Here at California Family Fitness, we truly enjoy having the opportunity to teach both children and adults to swim. Knowing how to swim is an important safety skill, plus there are additional health benefits to being able to swim confidently, including getting a full-body workout that is easy on the joints, the reduction of anxiety and stress, and increased energy levels. With so many reasons for swimming to become a life-long activity, we're frequently asked what the best age is to begin learning to swim.
There are several factors that determine the answer to that question. The easiest way to answer is by saying, "As soon as your child is ready!" That varies from child to child, but it might be at a younger age than you would guess. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends recommends swim lessons as a layer of protection against drowning that can begin for most children after their first birthday.
At Cal Fit, we are able to accommodate the needs of new swimmers regardless of age.
- Children younger than four will typically be encouraged to feel comfortable in the water and learn basic safety skills both in and out of the pool. It's about helping young children to be able to relax so that they can learn some of the early skills of swimmers, including kicking and floating. You could say that it's more about acclimation to the water than formal swim coaching--there will be lots of games, splashing, and even singing!
- Children four and older are typically developmentally ready to begin learning more specific swim skills. For the preschool set, swim lessons are still fairly playful, but there's a lot of skill-building mixed in with the fun. Young children usually start with blowing bubbles, floating, and kicking, before learning to jump in on their own. Our trained instructors can work with one or several kids and practice using kickboards, swimming with noodles, and treading water.
- Ask children get older and more experienced in the water, we have plenty of options to help them continue building skills and even training for competition. And don't forget--it's never too late to learn to swim! We are happy to work with adults who would like to gain confidence in the water, too.
One important thing to note is that swimming lessons don't "drown-proof" children. Swim lessons are just one of several tools to utilize to keep your child safe around the water. Some important water safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics include these:
Never leave children alone in or near the pool or spa, even for a moment; close supervision by a responsible adult is the best way to prevent drowning in children.
Whenever children under age 5 are in or around water, an adult – preferably one who knows how to swim and perform CPR – should be within arm's length, providing "touch supervision."
Install a fence at least 4 feet high around all four sides of the pool. The fence should not have openings or protrusions that a young child could use to get over, under, or through.
Keep rescue equipment (a shepherd's hook – a long pole with a hook on the end — and life preserver) and a portable telephone near the pool. Choose a shepherd's hook and other rescue equipment made of fiberglass or other materials that do not conduct electricity.
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.