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to think the restrictive adult-child ratios at swimming pools...

62 replies

ILoveDrKarl · 31/05/2011 21:00

...will only result in a generation of children who can't swim?

This has bothered me for years, but now that I have 4 children, (6, 3 & 9m DTs) it bothers me more and more.

For example... we're going away this weekend and have looked at the websites of the 2 local swimming pools in the city and discovered that we can't take out children swimming with us! My son who can swim confidently will have to wear armbands as he does not have a "certificate of proficiency" from an official swimming instructor. Even with the armbands he would have to stay in the small pool as none of the other children are allowed in the big pool as it's age 4 and over only, and I am not allowed to stay with the 3 younger children on my own in the small pool. It even says that any adults seen to be breaking the rules will have to leave the pool along with all other members of their family. (OK - so we can go, but it will be crap for my son who would actually like to swim!)

This might seem extreme, but sadly I don't think it's unusual. (and yes, I do know that 4 children isn't the norm - but again, it's not THAT unusual!)

It's not just big families that have problems either - in most pools I've come across families with 3 children (any of whom are uner 8) can only go swimming with both parents. This means that most families can only go swimming at weekends when both parents are around, but of course this is when the pools are most busy. It's also discriminatory against single parents who have more than 1 child - when do they ever get to go? (for me as a mother of DTs too it's a nightmare that right now seems never ending - in some pools I've been to in the past I will only be able to take my DTs swimming on my own once they are over 5!)

Gone are the days when you could go swimming as a family, teach your kids to swim and just enjoy the water! Swimming is such a valuable life skill and it's also a great, cheap family activity! Not to mention that it's a great form of exercise which (last time I checked) the government are trying to get everyone to do more of - but these restrictions are making it so difficult that I do believe we're going to look back in 10 years at a whole groups of children who can't swim because they've never had the opportunity to learn, practise and enjoy it.

OP posts:

onepieceofcremeegg · 31/05/2011 21:04

The rules vary so it may be worth trying several local pools. For example, our local council pool is very strict, 1 parent to 1 child if under 8 or non-swimmer. A neighbouring council pool (different council) happy for you to take 2 children.

We are very lucky in that we have recently been able to afford membership at a local hotel pool. The other day there was a lovely woman in their with 3 under 7. All had armbands and she was in full control. Afaik the pool has no strict rules.

Tbh I find it more of a struggle with my 7 year old who can swim but is a little overconfident. dd2 who is 3 is always in armbands/floaty car and much safer on the whole.


onepieceofcremeegg · 31/05/2011 21:05

See if you can get a day pass/trial for a hotel/gym pool. Often it is easy to get this type of offer/voucher so you could take them occasionally even if you can't afford to join. :)


BranchingOut · 31/05/2011 21:06

I have never given this much thought, as I only have one toddler at present. But I know that I would find it difficult to hold him in the water and also keep an eye on any more than one other child.

How do you hold both your twins?


ILoveDrKarl · 31/05/2011 21:10

They have floatie seats so are perfectly secure! Both my older children where confident with armband from about 15 months and so my plan would be to get the twins used to arm bands one at a time while the other one stayed in the seat. It's certainly doable!

OP posts:

darleneoconnor · 31/05/2011 21:15

I think the rules are for 2 main reasons. There was a boy a couple of years ago who was allowed to go swimming alone (with his mum in the viewing area) at age 7 and he died. I can see why no one wants this to happen again (or to be suedHmm). Secondly, and more cynically I think the pools want to make money by forcing parents to pay for lessons rather than teaching their kids themselves.

Around here the rule is 1:1 for under 4s, 1:2 for 4-7s. 8yo can go in alone. However I think this is too young. My ds is 8 and there is NO WAY i'd let him go swimming alone. Prob not until 10+.

I do think 2 adults should be allowed to take 3 under 4s if they are all in baby swim seat things or armbands AND rings.


moomaa · 31/05/2011 21:35

I have a 3 pre schoolers, the older two have had swimming lessons from 4 months and there is NO WAY I would take all of them swimming on my own.

If I ran a swimming pool there is no way I would let a person in with two 9 month olds and a 3 year old, let alone a 6 year old as well. It is not safe. If you are faffing around with arm bands and seats for 9 month olds how would you be watching the 3 year old? A 3 year old has no judgement with regard to what they can and can't do, especially if they are over confident. I have seen a 3 year old get part of their costume stuck in a drain in a way that could have been nasty if the life guard hadn't been right onto it (Kid's own fault they were messing around with it). Those seats you put babies in are not fool proof. What if some bored 6 year olds were jumping in and one of the twins floated under them? They need supervision.

It won't result in a generation that can't swim because lots of people who can't/won't take their DCs swimming themselves still take them to swimming lessons.


Lindax · 31/05/2011 21:44

IMO YABU, it may be doable, but the leisure center is responsible for assessing the risk and keeping your children safe. 1 adult with 2-3 very young children is way too risky.


OmniaParatus · 31/05/2011 21:53

YANBU, DS1 is 3.10, DD 2.4, DS2 10 weeks. Due to the rules in our local pool, we can't take them swimming with just DH and I for the next 2 years, even though the baby pool is small and we could easily monitor all 3. The pool has been shut for 2.5 years for maintenance which cost millions of pounds, and has reopened without even a soft play centre, so that is millions of pounds of council tax money wasted for a building we and other young families can't use at all.
Meanwhile, they are closing a third of the play parks in the town to save money. I wonder how they expect children to get any exercise at all.


AuntiePickleBottom · 31/05/2011 22:03

i have never given this a thought, but i think it's a sensible way to ensure the saftey of young children.

i would never dream of taking my 2 children swimming on my own, far to risky


rubyrubyruby · 31/05/2011 22:11

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SuchProspects · 31/05/2011 22:13

YANBU. Parents should be responsible for assessing and balancing risk and benefit for their own family. Where there have been problems that effect other users rules are reasonable. But if it's just your family that's impacted it's your responsibility - only the illegal should be banned. Council run institutions especially should not be trying to insist on a particular style of parenting. Should only the rich be able to bring up their children as they see fit?


DorisIsAPinkDragon · 31/05/2011 22:14

I am with you OP,( although 4 would be too many for me and dh).

I have 3 dd's locally to us we can take them swimming as a family but go away to visit my parents in Scotland and we need an extra adult (which is a pain in the arse). dd1 has swimming lessons and is reasonably confident but when swimming as a family is not allowed to take her back float off) the other 2 do need more supervision but it's reasonably manageable.

There are many many parents who can not afford weekly swimming lessons (or who do not priortise them) who are put off by restrictions imposed. I agree that the're will be a significant proportion of the new generation who will be non or very poor swimmers.


NickRobinsonsloveslave · 31/05/2011 22:17

OP this is so sad, but true unfortunately. My youngest has never been swimming due to this draconian rule.


bigbuttons · 31/05/2011 22:17

It 's shit I have 6 kids. My older three escaped this stupid rule and are excellent swimmers. My younger three hardly ever go swimming because as the only person prepared to take them in (d) p isn't, they hardly get to go. So this stupid law is absolutely stopping children from learning to swim and will in the end cause a lot more deaths than it has lives saved.


280169 · 31/05/2011 22:22

yabu most leisure centres follow ISRM Guidelines on ratios, they do not want to upset people or turn away income but they have to follow the protocol.It is fine to say aprents re responsible etc etc but the truth is many are not.
I work at a pool and some parents are very un safe.

The guidelines are there to protect children and staff at the centres.


goinnowhere · 31/05/2011 22:28

I am amazed that so many people think these rules are ok. Parents know their children, and how safe they are likely to be. I understand that pools may be wary of four young children and one adult, but until recently I could not take my very sensible seven year old who can swim, and my not quite so sensible, nearly four year old, even in the baby pool. Seems singularly unjoyous.


exoticfruits · 31/05/2011 22:29

It is such a shame. Mine are less than 2 yrs apart and I took them from babies, luckily in those days health and safety hadn't gone mad.
I can follow that it is there to protect staff 280169 but I don't recall DCs drowning in the 'old days'.
I could manage 2 DCs quite easily. They are far more likely to drown now they can't go swimming when they want to. If I went with another adult they already had at least one DC so would have been no help. I reckon we would have cut down the swimming to about one tenth.


PacificDogwood · 31/05/2011 22:34

Another expample of Anxious Society gone mad Sad. Or is a matter of "something went wrong; there must be somebody to sue blame"?
I have the same problem with 4 DCs (but no twins!). I do not expect and don't want the leisure centre/swimming pool to be responsible for assessing the risk of us going swimming together - surely that is my responsibility as their parent??
Elf'n'Safety has a lot to answer for and I dread the swing of the pendulum when it goes over the top in the other direction as it no doubt will in due course...

OiYouThere · 31/05/2011 22:41

As an aside, by what age should a child ideally be able to swim/crawl to the side in a safe manner? Obviously as early as possible, but by what age would you expect a child to be able to, if that makes sense?

And what age should they stop wearing armbands? Again, obviously only once they can swim, but at what age would it be considered weird to be seen wearing them?

My children have swimming lessons now, but I fear I may have been late off the mark due to financial constraints and I would have for them to be mocked by their peers.

To the OP, I used to take my two swimming and try to teach them myself when I could afford to. But dont most children get swimming lessons at school? There seems to be a competitive element at our school in regards to the fact that no-one want their child to be the only one in the class not being able to swim when the classes start in year 3, so all parents seems to be enrolling their children earlier and earlier to get a head start. This is a good thing safety wise, and I wish I had been able to do it earlier for that reason, but at our school the motivation seems to be being left behind in the class, not to teach water safety. I wish I had more money!!


ronshar · 31/05/2011 22:45

My youngest child only had his first public pool swimming outing when he was two. My middle child was unable to go near a pool until she was three. I am only now able to take all three of my children out as a family to the local swimming pool.

It is a joke that when I was a member at a well known gym I could have been able to take all three of my children swimming at the same time!


Meglet · 31/05/2011 22:54


I'm lucky that our local authority pool will let me take my 2 non-swimming pre-schoolers in on my own.

FWIW I only take them when the pool is quiet, I wouldn't attempt to supervise them in a busy pool.


meditrina · 31/05/2011 23:06

Does anyone know where statistics on driwnings/near misses in a) public pools b) private/club/hotel pools c) the sea and d) otherwater might be found? Ideally comparative stats covering the period before and after rules were brought in?

I was under the impression that drownings in life-guarded pools was very rare even before these regulations, and have never seen evidence about level of parental supervision as a contributory factor. Does anyone know where it can be found?

These regulations are clearly well-intentioned, but that does not in itself make them necessary. But if anyone can signpost the evidence, then I'm sure all will become clear.


LyingWitchInTheWardrobe2726 · 01/06/2011 00:38

I wonder if parents would be willing to take the responsibility for their children's safety themselves then? No liability or risk of being sued attaching to the local authority?

With the culture of blaming and claiming the way it is right now, is it any wonder that pools are being safeguarded and the rules being enforced? If you want to take multiple children into a pool, take them into an unattended one - and be responsible for them yourself.


cat64 · 01/06/2011 01:11

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn

piprabbit · 01/06/2011 02:47

The rules say that my DS needs 1-2-1 attention when we are swimming.
My DD is over 5yo and only needs 2-2-1 attention.

So I can't take my two children swimming until DD is 8yo (when she needs no attention Hmm).

As there is a 4 year age gap - this means that I have been unable to take my children swimming on my own since 2008. Roll on December 2011.

My DD has swimming lessons, and the centre recommends that she goes swimming at least once a week (in addition to the lesson) to practice her skills. We can't arrange this on a regular basis because we need two adults (either to take both DCs swimming, or to babysit DS at home while DD swims).

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