Babies (age 6months to 2 years) – Babies will do best if they get acquainted with the water before they begin to walk, in the safety and comfort of their own parent’s arms. Important steps at this age are getting comfortable in the water and learning how to back float and roll into a back float. It is very important for parents to learn water safety, first aid and CPR. Parent & child classes are taught in groups where parents learn holding techniques and most importantly cues to teach your child to do what you want them to WHEN you want them to.
Toddlers ( 1.5 years – 3 years) – Toddlers most often do best in semi-private classes, or the parent/child class if they’re not ready to be away from mom & dad. In semiprivate, the instructor has one arm for each child, so safety is well maintained. Important steps for this age are the same as babies, and turn-around swims are added. Discipline around the water is beginning (i.e., the child does not come to you unless you tell them to, they wait for you to get in, etc.).
Preschoolers (ages 3 – 5 years) – This age group does best in semi-private classes, if a level C, will do fine in small group classes. Important steps in this group is learning how to swim and breathe, so they can begin to swim some distances. Elementary backstroke is learned at this age. Water safety includes throwing rescues (how to call for help – 911).
Note: If your child is age 2 – 4 and has just gotten used to the water during the summer, we want to have them with us during the school year so we can keep them comfortable in the water and progressing within their own individual development. Children that are 2-3 years old are going to go through a stage of fear. They can fear the dark, strangers, etc, and many times it is the water they are afraid of. If you have just gotten your toddler comfortable in the water, they would be ready for either the semiprivate lessons (a 2:1 ratio – that way the instructor has one arm for each child) or a Parent/Child group class (up to 6 Parent/Child couples). (Remember, children under age five usually do not remember from one season to the next.)
Kindergarten age (5 & 6 years) – This age group usually does best in small groups. If they are a real beginner, they might do better with semi-private classes. Important steps include learning side breathing for freestyle, improving both elementary back and back crawl. Dolphin begins after these strokes are improved. Water safety includes knowing all safety rules, how to release a cramp in the water and reaching assists.
Note: If your child is age 5– 6 and is either a beginner, or knows how to swim some, they do great in group classes (4:1 ratio) either once or twice per week (if they already know how to swim, once a week during the school year works great, if they are beginners, we recommend starting twice a week, then dropping to once a week once the skills are attained. At this age, children are learning proper stroke technique, such as breathing to the side on the front crawl, and backstroke without sinking. In addition they learn safety strokes and procedures and may begin to work on the other competitive strokes ( the butterfly, then the breast stroke).
School age ( 7 – 10 years) – This age group does best in small groups, or if all strokes are known, a competitive group is good. It is important for this age group to be competent in all four racing strokes, along with elementary backstroke, surface dives, etc. The main goal of this age group is to continue working on stroke technique, begin to increase endurance, and above all, KEEP IT FUN! Water safety at this age includes how to do mouth to mouth (demo without mouth to mouth contact) resuscitation, etc. Once they have mastered the four racing strokes, they can either move up to the team, or stay in our Stroke & Turn class once or twice a week.
Juniors (age 11- 14) – this group does best with private lessons or Stroke & Turn class. If they know all four strokes, they would do great on a year-round swim team. They learn more like an adult than a child. Usually fine tuning of strokes is needed, and turn work is helpful. Safety includes spinal injury management.
Adults (age 15 & older) – usually do best with private lessons. Adults need to learn how to jump in, tread water, and go into a back float. The main swimming skill is proper breathing on freestyle. Adults also need time to practice between lessons, so plan to come before or stay after your lesson for this. Water exercise is strongly recommended as well as all safety courses.
Swimming is the only sport I know of that you can compete in until dying of old age! The best way to keep children involved in this fun sport is to give them the stroke development they need, when they need it, and to make sure that swimming stays fun. When children are competent in their strokes, swimming is not only more fun, it’s easier (and they go faster)!