How to Train Kids to Swim

Learn how to train kids to swim and ensure they’re prepared for the beach or pool. View our age-specific guide to swimming classes and water safety for children, designed to build their confidence and skills in the water.

Enrolling your child in swimming classes is an excellent method to improve their water confidence, competence, and safety. Swimming is a lot of fun, but playing in the water may be hazardous, especially considering that drowning is the leading cause of death for children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

A progressive learn-to-swim program can offer your child lifelong swimming abilities, according to Connie Harvey, a national health and safety expert for the American Red Cross.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents to delay formal swimming instruction until after their child’s first birthday. Also, when enrolling a child, you should always evaluate their “emotional maturity, physical and developmental abilities and limitations, and comfort level.” Consider enrolling them in a parent-child program focusing on water activities, swimming-readiness skills, and pool safety if you do not believe they are ready for independent swim classes.

Always conduct research on swim classes prior to enrolling. The AAP suggests that classes should emphasize swimming and “water survival competency skills.” In addition, they should be taught by teachers trained in a nationally recognized swimming program. The AAP says that lifeguards on duty should be certified in CPR and first aid. In addition, instruction should be age-appropriate, and the water should be maintained clean and warm.

Here is how to teach a child to swim at every age, whether you enroll them in swim lessons or use your own pool.

1 to 2 Year Old

You should just introduce your youngster to the water at this age. Join them in the pool or enroll in a class that emphasizes having fun and becoming comfortable in the water (instead of learning to swim). Activities may include demonstrating how to splash, singing songs while floating, and playing mild games in the water.

Tips on water safety:

Water safety tips for 1 to 2year-olds:

  • Always keep your infant in your arms.
  • Do not overwhelm children younger than 3. Children of this age can ingest sufficient water to dilute the substances in their blood, resulting in drowsiness, nausea, and convulsions. Rarely can water intoxication occur, which can be lethal in extreme circumstances.
  • Outfit them in a swim diaper that prevents feces from spilling into the pool and posing a significant health risk to other swimmers.
  • Watch out for any water risks, such as inflatable baby pools, buckets, toilets, and tubs, since a baby can drown in as little as an inch or two of water and pass out in less than 30 seconds.

2 to 3 Year Old

How does one teach a small infant to swim? Your inquisitive tot will be more active in the water now, but they will still need an adult to hold and watch them. Do games that encourage children to move their arms (throw a ball across the pool and have them reach for it, for instance), kick their legs, and float on their stomachs or back.

Teach them how to blow bubbles in the water so that they can learn to get their face wet without ingesting pool water. By the time they’re 3, kids may be able to do these activities with little support from you. Still, regular supervision is required.

Water safety tips:

Water safety recommendations for children ages 2 to 3:

  • Your child may feel so at ease in the water that they believe they can swim independently. Their self-assurance is admirable, but do not leave them alone for even a minute. Kids need attentive adult supervision around water.
  • Ensure sure the pool gate is always closed, and the lock is out of reach. According to the AAP, this is because the Consumer Product Safety Commission discovered that 69% of children under the age of 5 were not expected to be in the water when they drowned.
  • Emphasize fundamental pool safety, such as not running near the pool and entering the water only with an adult.
  • Avoid water wings, air-filled bikinis, and inflatable floating items. These products might give your child (and you) a false sense of security, as they will sink if they deflate. If you wish to utilize a flotation device, purchase a life jacket certified by the U.S. Coast Guard.
  • Keep toys out of the pool, so your child doesn’t fall in.

4 to 5 Years Old

Now that your child has developed sufficient coordination to swim independently, he or she can begin regular swimming classes. Choose a program that will help them become accustomed to the water if they have no prior experience. To make the transfer simpler, you may be permitted to participate in their first class.

In shallow water, your kid should learn to float unassisted, submerge their head for five to ten seconds, the transition from a standing posture to a swimming position without help, glide through the water, reach an exit point, and employ synchronized kicking and arm movements. Their swimming instruction ought to emphasize both water and safety abilities.

Tips on water safety:

Water safety tips for children ages 4 and 5:

  • While you may not need to hold your child at this age, a guardian should exercise “reach supervision” by being in the water within reaching distance.
  • Be patient. Your child may be fearful of water one day and a fish the next. Do not compel them to engage in an activity before they are prepared.
  • Ensure that your pool’s deep and shallow ends are clearly marked. A lifeline between the two ends is also a sensible addition.
  • Never presume another adult is watching, regardless of the presence of a lifeguard.
  • Some children dread getting their faces wet. Encourage your child to practice at home by placing their head under the shower water.

Six Years and Older

An older youngster can hold their breath for longer lengths of time, swim underwater, and retrieve objects at the bottom. Numerous children at this age can learn to dive into and resurface from the water independently. They can begin to develop all swimming strokes, such as the breaststroke and backstroke. Their increased stamina will enable them to swim farther distances. Note, however, that while some 6-year-olds can swim independently, others may require a bit more time to acquire this skill.

You may no longer need to be in the water with your child, but you must still oversee all pool activities since they may overestimate their abilities. Keep in mind that drowning often occurs fast and silently and that even proficient swimmers might experience difficulty in the water. Hence, always keep a vigilant check on all children—swimmers and non-swimmers alike—in and around a pool.

Tips on water safety:

Water safety guidelines for children older than six years:

  • All water activities should be supervised by an adult; even proficient swimmers can drown.
  • Make it a rule that your kids can only swim if they are with an adult, and encourage them to swim in pairs at all times.
  • Train them to dive while being observed by an adult in deep water.
  • You should be more attentive at the beach or the lake. A child’s swimming talents in a pool don’t necessarily translate to open water.
  • Even if your child can swim, they should always wear a life vest while boating or water skiing.

How to Find Swimming Classes

If you’re lucky enough to have a family, friend, or pleasant neighbor with a pool—or your very own- finding a spot to teach your youngster to swim will be a piece of cake. But if not, there are lots of alternative options. Consider community centers, schools (particularly colleges), and sports clubs in your area. Many facilities provide swim lessons, day tickets, and memberships so you can swim with your child. Moreover, Swimply provides hourly pool rentals.

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