to let ds swim by himself?

(104 Posts)
whethergirl Sat 06-Apr-13 12:44:43

Ds, just turned 8, went swimming with his friend and friend's dad. I sat in the cafe, waving. Much of the time, the boys would separate and the dad & son would end up together, with ds playing with other kids.

There was a sign saying "children under 8 must be accompanied by an adult" which got me thinking, as I just presumed that you'd have to be older than that.

Anyway, time to leave the pool, with DS in tears, begging me if he can go again tomorrow.

I don't enjoy swimming. I have an enchanged forest down there that needs sorting out, and a spotty bum. I am really concious of my weight at the moment and on top of that, bloated with PMT. And I don't have a swimsuit. Only an attention grabbing pink polka dot bikini (and god knows where that is).

AIBU to take ds there tomorrow and sit out? He is not a particularly strong swimmer (has had a few terms of swimming lessons). He only plays in the shallow pool where there are fountains etc. and doesn't go in the deep end, he is not a daredevil, more cautious than necessary if anything. There are always plenty of lifeguards about there, blowing their whistles at the merest hint of breaking any rule. I would obviously also be watching from the cafe (which has quick access to the pool, should I need to do a pamela anderson). Having said that, I can lose sight of him as all wet kids look much alike.

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Sat 06-Apr-13 12:47:06

You're staying at the pool while he swims? I would let him swim alone.

I was a pool attendant pre-children and we often had youngsters in the water while mum or dad sat in the cafe dozing/reading/knitting/chatting. Never an issue for the staff.

lisad123everybodydancenow Sat 06-Apr-13 12:49:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

whethergirl Sat 06-Apr-13 12:53:30

Definitely hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman, I will be there all the time, watching. I was also going to mention it to one of the lifeguards, but you can't really expect them to keep an extra eye out for a specific child, can you?

SanityClause Sat 06-Apr-13 12:53:32

Surely if he is 8, he has a reasonable understanding of his own capability, even if he isn't a strong swimmer. And it's the pool, with lifeguards, not the sea, where there may be hidden dangers like undertow etc.

Let him go. You could even ask a friend along, so they can play together, and you can sit in the cafe and read watch.

RedHelenB Sat 06-Apr-13 12:55:15

50m is the minimum swimming requirement & being over 8 in order to swim alone. If you are not confident he can tread water or cope in the deep end |I would go in with him until he can. I once took dds friend swimming & my heart was in my mouth cos she was nowhere near as able a swimmer as she'd made out to be & I had ds & a man had to grab her when the waves came on foir me!

HollyBerryBush Sat 06-Apr-13 12:56:11

I never get in the pool. No way am I wading through other people piss, fingernails, klinkers and pubes. grin

Although, I doubt your son will enjoy it without a friend; cant you return the favour and take the other little boy too?.

whethergirl Sat 06-Apr-13 12:58:00

Mixed responses so far. I keep changing my mind. confused

SanityClause absoloutely no way would I let him swim alone in the sea.

Thanks for comments so far.

TidyDancer Sat 06-Apr-13 13:03:40

Can you sit poolside as opposed to in the cafe? There's no way I would be comfortable being in another room, even if you can see the pool from there and I wouldn't find it acceptable for anyone to take my DCs and do the same. Swimming at 8 without a responsible adult in the pool I would be fine with if the child was a strong swimmer and their responsible adult was in the room. But if either of those things weren't true, I wouldn't allow it.

Btw, no one cares what anyone else looks like at the pool or in the gym. I have said this on here before multiple times, but I was 19 stone or thereabouts when I started going swimming and to the gym and not a single soul ever made a comment.

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 13:05:15

He is 8 years old. The pool allows him to go in alone. He knows his capabilities-he is hardly likely to jump in the deep end. There is a lifeguard on duty. I can't see why not-if he wants to do it.

lisad123everybodydancenow Sat 06-Apr-13 13:11:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Sat 06-Apr-13 13:15:23

Lifeguards don't want anyone to drown on their watch, they keep a good eye on every single person in the pool. In my years on poolside adults were far more likely to take risks/miscalculate their abilities than the majority of children ever were.

McNewPants2013 Sat 06-Apr-13 13:17:07

Get yourself some swim wear and go in yourself.

I wouldn't allow it, it's not the life guards responsibility to look after your child.

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 13:19:15

In all my years of swimming, in all types of pools, crowded and uncrowded I have never seen a child fall in the deep end if just walking around the edge! Lifeguards are trained!
If OP is in the pool she can't be glued to an 8yr old. I used to take mine with friends and his baby brother-I hadn't a clue where he was-I couldn't expect an 8yr old to stick close by a 6 month old the entire session.

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 13:20:41

I wouldn't allow it, it's not the life guards responsibility to look after your child.
Utter rubbish-the lifeguard is paid to do it-that is there job! Why do you think they are there?! The pool states they can go in alone at that age.

dayshiftdoris Sat 06-Apr-13 13:21:08

Mine has gone alone since turning 8 - he started out sticking to shallow end until we knew he could do 50m

Now he goes diving and all sorts (8 & half)

I always stay at the pool - sometimes pool side but only if that is how the pool spectators is set up

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 13:21:13

Sorry -their not there.

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Sat 06-Apr-13 13:23:35

I wouldn't allow it, it's not the life guards responsibility to look after your child.

Of course it is. They are there to look after the customers regardless of age or ability.

BrandiBroke Sat 06-Apr-13 13:26:57

I think it's fine personally. My mum let me and my brother swim on our own when we were about 8 and 10. Granted there were 2 of us, but he quite often left me to splash around while he did proper lengths.

It was fine. Mum sat in the viewing area and did watch, but I think she took a book too.

There were also 'fun splash' sessions where lots of inflatables were added to the pool. No adults were allowed to that and kids had to be 8+ and had to swim a width when they first got in to prove they weren't total non swimmers.

I think if he's keen it would be good for him. Maybe point out a marker, such as a set of steps halfway up the pool and tell him he's not allowed past that point and if he does he will have to get out straightaway and will not be allowed to swim alone again.

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 13:27:51

I just had a quick look and this is typical.

The age limit varies wherein a young person must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, but a safe range would be between five and eight years and under, depending on the pool's policies, as well as the child's behaviour, swimming ability and comfort level. Non-swimmers should not swim alone, or they should remain in the shallow end and near a lifeguard.

I am still astounded by the statement that it isn't the lifeguard's responsibility to look after your a public swimming pool that has a policy that he can go in without an adult! The mind boggles......

Sirzy Sat 06-Apr-13 13:29:03

He is old enough that by the pools rules he can so that side isn't an issue.

It comes down to whether you are confident and trust him to be sensible which it sounds like he would be.

Does he really want to go alone though?

whethergirl Sat 06-Apr-13 13:29:56

RedHelenB 50m - a length of the pool right? He couldn't swim a whole length. He only did his stage one, which was swiming a width with an aid.

fwiw - I was never taught to swim, just learnt how to tread water naturally. And when I was a kid, my dad used to drop me off at the pool and pick me up a few hours later!!

HollyBerryBush grin my thoughts exactly! It's enough of a sacrfice for me to go into the manky cubicles to get ds dressed. But if I take his friend then I'll have two boys to look out for? DS didn't actually spend a lot of time with his friend today, he made friends at the pool.

And what, exactly is a klinker?

TidyDancer the cafe is the poolside, it's a werid open plan set up. DS was coming up to me constantly dripping stinky chlorine water into my coffee to get his goggles and what not.
And thanks for the other comment about people not caring what you look like. I will build myself up to it, and would be more confident about doing it in the summer when I am a bit more used to being exposed, and the sun really clears up my spotty skin (arse and back). The thought of doing it tomorrow morning in a polka dot bikink fills me with dread. I think if I was very obviously overweight, I might be okay with it if that makes any sense, but I hide my flab quite well, and feel if I saw anyone I knew in the pool, I would be 'outed'. I know, its all very self indulgent and i need to get over myself. If I see anyone overweight or with other bodily effects in the pool, I always feel quite encouraged by it, and admire their confidence.

But I do feel quite concious about it. Even when I'm more toned and tanned up and looking my best, I can't help but think "we're all strangers and we're all practically naked shock". At one point friend's dad came out of pool to say something to me, and I thought, you're standing there in nothing more than waterproof underpants! I think I might have issues.

Fairylea Sat 06-Apr-13 13:31:28

I think at 8 it totally depends how well they can swim and if they are with someone else would could raise the alarm if needed.

I wouldn't let dd age 10 swim without me but then she has as much swimming ability as a concrete block .... !

Sirzy Sat 06-Apr-13 13:32:23

If the cafe is poolside I would do it without doubt, I was picturing you watching from behind glass.

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 13:33:38

As a member of the public I would raise the alarm! I can't imagine any swimmer is going to think that a person in difficulties is nothing to do with them!

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 13:34:50

If you are actually right by the pool side without even glass I can't see why there would be a problem.

Fairylea Sat 06-Apr-13 13:35:17

True exotic but in a busy pool a lone childcan often slip under the water unseen .. if they have friends with them at least the friend knows something has happened. That's what I meant by raising the alarm ! smile

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 13:37:38

Only if the friend is with him at all times. I would say that if you are talking about pure safety he is better without a friend who may well encourage things outside his capabilities, duck underwater etc etc.

CecilyP Sat 06-Apr-13 13:39:25

YANBU. At 9, I as a non-swimmer went to the pool with a non-swimming friend the same age. No parent watching poolside or anything like that. I was not so foolhardy to jump in the deep end or so clumsy that I accidentally fell in.

As your son sounds sensible, can swim a bit and you will be watching anyway, I really can't see a problem.

5eggstremelychocaletymadeggs Sat 06-Apr-13 13:44:00

Everything exotic has said.

As we have five children we can't be near all of ours the whole time when swimming, we stay with the little two and the elder three often go off and do their own thing, we keep an eye on them and keep tabs on what they are doing but they go in the main pool rather than the baby pool or down the slide etc.

So we are in the vicinity but not with them, same as you sitting in the cafe, its fine.

They are 13, 10 and 8.

RedHelenB Sat 06-Apr-13 13:49:02

A lifeguard is responsible for the whole pool though, they can't have one child under constant supervsion!

My ds 5 was swimming in the holiday pool out of his depth but i was on a lounger at the side & could easily save him, it wasn't a huge pool. Bit diffretn to a swimming baths.

MammaMedusa Sat 06-Apr-13 13:49:40

Is the pool's policy eight years old or eight years and some kind of competency criteria?

All the pools near me you have to be both over eight and able to swim 25 metres confidently. You have to show the life guard every time that you can do it and then they give you a band to show you've passed and can swim without an adult.

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 13:52:48

Your child is 5 yrs RedHelen-he isn't allowed in unaccompanied -you have to change what you allow as they get older.They also get more sensible-if the parent lets them. It isn't good for them to be made so scared that they can't do anything without mother glued to their side. As soon as you have more than one child you have to let go. I had a 10 year old, a 2 yr old and a baby-of course the 10 year old went off into the bigger pool-he had progressed beyond the baby pool.

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 13:55:08

8 yrs in my area-no one ever asked about swimming abilities. It is highly unlikely a non swimmer is going to go in the deep end, try and dive etc.

If they can't swim by 8yrs then I would say they are naturally cautious anyway.

ReallyTired Sat 06-Apr-13 14:00:20

I think that its fine for an eight year old to go in a swimming pool once he is level 4 ASA swimming standard. Ie. he can comfortably swim 25 metres, front crawl, breaststroke and back stroke.

RedHelenB I think you need to be in the pool with your son. You are playing russian roulette with his life if he is five years olds and cannot swim without floats. Drowning is a silent death and happens surprisingly quickly.

BackforGood Sat 06-Apr-13 14:01:59

In our area it's always been 8 too. No questions about swimming abilities. My dc were all allowed to go at 8 (with each other though generally, it's not that much fun on your own).

Startail Sat 06-Apr-13 14:02:41

As long as its a pool with a clearly defined shallow end and no waves he should have fun. If you keep it to about half an hours mess about so he doesn't get bored and adventurous you should be ok.

I'm the exact opposite of you, I don't want to sit on the side, I want to do lengths of the big pool, so my two got left the second they looked 8. In fact the DDs have been loosing me in swimming pools since they were 5 or 6, but they swim like fish and parents are boring.

Also I'm very short sighted and my prescription googles steam up so it's not very difficult to 'get' lost.

Personally I'd let him splash about this holiday and make sure he learns to be confident in deep water by the summer.

Most 8 year olds round here and all my old Brownies were happy to go in the deepens and on the water shoot by 8/9 so he is liable to want to be more adventurous very soon.

Also our local pool does sensibly priced birthday parties with a big inflatable from 8 and that has to be in deep water to be safe to fall off.

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 14:05:42

I can't believe MN sometimes!

Here you have one sensible child who has never shown himself to be a dare devil near water. He simply wants to play around near the shallow end. His mother is going to be sitting watching him, there isn't even glass between them. It will be a family session and there will be lifeguards who are responsible for everyone in the pool. It is hardly as if she is dropping him off with a friend (who might lead him on) and going off shopping.
OP can make the simple rule that if he wants to do it he needs to stay in her sight.

I can't get my head around the fact that a child who isn't a strong swimmer is suddenly going to fall in the deep end, the lifeguard, other swimmers and mother are not going to notice.
I would suggest that OP has a nice coffee, relaxes, DS will most likely come and talk to her quite a lot, he will play happily in her sight and the lifeguard will have a regular boring session and the most he/she will have to do is make people stick to the rules. She will be happy, he will be happy so a good time will be had by all!

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 14:08:07

Good point with the eye sight. I am very short sighted in the pool, so much more likely to spot him if in the cafe with my glasses on!

SkiBumMum Sat 06-Apr-13 14:14:46

50m? I can't swim that far I don't think! Why so far? Even in a 50m (Olympic) pool you'd only be 25m max from one end and unless it was square, closer to a side sounds like a gcse maths problem!

I'd go for it OP.

RosemaryandThyme Sat 06-Apr-13 14:19:47

Rather than have a knee-jerk reaction to your lad being upset at leaving the pool today, maybe plot a longer term strategy.

He is 8, able to swim a bit but not particularly confident or strong, probably of poorish technique to battle waves and sea tides etc, mum is not wanting to get in the pool everyday and teach him.
Cost of one child, coffees for mum, parking petrol, choccie bar after etc, probably about £10.

So - where do you want him to be by age nine ?
Strong confident swimmer, able to battle against a small tidal current, able to right himself if he tips a canoe, happy to join in with sports and clubs that have a bit of swimming / water based activity.

So how to get him there - swim lessons, more the merrier, intensive courses and one to ones are available, you'd see a great improvement by August and need never be anxious again.

BackforGood Sat 06-Apr-13 14:20:00

Excellent post Exotic

RosemaryandThyme Sat 06-Apr-13 14:23:57

With the 50m requirement its a broad way of determining strength, should you need to rescue a child in trouble in a swimming pool, which I've had to do four times in the last six months, to get to them, go under and get them up, move them into back and chin grip position, get them to the side and then yank them and yourself out, takes a certain amount of both co-ordination and upper body strength.

bigTillyMint Sat 06-Apr-13 14:33:27

DS used to walk round to the local pool with his mate every Saturday when he was 8. They were both strong swimmers and loved the independence. We relished the peace and quietwink

merrymouse Sat 06-Apr-13 14:43:43

Follow the guidelines of the pool surely?

trinity0097 Sat 06-Apr-13 14:52:55

I would have thought that the lifeguards at a family swim will be very vigilant, my experience is that they don't bother paying attention when it's an early morning swim and adults do lengths, I reckon I could slip under and drown without either of the two lifeguards noticing where u swim before work every day, that is because they are bored and tired, but in the middle of the day when there are people doing interesting stuff in the pool far easier to keep focused on your job!

The pool rules say 8, your kid is 8, and you will be in the room anyway, so go for it! (BTW at my local pool the rule is 8 with no mention of competency swimming, but kids with arm bands are only allowed up to the end of the shallow bit)

lljkk Sat 06-Apr-13 15:15:08

If the pool allows it then yes of course I would (and have done). Might mention to the lifeguard. IME they don't mind, they are happy to have something different to think about.

ReallyTired Sat 06-Apr-13 16:56:32

I found the rules frustrating when dd was a baby. Ds was seven years old and could swim 200 metres easily both front and back. We were told we both had to be in the baby pool. My son was not allowed to go in the main pool with me sitting at the side with the baby.

In my experience children do not suddenly develop sense. Eight year old boys often do stupid things when egged on by their friends. I know another sensible 8 year old boy who was dared to jump of the diving board and would have drowned if it had not been for the lifeguards.

I feel that swimming competency is as important as age.

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Sat 06-Apr-13 16:56:43

True exotic but in a busy pool a lone childcan often slip under the water unseen

Any pool where children are often slipping under the water unseen by the trained and paid lifeguards needs closing down.

50m is at least two lengths of most pools - Olympic sized are really few and far between!

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 17:03:42

It would also be a top news story-it is so rare.
It is hardly news that goodness knows how many thousands of 8yr olds went swimming today and went home in one piece- and most of them were not attached to their mothers!

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 17:04:23

Sorry-in reply to hellhasnofury.

ChippingInIsEggceptional Sat 06-Apr-13 17:17:27

OP - if you can sit pool side, watch him every minute and would be prepared to jump in fully clothed if anything happened, then I'd do it.

It is the lifeguards job BUT I have read far too much about silent drowning to trust a couple of generally bored teens lifeguards to watch an entire pool full of people.

Silent drowning is bloody scary and people should be better informed about it.

Most/many/we did's are all fine - but it's not fine if yours is the one that didn't go home is it? sad and I am not a helicoptering adult at all, but swimming alone - the risk of silent drowning is not to be ignored, in a good swimmer - let alone a non swimmer.

But as I said, if you are prepared to sit pool side, get soaked, watch him every minute and be prepared to jump in fully dressed then do it - but frankly as someone built like a wobbly sherman tank that still takes the kids swimming, I think you should stop whittering about your body, put the fecking bikini on and go and have a good time with your DS - or swap bodies with me - I hate to see 'good ones' go to waste! grin

exoticfruits Sat 06-Apr-13 17:37:59

I think she will be able to stay dry ChippingIn. grin
I know someone who has been a lifeguard for years and he has never had to get wet. (and he hasn't had anyone drown either)

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Sat 06-Apr-13 17:43:48

You're more likely to die on your way to the pool as the result of a road traffic collision than you are to drown in the pool.

WeAllHaveWings Sat 06-Apr-13 17:48:35

ds(9) was desperate to reach 8 years old so he could go into the pool by himself. By the time he reached 8 he could comfortably swim 10 lengths (but couldn't master treading water for more than 20-30 seconds and panicked if he lost his goggles). I let him go and tried to keep a close eye on him which is, as you say, difficult to keep track of which wet short haired boy is yours.

Had a few scary moments when he lost his goggles in a dive and an instructor had to help him to the side, or I lost sight of him at the deep end (he'd swam under water to another part of the pool), or a lane swimmer crashed into him. I banned him from diving/jumping in out of his depth until he could swim a length without goggles in his lessons.

I wouldn't go in with ds as I'm huge/can't swim/hate swimming/chloride makes me feel awful for hours later, but I made sure he was competent enough to be relatively safe before he was allowed in himself.

I don't think your ds is anywhere near competent enough to be safe on his own yet, confidence without ability is a scary combination.

While he is so keen he would probably do really well with more regular swimming lessons and/or sessions with you. The prize at the end for him will be being able to go into the pool himself.

heronsfly Sat 06-Apr-13 17:55:08

worked at a pool/leisure centre for years, and we have never had a child underwater and unseen, life guards are very well trained and extra staff will be on poolside during family sessions.
Only incident i have ever known was when a child slipped under an inflatable obstacle course during fun time, he was seen, fished out and thought it was all part of the fun, but parents had signed a permission slip stating that he could swim the required distance to attend the session, turned out he could hardly swim at all, we were not happy.

thermalsinapril Sat 06-Apr-13 17:55:22

It's sad to think of you missing out just because you only have the bikini to opt for. (I wouldn't be comfortable either!) I'd suggest you treat yourself to a nice shapely swimsuit ASAP and get in there smile Why not order a few swimsuits from online high street stores? Then you get to try them on in the privacy of your own home and can send back any that don't fit. You can get tummy/bust control swimsuits in dark colours with slimming stripes and whatever else makes you feel better, but really no-one is going to be remotely interested in other people's shape at the swimming pool!

VerySmallSqueak Sat 06-Apr-13 18:04:02

If the rules are that he can go in at his age then it is up to you to decide whether he will either stay within his capabilities or swims well enough to be able to deal with all aspects of the pool. Although he meets the age guidelines,you wouldn't sent him in alone as a complete non swimmer so there has to be an element of your own judgement there.If you are unsure don't do it.
The lifeguards are there to watch everyone - the only thing I would caution on is if it is an extremely busy public session.Of course there will be extra lifeguards in that circumstance and they will still be vigilant but the job becomes that bit harder.

stressyBessy22 Sat 06-Apr-13 21:31:56

I have an 8 yo who is a strong swimmer-she could pretty much swim forever.I don't think I would send her in alone though .Not sure why it just doesn't feel right to me

wisemanscamel Sat 06-Apr-13 21:49:36

Both of mine celebrated being 8 by going in the pool by themselves with their mates - and I celebrated in the cafe not having to anymore with their mums. It's like a right of passage.

DS currently goes with his mate who is not a good swimmer. They just don't go out of their depth. This has never been a problem.

I don't think he'd want to go in by himself though - he'd be bored in minutes.

This is an interesting thread - I thought mums bowed out when they got to 8 and sat in the cafe (apart from the proper swimming mums)

bruffin Sat 06-Apr-13 21:55:12

My DS is a lifeguard.
He would tell him to keep in shallow end but if he thought he wasnt acting safely he would tell him to leave.
The rule is 8 plus and a competent swimmer.

RedHelenB Sat 06-Apr-13 22:17:49

Really tired - he could swim without floats(albeit doggy paddle rather than a recognised stroke)& it was a smaller pool than hence I could get straight to him as I was in my costume on a lounger. The point I was making was I wouldn't have let him do it in a busy public swimming pool. I really wouldn't expect a lifeguard to know that a child without armbands wasn't competent to be in the deep end though which is what OP is risking by allowing her son who is a weak swimmer to go in alone. DS aged 6 has now done his 25m but i won't let him in the deep end cos the pool rules say you have to swim 50m before you can.

whethergirl Sat 06-Apr-13 22:53:59

Ok so just to be clear, there are two pools, one pool with deeper water for proper swimmers, and a much smaller family pool. DS only ever goes in the family pool, which is mainly shallow getting deeper very gradually (however can check at what point is it out of his depth, and forbid him to go past that point). The bit that is considered the deeper end is sectioned off by a rope -not many kids even go there tbh, and it's only for proper swimming. There is no way he could just fall in the deep end, there is no reason to walk up that bit.

As far as I know, there is no competency criteria, I just saw a sign saying “all children under the age of 8 must be accompanied by an adult”. I will ask them though. They do have a wave machine that comes on every half hour, but I would be extra vigilant at that point, although today, he chose to spend that time in the Jacuzzi.

DS did have lessons but only got to ASA Stage 1 and just didn't want to continue similarly with judo, football and streetdance. I didn't want to force him so he ended up resenting it, as I thought we could try it again at some point. However, he absolutely LOVES just going to the pool and is always asking to go. Even when my mum has taken him and tried to show him some swimming techniques, he just wants to splash about.

I do feel that I should take him swimming often though because he loves it, and am sure he’ll get learn something just by splashing about? However, I can’t see myself actually going into the pool as many times as he’d like to go. But having thought about it, I am considering buying myself a proper swimsuit, putting aside all my body worries and my actual hate of water (I’m not scared of it, just don’t see the point), and the fact that I’ll be totally bored after 7 mins, and making an effort to go in with him. But obviously I won’t do all that by tomorrow.

He is pretty sensible and definitely not a daredevil! In fact I’m the one normally going “Go on ds, give it a go” and him lecturing me on the health and safety hazards and saying (very loudly), “mum you’re actually trying to kill me, aren’t you?”

I was watching the lifeguards today, they do an amazing job and it’s well staffed. Totally focused and don’t stop watching the pool. It did occur to me that ds’ friend and their dad did stray from ds quite a bit, I wasn’t sure if the dad was more confident about doing this because I was there, or if he would have still done it if I wasn’t! (He offered to take ds without me going).

RosemaryandThyme you’ve had to rescue child in a swimming pool four times in the last six months?!!! I take it you’re a lifeguard –or a superhero--

shellbu Sat 06-Apr-13 23:02:40

think the same as sirzy , i used to do the same with my two.

bankofmum Sat 06-Apr-13 23:16:50

Really sad you wont get in with him. When my son was young there was only one young girl who had to swim alone while mum watched. Im not talking about safety but fun. Noone cares what you look like and nor will you if you start to splash around with your son. If you wont get in take his friend but good for boys to see mums are doers not just watchers.

WeAllHaveWings Sat 06-Apr-13 23:25:48

Definitely would not let an 8 yr old non swimmer in a pool with a wave machine without an adult.

seriouscakeeater Sun 07-Apr-13 00:15:23

He can get in if he is over eight and stay down the shallow. There should be a sign saying non and weak swimmers are not allowed beyond this point. Yes do tell lifeguard he is a weak swimmer, they will be greatfull of it.

I teach swimming and its not a problem if its monitored properly. If he has no balance or co-ordination, that's when its an issue.

seriouscakeeater Sun 07-Apr-13 00:22:40

Weathergirl is it Hyde pool? Stage 1 is very basic! No armbands no getting in , I wouldn't let him near wave pool as drag will pull him back out.
Get a t shirt on over cossie and get in with him.

thermalsinapril Sun 07-Apr-13 00:22:56

"good for boys to see mums are doers not just watchers"

That's a good point. (And of course it's good for girls to be set this example too!)

Libramonkey Sun 07-Apr-13 00:23:57

Utter rubbish-the lifeguard is paid to do it-that is there job! Why do you think they are there?! The pool states they can go in alone at that age.

Of course it is. They are there to look after the customers regardless of age or ability.

Actually it is not their job to look after your children. They are there to ensure safety and in case of emergency, its the parents job to look after their child/children. If they cannot swim to a suitable ability they should not be left unsupervised. I work for a gym, our age limit is 12 years and able to swim 25 meters, anyone who cannot do this is not allowed to swim without supervision as the lifeguard cannot babysit individual children.

OP as long as you are there supervising from outside the pool and he is old enough by the pools age, then it should be ok as long as he sticks to within his depth. However worth checking they don't have ability requirements too. smile

exoticfruits Sun 07-Apr-13 07:04:55

My pool states 8 yrs- that is all- nothing about ability.
The child is allowed in without an adult.
The lifeguard is there for two reasons- to uphold the rules and in case of emergencies. It is their job. I can't see what else they need to do.
If the child was unhappy they wouldn't be in the pool on their own.
By 8yrs old a non swimmer, or weak swimmer, isn't going to be running around, falling, jumping, diving or swimming out of their depth- if they were brave enough to do that they would be a competent swimmer by that age. You only have to tell him to stay in the shallows with the wave machine.
If people can't let an 8 yr old swim in those circumstances goodness knows how they will cope with dropping off a 11/12 yr old with friends and doing the shopping!

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Sun 07-Apr-13 08:32:53

By far the biggest pain-in-the-arse group in terms of unacceptable or dangerous behaviour were the teens. As an ex-lifeguard I'd far rather a pool full of 8 year olds with parents nearby than I would a pool full of teens, especially those teens who are old enough to be classed as adults.

Lueji Sun 07-Apr-13 09:59:28

Fwiw, my DS has had swimming lessons since he was 6.
The teacher didn't pay that much attention to them sometimes, at least not more than a lifeguard, particularly when they play at the end.

They are obviously not good swimmers and can't swim 50m! But, even on the sea I have taught DS to dive under a wave (age 7) and I'm now at arms length. Ds did get caught by a wave by surprise, but was fine. He's mr fearful, by the way. Not a daredevil at all.
The teachers have encouraged them to jump on the deep end of the pool and swim to safety since they were 7.
The main point is that they should know how to breath under water.
Can you teach him that in the bath, or even in the shower so that he doesn't panic if he's caught by a wave.
But overall I think your boy will be fine.

You should still get a swimsuit (there are some that cover tighs and body, btw) and get in there with him just for fun, though. smile

Lueji Sun 07-Apr-13 10:00:51

Sorry: I'm NOT at arms length, in the sea.

merrymouse Sun 07-Apr-13 10:21:31

Another idea for cover up is a 'rash vest'/UV vest (rash vest because it stops you getting a rash from your surf board). It's like a t-shirt made out of swim suit material.

I think most people would feel a bit nervous about a polka dot bikini at the beginning of the summer!

The thing about swimming is that once you are under water, nobody can really see you. Most pools allow for strategic positioning of a towel pool side too.

reluctantmover Sun 07-Apr-13 10:28:40

Aged 8 and able to swim competently 50m is about as sensible a rule for letting a child go swimming alone as you can get. Our local pool only allows 8 to 16 year olds without an over 16 year old to go swimming if they have proof of their 50m certificate with them (yes the children tend to keep the certificate in their swim bag along with their season pass they buy to cover school and social swimming).

It certainly isn't the job of the lifeguards to look after poor swimmers. This is a very rare case, but sometimes children do lose consciousness and end up under the water and drown, here's how an underwater computer system saved a 10 year old's life. I won't ever forget this, as this is where I used to swim.

ChristmasJubilee Sun 07-Apr-13 10:41:14

A child drowned in our swimming pool. His family were "watching" from the poolside cafe. No doubt it is very rare but that is little consolation if it's your child.

I went with ds's 1&2 until they were 11 and really strong swimmers and then let them go alone. Ds3 is 6 and can swim 25+ meters. He swims 3 times a week but always with me. I think he will be a good swimmer but I won't let him go alone at 8.

Get thee to Tesco. You can get a good costume with tummy control for £10. You might both enjoy it.

I look like a beached whale, have horrible legs, patches of ezcema and horrible feet. If I can do it anyone can!

bruffin Sun 07-Apr-13 10:52:35

Nobody gives a damn what other people look like in the pool. I got to swimming lessons once a week ( i am a very good swimmer but its a social thing)
There are people of every shape and size in the pool as well as lots of ladies into their 70s and 80s.

seriouscakeeater Sun 07-Apr-13 10:59:01

exotic you would be surprised. I teach school swimming also 7-8 and every fresh term there is ALLWAYS a few boys that don't need bands/discs and are adamant that they can swim. Which usually leads to them having no co-ordination or balance, jumping backwards trying just to regain a standing position, arms flailing, even in waist deep water. Luckily we never believe a word they say, even if they come in clutching a certificate, and all are assessed fished out . Children just do not understand the dangers of water unless drummed in to them.

A life guard is law bound to preserve life in and around the pool, that's why they are different from a life saver. whether its morally right to let ur kids in if they cant swim is another matter.

The wave pool would be a huge no no for me as it literally takes seconds to be pulled under and dragged back.

Swimming in the sea/river is a WHOLE new kettle of fish!

VerySmallSqueak Sun 07-Apr-13 11:19:09

Now I have heard there is a wave machine that goes on I am less sure about letting him in alone.

I think you need to make your own assessment but I would let my 8 year old,(who can get herself from any point of the pool to the side and jump in the deep end unaided) in the pool alone so long as I could reach her immediately should the need arose.However,I have already assessed the risk and think it would be extremely unlikely that I would need to do this.

I would be happier to do this tbh than be in the pool with her,ploughing up and down lane swimming myself, as I would be focussing on my swimming and often have my face and ears in the water.

I think OP you need to ask yourself this:
If your DS suddenly for some reason became tired or had the heebie jeebies in the middle of the pool,could he either touch the bottom or get himself to the side without being traumatised by the whole incident? If not,I think you still need to go in with him.

VerySmallSqueak Sun 07-Apr-13 11:21:15

Also can he tread water and /or float if he's tired?

exoticfruits Sun 07-Apr-13 22:46:31

Quite clearly OP your idea of your DS playing in the shallow area while you are a few yards away, within shouting distance, and visible, relaxing with a coffee are not on. He is going to run around the deep end and fall in, think he can swim and jump in or get out of his depth with the wave machine.
He is only safe if you shadow him and he is within arm's length the entire time!

Why not simply tell him exactly where he can go,and not go,and explain that if he breaks your rules you won't do it again? (If he is generally a reasonable, sensible child who does as he is told)

whethergirl Sun 07-Apr-13 23:00:10

The main point is that they should know how to breath under water
You mean holding your breath right? Or do you know something I don't?

We didn't actually go swimming today because a friend came into town for a few hours unexpectedly and went to spend some time with her.

However, had a chat with DS and asked him if he would prefer it if I got into the pool with him, he said yes. So am going to order a swimsuit and try my best. Also my mum said she would take him this week if she's recovered from her cold.

No seriouscakeeater this is a swimming pool in North London.

BTW extra measures would be taken when the wave machine came on, i.e. he would have to sit at the very shallow end.

Interesting though, I think pretty much so far all the ex/current life guards on this thread have been in favour.

Lueji Sun 07-Apr-13 23:02:15

Holding and breathing out under water.
If he can control it he should be fine.

5eggstremelychocaletymadeggs Sun 07-Apr-13 23:02:56

Ha ha whether I saw that and assumed she meant your son should NOT to try and breathe when under water!

seriouscakeeater Sun 07-Apr-13 23:05:41

Luegi dear lord that's the worst advice ever..

seriouscakeeater Sun 07-Apr-13 23:07:48

I'm amazed that some posters actually think that if u know how to hold ur breath u will new ok shock no...ur deadly wrong!

whethergirl Sun 07-Apr-13 23:46:39

Oh my goodness reluctantmover just seen that video clip! shock.

I spoke to my friend about this today, she said that she was at a swimming pool with a friend and they were both in the pool, but chatting, and had stopped watching the kids for a few minutes. The friend of a friend's daughter was right behind them, starting to drown, luckily the dad spotted her and dived in.

DS had a bit of a scare today which got me thinking. For anyone that's been to the Diana Memorial Park, you'll know how safe it is. It's all fenced in, not huge, and there is a guard at the entrance; no-one without a child can go in, and no child without an adult can go out. I was sat in the same spot while ds went off and played, so that wasn't a problem, he knew where I was and would come back every 15 mins or so. However, later on, we took a walk around the park, and then he suggested that we went back to the original spot taking different paths, to see who got their first. Anyway, I thought he meant the original spot where I was sitting, he thought of the original spot where we had started our walk. When he wasn't at my original spot, (I was being deliberately slow so he could win) I thought I would stay there whilst keeping my eyes out for him as I knew he'd turn up there eventually as it was the main bit, and didn't want to miss him (also you have to pass this bit to get to the toilets/guard/exit). I waited for about 10 mins until he came running up to me, sobbing his heart out, because he thought he had got lost. TBH, I wasn't that worried at that point (have been far more worried at other times when he has been oblivious, at local park for example when he has been ran out of sight - behind a tree etc) considering the length of time and safety of the park. But the point was, for the first time in his life, he thought he was lost. It felt like an eternity to him. I actually thought he had got distracted by playing with another kids as so often happens at that park.

When I saw how upset he was, he just looked so little again, like a toddler. I never would have thought he would have panicked so much, especially as I have briefed him in what to do in these situations and he has talked about it so matter of factly. He couldn't think about it logically at the time (as in, oh mum must be looking for me, I'll find her soon as she is here somewhere, she's not going home without me!). He hugged me all the way home saying "I really thought I'd lost you mum" sad.

Anyway - apologies, I digress and think i needed to get that off my chest!. The point I'm trying to make, is that, underneath that smart sensible know-it-all with occasional teen attitude, is still my little baby boy. He still needs me to look after him as much as I can. I didn't feel so quite confident about letting him in the pool without me, after that.

VerySmallSqueak Sun 07-Apr-13 23:57:09

Listen to your instincts (which it sounds like you have) and don't then whether.

Personally I think you've made the right decision.

You may find once you've got a 'sensible' swimming costume and you've been a few times,you actually enjoy it!

whethergirl Mon 08-Apr-13 00:12:53

Thanks VerySmall, am browsing M&S swimwear as we speak!

ChristmasJubilee Mon 08-Apr-13 21:27:00

Amazon do a very nice slazenger, boy leg swimsuit at a very reasonable price. I hane one and I luuuuuv it! Sorry, computer illiterate and can't link but google it.

dayshiftdoris Mon 08-Apr-13 21:58:19


According to this thread I should be going swimming with my 8yr old who can swim a 1000m, dive, has passed ASA level 5, uses the 3m dive board regularly and today started his rookie lifeguard...

My child can swim better than me in short... I am more likely to get into trouble than him in that respect... In fact on holiday he taught me how to do a handstand then forward in a scull (?)...

Do a sensible risk assessment alongside decent swimming lessons OP - if you are worried ask the pool. We're on first name terms with most of the lifeguards (who watch the pool like a hawk) and when he first started going in alone I discussed it with them... He had could only do 25m so he had restrictions on where he could go - 2 months later he did his 400m and was allowed in the deep end.

MaidenDevon Mon 08-Apr-13 22:50:17

When Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning

Nice to hear you're going to take the plunge, OP, so to speak smile.

Please could I ask you all read this article if you haven't seen it elsewhere (or if it's already been posted in this thread somewhere?)

Shamefully I work and live very close to the sea and always assumed someone drowning would look like the typical Hollywood movie version (shouting, arm waving etc.). Very sobering.

Wingdingdong Mon 08-Apr-13 23:08:42

If I were you I'd take him a couple of times, make sure he has an amazing time, then ask him if he wants to try swimming lessons again so that he can go in on his own/with friends, without an adult. And then keep asking!

Sooner or later he's suddenly going to realise the benefits of being able to swim and will want to do it for himself.

Our local pool has one-on-one lessons during the school hols - speaking to a couple of parents over these past hols (whilst my 3yo DD was in the pool in a group session), their DC were all around Y5/6 age who'd missed out on lessons but who'd suddenly requested them as their friends were asking them along and they didn't like being 'behind'. Clearly peer pressure is the biggest motivator!

whethergirl Mon 08-Apr-13 23:55:18

Ooh thanks for that ChristmasJubilee, they're on sale for £6.99 + £3.99 delivery on Amazon!! Do you find it's got quite good tummy support? Will order one now, can't lose at that price. Swimsuits with short legs should be more available - why would anyone want to walk around with half their arse hanging out?

dayshiftdoris if my ds had swimming ability like your ds I'd be banking on him to rescue me!

MaidenDevon I came across that article for the first time a few weeks ago on MN, up until then I had no idea. I'm going to post it on my fb wall.

Wingdingdong I'm going to work on very subtly encouraging him to have lessons again, but won't overdo it because he is a stubborn little thing

dayshiftdoris Tue 09-Apr-13 20:33:47


Last June he had a similar ability to your DS... but being given plenty of opportunity and decent swimming lessons.... well its incredible grin

Try enticing him with the promise of trying diving or Rookie Lifeguard or Water Polo... anything he fancies

dayshiftdoris Tue 09-Apr-13 20:34:04

Enticing to have lessons I meant!

whethergirl Tue 09-Apr-13 22:24:28

dayshiftdoris that's good to hear. I was thinking today that instead of weekly lessons that he might get bored with halfway through the term, to give him a week or two week intensive and just insist he does it if he wants to go swimming regularly! I must admit, the lessons he had before were in a group of 12, so his actual swimming time was not that long.

dayshiftdoris Tue 09-Apr-13 23:37:56

My son had got to ASA level 2 - failed 3 twice a couple of years ago before I took him out until July last year and now has passed 3 & 4, working on 5.

The problem with intensive courses is they have long gaps between them (holiday to holiday) where they can pick up bad habits, poor technique which then makes swimming harder.

If its been a couple of years since he did the weekly lessons then give them another try... as they go up the levels they do more swimming naturally because the group gets older and easier to manage IYSWIM. They managed themselves better too.

An intensive course might have 20 on it... depends on pool. If he goes with school there will be even more.

Your boy will get there as it sounds like he loves the water... thats the key to build on - mine certainly wouldnt do what he has done without loving it.

whethergirl Tue 09-Apr-13 23:49:11

He does love the water dayshiftdoris but just didn't like it when he felt the swimming lessons were hard work. He just likes to have fun! So he'll do stuff like theatre club and art club with no problem at all, but has given up on stuff like martial arts when he's realised it can be hard work!

He used to like the swimming lessons a lot better at another place I used to take him (where a few of his school friends also go) but I had to stop because they were so much more expensive. But I'm going to look into it now.

Or perhaps an intensive 1:1 course with a personal tutor? Or that's probably silly money isn't it.

dayshiftdoris Wed 10-Apr-13 23:01:41

As they get stronger the lessons get easier and the more he practices the stronger he gets.

1:1 is expensive... but if he needs less in the long run... might work out cheaper?

Worth checking out grin

Mine was being lazy in rookie lifeguard yesterday - 'couldnt' do 50m dressed but miraculously managed it today grin... instructors are well used to it!

whethergirl Fri 12-Apr-13 10:11:02

That's exactly it, dayshiftdoris, ds started off really enjoying the swimming but then it came to a point where it got to be quite hard/exhausting and ds is a bit feeble at times and I'm sure if he'd stuck with it he would have developed his strength and it would have been easier again. Don't think I explained that very well but you know what I mean.

pnin Fri 12-Apr-13 11:49:52

I let my three year old swim by herself sometimes if baby was napping in sling, but she's been a good swimmer for a year and we have a pool so I wouldn't get distracted by noise/others

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