Not Likely, Neighborhood Swim Pros Say
It’s comforting to know that we can teach our children basic safety skills and how to swim in a few weeks, to prepare them for a summer of water activities. Once a child starts swim lessons, he easily builds upon prior abilities and improves consistently year to year.
Not so fast.
We’d like to believe the above is true, but let’s take another look.
“During the Pre-K years, 3-to-5-year-old students typically require 20 to 30 lessons to swim well enough to perform basic safety swimming skills and get across a small pool 15 feet wide. A 6-to-9-year-old may be able to learn the same skills in fewer lessons, simply because the 6-year-old’s motor skills are further developed,” notes Jim Reiser, recipient of the Water Safety Person of the Year Award by USA Swimming. (These are estimates with a number of variables to be considered.)
“Once kids begin the process of learning to swim, consistency is key. It is important to keep the lessons as routine as possible and to not take long breaks from swimming until the child can swim independently,” says Gilda Dobrica, founder of Teach Your Child To Swim. “A regular swimming schedule allows for muscle memory to form and keeps the progress going. Taking breaks from swimming, e.g. during the winter months, will set back the learning process, as the child will have to re-acclimate with the water or re-learn previously learned skills upon resuming swimming.”
The sad truth is three children a day are victims of drowning as reported by the Center for Disease Control.
According to Debbie Bozarth, owner of Dallas Swim Kids, young children age 6 months to 3 years benefit from water acclimation and progression classes to prepare for the unexpected. The roll-over method is taught, which is crucial for safety and proper swim technique. These classes create important, positive experiences in the water, laying the foundation for stronger swimming abilities.
Reiser explains, “Infants 6 to 12 months can learn to hold their breath long enough to provide a parent a few critical extra seconds in the case of an accidental fall in the water. With progressive learning, by 19 months a toddler can learn to return to the side of the pool, and by 24 months, these skills can be executed with ease, if you’ve kept your young swimmer exposed to swim lessons.”
Bozarth points out that the process of learning to swim is no different than the process of any developmental achievement, such as walking, talking or reading. The basics come first – safety – and then the real learning begins – technique. She points out that when lessons are not consistent, regression occurs. A child learns how to swim, as with most achievements, through repetition.
Driven by these objectives, Dallas Swim Kids’ staff focuses on the ability to swim as more than mere summer fun. They approach swim development as a life-saving skill, as well as an opportunity for team sports for some and a long-lasting fitness activity for others.
The Lakewood swim school has more than 10 instructors including Bozarth with over 70 years combined swim instruction experience. During each 40-minute lesson, children learn in an inviting 89-degree pool that is perfect for eliminating uncomfortable shivers. Kids often find lessons so fascinating and fun they don’t want to get out of the water.
Dallas Swim Kids offers swim lessons year round, Sunday through Saturday. Classes are for ages 6 months to 12 years old. Its popular pool party times are supervised and have been used by play groups, class parties, sports teams, and of course birthday parties. They are currently enrolling for fall classes.
Dallas Swim Kids is located in Lakewood at Hillside Shopping Center, 6465 E. Mockingbird Lane, Suite 500. 214-841-1020, dallasswimkids.com.
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