Could starting swimming lessons at a younger age prevent young children from drowning?
In the past this concept has been debated. Some feared that early lessons would lull parents to believe their children were better swimmers (and safer) than they really were. Others said it would prepare them to react in case they fell in the water.
Well, a new study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine believes that early swimming lessons can help prevent drowning.
“A long-awaited study published today concludes that swimming lessons for children ages 1 to 4 lowers the risk of drowning. The study, conducted by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, looked at the association between drowning and swimming lessons in children ages 1 to 19 in six states. Interviews were conducted with the families of 88 children who drowned between 2003 and 2005 and with the families of 213 control children who were the same age, gender and lived in the same county as those who drowned.”
“The study, published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, found that among the 61 children ages 1-4 who drowned, 3% had ever taken formal swimming lessons. In contrast, 26% of the children in the control group had taken swimming lessons. Parent interviews also suggested that children who drowned were less skilled swimmers. Only 5% of them were able to float on their back for 10 seconds compared to 18% of the children in the control group.”
The story goes on to stress that early lessons are no replacement for vigilance by parents to protect their children from drowning around pools.
We started both Rose and Walsh around 3 with lessons and both could swim by 4. We did one-on-one private lessons at first and then last year started group lessons at the YMCA. (I think the private lessons are better when they are first learning. In the group lessons they spend a lot of time waiting around.) After reading this I will probably start Lilina earlier than I had planned and do some lessons for her this spring or summer.
I am always super paranoid around pools. I’m on alert and following the kids constantly. I see other moms drinking alcohol at the pool gabbing away or reading magazines, and I feel like saying “What are you thinking? You need to be watching your child at the very least or preferably be in the pool with them close enough to grab them if necessary.”
I’m not a big fan of the little arm swimmies because I do think those give a false sense of security. We have used a zip up safety vest on the kids but still stayed right by them.
When did you start your kids’ swimming lessons? How did they respond? Did the lessons actually make them safer or do you feel like it’s a false sense of security? Do you use other safety devices in the water? Are you with them in the water? At what age are you safe to read a magazine in the lounge chair?