You can count on one hand the number of indoor, heated facilities that conduct year round swimming lessons. Add to this the traditional way in which swimming lessons have been taught by national organizations like the Red Cross and you have the typical ten-day, summer session swimming that in a few weeks is expected to teach all children to swim.
Learning to swim in the summer months works for the child five years of age and older who is not afraid of the water, but the younger population and the timid child very rarely gain enough skill to be comfortable in the water. This younger age group and the timid child require a longer learning curve in which to attain and retain the skills of swimming learned during the summer. It would be feasible to teach a three-year-old to play a few basic songs on a piano in the summer months. Take the same three-year-old away from the piano during the fall, winter and spring and at the beginning of summer place the child in front of the piano and what do you have … noise! There is just not enough muscle memory at this young age to retain the skills over an extended period of time. Add the fear factor that can develop over the long break and a young child can often come back to the water the next summer with less skill.
The solution is not complex. Keep your child in touch with the water year round. Attend an indoor pool once a week and watch your child grow!
Aside from the fact that your babies and preschoolers will be safer by swimming year round, the developmental benefits that a good aquatic program have are enormous. With the reduction in gravity that water promotes, the young baby is allowed the freedom to experiment with movement, unmatched on land. Balance and coordination are developed. Self confidence is gained, bonding and trust develop. If you are in the water with your baby you will not find a more quality time spent with your child.
For the toddler and preschooler the benefits attained from a quality group lesson are very beneficial for preparing the child for future learning. The child learns to listen and trust another adult. The group allows social skills of sharing and taking turns to be learned. Formations and patterns are learned. Add water and watch the child grow physically, emotionally, mentally and socially!
Some Frequently Asked Questions about our program:
What is the best age to start?
We recommend 3-6 months is the optimum age to start. Babies this age have a real affinity to water. Visit the Infant Swimming page on our website for more information on our infant program.
How often should we attend?
We recommend twice a week until the baby/child is comfortable underwater. Then once a week, year round, allows your baby/child to retain his affinity with the water, and attain the skills appropriate for his age group.
Can we take a break during the first few years of the program?
Yes. But the break should not be more than a month or two. The younger your baby—the shorter the break.
Will my baby/child be safe?
There is no such a thing as a safe baby, child, or adult, around water. Along with barriers (i.e. fences), supervision, infant CPR-infant/child swimming skills are just one of the links in the chain to keep your child safer around the water.
_We instill the confidence to become truly comfortable in the water. Our indoor, heated facilities allow year-round comfort and fun. All staff are CPR certified and complete an extensive written and practical training course. We teach the lifesaving skill of swimming, and involve child development. Please call (702) 451-5757 for class times and availability or visit www.australianswimschool.com for information on our programs. _