“I was amazed last week when I had girls over to swim from my daughter’s girl scout troop. Many of these girls had to wear water wings because they couldn’t swim. Their mother’s didn’t even get in the water because they couldn’t swim. I tried to work with the girls and help them and eventually we took off the wings, but some of them need lessons. I really need to find a way to incorporate this into a scout lesson in the fall and get these mother’s in the water as well. I will look for a service that can help us.”
This is a concerned mother’s comment on an article in the Sun Sentinel about the signs of drowning. We have all probably noticed this phenomenon of children not knowing how to swim. The next logical question that should come to mind is: Why? Why don’t they know how to swim yet? Why aren’t these parents enrolling their children in swim lessons?
But, before we go into the why of the matter, let’s look at a different why. Why does it matter that kids get swim lessons? “According to a 2009 study conducted by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Heath and Human Development, children who participate in formal swimming lessons are less likely to drown. The study found that among 61 children ages 1—4 who had died from drowning, only three percent had ever taken formal swimming lessons. By contrast, 26 percent of the children in the general population had received some type of formal lessons. In addition, parent interviews reflected that only five percent of the swimmers who drowned could float on their back for 10 seconds, while 18 percent of those who didn’t drown could float for at least 10 seconds.”
And there are several possible answers to the question of why parents aren’t signing their kids up for swim lessons. But, none of them justify the decision to postpone swim lessons for your child. For some parents, it is just a matter of laziness. They just haven’t gotten around to it, like anything else on their long lists of things to do as a parent. But, this one needs to be moved to the top of the list. We are talking about our children’s lives here.
Cost may be another issue that is keeping parents from getting their children in swim lessons. I’m not going to go into much detail on that reason here, because I have already written a whole piece on it. You can read it here.
Some parents may also be worried for health reasons. They may be wary of the chlorine in the pool affecting their child’s skin, breathing, or allergies. But, it would take an extreme amount of exposure to become a health risk. Parents might also think children could ingest too much water and that this could also lead to health issues. But, today’s instruction methods are much gentler; children are no longer being plunged into the water at most pools.
Others may also have had bad experiences and may have been scared off of lessons all together. I know that this is the case for me. I am ashamed to say, especially as someone who works for a swim school, that my children have yet to have ongoing swim lessons. And this is mostly due to a bad experience a few years back with an old-school instructor.
But, I am proud to say, my kids are starting swim lessons tomorrow! Better late than never. But, I wish I had started years ago and not given up. My children would be much safer around water and I wouldn’t have to worry as much as I do when they are near water. Summer hasn’t even officially begun and we have already had two days at a pool and one at the beach. These kids need to know how to swim!