Baby Swimming Lessons

Before I dive in here (no pun intended), I have to throw out the disclaimer that most of the pictures here are terribly blurry. I passed my iphone over to the sweet receptionist at Aqua Tots, and she was kind enough to snap a few pics for me, albeit behind the glass enclosure of the pool.

Okay, then.

I’m sharing this post for a couple of different reasons: 1.) To shed light on the importance of swimming lessons, and 2.) To share some ideas for getting your little one involved in swimming lessons if you haven’t already done so.

Does this have anything to do with Lovely Scribbles?  None whatsoever, but let’s have fun with it anyway, shall we?

So, this whole swimming lesson thing is not something new to me. Way, waaaay back in the day, I was a lifeguard and certified WSI (Water Safety Instructer). That was a good 14 years ago, and just acknowledging the time lapse, makes me feel ancient.

My baby bean is a little unsure about this part.

Anyhoo, let me give you a little background on why swimming lessons are so important to me…

Rewind to many years earlier, and I was a four year old little peanut at an outdoor swimming pool with my mom and brothers.  Like most little ones, I was fast, and the fact that I was small likely made me even more difficult to spot when taking off in a crowd of kids.

I was also somewhat fearless like many little kids.  My four year-old little self bolted for the diving board that day, and how I remember this I’ll never know, but I remember sneaking off to the diving board and walking down to the end of it (with no swimming skills whatsoever) and thinking, “I think I can jump far enough that I’ll be close enough the grab onto the edge of the pool.”

Sooo….

I jumped in.

And I was wrong.

I was not close enough to grab the ledge of the pool.  In fact, I started sinking, and I remember looking up through the water above my head to see a lifeguard standing at the ledge of the pool looking down at me probably wondering if I really was drowning.

I was.

Then, in one quick swoop, that lifeguard’s arm reached down into the water, and grabbed onto my tiny flailing arm and pulled me up out of the water.  Whew!  Man, am I thankful he was paying attention!

Of course, my brothers finally spotted me, freaked out, and rushed me back over to my mom, but, thankfully, my lesson had been learned, and the memory of it still sits with me to this day.

Even last summer, when my husband and I took Chloe out on a boat with his family, I was so adamant (borderline emotional) about Chloe wearing an infant life jacket (it’s the law in Minnesota, too) that I refused to take her on a boat without one.  My husband thought I was being ridiculous, but I’m a mom with a background in water safety, so what can I say??  By the way, bless their hearts, our host family did find an infant life jacket for her, and we had a lovely boat ride as you can see here. 🙂

Sooo, fast forward to a few years later when my family moved to another small town in Minnesota – a town that somehow afforded a pretty sweet, Olympic-size, indoor swimming pool, which meant that if you had never had swimming lessons prior to starting elementary school, you would get them for free because learning to swim and swimming in general was a Phy. Ed. requirement all the way through high school.  That’s exactly where I learned to swim, and it was at this same pool that I later became a lifeguard and swimming instructor.

I taught kids of all ages starting around 3-4 years going up to 10-12 year-old’s.  Now, I probably could have taught my daughter swimming lessons myself, but I am years removed from teaching lessons, and I had never taught infants or toddlers.  I also like the idea of going to structured lessons where the swimming instructors specialize in teaching the wee little ones, like my little Chloe.

While Minnesota boasts as the home of the famous Foss Swim School (which is another great resource), as well as a host of other very qualified instructors at a variety of community pools, local YMCA’s, etc., I really was looking for this specific, specialty baby swim course called Infant Swimming Resource (ISR), where infants and toddler’s are taught self-rescue.  Unfortunately, there are no ISR instructors or courses here in the Twin Cities.

Check out this video of ISR…

So, I decided to find a course that at least provided some basic safety skills for infants/toddlers within a controlled environment where I could also participate for an extended period of time…that is until Chloe becomes more comfortable in the water and can work one-on-one with the swimming instructor.

Enter into the picture Aqua Tots.

This baby swim instruction will assist both the parent and the baby by introducing a number of critical water safety skills and encouraging social interaction and fun. It’s irresponsible to teach a baby to enjoy the water, without giving them these important life saving swim skills.

-Aqua Tots website

Like I mentioned above, there are tons of options as far as enrolling your baby in swimming lessons, but so far, I’ve really liked my experience with Aqua Tots.  It’s a fun environment, and while they do teach lessons up to 12 years old, the focus is clearly on the “tots”, and for this stage with Chloe, I like the specialized approach.  It’s not for everyone, but so far, I think it’s been wonderful.

The infant swimming noodles they use are awesome, too!

During the past couple of lessons, we’ve practiced floating on belly and back, entrance into and exit out of the pool, dunking (surprisingly, far more that I was expecting for an infant/toddler course), swimming with noodles, supervised and assisted jumping into the pool, sliding into the pool on a mat, oh, and we get to sing songs, too. 🙂

The dunking always gives me anxiety, and one of the instructors said to me, “Uh-oh, it looks like ‘mom’ is a little nervous.”  I was totally nervous!  Chloe never cried, and it was always a quick dunk under the water at their instruction, but she always popped up with this horrified look as if to say, “What on earth are you doing to me, Mommy?!”

I’m just going to trust the instructors on the whole dunking thing.  Like I said, I’ve never taught babies how to swim.

If you’ve been wondering how soon is too soon to start swimming lessons, I would encourage you to really explore the swimming lesson options in your area.  Most baby courses start at 6 months.  Crazy, I know!  We chose to start Chloe in swimming lessons a couple weeks ago at 16 1/2 months.

And…now that we’ve starting swimming lessons, I can sleep at night.

Amen for that.

Ciao!

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