Swimming is one of the great joys of summer. There’s something magical about cooling off and splashing in the water that kids and parents love. However, it can also be tricky to navigate. Reluctant swimmers, lessons, age-appropriate activities, and swim safety, make it essential to have a game plan for summer swimming that keeps everyone safe and having fun.
Safe swimming is the foundation for a successful swim experience for everyone. Follow these swim safety musts for all swimmers—even parents!
Swimming Buddies: Having another person there helps reduce the risk of drowning according to health and safety investigator Caitlin Hoff. Having a buddy present allows them to get help if needed.
Water Watcher: Ideally, have a lifeguard or designated person to watch the water. It always helps to have a bird’s-eye view of everything happening in the water.
In the Know: Know the individual abilities of each person who is in the water. Keep that knowledge in mind when around any bodies of water including pools, lakes, and the ocean.
Learn CPR: It’s easy to think you know what to do in an emergency, but official CPR training will help eliminate hesitation when seconds count.
Ring, Ring!: Keep a phone nearby to call 911 quickly in an emergency.
Life Jackets: Ensure you and your child wear approved life jackets. Setting an example for kids is important, but it is even more important that you can help if something goes wrong. Emergencies happen quickly, and everyone needs to be prepared. The Red Cross recommends life jackets in the following situations:
• For small kids and weak swimmers: anytime they are near water.
• For everyone: when they are on or in open water, boating, doing water-based sports, or around cold water or ice.
Kids as young as one-year-old can start to learn about water safety and build up to learning to swim. Keep in mind, a one-year-old is not learning to swim as much as they are learning to be comfortable in the water. A certified instructor will help teach the fundamentals of swimming as well as the most important skill: floating.
Learning how to tread water and float are excellent life preservation skills in case of a water emergency. The importance of this cannot be overlooked as this skill can keep your child alive until help arrives.
A note for adults: it is never too late to learn these skills. If you don’t know how to swim or cannot swim well, seek lessons from an instructor that works with adults.
Introducing your children to water early on, allows them more time to learn and grow into strong, confident swimmers.
Swimming and water play aren’t fun for everyone. Sometimes kids are reluctant to be near the water or have fears based on previous experiences. Other times, parents are uncertain so they avoid the water to keep everyone safe. The best solution is to address water issues honestly and with patience.
Reluctant swimmers: Take a calm, non-pressured approach to water exposure and learning. Find an instructor that has experience with reluctant swimmers to help. Pushing kids in the water so they “get over it” is never a good solution. Neither is avoiding water altogether. Exposing kids in a safe, encouraging way is the most beneficial approach.
Refusal to swim: Learning basic water skills is a life-long safety lesson. If your child refuses to try, it can be tempting to give in, thinking it’s not essential. However, a general level of comfort and ability in the water could be lifesaving later on. Be firm in your resolve to walk through this with your child so they have what they need to be safe around water.
Fear after a water event: If your child experiences or sees a scary water event, it can feel hard for them to try swimming again. Give your child space to talk about the issue. Consider talking to your pediatrician or a counselor to help process the event and plan how to move forward.
Whether you are at the pool, a lake, or the ocean, swimming should be fun! These tips will help you ensure water play is something you and your child look forward to for many summers to come.