I read an article just a couple of days ago about children not being able to swim by the time they left primary school and I decided that this would be great for me to discuss as a blog post because I have first-hand, experience of this.
Just to clarify, I could not swim when I left primary school. All three of my children, aged 11, 9, and 5 attend swimming lessons and have been for around 16 months. My daughter left primary school in July 2016 and could only swim as a result of these private lessons. They all get half-an-hour each week and it costs me £16 each per month. I know that this is a lot of money in theory because I have to pay £16 X 3 because I have three children (that’s £48), however, if you divide it by four weeks, it’s about £4 per lesson per child.
First of all, I want to tell you what I get for my money…
- They get a qualified swimming instructor that teaches them to swim and breathe correctly.
- The follow an approved programme of ASA Stages.
- They get passes for the local leisure centre, and that means they can actually go and swim for free at any time (this usually costs £2.10 per hour).
- They learn a little bit of theory at each lesson about safety in and around the pool.
So what prompted me to pay for swimming lessons for my children?
Maybe it was quite naive of me, but when my son had been completing swimming lessons at school and told me he could swim I believed him. He could swim – he showed me! So I allowed him into the swimming baths without his armbands. He was jumping in with his friend and launched himself to the centre of the pool and couldn’t touch the floor. He panicked and started shouting ‘help me!’ Of course, I was close by with my little one so I stuck him on my back and swam to him – the lifeguard clearly didn’t want to get in the pool as he was leaning over, but I must stress that my son wasn’t sinking – he was simply panicking and shouting whilst treading water because he couldn’t touch the bottom.
The fact he wasn’t drowning and a woman next to him passed him to me in an attempt to calm him didn’t stop it from being embarrassing on my behalf. I should have checked he was confident in the water and I should have made sure he knew what to do – how to swim after you jump in and can’t touch the bottom. I also thought of what danger he could have been in as he was panicking. I made him wear his armbands as a safeguard when jumping in. I’m not the strongest swimmer myself but his dad is brill so I told him his dad would work with him on our Summer holiday to help him. I had to fill an accident form out in relation to the whole incident and I felt like a bad parent.
His dad did do work with him on holiday, but I was still apprehensive. I observed my daughter and discovered that at 10 years old, she couldn’t swim either and was, in fact, walking along the bottom of the pool. We didn’t go swimming very often so I hadn’t really noticed before as when we did go swimming it was usually to have fun on holiday and not to necessarily swim. Enough was enough and I decided to enrol them in swimming lessons. My youngest was 3 and there was no way this was going to happen to him too. He could enrol on a ducklings class and I had to go in the pool with him until he progressed to the last stage.
16 months later, my eldest two are in the bigger pool, can dive, swim on top and under the water, even when they can’t touch the bottom and they breathe properly whilst swimming. My youngest child has progressed into the 1st level class (what his sister and brother were in the previous year) and can swim under water. They all love swimming and are much more confident.
Finally, after my experience over the last 16 months, here are my top five reasons why I think swimming lessons are a good investment…
- Swimming can be a life-saving skill – it can save your own life or the life of another.
- Swimming keeps you fit as it’s a sport that encourages the use of a lot of your body’s muscles.
- Swimming lessons have built up my children’s confidence in the water. This ultimately means more enjoyment for the family!
- From my point of view, as a parent, I feel less nervous (although I still keep a close eye on them) when we go to swimming pools and they go down water slides as it always used to worry me. This means we can relax a little more as adults.
- Swimming lessons have taught my children a lot about safety in water and at poolside, like not running and getting into the pool safely etc…
I will continue these lessons for as long as I have to, plus they are in a routine of going every week now – practice makes perfect!
Can your child swim? Do you think every child should be able to swim when they leave primary school? Do you think swimming lessons are a good investment? Maybe you have a different view – are they reasonably priced or expensive?