The following is a letter written by the executive director of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, in response to a parent's request for "quickie" swimming lessons:
I heard from the US Swim Academy that you would like to take “quickie” swim lessons. A “guarantee” that your child can roll over or float is not a guarantee that your child will not drown. These lessons merely state that your child can roll over on their back when prompted by the instructor.
There is a big difference between survival lessons (quickie lessons) and water safety lessons. Building skills upon skills in a skills progression that builds one upon the other is the best way for your child to learn, any skill. Just like any other set of skills, like riding a bike or learning to read, you have to start and build your skills level. Once you learn one skill, you repeat and then learn another skill. Think of it like the learning to read. First, you have to learn to say your abc’s, then you learn to recognize the letters, then you learn to start putting the letters together, then your first word is cat. And that takes pretty much all of their first year of preschool. But once they learn these letters, it never leaves them because of the progression of learning. Swimming is exactly the same way.
In order for your child not to panic later in life in any water scenario, they have to have these skill sets ingrained in their memory. I would like to encourage you to rethink the “quickie” solution. Just like in tennis or anything else, you can’t learn any sport/skill in a week. It may take years, but you are building the necessary synapses for your child’s brain to develop into a smarter, more social, more coordinated child.