Kristi has been a competitive gymnastics coach for 25+ years and has coached levels 3-10 to state, regional, western and national titles.
The Statistics of Unintentional Drowning
Every day, ten people die from unintentional drowning. Two of those deaths are from children under the age of 14.
The CDC reports that one of the main factors for children being at risk of drowning is that they simply do not know how to swim.
So Why Should Children Learn How to Swim?
- Safety is the most important reason children should learn to swim. Swimming is a life skill. It's something your child will retain for the entirety of their life. It's an ability they will have even as an elderly person, and it's the one sport that has the potential to be a true life saver. Soccer, baseball, tennis, and cheerleading are all great sports; however, if your child falls off of a dock or boat and into a lake or pool, his pitching arm isn't going to get him to safety. If the CDC statistics are correct, about 728 children would survive each year just by knowing how to swim.
- Swimming is a great form of physical activity which involves the entire body. It requires kids to actively involve their bodies and minds while they have fun in the pool. Oftentimes, kids are repeatedly jumping in and getting out of the pool, which is good exercise and helps boost metabolism. If you have a community pool that has attractions such as a water slide, diving boards, high diving boards, or a lazy river, kids will be playing for hours.
- Swimming is a heart-healthy activity and is great for strengthening lung capacity. The longer kids spend in the pool swimming, the more their heart is working, and the better lung capacity they will have. This is especially true for kids who swim laps. Many people with asthma are very successful swimmers. Swimming and building lung capacity increases their resistance to asthma.
- Swimming is a no-impact workout that provides resistance training. It's a one-of-a-kind workout! It is fantastic for toning shoulders, arms, backs, and abs, and it's easy to do. A lot of elderly people do low-impact water aerobics because it feels so great to be in the water and because there is no impact on their bodies.
- Swimming is an inexpensive activity. If you cannot find a public lake, a lot of cities have public pools which are reasonably priced. If you can get a season pass, it's always the best deal.
- Swimming is a social activity that allows children to interact with other children. Public pools are typically swarming with other children in the summer, and it's a fantastic opportunity for kids to learn social skills and to make friends.
- There are a lot of colleges that offer swimming and diving scholarships. It's never too early to start planning. If you do have a Michael Phelps or a Greg Louganis, a child who has talent and loves to swim or dive, then you can foster that talent and see where it leads!
- One of the greatest things about swimming is that kids can start swimming as early as six months old! Kids will learn to be comfortable in the water, blow bubbles, and hold their breath. In some swimming programs, children are taught to roll from their tummies onto their backs and sustain themselves by floating. This has obvious benefits because the child can literally save himself from drowning; see the video below! The earlier you start teaching your child to swim, the better they will swim and the more comfortable they will be in the water.
Common Misconceptions About Swimming Lessons
- It's a common misconception to think that your child can take one or two sessions of swim lessons each year just before summer and learn everything that is necessary in that short amount of time. Kids should swim year-round until they can swim easily, on their own, without the aid of any life-saving devices in deep water.
- It may take several lessons before your child can move from one level to the next. Children learn at different speeds, so while one son might be Michael Phelps, your other son might be more like Hulk Hogan, and that's okay. Just recognize that the Hulk might take longer to learn the breast stroke.
- Arm floaties are not life-saving devices and are actually dangerous. If your child cannot swim, do not put floaties on his arms and turn him loose. If they were to pop and fail, your child would sink.
- Many swim programs don't allow parents to sit on the swim deck because children may cry and have separation issues. If your child does cry, simply turn them over to the teacher and walk away. It's been said numerous times that as a parent, you don't want your kiddo to disrupt the other kids, but the swim instructors should be trained on methods to help calm the children. In our swimming and gymnastics facility, whenever parents trusted the teacher to handle the situation, we had a nearly 100% success rate of calming and teaching the kids who cried. It may have taken a few weeks to get the kids acclimated and into a routine but we never gave up. My youngest son actually cried for the first five weeks of lessons and it was excruciating to listen to him crying while I was out in the gym coaching. I knew he was in good hands and that it was for his benefit, so I stiffened my back and toughened up and by the time he was 4 years-old, he was jumping off the side of the boat into the lake by himself. The lesson learned is that it's always harder on the adult than it is on the child.
- Kids cannot swim "just fine" with flotation devices. You cannot rely on a flotation device to act as a rescue device for your child's life or well-being.
Keep them in and learn to swim! Swim year-round!
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nestle02 from Florida, USA on February 08, 2018:
I agree completely! As a Floridian there isn't a pool, water park or some type of body of water nearby, its essential swimming is taught as early as possible.
Bob on September 18, 2017:
Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on January 12, 2017:
Michelle, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Please don't take that sentence as if I'm suggesting you ignore your kiddo. You are right when you say that finding good teachers is difficult - especially when it comes to swimming because kiddos do get scared in the water and knowing when they've hit that threshold of too much, is very important. I appreciate you commenting and pointing out the importance of listening. Best, -K
Michelle Robinson on November 06, 2016:
"It's always harder on the adult than it is on the child". I detest these throw away platitudes. Like most use of the word "resilience"; possibly the most abused word in relation to child rearing, it pretty much excuses anything. My experience of swim teachers is that very few have any emotionally intelligent skills for dealing with upset children. Some do, and they're gems, but they're the exception rather than the rule. Swimming lessons are important but so is really listening to our kids.
Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on December 06, 2013:
Express10, Thank you for the excellent comment! I appreciate you taking the time to read and vote. I agree with you that parents often pass their fear of the water to children. My father was an avid swimmer and made sure my siblings and I were also safe in the water! Thanks again, -K
H C Palting from East Coast on December 04, 2013:
This is a very useful hub. The vast majority of the world's populations live on or near the water. Many people die needlessly because they didn't learn to swim. Some people never learn because they are too lazy about doing their hair afterwards and others feel that the water is too damaging for them to take the time to learn.
Some parents needlessly pass their fear of the water onto their children and refuse to allow their children to learn. My father loved the water and passed his love for it onto me by taking us out on the boat, getting a swimming pool, and actually swimming. For me swimming is exercise and fun. And if needed, it could be a lifesaver. Voted up and useful.
Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on October 02, 2012:
Please let me know how it goes. I hope it makes you feel more comfortable around the water after your scary experience. -K
jkchandra on October 01, 2012:
Thanks!, and I will.
Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on October 01, 2012:
John, That must have been a terrifying experience. Drowning is a very scary thought and all kids should learn how to swim. I hope that you may learn how to swim. I know that many programs have lessons for adults. It's never too late for you to learn how to be safe in the water. Hopefully you can feel safe around the water. Thank you for reading and commenting. Best of luck learning to swim. -K
jkchandra on October 01, 2012:
I need to start learning to swim soon because it is the biggest fear I have to get over. The reason for not wanting to swim was because of a near drowning accident where my cousin pushed me into the deep end when I was five years old. All I remember was going in about twelve feet under and may have lost my breath for about less than 2 minuetes before I blacked out.
Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on August 02, 2012:
Joy, thank you very much. It's great that you have your girls swimming and that they are safer in the water. The statistics are staggering aren't they? I appreciate you taking the time to read. -K
Joy M from Sumner, Washington on August 02, 2012:
Another great hub. I was aware of those drowning statistics so we put our girls in swim lessons at our local YMCA. They still haven't mastered swimming but they've both been well versed in water safety rules.
Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on July 31, 2012:
Kristine, thank you for taking the time to read. Learning as a child is much easier for most people. I also love to swim! Nice to hear from you again. -K
Kristine Manley from Atlanta, GA on July 31, 2012:
I love to swim and I learned as a child. Wonderful information.
Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on July 30, 2012:
Thanks Jill! I appreciate you voting and commenting. It's great that you're making sure all of your kids are water safe. It should be mandatory :) -K
Jill Kostowskie from Pennsylvania on July 30, 2012:
Very informative and useful!! I agree completely my three older children can all swim and we are currently working with our youngest child now. Voted up and useful!
Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on July 29, 2012:
lindacee, thank you for reading and for your input. I have a cousin whose daughter fell into their pool and drown when he was 3 years old. It devastated the entire family. Every kiddo needs to know how to swim. Thanks again. -K
Linda Chechar from Arizona on July 29, 2012:
Such an essential Hub for anyone with children in their lives. My heart breaks every time I hear of another child drowning in the family pool. So avoidable. Thanks for getting the word out about the importance of learning how to swim. Great Hub and adorable photos!
Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on July 28, 2012:
Mhatter, I too would be pleased that you had saved my life! Swimming doesn't just save the swimmers, it can save the swimees! Great point. Thanks for reading. -K
Martin Kloess from San Francisco on July 27, 2012:
My brother, Douglas, is certainly glad I knew how to swim. It saved his life.
Dianna Mendez on July 27, 2012:
We taught our son and grandkids to swim at early ages because as you said, you can't count on floatation devices to save a life. Too many drownings happen because parents have not taken time to teach children water safety. Great advice and should be read by every parent of young children.
Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on July 27, 2012:
Arelqiao, thank you for an excellent comment. It's great exercise indeed! I appreciate you bringing up that point. I will make sure to include it. -K
Arielqiao on July 27, 2012:
It's true that swimming is a good exercise. It can improve the health of the child as well as us the adult. It can srengthen the function of the heart and the lung.
Kristi Sharp (author) from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on July 26, 2012:
internpete, thank you for taking the time to read and comment. It is remarkable how many lives would be saved by learning how to swim. It should be mandatory to learn! Great to have your input. -K
Peter V from At the Beach in Florida on July 26, 2012:
Learning to swim seems like an invaluable life skill to learn. I don't really want to think about how many drownings could have been prevented had people known how to swim. Good info here, voted up and shared!