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Kids (and babies) LOVE Swim Lessons

Updated on October 11, 2013

Happy Swimmers, Safe Swimmers

Swim lessons. They give parents Peace Of Mind. Whether on vacation or at a neighborhood pool, having your child safe in the water is comforting. But how do you find great swim lessons? And what if your kids really don't like the water? How do you make learning to swim a positive experience? How old (or young) should kids be when they start?

I am a former swim instructor for the Red Cross and swim team coach. Now I pick the swim instructors and swim programs for my 3 water loving kids.

All swim instructors should be certified with the Red Cross, and an additional lifeguard should be on deck.

-my picture

Water Babies

Swim Lessons for Babies?

If you have warm water and a swim diaper, getting in the pool with your baby can be so. much. fun.

What do babies do in the pool?

Think of your favorite Mommy and Me class in a warm pool. Babies are just getting comfortable in the water. You think- so what? Well, getting comfy as a baby means no screaming, terrified toddler later. Babies who love water turn into kids who love water.

What makes a great baby swim class?

Seek out an easy-going happy instructor who loves to sing baby songs with all the hand motions, splashing and kicking. Parents make all the choices. Have fun.

How old?

Some really warm indoor pools have baby classes for 2 months and up. The key is that you feel confident with your baby. Babies feel nervous when you feel nervous.

my photo.

Swim Diapers - Use the washable cloth ones.

Cloth swim diapers help the environment and are more comfy for kids. They should fit snug around the legs and waist. Babies can just wear a swim diaper (think French Riviera or ... baby Speedo) or put the swimsuit on top.

Water Babies?

www.guardian.co.uk
www.guardian.co.uk

Photo: www.guardian.co.uk

Did you take your babies to swimming lessons?

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Kids Learn Water Safety

Swim lessons have built in, age appropriate water safety instruction.

For example, kids learn how to save themselves. Beginning swimmers learn to doggy paddle back to the wall. They learn to grab something that floats. They learn about life jackets. They practice swimming with a life jacket. They learn how to tread water and float to conserve energy.

"Throw, Don't Go!"

Never ever jump in after a struggling swimmer. Kids practice throwing floatation devices, life rings, and getting help while on deck.

my photo.

Incredible Video. Drowning is NOT like the movies.

Recognize the signs of a struggling swimmer.

Life Saver.

Participation in swim lessons provided 88% reduction in risk of drowning for ages 1-4.

Dr. Ruth Brenner, NIH

2009

Children's Books about Water Safety and Swimming - Get ready to swim!

Before going to new swim lessons or before going to the beach, read some books. Anxiety and fear are a major factor when learning how to swim. Reading about swimming and water safety with these really cute books are so beneficial. A calm, relaxed swimmer is a happy swimmer.

Josh The Baby Otter
Josh The Baby Otter

This is an excellent book about water safety for kids.

 

Why Go to Swimming Lessons?

It seems like so much time and money.

Swimming is super exercise. Easy on joints. Low impact. High Cardio. Works coordination too.

Don't forget the whole "social-emotional" learning piece. Make friends while splashing around.

Language learning. Babies, toddlers, and kids communicating and learning a new lingo.

Self-Confidence. A confident kid is a relaxed, happy, safe kid.

And besides, kids and babies sleep GREAT after swimming lessons. If you schedule your lesson before nap time or bedtime, bring jammies, snack, and toothbrush to the pool. Your little one will probably fall asleep in the car. Just make a beeline to the crib when you get home... and then put your feet up. Phew. What a fun swim lesson.

-my picture

Benefits of Swimming Lessons

Swimming Lessons are more than just a summertime activity.

Swims Like a Fish... - or not.

www.kidswimmingshop.com
www.kidswimmingshop.com

photo:www.kidswimmingshop.com

Can your kids swim?

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Warm Swimmer = Happy Swimmer

Warm Pool or Warm Swimsuit

Fact: A miserable, shivering child with blue lips will not love swimming.

Solution: Find a pool with really warm water and warm air on deck.

When that just isn't possible... get a wetsuit for kids. They come in all shapes and sizes.

There are different choices for wetsuits.

-Full wetsuit: a body suit with long sleeves and long pants

-Short wetsuit: body suit with short sleeves and shorts

-Vest

-Shirt

-Neoprene material: thicker makes a wetsuit warmer

-Lycra Rash Guard: not warm but great for sun protection

-my photo

I Hate Swim Lessons!

The Happy Swimmer Checklist

Sometimes trying something new is scary. It takes time to adjust to a new activity.

Could it be something else?

The Happy Swimmer Checklist:

-Is your child tired, hungry, or sick?

-Need to go potty?

-Oops, too late! (Please tell the instructor so the pool can be properly cleaned.)

-Shivering, blue lips? -Read about wetsuits.

-Leaky goggles?

-No goggles? Red eyes can really hurt.

-"I don't WANT to wear goggles!", or your child just takes them off. Repeatedly.

Trick: If you wear goggles during the lesson, your child will wear goggles too. I know, they look dorky and leave raccoon eyes. But, if you wear your goggles during two lessons, your child will too with no complaints.

-Swimsuit malfunction? Elastic too tight? Straps falling off shoulders?

-"I don't like getting my face wet."

Trick: You go underwater first-many times. Your hair is going to get wet. No worries. The other parents will follow your example. Make motorboat bubbles, fish face, popping noises, crazy faces. Get you child to laugh while you go under and come up with a smile. When your child's face finally goes in, lay on the praise. Clap, cheer. and laugh like you won the lottery. You'll have a fish before you know it!

-Spending more time waiting on the wall than swimming? Good instructors have small classes and can keep kids moving and intrigued. Swimming lessons should be fun, not boring.

Finally- is the instructor a good personality match with your child? If talking to your instructor is not helping, you can switch classes. Ask other parents about their experiences. Different instructors have different strengths. Be an advocate for your child. You are paying good money for a positive experience.

Leaky Goggles Stink. - Best Kid Goggles EVER: "Finis"

Wearing goggles can improve your swimming experience 100%... if they fit. I think leaky goggles are more annoying than not wearing goggles and having red, stinging eyes. When buying goggles, I really think brand matters. Not all goggles are created equal. Believe me, cheap goggles that leak won't get worn. Goggles that fit can last for years. (Write your name with a Sharpie on the strap for those times the goggles get left at the pool.)

Goggles should stick to your child's face WITHOUT the strap. Yep, just push one goggle (gasket) gently on one eye and do a "Magic Trick". The goggle should stay there with suction only... for about five seconds. Now try it with both sides- still without the strap. If the goggles stuck with one side but not with two, you may need goggles with a smaller nose strap.

Important Goggle Variables:

Nose Strap Size

Sun Protection in the Lenses: built in sunglasses

Size of Gasket

Double Strap in the Back: One strap sits high on the back of the head, one sits lower so goggles are secure.

Color- Not the most important choice for you. For kids- color is most important. : )

Smell- Yep, some goggles smell like fruit...kind of. Again, kids love it.

My favorite brand for kids' goggles is "Finis". Sure my adult swim team goggles are Speedo. For adults, I think there are many more good brands of goggles- many which are available at your local sport store. If you want your child to get the full benefit of those pricey swim lessons, go ahead and get the goggles that fit.

H2 Jr Green/Clear
H2 Jr Green/Clear

My kids wore these from ages 3-8. They don't leak.

Actually, one 5 year old had a smaller, narrower face and kept wearing the fruit basket. (See below.) The nose strap is smaller on the fruit basket swim goggle.

 
FINIS Fruit Basket Swim Goggle
FINIS Fruit Basket Swim Goggle

My babies wore these -all three kids. LOVE them. Great for young toddlers too. The different colors actually smell like different fruit. The smell lasts a while too.

 
my photo
my photo

My Kid is the Next Micheal Phelps!

Ready for a Swim Team?

If your child can swim a length of Freestyle and Backstroke, you can consider a swim team. Start with a pre-team to transition out of swim lessons. Kids practice stroke drills and slowly build endurance, while having fun.

Swimming is like any other sport. Teams have different personalities, goals and expectations. Coaches, parents, and team moral can vary so much from team to team. Watch a practice before having your child try out. Feel the "vibe" on deck. Watch the coach. Listen to the kids in the water. Do you see happy, respectful swimmers, or silent unhappy swimmers?

Ask about practice times, mandatory "volunteer" hours (oxymoron?), and mandatory swim meets.

How many kids swim in a lane? There should really be 6 or 7 max. Less swimmers means more personalized help which means improvement. What is the swimmer/coach ratio?

Walk in the locker room. Look around. Inhale. Still want to stay?

Ask around. Do the showers have hot water? Are there enough showers to handle kids post practice?

Are there pool parties? Game days? Fun Relay Days? Short and fun home swim meets?

Are practice times in the middle of "Family Dinner"? Can all of your kids swim at the same time, even though they are different abilities?

How many times are they required to go to practice a week? Is the coach O.K. if your kid takes time off for soccer, baseball, or basketball season? Will you have to pay for swim team when your child is focusing on another sport?

What is the pool temperature? Too cold or too warm? 89 is great for a therapy pool or kid swim lessons. It is very hard to swim fast in a pool that is too hot.

Maybe your child wants to go to the Olympics. Go for it. Just have fun.

(My photo.)

Swimming Bag - Leave it packed with dry swim gear.

Leave one bag specifically for swimming lessons. It stays stocked with swim shampoo, soap, comb, diapers, swim diapers, extra suit, goggles, lotion and a plastic bag for wet stuff.

The wet towels and suits go directly into a plastic bag after swimming. After laundering, they return straight to swim bag. Easy prep makes all the difference.

These Speedo swim backpacks last forever -years and years, even after heavy use and laundering. You will actually use all of the pockets for small items. The outside straps on the front of the bag are great for attaching wet gear.

The bigger backpacks are great for carrying beach towels and sweats. The smaller packs are easy on kids' backs. These are worth the investment. (The colors are great too.)

Swimmer's Shampoo and Soap - Skin and hair will feel and smell great after swimming.

Crocs - Essential for public showers and a quick escape to the car.

Pool Toys - Kids love toys in the pool.

Diving for toys is a great way to get comfortable in the water. Diving also builds aerobic strength. The kids learn to feel the water as they pull and kick down.

SwimWays Toypedo Bandits - 4 Pack
SwimWays Toypedo Bandits - 4 Pack

LOVE these. Toddlers, big kids, and mommies too- have a blast with these toypedos

 

Have you or your kids taken swim lessons?

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    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 3 years ago

      I think it is so important for children to swim! Pinned - and added to my own lens: http://www.squidoo.com/toddler-swimsuits Good job Michelle.

    • Stephanie36 profile image

      Stephanie 3 years ago from Canada

      My nephews both take swim lessons. The younger one (1 year old) isn't so sure about it but the three year old always liked it. It's great to get kids used to the water early!

    • jmchaconne profile image

      jmchaconne 3 years ago

      This is a very informative lens. Yes, and it started quite by accident when my youngest son was weeks old. The results were quite surprising. I wrote a lens about it, a bit of a different take than yours.

    • Michelllle profile image
      Author

      Michelllle 4 years ago

      @favored: That counts. i think it is often easier for adults who are not parents to help kids in the water. Kids can sense when parents worry, and then the kids worry too. All arents worry when their little kids are in the water. Worry just happens. Other adults tend to be calmer. It also helps having an extra hand in the lockerroom and on deck.

    • Michelllle profile image
      Author

      Michelllle 4 years ago

      @ConnieGreen LM: Hope they have a great experience!

    • Michelllle profile image
      Author

      Michelllle 4 years ago

      @blessedmomto7: Super! Now, lifeguard training is challenging, isn't it? Bravo!

    • Michelllle profile image
      Author

      Michelllle 4 years ago

      @SusanDeppner: Good that you were persistent, Susan. Some of these extra kid activities seem superfluous or silly. Not swimming. We use that skill our whole lives and pass the love and respect of water to our kids. I agree about the goggles. Many, many kids are like your son. Thanks for sharing.

    • Michelllle profile image
      Author

      Michelllle 4 years ago

      @drmattshepard: Thanks. I could make a whole lens about underwater cameras. I think the pics of kids underwater are so cool.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      The Toypedos are the best pool toys ever. Great for getting kids used to being underwater with goggles.

    • BunnyFabulous profile image

      BunnyFabulous 4 years ago from Central Florida

      We started my daughter with swim lessons at 18 months old and I'm so glad we did. This is a fantastic lens, but I think that the best/most important thing about it is the statistic of how prepared kids have an 88% less chance of drowning. I live in Florida, and it's tragic how many children drown each year. I agree that it's SO important to watch an instructor teach first before signing your child up. You definitely want someone warm, encouraging and who engages and appropriately challenges your child to go the next little step in learning to swim. Another type of lesson to consider is survival swim lessons....teaching babies how to flip over and float on their backs and toddlers to swim/float/swim to the side of the pool. I know many people mistakenly think that those swim classes just throw kids in the water. On the contrary, the instructors we had were so loving and kind, and didn't push beyond what my daughter could handle. Sometimes kids cry during these lessons (including my daughter) because it's such a new situation, but a good instructor will help the child get over their fears and uncomfortability while still teaching them how to float and put their face in the water. It also helps for parents to help make things fun with teaching kids to put their face in the water before they ever start lessons. Something to consider...not right for all kids or all families, but it's much more helpful, confidence-building, supportive, and encouraging than you might think. My 5 1/2 year old has recently started swim team with a great program, and you've got sage advice for that too. Thanks for all the great swim info!

    • drmattshepard profile image

      drmattshepard 4 years ago

      awesome lens. I love the pics of the babies swimming

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Our boys took lessons when they were little with an excellent teacher. Goggles were the key in getting #1 son's head under water. He even hated having his hair washed ("Drips!") but after using goggles and once he was comfortable in the water, no more shampoo problems! As teenagers they both completed a mile swim for Boy Scouts, and as adults they're still like fish around water. So thankful, especially since swimming lessons didn't go so well for me when I was little.

    • blessedmomto7 profile image

      blessedmomto7 4 years ago

      My kids all have lessons starting at age 3. Now my oldest is a lifeguard!

    • ConnieGreen LM profile image

      ConnieGreen LM 4 years ago

      My kids did not have lessons, but the grandkids are having them this summer.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 4 years ago from USA

      I don't have kids, but helped teach some of the little ones in our family to swim.

    • Michelllle profile image
      Author

      Michelllle 4 years ago

      Thanks so much for the Purple Star! This is my first, and I'm really flattered. Made my day. : )

    • Jogalog profile image

      Jogalog 4 years ago

      It's so important to teach kids to swim so taht they can be safe in the future. I took my daughter when she was 6 months just to have fun and I will teach her properly when she gets a little older.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      Water safety is very important.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      nice lens

    • profile image

      JennySui 4 years ago

      Great lens! I should forward this lens to my friend who has 2 kids and they don't know how to swim yet.

    • profile image

      FashionMommy 4 years ago

      Nice lens! Not only kids need to learn on how to swim, adults also must learn on how to swim. Being able to swim increases confidence and can become an enjoyable fitness hobby.

    • TopTot profile image

      TopTot 4 years ago

      I agree. One of the best things you can do is get your kids started in swim lessons as soon as possible.

    • KandH profile image

      KandH 4 years ago

      My kids are great swimmers - lucky to have a pool at school and make good use of it!

    • AnaHoffman LM profile image

      AnaHoffman LM 4 years ago

      Nice lens.

      Sure, there are many benefits to children & to adults in enjoying a good swimming day!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Great lens, thanks for sharing this info, This is very helpful for me because I am a busy guy, but when I am at home, I wants to spend all time with kids and here is an interesting activity for us :)

    • SciTechEditorDave profile image

      David Gardner 4 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area, California

      Nice lens! I didn't learn to swim (officially) until after I had been snorkeling for a few years (and this was when I was 13 and had just moved to the island of Guam). So, when our kids reached about 3-4 years old, we got both of them involved with "mommy and me" swim programs put on by the city ... and then when my daughter was about 6 and my son was about 9, both kids got involved with the neighborhood swim team -- they got a lot of swimming in there for that. Congrats on a Squidoo masterpiece!

    • shahedashaikh profile image

      shahedashaikh 4 years ago

      Very helpful lens as I am going to enroll my kids for swimming lessons this academic break.

    • jdwheeler profile image

      jdwheeler 4 years ago

      Our little girl took swimming lessons the summer she was 4. It made all the difference in the world. She had confidence and gave us some peace of mind of her around the water.