It’s common to think that swimming is only a summertime activity. Not so! The truth is, water emergencies can happen at any time of the year. Learning to swim is an important skill that leaves children feeling accomplished and has parents breathing sighs of relief. A great way to develop this skill is through swim lessons. And the good news is: You don’t have to wait for summer to roll back around to get your child started.
“The winter months are actually the best time of year for families to be thinking about water and swim safety,” says Jen Deis, manager of Goldfish Swim School Anderson. “Kids who are going to be safer swimmers next summer are getting started in lessons now. Swimming is an activity that requires consistency and regular practice to see progress. By starting lessons in the fall or early winter months, kids can see results in time for pool and beach season in June — or that spring break trip you are already looking forward to!”
Ed Rouse, owner of British Swim School of Tri-County, agrees that consistency is key. “It is important to keep the rhythm of the lessons going so they don’t regress,” Rouse says. “It’s common for children who are learning a new skill to lose some of what they learned when they take too long a break.”
Rouse says that during the winter, when the opportunity for exercise slows down, swim lessons can offer the chance for a healthy and fun activity that exercises the whole body. “Another advantage of swimming lessons during the winter is that children who swim do better at every major developmental milestone than those who do not,” Rouse says. “Children actually do get smarter by swimming.”
John Reilly, president and CEO of Bear Paddle Swim School, agrees that children can retain skills, like swimming, much better if they are consistently practicing them, and that swimming is a great form of exercise during the dreary months.
“Taking swim lessons in the winter is a great way to keep your child’s muscle memory intact and provide them with a physical activity during those cooler months,” Reilly says. “Students who take lessons throughout the winter have increased success in reaching their swim goals faster, and will be prepared for spring vacations at the beach or pool.”
Learning to swim is a journey, and Reilly recommends that parents try to not become frustrated or overwhelmed if their child seems unsure the first time they are in the water. “The more time they spend in the water, the quicker they get comfortable,” Reilly says. “We offer Family Swim every Saturday and Sunday to allow our families to have fun in the water together, and give our students even more time to work on specific skills or just get comfortable with water.”
So, when should parents consider signing their children up for lessons? There is no better time to start than the present. The earlier children are introduced to the water, the greater the chance the child will feel comfortable.
According to the National Institutes of Health, participating in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% in children between the ages of 1 to 4 years old. Not only will year-round swim lessons teach your child the skills they need to keep them safe around the water, but they will also provide fun exercise in the cold-weather months as they splash and kick the winter blues away.