For the past few months, we have been exploring the “Circle of Water Safety” and focusing on the importance of year-round swim lessons. To reiterate what we’ve learned, water safety is a combination of the knowledge and the physical ability that is needed to keep yourself and others safe in and around the water.
Taking time to strengthen skills and build comfort through consistent swim lessons are the most important steps for children to become safe swimmers.
So far we have discussed theconcepts of time and consistency, looking at how both of these are essential to developing muscle memory and strengthening skills. This month, we will discuss the final piece of the circle and take a look at the full picture of water safety.
Time, consistency, and strength of skills are all important in their own way, but if we look closely at each, we find that there is one element that is being consistently developed and gained in every moment, from the first swim lesson to the first time a child swims their first full lap of freestyle. It is also sometimes the hardest one to see happening. This is the element of comfort. For young and beginning swimmers, building comfort in the water is one of the most, if not the most, important component of their lessons. It is the foundation upon which all of their future learning will be built.
The down side of comfort is that it can be one of the hardest things to build and simultaneously one of the quickest skills to get lost in breaks from swim lessons. Children who love the water when taking a parent/child class at 18 months, may not feel the same if they are not exposed to the water again until they start lessons at age 3. Recall the story from the first blog in which a child takes swim lessons only in the summer. Each summer she returns back for lessons, significant time must be spent getting her back to where she was at the end of the previous summer, meaning time has been lost that could have been spent progressing and working on new skills rather than on rebuilding comfort. This is one of the main reasons that consistent, year-round swim lessons are so important.
Comfort, more than anything, is about building a positive relationship with the water and seeing it as a safe, happy space. Swimmers develop this relationship in a few different ways. Part of it happens as they spend increased time in and around the water. They begin to familiarize themselves with the space, how it looks and how it feels. As time goes by, the pool transitions from a strange, unknown place to something that is part of their routine, something they know and understand. This continues to develop as they build strength and muscle memory through consistent lessons.
Gaining the necessary strength and skills to move safely in the water can be empowering and typically leads to swimmers of any age beginning to see the water in a new, positive way. As swimmers become more familiar and confident in their skills, the water becomes a space where they are entirely comfortable. They know how to move and breathe and they have the skills
and the strength that allow them to be confident. It is at this point, when all of the elements come together, when a swimmer has learned breath control, developed the muscle memory, the endurance, and the strength to move independently in the water in a variety of directions without any kind of fear, that water safety is achieved.
Thank you so much for following our “Circle of Water Safety” blog the past few months. We hope you have truly learned why year-round swim lessons are so important, and hope to see your child(ren) in and around the pool this winter.