The Importance of Learning to Swim
Why Should Your Child Learn To Swim?
Every day ten people die from unintentional drowning. Two of those deaths are children under the age of 14. The CDC reports that one of the main factors for children at risk is that they simply do not know how to swim.
- The most important reason children should learn to swim is SAFETY. 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; nevertheless, 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. Often times 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 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 summers 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!