— By Anya Hall, Marketing and Curriculum Director, La Petite Baleen (LPB) Swim Schools, Northern California
Parents often think of swimming lessons during the summer when it’s time to break out the sunscreen, and put down the iPhone as we venture out to different bodies of water. Be it a lake, a hot tub, a swimming pool or the ocean, parents must always watch their kids around water.
In the summer, we always see a wave of new students at our swimming schools. Most of these students come from families who may not be aware of the many benefits of year round swimming. We get a lot of requests for “intensive” lessons or “Drown proofing” classes. Parents want some sort of crash course in “guaranteeing” their child will be “water safe” in X amount of lessons.
This approach to swimming is antiquated and dangerous. First of all, learning to swim is not like learning to ride a bicycle. You won’t always remember how. It’s more like learning a language or playing an instrument. If you don’t use it, you lose it. Swimming deals with a foreign element…water. It uses different muscle groups that are not used on land. This is why Olympic swimmers train 4+ hours a day in the pool all year round.
My dad, John Kolbisen (co-founder or LPB) has memories of growing up in the 50’s and being thrown into the pool at the beginning of each summer. He remembers having to learn from scratch everything he had learned the previous summer, because he hadn’t practiced his skills during the school year.
These days, we have lots of opportunities to enjoy our swim skills year round. Winter break trip to Hawaii? Spring break in Palm Springs? Indoor pool party for a friends’ birthday in March? These are all things that more and more families enjoy year round. It sure is a shame to see kids struggle each year when they haven’t been in the pool since August.
Year round swimming provides an opportunity to keep students swim skills fresh with proper technique and form. Yes, there is the added value of safety as well. If your child hasn’t been in a pool since the end of summer and they happen to fall into a fountain at the local shopping center in may, you’d want them to remember how to hold their breath and most of all be comfortable in the water, avoiding panic which quickens the drowning process.
So parents, please! Do yourselves and your children a favor and keep them in lessons year round. You’ll enjoy those expensive vacations much more knowing your child is ready to swim, and you’ll have the added confidence knowing that if your child fell overboard on “It’s a Small World” it wouldn’t ruin your trip to Disneyland either.
Remember, there are no guarantees in life. Any program that claims they can “drown proof” your child in a certain amount of time is a MAJOR red flag. There is no such thing as being water safe or drown proof. Water “safer” yes, but nobody is ever completely safe in the water.
— Excerpted from La Petite Baleen’s blog at http://whalewisdom.blogspot.com, the LPB web site is http://www.swimlpb.com
Having lessons IS NOT a guarantee. There were experienced swimmers who drowned, so I wouldn’t expect a kid to be 100% safe. We’re planning on taking our daughter (after she’s born) to swimming lessons. They will be all-year-round lessons, just as I go to train myself. I’m not training for the olympics, but it’s nice to work out, even if a little expensive 😉
You’re absolutely right! there is no such thing as being “drown proofed”…another article we have written on the La Petite Baleen “Whale Wisdom” blog:http://whalewisdom.blogspot.com/2013/06/no-such-thing-as-drown-proof.html. But learning to swim sure does help!
@Dojo, we agree, no one is ever drown proofed, adult or child. Swim lessons make water safer, but children in a pool or other body of water should always be watched by an adult who is not looking at a phone or otherwise distracted.
I am the ‘other’ co founder of La Petite Baleen Swim Schools and fortunately, I had the opposite experience of John Kolbisen, in the 50’s.
My dad built a pool i our backyard after World War !!. We started swimming from pre-school to infant years, depending on the age of the five of us. We swam almost year round, doing as many laps after school as our age.I cannot remember ever not knowing how to swim and I thought it was normal to be allowed to hold my three day old baby brother in the pool.
Swimming so young was such a gift to me and my siblings. We water skied, rafted rivers at an early age, and our vacations were extra fun because our skill level for swimming was so high. I know my mom felt a little better knowing that when all five of us kids swam, we also knew water safety. My dad had us practice survival floats, taking heavy clothing off in the water, but most of all, we didn’t dare try to swim alone!
Now I am 67 years old and know that my love of water, translating to lap swim, is keeping me healthy and looking forward to an active older age.