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May 2024

Swim Lessons: Summer Fun That Saves Lives

Pools and lakes are wonderful spots for making happy family memories. But they can also be risky environments, especially for children.

While it is an outcome everyone wants to avoid, drowning is the number one cause of death for children ages 1 to 4. It’s also the second-leading cause of accidental injury death for kids ages 5 to 14.

Yet drowning is a preventable tragedy. One way to help kids stay safe around the water is by signing them up for swim lessons. Here’s what to know:

Why kids need swim lessons

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children start swim lessons at a young age. Many children are ready for a toddler class with a parent in the water by the time they are 1 year old. By age 4, most can learn basic survival skills, such as floating and treading water. And by age 5 or 6, many can master a simple swimming stroke, such as the front crawl.

For your child, taking part in a swim class may:

  • Reduce the risk of drowning (but taking other safety measures is still important)

  • Improve physical strength, flexibility, and coordination

  • Be a fun fitness activity that they can keep doing for a lifetime

  • Fuel brain health, memory, and concentration through physical activity

  • Provide the confidence boost that comes from mastering a new skill

Finding the right swim class

You can help make swimming lessons a positive experience with these steps:

  • Choose a qualified instructor with experience teaching your child’s age group.

  • Ask to observe a class first to see whether the approach seems right for your child.

  • Talk with your pediatrician if you’re unsure whether your little one is ready for swim lessons.

Private swim lessons can get expensive. For lower-cost options, check with your local public pool, community center, youth program, parks and recreation department, and/or YMCA. They might offer sliding-scale discounts based on income or family rates for multiple siblings.

Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Stacey Wojcik, MBA, BSN, RN
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2024
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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