How to teach a kid to swim.

Posted by Kris on July-27-2023

Swimming is one of the survival skills that may be essential and lifesaving in many situations. As Plato, the Greek philosopher said: "A man is not learned until he can read, write, and swim." When my wife and I became parents with our first daughter we had big plans to teach her swimming very early. The plan was to get her into one of those parent and baby swimming classes offered at some of the pools. Well, we could not find a pool with water warm enough for a newborn in a reasonable distance from our house (that is the official version – I guess we were just scared). We were searching and searching and before we knew it, 2 years later the second daughter showed up and we still did not have any progress with our goal. It took another 2 years for us to get serious. At that time, we already dropped the idea of the parent and baby classes for obvious reasons – we had a 4 and 2-year-old daughters.
We decided to pass the task to the professionals and have signed up both girls to a swimming school. Everything looked very promising as the classes took place on a small pool in a hotel just around the corner from our house and there were only 3 kids in the class including our 2 – easy-breezy so we thought. I was very excited to get my girls to each class but sometime in the second month one of them rebelled and refused to go again and the second followed shortly after. We tried to understand what the problem was. Our analysis led us to suspect that there was not enough fun and too much sitting and waiting at each class. The classes were organized in such a way that the instructor was practicing with 1 kid and 2 other kids were sitting on the edge of the pool waiting (and getting cold). Well, kids love pools because they want to play in the water not sit and wait. That was the time when my wife decided that since I am a great swimmer, I should teach our daughters.
With the new task at hand, I have signed up to the local YMCA with a pool and started going with my daughters to the pool twice a week. I let the girls have fun and every time I just asked them to do one simple practice. That arrangement seems to work. Unfortunately, both fun and practices were constantly interrupted by girls screaming for a towel to dry out their eyes from the excess of pool water. There was not much progress with the swimming and then we went for vacations to Florida. While there we spend each day in the pool playing and having fun. My older daughter met there a girl her age that had swimming goggles and was playing throwing some small toys in the water and retrieving those from the bottom. My daughter wanted to do the same, so we got her the swimming gogles. She loved it and was not bothered by her eyes flooded anymore. Not only that, but she started exploring the under-water world.
When we got back from the vacations, we still needed to wait for our pool to open but when it did, we immediately started regular visits. During one of the first times at the pool my younger daughter showed interest in the swimming googles. I did not have a second pair, but I did have a diving mask, so one of them got the diving mask and that was the breakthrough – the girls discovered diving mask. The girls liked so much diving with the mask that the next time each needed to have own mask and they spend most of the time diving at comfortable depths playing under water. One of the great skills they learned while doing that was keeping breath under water. Fast forward few months later I have to say that our main goal has been accomplished – both girls know how to float and even can swim short distances using their own preferred styles: one uses her own version of breaststroke and the other the doggy paddle.
Here are some things I learned: