Google+ Authentic Parenting: Why Every Child Should Learn to Swim This Summer

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Why Every Child Should Learn to Swim This Summer

Content provided by Janice

If someone asked you what the most important life skill your child could learn this summer was, would
your answer be swimming? According to statistics from the Centre for Disease Control, that’s the right answer. Every single day, ten people die from unintentional drowning. Twenty per cent of that number are children under fifteen, making it the second most common cause of child death. For every one who perishes, a further five children have to receive emergency hospital treatment for injuries relating to near-drowning.

Ever Present Dangers
In an article which went viral in 2010, retired Coast Guard rescue swimmer Mario Vittone emphasised the importance of learning to swim: “A child should know how to swim, even if you rarely go swimming or don’t have access to a pool, beach or lake. The excuse ‘they won’t be around the water much anyway’ just doesn’t hold up when you realise there are pools at parks, at schools, at hotels. You can’t avoid the water your whole life.”

To reinforce Mario’s argument, consider that it doesn’t take a lot of water to pose a risk; even a backyard kiddie pool can be a source of danger, particularly for children under 4, who have the highest drowning rates. Studies have proven that a small child can drown in just two feet of water. From 2004 to 2006, forty-seven children drowned after becoming submerged in inflatable pools. All it takes is for a small child to lean over the side, overbalance, fall in and be unable to stand up quickly enough.

Learning to Swim
One common misapprehension is that swimming is an ‘automatic’ survival response which kicks in when children enter the water. However, both children and adults must be taught the necessary skills to stay afloat. The American Academy of Paediatrics has recommended that children over the age of four are all given formal swimming instruction, and also points to research demonstrating that children as young as one can reduce their drowning risk through taking lessons.

Fear can be a huge hurdle in learning to swim, so it’s important to take your child for informal swimming ‘lessons’ as early as you can, even if these consist of no more than blowing bubbles and floating on their backs. Some great aids to make children feel comfortable in the water are available as part of the Konfidence range, developed by a British couple to make their own children feel at ease in the water. Very young children who are comfortable in the water are likely to be much easier to teach to swim once they have the coordination to learn formal strokes.

If your child – or anyone else in your family – has yet to master this potentially life-saving skill, find a location near you and teach them. The ability to swim might one day save their life.


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