By Guest Contributor: Becky Flanigan
They say it’s best to wait until your kids are around 4 years old before you consider swim lessons. I waited until my kids were 5 just to be safe, but at that age – they were going to learn to swim, and they would take swimming lessons. It was mandatory for their safety, and my peace of mind, for a number of reasons.
A skill for a lifetime. We went to a pool party one time, and I saw a teenage boy sitting off to the side, watching the other kids splashing around in the water. He looked pretty miserable. I went and asked him why he wasn’t in the water. “I don’t know how to swim” was his reply, and I’ll never forget the anguish on his face as he said it. I never wanted my kids to go through that, so I made sure they had swimming lessons. We go to the beach on vacations regularly, have a home swimming pool, and the kids love to head with their friends to the community pool. Water is everywhere in their world, and I wanted them to be able to enjoy it safely.
Confidence around the water. If a child knows how to swim, they can’t help but feel more confident being around the water. Sitting by the side of the pool, looking at that body of water, and knowing that if you fell in, you couldn’t save yourself – that must be a terrible feeling. Water will come in to the equation so many times over a lifetime – whether it’s at the beach, the lake, or the family swimming pool, that being confident in those settings will be greatly enhanced by knowing how to swim.
It’s all about safety. In my research for PoolCenter.com, I read an article that said clearly – “formal swimming lessons can prevent young children from drowning.” That’s about as clear as it can get – to let my kids go around the water, I wanted them to have the skills to be safe. The article also said that drowning is the second highest cause of death involving children between the ages of one and fourteen – that’s a pretty startling statistic. In my mind, the safety of the child is one of the most compelling reasons for enrolling my kids in swimming lessons.
Better taught by a professional. I’m a great swimmer – my husband Ed used to come watch me in college (of course he was my boyfriend then) when I swam competitively, and he agrees that I swim really well. But just because you’re proficient at something doesn’t make you an instructor of that skill. Just because you read well, that doesn’t make you an English teacher. So when it came to swimming lessons, I wanted a swim instructor who was certified to teach my kids – so they would learn the proper way to use swim strokes, learn swimming safety, and build their confidence around the water.
My kids will retain it better when taught by a swim instructor. With some things, kids will listen to Mom. But for the extended time needed to teach them how to swim, the chances are that they will “get it” better if taught by someone else. At the pool, the lifeguards have enormous influence and power – the kids all know to pay attention – the lifeguard has the power to pull them out of the pool. It’s similar with the swim instructor – they are usually young, so the kids can relate to them. As well, having that professional knowledge, they carry themselves with confidence – and the kids pick up on that, and will pay better attention. I went and watched some swimming lessons with the instructors we would use. before my kids went to the class, and I watched the dynamic. It was amazing how well the kids minded. I just wished I could hire one of those instructors when it was time for them to clean their rooms.
Too important to “do it yourself.” For all the reasons above, my kids knowing how to swim properly, and take care of themselves at the pool, is just too important for me to try to “wing it” and show them how to swim. We’re talking about a lifetime of being around the water, combined with the safety of my children. Mandatory swimming lessons were just a “no brainer” for me.
About the Author
Becky Flanigan was an English major in college, and now uses those skills when writing freelance articles for PoolCenter. Becky enjoys spending time and travelling with her husband, 3 kids, and 2 golden retrievers. She spends many happy hours at the family swimming pool, watching the kids and dogs splash and play. She is also an avid gardener – and even helps friends landscape and decorate their yards.