Swimming lessons are a great way to bond with your baby. As a parent you can enjoy being in the water while watching and guiding them in their swimming development. Each individual skill and water safety drill your child learns and practices in the swimming pool is a building block to the bigger picture of learning to swim.
The age of your child will depend on the types of swimming skills you will work on within the lesson structure. Experienced and well educated swimming instructors will be able to recognise the physical developmental stage of your child and plan a swimming lesson that is suitable.
The following footage of swimming legend Laurie Lawrence demonstrates three important swimming skills for 12 month olds. These skills are:
- Deep water turns
- Gripping a high wall
These three skills are important because they are geared towards learning potentially life-saving water safety skills. Remember the skills performed by Harper in the video footage were taught over time, following a progression and without fear of force.
Deep water turns
For the 12 month old swimmer, practicing deep water turns can simulate what it may feel like to fall into a swimming pool (or other body of water) unexpectedly. It allows them to experiment with buoyancy and feeling the floating sensation that brings them to the surface of the water in order to obtain a breath. Ensuring the turn is performed quickly at the start of each submersion helps to condition the swimmer to turn around immediately – an important reflex if your child was ever to fall into water by mistake. Performing deep water turns with your little swimmers also helps to foster independence by allowing them the freedom to reach out and grip on rather than you picking them up.
Gripping the high wall
This activity is an extension for swimmers as they reach and grip onto something out of the water. This skill is harder than gripping onto a t-shirt in the water as swimmers need to work harder to support their own body weight without relying on buoyancy when they are lower in the water. Mastering this skill is important for young swimmers. If there is an accident your child may be able turn upon falling into the water (see previous skill) and grip on to the wall until help arrives. Once your child is a little older and physically capable this skill can be extended to climbing out of the swimming pool.
By encouraging swimmers to self-submerge it allows them to feel more independent and in control of their actions within the swimming lesson. They learn quickly how and when to hold their breath. Providing this opportunity for underwater exploration helps the swimmers to build their lung capacity. The longer little swimmers are able to hold their breath, the greater the distances they will be able to swim. If they find themselves in a dangerous situation, having good breath control can allow them the opportunity to swim to the side without ingesting any water. Children in the around the 12 month age group have difficulty lifting their head to breathe because of the size of their head in relation to their body. This skill is learned when swimmers are a little older and physically capable of doing so.
It is important to remember that it takes time, lots of practice and repetition to learn these important safety and swimming skills. The more you allow your child to practice the quicker they will be able to perform the skills. Harper attends two swimming lessons per week and has being doing so from 4 months of age. She is also given the opportunity to practice outside of scheduled swimming lessons through water play and exploration with her parents and other family members. Laurie Lawrence and the team at World Wide Swim School recommend regular swimming lessons and play time at the swimming pool to achieve great results and skill acquisition for your children in and around the water.