One of the questions we are continually asked is how long it will take a child to learn to swim. The truth is – we really don’t know! This is such a hard question to answer – there are so many factors that come into play when considering this. These factors will be discussed in this article and may give you a better understanding of what helps children to learn to swim.
What Is The Reason For Attending Swimming Lessons?
Some children attend swimming lessons after a fright in the water or bad experience. These swimmers will obviously take longer to relax and feel comfortable in the water.
There are other children who haven’t had a fright but have never been exposed to water. They too may take a little longer to acclimate into the watery environment.
Some swimmers may have spent lots of time splashing and playing in the water so may start off quite confident even though they don’t have any official swimming technique in the water.
Does the swimmer actually want to learn or are they attending because their parent wants them to?
These factors and many more will contribute to the speed in which a child learns to swim.
What Is Their Prior Experience?
If a child has had lessons before this may impact the rate of their learning. Whether or not they enjoyed their lessons will be another factor in their learning.
Prior experience in the water in general will also impact learning. Have they spent much time in the water? Pool, beach, rivers, dams etc are all bodies of water that swimmers may have played in prior to attending lessons.
How Often Do They Swim?
If a swimmer attends 1 lesson per week for the entire year without missing a session, the total amount of time participating in a lesson is 26 hours for an entire year. Within that lesson there will be times where the swimmer is listening to instruction or waiting for their turn, which will bring the practise time down even further.
The more a child can practise their skills, the faster they will learn. Attending 2 lessons per week gives a child a good kick-start to their learning journey.
Practise not only occurs in swimming lessons but in play. If swimmers have the opportunity to play in home pool, friends pool or at the local public pool between swimming lessons they will improve exponentially.
Do They Spend Time With Older Swimmers?
Many children learn from watching older siblings or friends. If swimmers are playing/watching their older peers they may try to “keep up” or copy and become better at certain skills during this time.
Do They Have Processing Difficulties or Physical Challenges?
All individuals learn differently. Those with additional needs may need support and patience to learn at their own pace. Some may enjoy the solitude of being underwater or the freedom they feel with floating and may learn at a faster pace than expected.
Are They Consistent in Their Attendance?
Does your swimmer miss lessons due to sickness, other commitments, lethargy and more? As discussed previously, the more a child can practise their skills the faster their skill acquisition will be.
Do They Swim All Year Round?
Swimmers who participate in lessons throughout the entire year will have a better chance at progressing faster than those who take a break.
If parents are considering giving children a break throughout the year the best time to do that is in the Summer time, especially if they spend a lot of time in the water during this time. Their skills will continue throughout the Summer if they are exposed to the beach/pool/water etc. During the Winter most swimmers don’t get much time in the water so that would be the best time to attend lessons if a family had to choose a season to swim.
This article has discussed many questions that may arise in being a factor in how long it will take a child to swim. Of course there are so many individual factors for each situation that every swimmer will be different.
Remember to consider that each and every swimmer is an individual and will learn at a different pace.
Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.