Not just why start swimming, but why start so early?
When I think back, although my mum took me to swimming pools when I was young, we probably didn’t start formal swimming lessons until just before or school age. Nowadays there’s a plethora of baby activity lessons which you can join while you’re on maternity leave, and hopefully continue once your child’s a toddler.
Swimming wasn’t the first on my list of activities. Although I enjoy swimming, once you get out of the habit of it, it’s horrendous thinking of going back to it, especially with a child in tow. So why did we start?
Ultimately all the activities I took N to were activities that I was interested in or felt would give him a good start and breadth of interest: music (a structured class which we both loved and I wish he’d been able to continue once I was back at work…unfortunately like so many baby and toddler classes, weekend classes don’t exist), local children’s centres with free play, and then swimming.
Admittedly, I was probably prompted by the fact that the local Water Babies office was round the corner from one of my NCT friends, and she organised for most of us to get on the same class. It was chance for me to catch up with my friends as well as giving N a start in the water. I thought we’d do the year of the baby course and that would be it. But we’re still going (even through the rough bits).
What do we get out of it apart from the social aspect?
I think it’s so important that children learn to swim, and that they learn to be safe round water (especially with the recent news saying that one in three children leave primary school unable to swim). We’re definitely learning techniques to help N learn to hold on to the side, learn to turn in the water to get to the side, and how to get in and out of the pool safely. Mind you, underneath he must know how to hold on properly to the side, but he still dislikes doing it.
I’m definitely keen on the safety issue and probably most parents are. The video here did the rounds last week on social media, and it just highlights that there’s so much we don’t actually know, and how important it is to be a strong swimmer.
It’s amazing to see the tiny babies (well, tiny in comparison to my 2 year old lump) in the class before us, loving being in the water and having fun with their parents. And it’s amazing to think how far N’s come since he started when he was 3-4 months. Just shows how natural being in the water is for most children.
My theory is to get him started early, then we’ll not have to worry about him having to learn while he’s at school. It’s worth the Saturday slots, although it’s hard when weekend plans come up. When that happens I try and take him the Sunday afterwards to make up for it. Doesn’t always happen but he loves swimming so much now, it’s great to see him kicking away, blowing bubbles and doing his tiger arms…well, N’s tiger arms are more like breast stroke. Never one to follow the rules, my son!
When did you start your children swimming and how did they take to it?