When should your child stop learning to swim?
Learning to swim is fabulous fun, fantastic for fitness and a key part of any child’s development.
As a parent, you may be planning your family summer holiday and want to be able to make a splash together in the pool? Or perhaps you just want a regular activity you can share; one that keeps your little one(s) happy and healthy?
After all, swimming helps keep your heart and lungs in good condition, builds strength and flexibility in your muscles and joints, and even boosts balance and posture.
And, of course, there’s an even more vital reason for wanting your child to learn to swim… because it can also save their life.
Sadly, there were 226 accidental drownings in the UK alone last year, and drowning remains among the leading causes of death for children aged 5-14.
That’s why it’s so important that all children are able to achieve what’s known as ‘water competency’.
But what does that mean? When should a child start to learn? And, just as importantly, how do you know when to stop?
What is water competency?
One important and well-established landmark is being able to swim a standard ‘length’ (25 metres) unaided, but water competency goes far beyond this.
According to Swim England, it means being able to ‘anticipate, avoid, and survive common drowning situations’. Not only that, it’s having the ability to recognise and aid others who are in need of help in the water.
Water competency also sets your child up to safely enjoy a range of activities in, on and around water – from competitive swimming, diving and water polo to adventurous pursuits like kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding.
When should a child start to learn?
It’s really never too early to begin your child’s swimming journey, though at the very outset the focus should simply be on introducing them to water in a positive, enjoyable way.
‘Swim Tots’ sessions are suitable for babies and toddlers from ages four months to four years, with song and rhyme fun to put smiles on their faces.
On top of laying the platform for your child to develop their confidence around water, pool time together is also a fabulous way of bonding with your little one.
Equally, it’s never too late to learn. However old your child happens to be, swimming lessons are tailored by ability rather than age which means they can start at any stage and progress at their own pace.
How do you know when to stop learning to swim?
Again, it’s not about age, it’s about ability.
Swim England highly recommends that all children complete at least the first seven stages of its official ‘Learn to Swim’ framework.
In the early stages they’ll learn to float and move on their front and back, and be able to fully submerge and pick up objects from the bottom of the pool.
From there they’ll refine their technique for all four strokes, learn to co-ordinate their breathing, and develop skills in sculling, treading water and rotation.
By the end of Stage 7, your child will be able to swim all four strokes up to at least 25 metres, swim one of these up to at least 50 metres, and be able to swim 100 metres using a combination of at least three different stokes.
They’ll also be able to perform a dive, tread water for at least 30 seconds, and complete an obstacle course combining a variety of skills they’ve learned along the way.
If your child still can’t quite do all of the above, it’s a good idea for them to continue with lessons.
But even if they can, they don’t have to stop there… with specialist stages 8-10 for swimming, artistic swimming, diving and water polo.
Want to find out more about learning to swim? Check out our range of lessons.
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Posted on Monday 5th February 2024