Splashing around at the local lido or in the hotel pool is an appealing activity for a summer’s afternoon. And for the novice swimmer, there are myriad milestone moments to bring a smile to his face. There’s the time your child first slips off his armbands to execute those first triumphant solo strokes of doggy paddle. The moment when those rookie strokes streamline into the sure-limbed sweeps of front crawl, back crawl and breaststroke. Even holding his breath and diving down to touch the floor of the pool holds a certain thrill for your child. And, for those who want to take their aqua odyssey to the next level, the dizzy heights of the diving board or the technical challenge of the butterfly stroke beckon.
Swimming is a pleasurable and confidence-boosting skill from which your child will reap many rewards. But sadly lots of children are missing out, with a recent report by the Amateur Swimming Association revealing that one in three children leaves primary school without being able to swim a length of the pool. Even very young children can enjoy swimming. Babies, who not too long ago were basking in an amniotic oasis, will feel right at home in the water.
To help a young child gain confidence, there’s lots you can do in the bathtub at home – from helping him get used to the feeling of water on his face to blowing bubbles under the water and even practising a few strokes. Naturally, it’s a good idea to enrol your child in swimming lessons – a good teacher will always ensure your child feels safe and will let him go at his own pace. Learning about water safety is vital. Teach your child not to run or push by the pool, to pay attention to safety signs and, on the beach, to recognise the different safety flags – red for danger, red and yellow for areas patrolled by lifeguards, and black and white for areas used by watercraft, such as kayaks, where swimming is not allowed.
This article previously appeared in Junior magazine as a print article