As a girl who grew up in the pool with parents who were lifeguards and competitive swimmers, I never had a fear of water or realized its dangers until I grew much older. I learned to swim with my parents so early that I have no memory of the learning process.
Swim Lesson Learned
When my son was born and our family moved to a Florida lake, I knew I wanted and needed him to learn to swim at a young age. But I didn’t know where to start.
When he was around age two, I started taking him to the popular local swim school for weekly lessons. He cried and cried for weeks but I kept at it. I knew the crying was normal but I was frustrated by how little progress he made as weeks and weeks went by. He was distracted by toys and other kids and couldn’t focus on the instruction.
Then, a friend told me about the specialized survival swim lessons her son was taking. At a playdate at her pool, I could see that her two-year-old son had quickly learned valuable survival skills. He didn’t just know how to swim in the shallow water along the steps. He was a confident swimmer, even in deep water.
But at the time, I was uncomfortable with the higher cost and time commitment of the survival swim lessons. Looking back, I wish I had given it more thought.
Instead, we took a break from swim lessons at age three. Maybe it will go better when he’s a little older, I thought.
Eventually at age four, my son started private swim lessons with Florida Elite Swimming at the Land O’ Lakes Recreation Complex. Some talented coaches worked one-on-one with him weekly and began teaching him strokes.
But still at age five, throw him into the deep end and he often panics and forgets how to swim. The impulse to put his head down and swim toward the wall is not there. It’s something we’re still working on developing to this day.
Why I Love Survival Swim Lessons
When my daughter was born, I knew I had to look into survival swim lessons. I wanted to give her a strong foundation of water safety skills at a young age.
Instead of weekly classes, survival swimming programs provide 10 minutes of customized one-on-one instruction four times per week for about six weeks. I know committing to take your child to an activity four times per week can be tough for many families, but this is not just any activity. It’s a potentially lifesaving, one-time course.
Repetitive techniques teach the child how to get to safety if they were to fall in the water. They use a swim-float-swim sequence to get to the wall. The repetition of the daily lessons and techniques helps the water safety skills taught to become second nature for the child.
In just six weeks with Ms. Emma’s Swim Academy in Tampa, my 19-month-old daughter became a smart, safe swimmer who could swim to safety from the middle of the pool. Ms. Emma first taught her to swim to the wall and then to float on her back. Once she was confident with those skills, she put them together. She taught my daughter to swim and then turn to her back to float and rest as she made her way to the wall.
While survival swim lessons are more expensive per week than most traditional swimming lessons, they are short-term programs that develop safe, independent swimmers. They are worth every penny in my opinion.
Don’t Put Off Swim Lessons
We live in a region surrounded by water. Drowning tragedies happen far too often here, and throughout the U.S. Most often, they involve young children. Survival swim lessons can prevent these tragedies and truly save lives.
Parent vigilance around water will always be critical. But knowing your child also has strong water safety skills provides peace of mind. When you have confidence in swimming, parents and kids alike can more fully enjoy the Florida lifestyle.
It’s never too early or too late to learn to swim.