Ever since I was a little girl, swimming was always something that was part of my weekly, and then eventually, almost daily routine. My own Mum used to take me to mother and baby swimming classes, before enrolling me into a local swim school, where I became quite the little fish and enjoyed earning my distance and grading badges, before going to compete for both my school and a swimming club.
I enjoyed swimming so much, and by the time I was about 10, I was probably swimming about 4 or 5 days a week, whether it was on a weekend, during school (our school was lucky enough to have its own swimming pool) or after school, so it never crossed my mind that when I had children of my own that they wouldn’t start their own swimming journey.
When Freddie arrived, followed 15 months later by Sasha, I was keen to take them to use the baby pool at my local gym (aided by Adam or my mother in law, it’s hard to juggle two small children!), and get them used to the water and to do what my Mum did with me. Both Adam and I always said that swimming is one activity that our children MUST do, as we both think it’s such an important life skill, and of course being able to swim can literally save your life in any number of situations. So it’s always been really important to us that our children enjoy it.
As a parent you want to enjoy taking your children too, and I can’t be alone in finding swimming one of the activities that the children participate in that can be, er, more ‘challenging’ at times (hands up who finds coordinating more than one child’s swimming lesson, showering, drying etc at a time quite stressful!). Booking their swimming lessons one after the other and having them on a weekend morning so Adam is there too, has helped a lot with making things easier for us (especially with having a new baby in tow soon), as well as finding a lovely, clean pool with great facilities. I’m ALL about the adjoining cafe, haha! This has meant that Adam and I really look forward to watching them both swim first thing on a Saturday morning, and it really sets us up for the weekend.
When Swim England approached our family, asking us to work with them over the coming year, I pretty much bit their hand off! Swim England is the national governing body for swimming in England. They help people learn how to swim, enjoy the water safely, and compete in all water sports. They want to get the nation swimming, and they strive to inspire everyone to enjoy the water in the way that suits them, and remain active, have fun, and stay healthy through swimming. There is SO much I could say and have already chatted to them about when it comes to our own swimming experiences so far- what’s great, what’s not so great, the barriers when it comes to family swimming, and also why, despite some of the negatives, we still believe that swimming is a brilliant, essential and fun activity to do. We’re also excited (all going well) to start our new baby boy swimming from an early age to get him used to the water, so we can wait to get him involved.
What I’d love to know from readers is your experiences of children’s swimming so far. Do your kids have lessons? What do they/you like about them? What do you dislike about the whole swimming experience? Is there anything that could improve time spent at the pool and the whole swimming ‘journey’?
What do you think? I’d love to hear your views, and you’ll be able to follow our family’s swimming progress throughout the course of the year, both here on the blog and over on YouTube!
*In collaboration with Swim England who we’ll be working with over the coming year, all thoughts and opinions as a swimming mum my own!
My eldest had lessons with our council when he was 6 but didn’t make any progress so we felt like it was a waste of money. He went swimming with school when he was aged 8 and made much better progress. With Heidi, she just did it on holiday of her own accord. I think all kids really are different x
I definitely think they’re all different! Is there a particular reason that you think your eldest didn’t progress with the council lessons? It’s interesting to get different feedback x
My girls are really different where the water is concerned. My youngest is a little fish and can nearly swim completely unaided – and she’s only two! My eldest is much more wary and is yet to crack swimming, yet she turned 7 today. I used to love swimming as a kid and it’s something I hope both my girls will get the hang of this summer when we’re in the pool everyday!
It really is funny how different they all are! I assumed mine would be fish like me but it hasn’t been that way, so I’m having to let them find their confidence in their own time.
I haven’t done formal lessons with mine but they love going to the pool. Unfortunately our local pool has limited space in its lessons we were just going to keep our names on the waiting list until something comes up.
I think wait lists and finding a suitable time for swimming can be a big barrier for families when it comes to learning to swim, I think certain areas just don’t have enough lessons for the number of children wanting/needing them.
I went to baby swimming with my eldest for a year but then I went back to work and we couldn’t really fit weekend lessons. Then I had another baby and I’m a bit ashamed to say he’s only ever been in a swimming pool twice and that was on holiday at Bluestone (and he’s two in August!). I’d love to take them swimming but it’s impossible on my own and I’m always put off going at the weekend when my husband can help because I think it will be too busy. I really want the boys to learn to swim though so I’m hoping to get them into lessons when they start school.
It’s definitely hard to find time to fit in lessons I think when you work, as often places don’t have later lessons that suit people after work.
Both my boys have had lessons and the youngest still continues to do so. We stopped the eldest because he was suffering with his hearing and was lagging quite badly in the lessons. However, we are now looking at enrolling him again. Both of them have gained incredible confidence in the water as well as invaluable life skills I’m sure they’d put into practice.
I love swimming so I really want the kiddos to enjoy it too, but also I want them to be aware of how dangerous water can be and I’d like them to be safe at all times x
Ah your poor eldest boy with his hearing- I loved swimming as a child but was prone to ear infections because of it so I really sympathise! Is there a particular reason you think he was lagging behind?
I find taking my children swimming a very daunting task as a non swimmer luckily my other half can swim. My partners child currently has lesson but I would love for my two to have swimming lessons too!
I’ve definitely found that those who can’t swim do find it more of a confidence barrier when it comes to going swimming with their own children, hopefully your two will get swimming lessons at some point so they can become little fish! x
I don’t take my daughter swimming anywhere near often enough, which I really need to change.
I think it can be hard to fit it in when we all lead such busy lives as it can be a bit of a faff sometimes
Hi, I’ve been taking my oldest (3) and baby (now 9mo) weekly to my local pool (Faringdon, Oxon) on Fri mornings. They have a great session, where there is a teacher in the pool, but it’s just a public “toddler swim” session. She does some songs and games for those who want, is available for advice, or you can do your own thing with the floats, balls etc. It’s a great format as doesn’t need to be booked, there’s no commitment to go regularly, and costs the normal adult swim price – so a bargain when 2 kids go free.
But as a strong swimmer myself, and like you am adamant these kids must be able to swim, what I would REALLY like is a short book / pamphlet to give me ideas for how to start to teach my kids to swim unaided (maybe even plastic printed cards so they can be taken into the pool?!). I have been looking for a book, but haven’t been impressed so far. My 3yo has come on a huge amount with his armbands, but I’m unsure where to go now! While I’m focusing on the eldest, my youngest just floats around in her inflatable seat. She does love it though!
Have a look at the Swim England website, there is a section for parents that you may get some info from:
There are laminated “games cards” that link into the Swim England pre-school framework that may be some help but I am not sure if they are available yet. It’s worth just dropping a line to firstname.lastname@example.org to see if they are in stock yet. Good luck 🙂
I have four children. My 7yo and 5yo joined the swim club earlier this year and are doing brilliantly. They never had swimming lessons, I taught them myself. They were used to baths and showers from newborn, then the pool from 3 months and pretty much weekly swimming and dunking and not using armbands from that point forward. My 3yo is able to swim really well now and can’t wait to join swim club and my 21mo can swim underwater for a short distance (at which point we have to pick her out to breathe!). I love swimming with my kids. I genuinely think that exposure to water is the key. Not necessarily lessons until they are older, which is what the swim club provides.
I’d really like my 2 (age 1 and 3) to start to get used to the water and learn to swim, but our local pools don’t offer classes until children are 4 and the other options (Waterbabies etc) are much more expensive. I’m on my own with them most of the time, and obviously can’t take them both by myself. Hopefully I’ll soon get organised enough to take the little one for a splash about while the other one is at preschool.
Hi, trust me you can take them by yourself. They don’t need lessons until they are ready to form strokes. Up until that point you can do the work and just get them confident. It is daunting taking two little ones I know, but if you get into a routine, it’s definitely doable. My youngest two are 1 and 3 and I take them. Just choose a decent float for your eldest (the life jacket ones are best) and go to a nice pool where you can always have your feet on the floor.
My elder daughter is not interested in swimming lessons so we don’t force her but our little one really enjoy swimming and remain very confident in the water.