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What age is best to start swimming lessons

(55 Posts)
karen99 Mon 10-Jan-05 15:41:53

My ds is 18 months old and several friends have enrolled their children to start swimming lessons this term (same age +- a month). DS loves swimming but I don't think he has the coordination yet to actually 'learn' how to swim.

Money is an issue so I don't want to enrol him too early yet it is something we want him to learn as soon as he can iyswim.

Any suggestions welcome!

velcrobott Mon 10-Jan-05 15:43:30

Good question....
Just enrolled my 3 1/2yo as she is keen but even at her age I am curious to see how much she'll progress in a term !

Beetroot Mon 10-Jan-05 15:44:14

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karen99 Mon 10-Jan-05 15:51:53

but when did they actually 'swim' by themselves beetroot? Do they learn the 'paddle' quickly and stay afloat?

Thx too velcrobott!

SuzySox Mon 10-Jan-05 15:56:50

I've been wondering this too. I have always taken dd swimming (have been slck for the last 3 months though)

She is now 2 and a half and I wonder if I should be thinking about lessons but she can't keep herself a float yet. Maybe I'm just a rubbish teacher but really don't think she 'gets' it. She just likes to jump in!

Not frightened of getting her face wet or going under but freaks if I try to get her on her back in the water. I wil be watching this thread with interest!

Beetroot Mon 10-Jan-05 16:06:02

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Beetroot Mon 10-Jan-05 16:06:51

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SDragon Mon 10-Jan-05 16:16:35

DSs both started at around 5 months or so. DS1 swam 5m unaided by 3y 7m, DS2 at 3y4m.

SDragon Mon 10-Jan-05 16:16:56

It's been the best money we've spent on them by far.

SDragon Mon 10-Jan-05 16:18:02

The age they manage it depends on when they get the coordination required to paddle, kisck and lift their head above the water to breath all at the same time. DS2 could swim 5m underwater by the time he was 3.

SuzySox Mon 10-Jan-05 16:19:58

yes, coodination has never been dd's strong point, think that is what it is rather than confidence - she loves water (always has) and even 'washes' her own hair; by tipping jugs of water over her head in the bath!

SDragon Mon 10-Jan-05 16:20:42

That's the main thing though (well, it was for me) that they're happy around water.

Slinky Mon 10-Jan-05 16:21:34

The best age for "proper" swimming ages is around 3/4yo. As Beety says, they need body strength and co-ordination which they are unlikely to have before that age.

Swimming lessons aimed at babies/toddlers are really just "water confidence" classes - which you can do yourself. I think these "organised" swimming lessons aimed at babies/toddlers are just a "marketing ploy" IMO.

Hulababy Mon 10-Jan-05 16:26:10

DD is 2y 9m and we have recently started going to the pool together at the gym, but not as lessons. We go 2-3 times a week. DH is a strong swimmer though and he is helping her along himself for now. I feel at under 3 she isn't ready for formal lessons, although we did a mums and babies play class when she was 4 months old for a year or so.

So far she is very confident in the water, but not dangerously so. We are very clear on teaching her about safety near water, as much as confidence in water.

Dd will splash and paddle, she will jump in from sitting standing, she goes under water, etc. herself and is happy to get her head and face wet.

DD uses arm bands though and with those she is learning to move in the water and to float. She keeps her head above the water and with her arm bands or a swimming foat can "doggy paddle" across the pool.

She isn't ready for no arm bands yet though, although DH is noticing her confidence increasing with each session and feels by this time next year she should be managing it on her own.

Hulababy Mon 10-Jan-05 16:27:37

slinky - the toddler and baby classes are great for parents who don't have a lot fo water confidence themselves though. They help you overcoe your own fears a bit and teach you what you can do with your own child safely, without your own fears geting in the way.

SDragon Mon 10-Jan-05 16:33:01

Actually, I'd disagree that they're just "water confidence" or a "marketing ploy". The are water safety, certainly because the babies at the class I went to learn to push up from the bottom of the pool and get their head back above wtaer to take a breath. This they can do before they have the ability to swim. It gives them a few vital extra seconds in an emergency.

The lessons I went to made it clear that they could not teach babies to swim because of strength/coordination but what they can teach is the ability to come up for air and also to turn back to the side and hold on to the edge so that, should they fall in, they stand a chance of getting hold of whatever they've just fallen off.

SDragon Mon 10-Jan-05 16:33:29

And they cured me of my "don't like being splashed" hatred

Slinky Mon 10-Jan-05 16:37:13

But Soupy, I taught my kids that myself anyway. I took my kids swimming from 13 weeks old, none of them have ever used armbands (I don't like them).

However, I appreciate from reading Hula's posts that not everyone is a confident swimmer (I'm an ex- competitive swimmer - Essex, and DH swam for Coventry), and obviously these types of courses help them as well as their babies.

KateandtheGirls Mon 10-Jan-05 16:40:12

You may not be able to teach a toddler to swim across the pool, but it is certainly possible to teach a one year old to get back to the wall if they fall in.

It's taken very serioulsy here in Florida, as so many people have their own pools. My little one will be starting formal swimming lessons in the Spring, right around when she turns 3, but plenty of kids start younger. These people are where she is going to go and they focus on survival skills for little ones. Being comfortable under the water, being able to float on your back to get a breath, and swimming back to the side. There are some very interesting little movies on that site of one year olds swimming.

SDragon Mon 10-Jan-05 16:41:17

Agree about armbands, personally I hate them too

Hulababy Mon 10-Jan-05 16:42:19

Those who's little ones will go under water for any length of time, other than just when jumping in and splashing I mean - how do you go about teaching that. I would love to be able to get DD having a go at something like that - for her own safety really. Curious to how it is gone about.

Hulababy Mon 10-Jan-05 16:43:28

And if you didn't use arm bands, how did you little ones support themselves int he water, before they do swim?

DD=, I am sure, would not being to keep herself afloat without them. And she does love the independence they give her.

SDragon Mon 10-Jan-05 16:46:16

Hula, you hold them

SDragon Mon 10-Jan-05 16:48:19

It's tricky to say how you teach them to do the swimming because it's all built on from previous lessons right from the start.

Slinky Mon 10-Jan-05 16:48:33


What I used to do with mine was this -

go under the water with them blowing bubbles. Eventually, I moved away from them and we'd swim towards each other, blowing bubbles. Mine have never worn armbands though, so it made it easier for them to go under.

Even at 5yo, DD2 actually prefers to swim underwater, which surprised her swimming teacher last year when she started lessons. The rest of the class were getting used to splashing faces, and DD2 jumped in and swam half a width underwater

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