“Can babies really learn to swim?” We are asked this question by parents in our Infant Survival program all the time. To which we answer, “YES!”
We like to tell the story of Nikki and her infant son, Garrett. Nikki, as many of you may know, is the owner of Academy Swim Club. Almost two decades ago she was training a group of instructors in preparation of the seasonal opening of her swim school (back in the bad old days before we had this wonderful indoor, heated, climated controlled pool). Three days a week for a month she would take Garrett, who was about 7 months old, into the pool for 3-5 hours a day. When he wasn’t being passed around to the instructor trainees to practice on he would play on the steps. Sure, he occasionally slipped off the steps and fell in, but someone was always there to give him a nudge back to safety. At the end of the month, Garrett could swim. Not just put his face in the water and kick, but also roll over, float, catch his breath, then roll back over and keep swimming. You can see his underwater baby picture hanging behind our front desk. (He’s an instructor here now, so if you see him, be sure to compliment him on his attractive rainbow, leopard-print swim diaper.)
“But WAIT!” you cry. “I don’t have 3-5 hours a day, 3 days a week to spend in the water!” And that’s the best part. You don’t have to. The important thing to remember in Garrett’s story is this: #1 – he was consistently put in the pool. The intense amount of time just meant he learned to swim faster, but the consistency is what made it possible. 25 minutes twice per week will still get you to the same place if you consistently attend class. #2 – the attitude of the people teaching him was positive and confident. No one acted like the water was something Garrett had to be protected from. Instead he was given the chance to swim and his attempts were supported.
We have many more examples of infants and young toddlers swimming in our Baby Swim classes. They prove that it is possible for babies to learn to swim if given the opportunity and encouragement.