Up until last year, the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) did not recommend swim lessons for children under the age of 4. This was a shocking guideline set by doctors who are supposed to SAVE lives. The second leading cause of accidental death of children is drowning, and swim lessons can help prevent such tragedies.
The AAP believed swim lessons would give parents and their young swimmers a false sense of confidence. They also saw no evidence that early swimming lessons reduced the risk of drowning, and that children under 4 are not developmentally ready. Obviously the AAP was not aware of swimmers who learned at AQua Wave Swim School!
This subject is personal to me for a few reasons. For one, I have taught toddlers to swim for over 15 years and have become proficient in teaching 2 year olds to swim on their own for the purpose of safety. In other words, I teach them to get from point A to point B comfortably, and I’ve seen so much success with toddlers that my teaching ego is through the roof! I have also taught 4, 5 and 6 year olds starting swim lessons for the first time. (because their parents followed the AAP recommendation.) Generally, these children have a more difficult time completing the milestones of beginning swimming. They are wiser and more aware of the potential dangers of a pool, harvesting fears that can slow the learning process. For example, school aged children tend to take more time getting comfortable going under water.
I have seen hundreds of toddlers who are clearly developmentally ready to swim. What I don’t usually get to see is how these little swimmers do when they’re away from AQua Wave Swim School. But since I have two darling little girls of my own, I can share some of the evidence I have seen.
My older daughter fell in the 5 ½ foot end of the pool fully clothed when she was 18 months old. Yes, I was watching her! She also wore a Safety Turtle bracelet, one that sets off an alarm the moment it gets wet. She held her breath, floated to the top and grabbed the side. She did not panic, did not flail around, and did not swallow or choke on water. If she hadn’t been taking swimming lessons her whole life, she would never want to get into a body of water after that incident.
I take my kids to our community pool that has steps leading into it, similar to the set-up at AQua Wave. I watched my 12 month old sit on the steps and play, then swim away from the steps a few feet, turn around and swim back to the steps. What’s the big deal? Toddlers without swim training might not know to hold their breath, and definitely wouldn’t know to turn around. My little swimmer knew her limits. Even after she learned to take a breath on her own (around 20 months) she continued to adhere to her safety limits by not giving herself to long a distance to swim at one time.
Every swim lesson your toddler takes buys them more time. More time for you to get to them if they get into a dangerous situation in the water. Every swim lesson your toddler takes moves them one more step away from being traumatized by such a situation. How many children or adults do you know that had a near-drowning incident and never set foot near water again? Would you want your child to be one of them?