How To Teach Your Child To Swim

by Pool Builders on 04-12-2008 in Articles

Most children love to play in the water. Splashing and playing during bath time can be the early stages of teaching your child how to swim. While in the bath tub they can begin to put their heads under the water and get used to how this feels. One of the best ways to teach your child how to swim is as simple as taking them to a pool as often as you can. If you have a pool of your own it is imperative that your child learn how to swim as early as possible. A young child can so quickly go out of the house and get in the pool without the parent or caregiver knowing they are gone.

I taught my boys and my grandchildren how to swim by simply by taking them to the pool as often as I could. When my boys were two and three my sister and her husband, who lived across the street from us put in a pool. The pool was completed in August. My oldest son was three and learned to swim before the summer was over. We took a trip at the end of the summer and were staying at a motel. My son was swimming well enough to go off the diving board by himself. When we first came out to the pool he headed straight for the diving board. I watched the people sitting around the pool. The closer he got to the board the closer they were to jumping out of their chairs and diving in the water to save him. He jumped in off the board and swam to the side of the pool. The people leaned back in their chairs and grinned at one another.

Our younger son was a little more cautious and took a little bit longer to learn how to swim. You have to work at their speed and not try to force anything on them. Certainly not the "throw them in the pool and tell them. 'sink or swim.'" To begin with, hold them and go under water with them and right back up. When they are comfortable with going under water, have them stand on the side of the pool and jump to you. When they jump, allow them to go underwater and bring them right back up. Move back a distance in which they are comfortable, and let them jump in and swim to you, beginning with very short distances, such as two or three feet.

We have three grand sons that are 14 months apart. By the time they came along we lived in a neighborhood that had a neighborhood pool. They learned to swim at two and three. They have birthdays in September, October and November, so they were close to being three and four. When we got to the stage of them jumping in and swimming to me, I would line them up and they would jump in one at a time and swim to me. The first one that reached me I would lift him around to my back on one side where he could hold on. The second one I would lift around to my other side and I would hold the third one in front of me and then carry them to the ladder. Where they would get out and we would do the same thing again and again. I felt like the mother monkey carrying her young on her back. We had a good time. When we took breaks, I put the little arm floaties on them. I am a little hesitant to use floaties or life preservers on young children, because they do give a false sense of security for the child, but sometimes they are necessary. It is important that you spend time in showing your children when they first begin that they are unable to stay above water by themselves. Don't scare them, but tell them you are going to let them go to show them they cannot swim yet. Our youngest grandson had no fear, so I had to watch him more closely than the others. He jumped in once by himself and of course went under. He was paddling frantically, but did not take in any water. I was about four feet from him so I was able to get to him quickly. Fortunately he was a quick learner and never did that again. As it turned out he learned to swim a couple of weeks before the other two older boys did because he was not afraid for me to back up more. Before they jumped, I would let them set how far back they wanted me to be in the water. Because they set the limits and I honored their limits, they learned to trust me and knew I would not do anything to hurt or scare them.

My oldest granddaughter who is 3 years older than the boys learned to swim early in the summer when she was three years old. Since she was our first and only grandchild at the time, I was able to giver her my undivided attention. By July she was going off the diving board. I was always in the deep end with her by the exit ladder. After diving she swam up to me beside the pool. She asked me if I could touch the bottom of the pool which was about 9 feet where we were. I went down and touched the bottom and came up. After I came up, she wanted to try it. She was so buoyant she could not go down very far. After trying to get to the bottom on her own several times she finally asked me to push her down. We were at our neighborhood pool with 2 life guards and neighbors sitting around the pool. I could only think about what they might think if they saw me pushing my granddaughter under water. My granddaughter would not let up. She was not going to hush until I helped her touch the bottom of the pool, so I pushed her down with both hands on her shoulders and looking around to see if anyone was watching us. Even with my help on her shoulders she could not go all the way down. She was very disappointed and told me to push her harder. So I pushed her down with my hands then down with my feet on her shoulders. I was concerned that I would be taken away for child abuse and my flimsy excuse of "But she told me to do it" would not stand up in court. She was able to touch the bottom with the "hand and foot push" procedure and came up very happy and saying, "do it again Nanna." Which, of course, I did after checking the visual field of those around me.

We have very happy memories of those swimming days. Four of five of my grandchildren are teenagers now and still love to swim and I enjoy seeing them swim. I am looking forward to teaching my great-grandchildren how to swim.

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