Children's Swimming Lessons

Being able to swim could be one of the most important things your child will ever learn. At the extreme end of usefulness, the ability to swim could, one day in the future, actually save his or her life. The awful reality is that more than 400 people die from drowning each year in the UK and children are especially at risk. But aside from its vital role in self survival, swimming is not only a fabulous form of all round exercise, but it can also work wonders for self confidence and well being in general.

Introducing children to swimming should always be done with the idea that it's a fun activity. One of the most popular ways is for the child to attend a course of structured lessons. These are available at local authority-run leisure centres and swimming pools as well as at many private pools in health clubs.

Placeholder imageThe gold standard in learning to swim is set by the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA). Its programmes are widely taught throughout the UK and take children from basic skills, such as how to get in and out of the water safely, right through to learning a variety of swimming strokes and the correct way to breathe whilst swimming. As your child achieves the competencies required by each stage, they receive certificates and badges. Collecting a full set of badges proves extremely motivating and really spurs on their determination.

Swimming lessons are also very much part of school life and all UK children should have the opportunity to attend lessons through their schooling. Swimming and water safety are compulsory parts of the National Curriculum. The aim is that by the age of 11, all children should be able swim, without aids, for at least 25 metres.

If you're keen to get your child off to a good start, the earlier they are introduced to the water, the better. Babies can enjoy the fun of being in the water and develop a healthy familiarity with being in water which will stand them in good stead once they've matured enough to learn the rudiments of swimming. Start at home with bath time. It's a great way of getting used to water, providing you keep the sessions short and give your baby lots of reassurance in the form of smiles and verbal encouragement. Babies will naturally move their arms and legs around when they're in water, but make sure you never force anything. The aim at this stage is to have fun and familiarise your baby with water.

Six months is generally considered the best age to move into a pool environment – any earlier and their small bodies will get chilled very easily. Keep your baby submerged to shoulder level. Any part of them out of the water is liable to cool down very rapidly. Always watch your baby's face and make sure it never goes underwater. The ASA has developed two schemes specifically tailored for babies and toddlers – the Duckling Awards and Swim a Song. Both have graded stages and, of course, there are certificates and badges to reward progress.