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Old 10-04-2010, 00:24   #16
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First and foremost, the adult in the water with the child (preferably the mother if the child is an infant - she has already established the necessary bond with the infant) should be a swimmer, comfortable and confidant in the water.
As a senior physician and someone more aquatic than terrestrial, I disagree with age restrictions suggested by medical authorities. For the child (infant?), the younger the better. We are all born with a diving reflex which keeps us from inhaling when our face is immersed. This reflex is usually estinguished during the first year of life.
I suggest starting within a few days after birth, making bathing in the tub something pleasureable for the child and parent. An infant of even a few days of age can be taken into a pool for play, and within the first few months, can be dunked. This is best done by gently bobbing the infant, gently blowing into the infant's face, and then very briefly dunking the infant. It should be a game, and should be interrupted any time the infant appears uncomfortable. Most infants will initially show surprise rather than discomfort, and then rapidly become comfortable with their face immersed.
Then a progression to rising to the surface and floating can be initiated, taking advantage of the infant's net bouancy and reflexive efforts to stroke to the surface. Somewhere around 6 months, "drown proofing" can be started, by releasing the child very close to the edge of the pool and letting natural instincts lead "him" to the edge of the pool deck. Then successively release "him" a bit further away from the edge, and natural stroke development is initiated.
Between 3 and 5 years, formal stroke instruction can be initiated, progressing from "dog paddling" to a beginning freestyle stroke.
My caveats echo that of most other posters.
There must be a capable adult swimmer immediately beside any child who has not mastered a freestyle stroke. A life jacket must be worn at all times when a child is playing on the dock or onboard the boat, and even then an adult swimmer must be in constant attendance. Education, based in information rather than fear, in water safety is essential.
Swim aids like arm floats or flotation clothes only delay learning to swim and should be avoided. Life jackets are safety devices for use when at the child is at risk, but do not help during efforts to introduce the child to swimming.
Our children were in the pool at a few days of age, were pool safe by 6 months, and could swim across the pool by the time they started walking. Now they are like my wife and me, more aquatic than terrestrial.
'T was all so pretty a sail it seemed, As if it could not be, And some folks thought 't was a dream they 'd dreamed, Of sailing that beautiful sea---
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Old 10-04-2010, 07:02   #17
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No matter what your age is, if you spend time on boats you should know "Drown Proofing". You can learn this technique even if you can't swim, and it can save your life.
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Old 12-05-2010, 20:52   #18
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Children have been "swimming" for 9 months before they emerged into the outer world and it is a natural reflex for them to hold their breathe and move through water. However, there is one major problem and that is they do not float. This is due to insufficient body fat. Muscle and bones sink - fat floats. I have a 28 yr old step-son who is vegan and cannot float due to lack of body fat. He is all muscle.
- - So the age at which a baby/toddler can float without having to constantly swim is a variable. I had an aunt (Olympic 1940 champion) who taught infants to children how to swim and have fun in water. It is vital that they be given artificial assistance to allow them to float if they lack enough body fat. There are now in the boat stores chest style PFD's in smaller and smaller sizes. And don't forget there are PFD's for cats and dogs that can be used to assist really small children with low body fat.
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Old 13-05-2010, 11:07   #19
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Originally Posted by dwightsusan
An infant of even a few days of age can be taken into a pool for play, and within the first few months, can be dunked.
As Gord pointed out, there may be immune system issues. I don't know. What I do know is that you certainly CAN start teaching a child to swim within a few days of birth.

When I was younger, and teaching swimming lessons myself, my boss and his wife had a child. Less than a week after the birth they brought the baby to the pool and started playing in the water. By the time that kid was three months old he was diving underwater and swimming around better than half of the 10-year-olds I was teaching.

He did, as others have mentioned, get tired quickly. A parent ALWAYS had to be close by, in the water. But given that, he would dive under, swim out 5-10 feet, come up for a breath, swim back, and then hang onto mom or dad for a few moments to rest before repeating. And I can tell you that he LOVED IT!!! When he came back to rest he was usually giggling, smiling, and sometimes squealing so loud that everyone in the pool area had to look and laugh.
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Old 13-08-2017, 16:32   #20
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Re: At What Age Can They Swim?

I taught swimming (and lifeguarding) for several years, many years ago. The youngest person I taught to make consistent dependable progress through the water was a little younger than two. I chose that language carefully, as I didn't really consider it "swimming", but there was no question that the child was capable, within his stamina limits.

The youngest true swimmer I taught was a little over 3 years of age. The distinction between these two kids was that the three year old could perform a crawl stroke with the appropriate head turn for breathing (in either direction - something I insisted on). The greater language skill of the 3-yo really made it easier on me as the instructor.

I agree (from personal observation) that children MUCH younger than 2 can be taught to be comfortable in the water, to move through the water by themselves, and to become more "drownproof".

Close-by (my criterion was within a forearm's length), in-the-water supervision is paramount, as is keeping it fun. Fear should never enter into the child's experience. Fear of the water is a tragic and unnecessary burden for someone to bear. It robs them of amazing experiences, and can become an insurmountable obstacle when actually in the water. I have been extremely grateful that I was taught to swim, in the Gulf of Mexico, by instructors at the age of 3.
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Old 14-08-2017, 02:05   #21
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Re: At What Age Can They Swim?

My children actually born beside the sea as we live on a island and our home was 30 ft from the sea ..
Me and my wife as dive instructors and lifeguards could start learn them from any age but we decide to let them first learn and feel the sea by imitation and games rather than swimming technics..
It is more important to start from making the child feel comfortable with the water taking his time (every child is different)
Put them becide the water playing with the sand ,be close to them in the water and let them come to you step by step .they are naturally learning machines and a full range of feeling and nutural insticts are more important than any techinc at that age
Instincts of self preservation are inside them from berth and they are activated from small control events .
Respect for the sea canít be teached to a 2-3 years old child but it can be activated by natural Involvement with the water .
By the age of 4 (when we start actually to learn them to swim )they have already create by their own a level of capabilities and confidence and understanding of the sea.
After that every step of swimming lessons was so easy and day by day we step away from them and we start creating a space from them and the (some times ) Excessive parental supervision which some times have Negative impact on their future course
When they became 6 we moved to our boat and start living onboard and it was so easy for us (parents ) and them because they was all ready natural sea boys without (for all of us ) any learning stress !!
I read time to time that no child must be at sea unattended before Puberty but I canít Agree totally with this ..
Most of the children after 8 with proper Mental and physical training about the sea and swimming has the same chances of drowning with any adult !!
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