When should you teach your kids to swim?

By admin
16 March 2014

Getting your children confident and comfortable in water is an essential life skill, and is something parents can do from an early age. Nona Keet, a swimming instructor with 37 years of experience, says you should start as early as possible.

Getting your children confident and comfortable in water is an essential life skill, and is something parents can do from an early age. Nona Keet, a swimming instructor with 37 years of experience, says you should start as early as possible.

“Bath with your child; let them lie down and let the water touch their ears. Take your child into the shower and let them become familiar with water. It is essential that your child gets used to having water on their face,” she says.

Keet runs the Stanmore Aquatics Centre in East London, where she has 250 children enrolled. “At about six months, we bring the child into the pool with their mom or dad. It is important that the parent is not afraid of the water, or this fear is picked up by the child.”

She emphasises familiarisation, where the child learns the feeling of water and isn’t surprised when they’re back in the pool for their next lesson.

Caryn Reeves, who has a degree in human kinetics and ergonomics from Rhodes University in Grahamstown, understands the importance of teaching kids to swim from an early age. Reeves also taught at the Stanmore Aquatics Centre and says it’s always reassuring for parents to know their child is confident in water. “We make sure they can float and get to the edge of the pool.”

In the instance of drowning, Reeved says the parent or supervisor should immediately take the child out of the water, and then determine if the child is responsive or not. “If the child is responding, place them into the recovery position. It may be necessary to induce vomiting to remove water from the lungs. If the child is not responding, begin CPR and call for an ambulance as soon as possible.”

-Megan Bursey

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