One of the best things about swimming is that it gives children frequent morale-building feedback. For every new length of the pool they reach, they’ll earn themselves an accolade, steadily swimming their way from 5 metre achievements all the way into the hundreds.
But before all the certificates, trophies, and medals, there are much more important milestones that children have to hit. We’ve listed all the checkpoints your child should pass as they develop their swimming technique – with each one representing a legitimate indicator of real progress.
The inaugural milestone for any young child is entering the water and staying there willingly. Some will have no reservations whatsoever and happily let you carry them into the blue ripples ahead. Others won’t like it at all – perhaps even resorting to kicking and screaming if they feel particularly uncertain about visiting this new realm.
This is where you need to stay as patient, upbeat, and smiley as possible. Treat the whole thing like an adventure, and splash around in the shallow end on your own in full view of your child, exclaiming how fun it all is. A little persistence will convince your little one to let you carry them into the water. It’s all about baby steps. And when your child decides to brave the pool, milestone one is officially complete.
Forever blowing bubbles
After your child has had time to get used to the new environment and developed some self-assurance, it’s time to show them the difference between being above and below water. To start with, dip below the water yourself for a second or two – showing them there’s nothing to be afraid of. Blowing bubbles whilst you’re under the surface will not only seem light-hearted and amusing, it will also teach your child a bit about breathing.
A good way to convince your little one to duck underwater with you is to grab a pair of goggles each. This way, you can see one another whilst you’re submerged and exchange a cheeky thumbs-up.
Paddling and floating
Your child’s early swimming sessions will be predominantly spent in the shallow part of the pool, but as they become familiar with the water, the next milestone they need to achieve is swimming without your support.
Mani is the perfect example of a floating device that gives children a way to bob above the surface all on their own, freeing up their legs so they can learn how to kick and paddle their way from A to B. The longer they swim without holding onto you, the more self-reliant they’ll become.
Their first swimming lesson
Once your child knows the basics and understands a bit more about the water, the next step is to enrol them in a swimming class. Here they can learn how to become stronger, more assured, and better swimmers on a weekly basis.
After completing their first swimming lesson, the milestones will be set by the coaches and will be far more focused on distance and technique. But the important thing to remember is there’s never any rush. Every child develops at their own pace.
Take the swimming journey one step at a time in those early days, and instil your child with the confidence they need to hit those all-important pool milestones. With the right attitude and support, your little one will be splashing about confidently in no time.