All parents of babies and toddlers want them to be able to be safer in and around water. Parents and Swim Teachers alike should also be nurturing and developing a love of the Water while teaching toddlers swimming skills.
We need to ask the question...
Is it possible to have Toddlers that can SAVE themselves in potentially life threatening Aquatic Environments and at what age?
12 months and under?
12 months – 18 months?
18 months - Under 3 year olds?
Some extreme swim teaching methods for toddlers that are, unfortunately, active in the swimming world at the moment with Drowning Prevention Techniques. So, how do we achieve effective Drowning Prevention Techniques in Babies & Toddlers WITHOUT being cruel or detrimentally effecting development, whilst achieving strong swimming skills? How are we able to ‘fast-track’ this process? What is the most effective, KINDEST and MOST PRODUCTIVE for your Baby and Toddler when teaching swimming skills?
Firstly, 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.
Wouldn’t it be fantastic to see 2 year old’s with independent, strong skills in the water?
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?
- Start ‘Conditioning’ swimming techniques babies in the shower or bath at home, as young as possible. Such as floating, water over the face, lots of bath time with a parent.
- Start lessons with babies, as young as possible. Superfish have a FREE program from 12weeks.
- Multiple lessons per week, all year. A consistent, regular 2 lessons per week is ideal.
- When possible do not ‘break’ or stop lessons – especially until toddlers hold independent skills.
- CONSISTENCY in Lessons is Key with effective swimming development!
- Do not stop Swimming Lessons through the Winter Months – Toddlers lose skills as they do not have a developed muscle memory.
- Practice swimming skills outside of lesson times, in different pools if possible. Visit your local pool, or the backyard pool. Superfish have FREE swimming for families, outside of lesson times, TO PRACTICE!
- Don’t have unreal expectations – this is a process that parents and teachers need to work together.
- Set Goals with what you want to achieve with your child’s swimming development, and by what age? Your swimming teacher should help you with this.
- Under 3’s need to attend at least one Intensive Swimming Program each year. (1:1, a lesson every day for a week)
- Under 3’s need to participate in a Clothed Swimming in Lessons, at least 4 times each year.
When do we determine that an ’Under 3’ has a high degree of water awareness? What’s the Measure?
- Independently TREAD WATER, for 30 seconds
- Independent FLOAT, with face up, for 30 seconds
- A combination of both these skills – Tread Water/Float
- Independent ’FALL IN’ catching back onto a wall
- Independent ’CLIMB OUT' of pool
- Independent 'EYES IN’ with Paddling Arms & Strong Kick, either 'lifting' head for breath &/or 'rolling' into a float position
- 'SWIM and ROLL' onto the back, repeating the activity
A guide of this is available in our ‘Whatever it Takes’ Contract for Parents
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.