So your child attends their school's swimming program - that is great, but is it enough to keep them safe? NO!
In a world-first study, Deakin University found "Most children who only learn to swim by attending intensive school swimming programs can't swim a year later, placing children at greater risk of drowning."
The same study found parents who relied on school swimming alone appeared to overestimate their child's swimming and water safety ability, which researchers found concerning.
Primary school-aged children who had established foundational swimming skills - such as gliding, kicking front and back and corresponding arm actions - and then only attended school intensive swimming programs without an additional weekly swimming program for the remainder of the year, tended to plateau or even lose the skills they had gained. The best outcomes came from those who did a combination of weekly and intensive swimming lessons.
"While intensive school swimming programs were important and effective, they lost their effectiveness as a stand-alone, and children needed to attend more frequent swimming lessons and practice in order to be able to swim to safe levels. We found that regular weekly swimming provided positive skill learning outcomes across all levels. In contrast to the school swimming intensives, the greatest impact of weekly swimming was experienced by early learners."
At Superfish Swim Schools, we have always said that parents need to be educated on the ‘Reality’ of Learn to Swim Lessons…
The Reality is Toddlers (under 3 years old) WILL NOT hold High Water Awareness Skills if only attending one, 1/2 hour lesson per week. By attending weekly swimming lessons is fantastic, and you may get strong swimming skills by four or five years old, but sometimes that’s too late.
Babies and Toddlers need as much exposure to the water and swimming, as young as possible! The Amount a baby or toddler is Exposed to Water is SO Important for Learn to Swim Progression!!!
Have you heard of Real Swimming Time?
This is the amount of time toddlers are actually exposed to the water, if only attending 1 swimming lesson each week. Work this out:
- 1 x (½ hour) lesson per week = 2hr ACTUAL swimming/month!
- 6 months = 12 hours 'real' swimming time = (2 days of school!) - that’s like expecting a child to learn to read or write in a week!
- 12 months = 24 hours 'real' swimming time = (Less than a week!)
- 1 x lesson/week for 1 year = 24 hours of swimming = 2 DAYS!!!
Toddlers need more if we are expecting them to achieve Independent Drowning Prevention so what do we need to do?
Karen, General Manager of Superfish Swim Schools and co-developer and trainer of the Superfish Learn To Swim and Drowning Prevention programs, is a renowned Swimming Industry expert who lectures on Learn To Swim/Drowning Prevention and actively campaigns to raise public awareness through the media.
Karen is also a presenter and special event host and international consultant.