How long does it take kids to learn how to swim?
It’s impossible to give the right answer to this question, because every child is unique and has different dynamics in learning how to swim. Some people learn how to swim and float at the age of two, some do it at the age of twenty-two, and some don’t even at the age of fifty-five. I know many parents who would like their children to learn how to swim right away, and swim from one pool’s edge to another after the second swimming lesson, and win a medal after only one month of swimming.. Swimming, however, like all other skills we acquire, is a process.
Practice has shown that the earlier your child comes in contact with the water and the pool, the less is the chance that he/she forgets his/her natural environment from the previous nine months spent in the mum’s tummy. Therefore, if you want your child to be relaxed in the water and learn how to swim, you should start with baby swimming lessons as soon as possible, and provide your child with regular exercising in the water. It doesn’t mean that he/she will immediately learn how to swim crawl or butterfly, but that, after some time, he/she will know how to float.
If you want your three-year-old plus child to learn how to swim properly, the process itself takes up to one year of continuous trainings. Of course, it’s not something carved in stone, because children are not robots, and they also have their own good and bad days. To get your child master the basic techniques adjusted to his/her age and to learn how to behave in the water, and to have the first progress visible, it’s necessary that the child goes to the pool twice to three times a week throughout a year. Still, don’t give yourself airs, because a single moment of neglect can bring back the fear and resistance in your child to the water and swimming.
The goal of pre-school children swimming should be playing in the water and having fun, since that’s the approach for children to become independent and safe in the water.
What is more important than swimming techniques for beginners:
What’s more important than the very techniques at the beginning is that a child learns how to breathe properly in the water. This should also be done through playing and having fun. We blow and make nose bubbles, on the surface, under the surface, quiet and loud bubbles, we shout and sing under the water, we whisper, also while swimming...
Floating in the water is more important than the techniques. One of the most important elements is floating orthe so-called Jellyfish float, face down or on you back, which is the starting position of all other moves on the surface to come. Taking a floating position after various activities in the water is also important. I remember my almost two-year old Little Shark swimming 10m in the hotel pool after mastering the floating position and feeling safe on his own. He was all over the moon, and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.
Movement in the water with some of the props. I tend to make Noodle be the first prop for the beginners. At first, a child moves with your help, you find the balance together, and then you have to free the child’s hands so that he/she could keep the balance on his/her own and start moving through the water independently. Don’t get discouraged by their constant holding of your hand or if they swallow some water, because soon they will be delighted for being able to swim “independently” for the first time.
Water gliding. This is how we prove them that they can also move on the water surface without moving their arms and legs, and that all they need to do is to relax enough, float and enjoy it…
Holding a breath under water, reaching for something from the pool’s bottom. Another advanced skill helping children to independently reach for an object in the water. Starting from a shallow part of the pool, and then from the deep part. Children never get tired of playing this game. This skill helps a child gain more confidence and become aware of the movement of his/her body under the surface, feel the body balance, and how to come back to the surface after diving, or how to come to the pool’s bottom with a head first duck dive in the deep water. My Little Shark was only three when, after a couple of dives we had done together, and a jump from the starting platform, he reached a toy from the bottom of a 2m deep pool all by himself. I was more than proud!
Later or when they feel comfortable in the water, is the right moment to work on details with the children. As children grow, their motor skills develop, and, of course, the child’s focus changes as well to developing a natural proper and technical swimming. We work on improving the swimming techniques. At that time, a good swimming technique can be improved only by regular work and the revision of the things already acquired.
Being only three years old, after watching my trainings with the groups of contestants from the pool’s side on daily basis, my Little Shark, as we were playing and swimming, told me that he’d like me to teach him the swimming techniques. We made a deal even though I knew his motor skills were not proper for that, but surprisingly, he proved me wrong. He spends time in the water three times a week, so, trust me, everything’s possible…
Parents should know that swimming requires commitment and patience.
If you want your child to be ready for life, don’t wait but help him/her and enrol him/her in a nearby swim school. It’s irrelevant if he/she will learn how to swim in three months like his best friend, or in one year. The most important thing is to learn how to swim.
It’s important to know how to swim and feel safe in the water.