Mummy, I'm swimming and I'm freezing: How long should a child stay in the water?
A story of my friend: A younger son who is 5 has enrolled in a swimming school and always shivers with cold. The water is cold, and when he gets out of the water, he also feels cold. He spends half of the training sitting at the edge of the pool because he’s cold. His lips always turn blue. To be honest, he has a poor peripheral circulation but is it possible that it makes him shiver that much? Despite that, he still loves going swimming. Is there a secret "recipe" to make him warm or he should just clench his teeth and swim until he gets used to it? What should I do?
Her case is not the only one. Many children and their parents, due to improper conditions, specifically the cold water in the pools, the coldness in general, give up on swimming. They just don’t want to come back to a training because they don’t feel comfortable, they’re cold, and some children even get a cold. On the one hand, it boosts the immune system, and makes the organism stronger, but on the other, it should not be an everyday thing in winter...
What is the optimal temperature of the water in the swimming pool so that children won’t be cold?
Olympic pool for swimmers and colder water: As for the water in bigger pools of 25m, 33m and 50m, its temperature is defined for swimmers who enter the pool and swim, they don’t rest much, they finish their training and go home. The water temperature in such pools is around 26 to 27.5 degrees, and it’s the proper temperature for that purpose. Sometimes, however, the temperature of the water and the air goes a bit down. At some Olympic pools or big facilities where water or air heating is often a luxury, the minimum conditions are maintained for swimming lessons. That’s why children are freezing. Or, on the other hand, the groups of beginners, non-swimmers are big, and then children spend more time next to the pool than in the water, swimming, because they’re waiting for their turn.
Smaller pools for beginners and warmer water: When it comes to swimming schools and teaching younger children how to swim, if you can, it is preferable to go for smaller pools, facilities, warmer in terms of water and air, since the beginners are not very active in the pool at first. They spend more time just standing in the water or next to the pool, so it’s necessary that the water in the pool is around 30C. In smaller pools it is possible to maintain that temperature all the time, and the youngsters will enjoy the water and swimming, and be very happy to come back.
The cold water in the pool makes most parents decide to wait for warmer days or for children to grow up, become stronger, and then start with the swimming. The solution is not to postpone swimming.
Okay, what should we do then? What if we can’t change the water temperature in the pool, and we want our child to swim and be healthy, but not to freeze? These are some of the measures I used with my children, to make them warm a bit while learning how to swim.
Swimsuit helps, but on the other hand it limits the moves in the water and swimming itself, so it’s more convenient for diving. But if there is no other solution, when it comes to water temperature in the pool, you could try with a swimsuit first. There are also thermal swim shirts, not those which only have UV protection, but those which just like swimsuits are intended for maintaining the body temperature and keep you warm… It can be a temporary solution. My little fish and little shark have been in the pool since they were 4 months old, and when the water was a bit cooler than usually, I would put a swimsuit on them or a thermal swim shirt. The effect was visible right away. They were not cold in the pool.
Parka is a good ally when it’s cold. Yes, parka, it’s not a mistake. You have probably seen the professional swimmers before getting into the pool, wearing those coats with a hood. It’s waterproof from the outside, and from the inside they’re like a thick towel. They’re coldproof and keep the optimal body temperature while the swimmer is not in the water. If your child feels so cold while waiting for his/her turn to jump into the pool, he/she could put it on, if not that coat, then a traditional bathrobe with a hood. And once the lesson is over he/she can put it on again, before leaving for a warm shower. You can explain the situation to the coach, just to prevent other kids making fun of him, because children often do that.
When it comes to cold water, it is also important that the coach or the instructor is experienced enough to adjust every lesson to a certain level of children’s swimming skills. It means that he/she should organise the lesson so it goes on without unnecessary waiting time, keeps the children active and does not let them spend time outside the water and the pool. In this way, the children will be active all the time and there won’t be any temperature changes of the environment and the body.
How long should a child stay in the water? As children grow, progress, develop their swimming skills, become freer and more active in the water, they will reduce their freezing point. This is why the lessons and their duration are adjusted to the age and the level of the skills. So, for the beginners, it is quite enough to have active 30 minutes, sometimes even less, while for good swimmers it can take up to 90 minutes for a good sweaty training!
Anyway, regardless of the age and willingness to swim, it is important to observe children’s reactions in the water. If a child after 10 minutes spent in the water starts shivering with cold and his/her lips turn blue, or their palms, feet, finger tips wrinkle that much, it’s high time they left the pool and got warm. Of course, when they play in the pool or the sea, children just can’t get enough of it, until they really start shivering. That’s why you’re there to react on time.
Anyway, there is no excuse and there is a solution to everything
One should make a balance. Don’t stop with swim lessons, but just maybe reduce the number of classes per week and find your own perfect place. There must be a warm swimming pool in a hotel in your neighbourhood! That would be an excellent occasion for you to exercise and spend some good time together.
If you really want to swim, there are no obstacles and limits!