Learning to swim can save your child’s life
With summer quickly approaching, now is the best time to begin water safety instruction. Teaching your children to swim at an early age provides comfort and confidence in the water and can prevent panic if a child falls into the water. “Water safety and learning to swim are crucial. There are many sports and activities for children, but swimming is the only one that can save a life,” says Matt Alberti, owner of the American Swim Academy. Swimming helps children control their balance and coordination in water — they learn how to move with the water, rather than fight against it. Repeated practice develops muscle memory so that a child can respond quickly and appropriately in the water.
The responsibility as parents is to protect and prepare your child to have positive experiences in the world and provide opportunities for exploration and learning. Parents introduce their children to reading and language from birth in order for them to develop mentally and socially, so that they will read with confidence. Swimming is similar in a sense. Introducing children to water as early as six months of age nurtures their social and physical development, while encouraging balance and stability in the water.
“We believe that it’s vital to get children acclimated to the water at an early age, to prevent growing apprehensions and fears as they get older,” says Alberti. Before 16-18 months children readily accept the water and new environments however as children get older and begin to develop fears, it is more difficult to introduce them to swimming without prior water experiences.
No child is ever waterproof, but you can keep your children “water-safer.” Teach them to swim at an early age and avoid inflatable swimming aids such as “floaties.” They are not a substitute for approved life vests or adult participation and can give children a false sense of security. Be water aware – always supervise children in and around the pool and keep close attention to children in the water at all times. If you are in a group, appoint a designated water watcher, taking turns with other adults. Whenever infants or toddlers are in or around water an adult should be within arms length, providing “touch supervision”. All parents, grandparents, and caregivers should learn and know infant and child CPR. Immediately providing effective CPR can double a victim’s chance of survival.
Water safety and learning to swim can save your child’s life. Children can confidently enjoy swimming and water if they are prepared.
Article written by Linda Bailey, United States Swim School Association certified infant and toddler swim instructor, certified USA Swim Coach. Linda serves on the USSSA Infant and Toddler Committee Advisory. Find out more about the American Swim Academy by visiting www.AmericanSwimAcademy.com.