Swimming is a fantastic form of exercise and a major component of many spring break trips and summer break fun. But parents should remember that swimming also comes with risk. Follow these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics to protect children from drowning.
- Children over age 1 may be at a lower risk of drowning if they have had some formal swimming instruction. However, there is no evidence that swimming lessons or water survival skills courses can prevent drowning in babies younger than 1 year of age.
- Everyone should learn to swim – Participation in formal swim lessons can reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning death by 88%.
- The decision to enroll a child over age one in swimming lessons should be made by the parent based on the child’s developmental readiness and exposure to water, but swim programs should never be seen as “drown proofing” a child of any age.
- Avoid inflatable swimming aids such as “floaties.” They are not a substitute for approved life jackets and can give children and. parents a false sense of security.
Copyright © 2018 American Academy of Pediatrics. Copyright © 2018 American Academy of Pediatrics
What should I look for when choosing swim lessons?
Look for classes and instructors that follow guidelines focused not just on swim stroke techniques, but broader water survival competency skills. All children should learn how to get back to the surface from under water, propel themselves at least 25 yards, and get out of the water, for example. Instructors should evaluate children’s progress and give ongoing feedback on their skill levels.
Have experienced, qualified instructors. Swim instructors should be trained and certified through a nationally recognized learn-to-swim curriculum. There should also be lifeguards on duty who have current CPR and First Aid certification.
- Teach good safety habits in, on, and near water. Children should learn to never swim alone or without adult supervision. Instructors should teach children to always ask for permission from parents, lifeguards, or swimming instructors before they get into a pool or natural bodies of water like a lake.
- Teach what to do if they end up in the water unexpectedly. This includes practicing water competency skills such as self-rescue. Lessons should provide training with a variety of realistic conditions, such as falling in and swimming in clothes. Older children also should learn what to do if they see someone else in the water who is struggling, and how to get help.
- Let you watch a class first to see first-hand if it is right for your child. Not all swim lessons are created equal, and parents should investigate options to choose the best fit. Are they swimming most of the time, or are there long periods of inactivity where they are waiting for their turn? Do children get one-on-one attention? Are the instructors friendly and knowledgeable?
- Require multiple sessions. Once children start lessons, you should be able to see gradual but consistent progress in their abilities over time. Continue lessons at least until your they master basic water competency skills.
American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2019)
Joining a summer swim team can be an enjoyable way for you child to improve swimming skills and meet new friends. Knoxville and the surrounding area has several teams that offer programs for preschool children to high school teens. Kids of all skill levels are able to participate. For more information check out the Greater Knoxville Area Interclub Swimming Association (GKAISA) website at gkaisa.swimtopia.com
Have a fun and safe summer!