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AIBU to think swimming is a basic skill for children?

(86 Posts)
whistleahappytune Thu 07-Mar-13 10:02:59

A friend of mine has DD (8) who can't swim. I don't mean she can't swim well, I mean at all. AIBU to be a bit shocked by this? I always thought it was an essential skill to learn. I only learned this because I invited her DD to a sailing event for kids, and of course she can't go because they need to be able to swim. Her mum was very blah about it and said there was no time and her DD would learn when she was ready. Huh? This is a child who does every activity going - every day after school there's some club or something, plus at weekends.

Yes I do know it's none of my business and I should unhoick my judgypants. But what do MNers think?

bassingtonffrench Thu 07-Mar-13 12:05:17


I second what iismum says. An overconfident child who can swim is far more at risk of drowning than a child who knows they can't swim and won't attempt to.

So what if she couldn't go sailing? There are plenty of other things to do. And 8 is very young still.

I take my child swimming for the exercise. I must say the changing room experience is very depressing with a lot of shouty, pushy parents with over-tired over-stressed children.

I admire your friend for feeling like she doesn't have to bother just yet.

whistleahappytune Thu 07-Mar-13 12:06:16

Tanith what assumptions am I making?

CMOTDibbler Thu 07-Mar-13 12:11:58

She's 8, not 18 - its not like she'll be hanging around lakes and rivers unsupervised yet.

Good for her mum for being relaxed about it - I didn't learn till I was 8, and that was normal then. And could swim perfectly well by the time rowing/canoeing etc came into the picture

limitedperiodonly Thu 07-Mar-13 12:13:22

Some friends keep inviting us to go sailing with them and DH keeps turning them down. I'm sure he's too ashamed to tell them he can't swim.

I don't mind really because it saves me from having to say 'no, because there isn't enough room for all my luggage.'

Tanith Thu 07-Mar-13 12:13:22

You need me to tell you? It's all there already.

You are assuming you know why this child can't swim; that, if only the mother would arrange extra lessons - after all, the child goes to so many extra activities and this one is, in your opinion, the most important of all - the child would be swimming in no time.

Doesn't happen that way. Even if your assumptions are right.

seeker Thu 07-Mar-13 12:14:56

Well, the people who make loads of moneynout of running swimming lessons have certainly convinced us it is.......

SillyTilly123 Thu 07-Mar-13 12:17:14

I have 3 children so i cannot take them swimming on my own (dp will not go swimming) and i cannot afford swimming lessons which means my 9 year old cannot swim. She is confident in the water but just hasn't got the rhythmn right. Not to mention my city only has an 'olympic' pool which does not have a shallow end, and my kids will only go in water if they can touch the bottom. Not everyone has the money for lessons (i wish i did, i love swimming-but no good at teaching it)

Tanith Thu 07-Mar-13 12:17:42

Sorry - should have said "doesn't always happen like that" smile

mrsstewpot Thu 07-Mar-13 12:18:11

Have you seen this?

Blew my mind!

Katnisscupcake Thu 07-Mar-13 12:21:28

I've only taken my DD swimming once in my DM's pool (which is outside and unfortunately thanks to our lovely British weather - when even the best Summer weather NEVER seems to coincide with weekends - we don't get much opportunity to use the pool). She's nearly 4.

I would love her to learn to swim but I don't want to go in the pool with her. I am very self-conscious about my body-image (from when I was young) and that's what stops me. I am thinking of investing in some lessons, but she's so shy I don't think she'll go in without me confused.

I HAD to learn to swim at an early age, I am one of 5 and all the others swim like fish. Embarassingly for Mum, I hated it. Embarassing for her because she was in the reserves for the Olympic Swimming Team in her teens and early 20s and would train for 6 hours a day!

I do believe that it's really important - but my own fears/insecurities are stopping me...

Peevish Thu 07-Mar-13 12:31:59

I think the importance of swimming can be overemphasised, and agree with whoever said up the thread that there is a huge rip-off industry with a vested interest in convincing us our children will drown unless they start Water Babies or the like before they turn six months.

I grew up where it wasn't on the national curriculum, and in a family much too poor to afford lessons or even regular swimming pool trips. Neither of my parents can swim, it never occurred to them to have us taught, and the common denominator is that they and we grew up poor and working-class in an inner city - no bodies of water around, no holidays by the sea, no sailing lessons, no friends with pools. So to be honest, not a crucial life skill for us, in those circumstances. It would have been a middle-class frill.

Having said that, I am going to ensure my baby learns, as he will have a different kind of life to mine. But I'm not panicking that he's turning one without having had a single lesson yet. He has plenty of time.

mrsstewpot Thu 07-Mar-13 12:33:03

Actually this one's better - has a toddler swimming to the side of the pool to save himself!

Runwayqueen Thu 07-Mar-13 12:47:52

For various reasons I consider myself a non swimmer, my parents tried everything but I just couldn't do it.

Dd will be 3 in June and after a week at Center parcs she is so happy in the water. It's inspired me to have some adult swimming lessons as I want to feel confident being in the water with her. Her lessons are now booked and hopefully she won't be like me.


MiaowTheCat Thu 07-Mar-13 12:57:33

Soon as mine hit a manageable age they'll be booked in for swimming lessons - it's one thing me and DH agree utterly on. My parents live on a riverbank, his parents live on the side of a loch - there's no way we're taking the chances of having non-swimmers, even WITH close supervision and precautions.

Only reason we don't take DD1 now is that I can't climb the ladder in and out of the pool being the size of a small house and wracked with SPD.

MyDarlingClementine Thu 07-Mar-13 13:00:14

I learned at 11 big shakes.

There are lots of true essentials; I hope your child is up on all of them.

poshme Thu 07-Mar-13 13:07:15

angryTo the person who said they think parents should always take kids to swim from when they're tiny and teach them
1) it's really expensive
2) if you have more than 1 child it's really difficult- I couldn't supervise my toddler and hold my baby swimming, and once I had 3 kids I wasn't allowed to take them swimming on my own.
And once the oldest started school, the toddler couldn't learn, as I had the baby, and all lessons expected me to swim with the toddler- what was I supposed to do with the baby?
I would love it if my kids could swim, and the older 2 nearly can- but as I can't take them, it's hard to get in the practise.

Thumbwitch Thu 07-Mar-13 13:09:23

My MIL lives on the edge of a lake. We have a swimming pool. It's a non-negotiable essential life skill here. Too many toddlers here drown in swimming pools - might not be the case in the UK, but it is here.

stretch Thu 07-Mar-13 13:18:50

My 11 year old can't swim. She had lessons through school in yr 3 for 3 months, then yr 4 for 3 months. Our school take the view that that is sufficient.

I have 4 (11, 7, 4 and 3) children, I cannot take them swimming on my own obv, I cannot take them to lessons (no car or regular childcare for the others) DH has very little interest in swimming, he works every other weekend so we can't commit to lessons then either. Money is an issue as well. I want her, and the others to be able to swim, but I don't see how we could manage.

YABU and YABU to be so judgey. Just because in your world children should be swimming at x years old, doesn't mean everybody thinks the same way.

olgaga Thu 07-Mar-13 13:22:24

Me and DH are both keen, good swimmers. Both learned to swim in the sea, then I went on to swim for a club. So you'd think our DD (12) would be a "natural" with all our encouragement. She doesn't mind a bit of splashing about, but actual swimming, learning to swim - she's just not interested.

We've tried and tried, but all she wants to do is play. She is nervous about floating.

So, it's not that we haven't tried, it's not that she hasn't done lessons, it's not that she hasn't had loads of encouragement and support.

She just doesn't like it.

Both our mums hated swimming, by the way. MIL never swam, only paddled. My mum would do a bit of breaststroke if she was feeling brave, but couldn't stand to get her face wet. So maybe DD has inherited it from them.

I've been to a lot of public swimming pools in this country - both leisure centre and holiday parks - and I think on the whole they are pretty off-putting for children once they achieve a certain level of awareness. Changing rooms that stink of pee, overcrowding, verrucas, grit in the bottom of the pool, slippery, unsafe surfaces (I got a nasty cut on the ball of my foot from a sharp tile-edge once), kids running around like lunatics, pool supervisors who are little more than children themselves.

The result is she's perfectly safe around water as she just doesn't bother with it - or if she does she always makes sure of the depth. We're always with her anyway. She might want to learn when she's older, we do still ask her occasionally.

Pool parties? She just wouldn't go. There are enough parties to go to which aren't held in swimming pools!

Yannah2006 Thu 07-Mar-13 13:28:40

Totally agree, swimming is a life skill.

DS doesn't particularly enjoy his lessons (he thinks they're ok, he'd prefer to be doing judo or something) but i've told him it's compulsory until he's a competent swimmer. I can't understand why any parent wouldn't do the same- it's so important!

We also struggle to afford the lessons, but we save hard for them because we think it's such a basic skill that he has to learn.

Surely if a child is scared of the water, that issue needs to be sorted?

Yannah2006 Thu 07-Mar-13 13:30:56

I also couldn't give a monkeys about technique or strokes. All i need to know is that he'd be safe if he ever fell in water.

olgaga Thu 07-Mar-13 14:31:08

Surely if a child is scared of the water, that issue needs to be sorted?

I think that's easier said than done! We tried everything - private lessons in a non-crowded pool etc. It wasn't even fear in our case, she just didn't particularly enjoy it and preferred other activities.

I think many kids appreciate lessons more when they are older - and there's nothing wrong with that. It could be fear, but it can also be simple lack of interest which they grow out of as they mature and gain confidence. Peer pressure helps too when they are older, and start to actually want to learn for the first time.

I think it's far more dangerous when parents imagine that because their child has learned to swim for 20m, and float in a swimming pool, that they are "safe" in the water!

Yannah2006 Thu 07-Mar-13 14:42:05

olgaga absolutely agree that it doesn't mean they're totally safe, but at least it gives them a fighting chance. If a child can't swim, their chances of surviving a fall in the water are practically 0.

And no, i doubt curing a phobia of water is easy in the slightest, but i'd personally prefer to give it a try, rather than hoping for the best and leaving it to chance that my child would never find themselves in a situation where they needed to swim.

ReallyTired Thu 07-Mar-13 14:48:17

I'm a crap mother in that my son could not swim until he was nearly seven. He had severe ENT problems and we were told by the ENT consultant not to take him swimming.

Ds learnt very quickly with one to one tutition. After a year of one to one lessons he was stage 4 swimming standard.

An 8 year old will learn very quickly to swim and she will have lessons through school. A lot of the children in ds's school could not swim in year 5, but nearly all of them could manage 25m after 2 terms of swimming lessons.

SnotMeReally Thu 07-Mar-13 14:53:55

there are 2 main "types" of children drowning incidents - very young toddlers - left unsupervised in a garden with pond/pool - everyone thinks someone else is watching them sad

and the cocky dare devil teens doing daft stunts BECAUSE they can swim and think they are immortal (tombstoning, walking on iced over lakes, drifting off out to sea on lilos etc)

so supervision and common sense are just as important as learning to swim!

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