Learning to swim is an important developmental milestone that leaves children feeling accomplished and has parents breathing sighs of relief. We want our children to learn to swim, and look forward to the day when they learn to move around freely in the water. A great way to learn this valuable skill is through swim lessons. And the good news is you don’t have to wait for summer to roll back around to get your child started.
“Water is not seasonal, therefore water safety should not be seasonal!” says Lindsay Thayer, owner of Aqua-Tots Swim School in Indianapolis. “It’s important to prioritize swim lessons year round so there is not a regression in skills over the winter, and to keep water safety at the top of your mind. With the combination of formal swimming instruction, adult supervision and conversations on water safety, drownings are 100% preventable.”
Thayer says that parents and guardians should be speaking with their children about how to be safe around, and in, water on a regular basis. “By discussing safe boundaries, we can equip our children with the knowledge they need to know the dangers of water,” Thayer says. “Children also experience mental and health benefits such as lower stress levels, higher confidence, and happiness.”
Andrew Joseph, area manager for Goldfish Swim School in Carmel, agrees that children can retain skills, like swimming, much better if they are consistently practicing them. In addition to retaining the skills, swimming is also a great form of exercise during the dreary months.
“Exercise is a mood enhancer, and doing it at Goldfish with our tropical decor can definitely help with those winter blues,” Joseph says. “The social aspect of taking lessons in our current environment can be very helpful to kids, and the developmental aspect is always underrated. Swimming has been shown to hasten developmental abilities relating to social, spatial, cognitive and overall brain development.”
So, when should parents consider signing their children up for lessons? There is no better time to start than the present. The earlier children are introduced to the water, the greater the chance the child will feel comfortable.
With COVID-19 still at the forefront of everyone’s minds, some parents might feel a bit apprehensive about signing their children up for indoor lessons. However, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that chlorine water is not a conductor of COVID-19. Many swim schools and places that offer swimming are also stepping up their cleaning and safety measures.
“At Goldfish, we have spaced classes six feet apart, stepped up cleaning procedures between every class, and are encouraging social distancing and mask use in the facility,” Joseph says. “We also have changed traffic flow in the facility, and ask that you arrive only five minutes prior to lessons. We are only allowing one caregiver per swimmer to promote more social distancing.”
Aqua-Tots also has systems in place to ensure the safety of those entering their building. “At Aqua-Tots, we developed our Full Circle of Safety Program to enhance our health and safety measures,” Thayer says. “These extraordinary safety protocols include limiting our visitors to one parent or guardian per child, face coverings required when in the lobby, instructors wearing face shields in the pool, a cleaning attendant on duty at all times sanitizing common surface areas, limited touchpoints and staggered swim lesson times to avoid any crowding.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, participating in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% in children between the ages of 1 to 4 years old. Not only will year-round swim lessons teach your child the skills they need to keep them safe around the water, but they will also provide fun exercise in the cold-weather months as they splash and kick the winter blues away.