ummer is coming soon, and I was recently sent this question by a concerned mother and thought that a complete answer was called for:
“I just wanted to know what your opinion is on survival swimming. My daughter is 18 months and during the most part of her lesson, she is crying and calling out for us.
My instinct is that I never let her cry it out in any scenario, so what makes this one an exception?”
Your instincts are fine. No child can swim until 3 years of age because their arms aren’t strong enough.
Survival swimming is not very useful and needs to be practiced every day or the child forgets it, however by then they have lost respect for the water – which is unhelpful as it is dangerous.
Babies should just have fun in the water with people they love and that’s it.
“So do you have any recommendations towards any type of swimming activity? ie do I let her practice going under while we are playing in the water? Should I avoid floaties/swimming vests? Do I just enroll her in fun swimming lessons?
We do travel a lot and around water, and I have actually witnessed a few near drownings, so I want to be swim smart.”
So I asked a friend of mine, Simone Benhayon in the UK about this. She has many UK Swimming Teacher awards, the latest of which is this year’s Amateur Swimming Association Swim Teacher of the Year.
“Simone Benhayon, from Frome, Somerset, UK was crowned 2015 ASA Swim Teacher of the Year. She delivers high quality swimming lessons at her swimming centre, Creative Aquatic, in Tytherington. Her fun and energetic approach to teaching creates a fantastic environment for people of all ages to establish a confident relationship with water.
Simone said: “My philosophy for teaching swimming is about putting people first and making it about loving the water, and actually developing a relationship with the water and having fun.
This is what she has to say and the four videos are very good (sponsored by the Australian swimming equipment company Zoggs).
“Best thing to do is start with your daughter in the bath – Playing and having fun in the water with a few bath toys. This is important as it reminds her that water is actually okay and she will not be made to do anything except have fun. Once she is confident and enjoying that environment take her to a local swimming pool where she will be able to stand. When you go to the pool take a few of those toys that you were playing in the bath with. The first few times don’t leave your daughters side, hold her, play with her and have fun with her. You can check out these videos from Zoggs and Peppa Pig that support to understand the progression of activities. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xovcKALO8Hs