Many parents enter their child in swim lessons so that they can learn how to be safe in the water – accidental drowning is a big concern for the very youngest children, aged 1-4 years. But with the initial classes completed, many parents wonder how long they should keep children going for lessons.
Often when parents start seeing their child learning how to swim, lose their fear of the water and begin to navigate more efficiently in water, their fears ease. The more that children become independent and comfortable in a water environment, parents often begin to wonder how long they should keep their children enrolled in swim classes.
While there is not specific number of classes that children need, it really depends on the individual needs and desires of the child. There are distinct advantages for letting children continue swimming lessons beyond the first basic classes. Continuing swim classes can allow students to continue to strengthen skill sets that parents may not even be aware of.
Moving Beyond the Basics
In the early classes, your child will learn how to blow bubbles and submerge their faces under the water. They will also learn how to hold their breath under water, float on their backs and front crawl. They should also learn how to get items from the bottom of the pool and bring them to the surface. These are valuable skills for anyone that is in or around the water. It helps the individual be safe and take care of themselves in a water environment.
If a child is initially afraid of the water, seeing them take more control is an amazing step. With the water safety goals achieved, it may be tempting to discontinue swim lessons. There is more available to learn though. If your child is still interested in swimming, they can reap the benefits of more extensive programs.
Advancing the Swim Strokes
Early swim lessons teach students how to protect themselves in water and greatly reduce their risk of potentially drowning. As they proceed beyond the front crawl, they begin to learn more advanced swim strokes. Each new swim stroke makes them learn how to put their bodies in a new position and use different muscles – this also allows swimmers to be able to swim farther and more effectively if they find themselves in a situation where this is required.
You’ll also see your child beginning to swim through these different strokes simply because it’s fun. If they do find themselves in a dangerous situation, they have a tool set to draw from. Alternating strokes allows a swimmer to allow some muscles to rest when they become tired. All of this not only works for the safety of the child but also their enjoyment of the water.
Some children really take to the water so that opens them to more opportunities. They can consider competitive swimming. This will require more focus on building endurance and perfecting their strokes but it can also build confidence and personal strength. As they continue with their swim classes, they will learn strokes like the breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly and sidestroke which will take them beyond the simple front crawl.
For children who enjoy their swimming lessons, there is the option to allow them to begin to compete. This makes children focus on developing their skills and learn the true nature of competition. If they are interested, it allows them to continue to focus on their skills and build camaraderie with their team members. Many local programs put on swim meets to allow students to compete. Swim instructors realize that this is a way to keep students interested and focus on areas where more development is needed.
Even if your child is not interested in competitive swimming, continuing lessons provides them with many health benefits. Swimming is one of the best exercise programs because it targets all of the major muscle groups of the body. While working your abdomen, back, legs, shoulders and arms, you’ll realize that you’re also having fun. For most people, swimming doesn’t seem like exercise – which makes it even more appealing.
As a low-contact sport, swimming presents fewer stresses to the joints, which means there is a lower risk of injury. This makes swimming a better option for many children and parents. For instance, children with asthma can strengthen their muscles and experience fewer episodes in a moist environment. And one study from Australia has found that children who swim demonstrate more advanced cognitive skills than other children, as well as superior physical abilities.
The main reason to continue swim lessons is to ensure that kids know how to keep themselves out of danger in the water. Different techniques can help them stay afloat and give time for an adult or other water watcher to reach them and take them to safety if a child is swept out by the current, for instance, or if as they grow older they’re around an unsupervised swimming hole, where accidents can happen.
Initially the goal for parents is to help a child understand water safety and how to be better prepared should an emergency happen. Soon thereafter, by continuing swim classes, students learn to have fun in the water safely. The skills learned during swim classes will last a lifetime, and the advantages with other water-based recreations open life up considerably.