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Today my little guy graduated from Safe Start, the infant/child safety “swim” program. I put swim in quotes because this course focuses on safety, not swimming. Children learn to float and to “swim” to the wall. They still need formal swimming lessons when they are older.
I am amazed how much he learned in 6 short weeks. We went to our local YMCA every Monday-Friday where he spent 10 minutes in the pool. It’s a huge commitment, but one I wouldn’t change now that I’ve seen what he can do. What it won’t change is our vigilance around pools and open water. But now I feel that he has another layer of protection. And, it gives us more to do in the water. We don’t have to hold him constantly, instead, we can practice his swimming from one adult to another, or to the wall.
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers a policy statement on swimming programs for infants and toddlers. My take on their statement is that these safety courses do not replace adult supervision and its main concern is that parents will let their guard down thinking their child is safe. They are probably right, so parents must remember to be as vigilant as if their child never took a lesson. Read their full statement here.
From the Safe Start Web site:
“Beginning at the age of 6 months, children are taught to turn from face down in the water to face up and into a comfortable back float position; at 12 months old, children learn how to swim, rotate onto the back and float, and then turn back over and continue swimming to safety. Children are taught in a one-to-one setting, where the instructor is focused solely on one child. Parents, who must be present during the lessons, are educated about all aspects of aquatic safety through interviews, observations, and the Safe Start Parent Resource Book.”