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How long should children take swimming lessons?

FEB 01 2019

While we all know the benefits of children learning to swim from an early age, many parents wonder how long their kids will need to take lessons for.

While it’s completely dependent on the individual child and their development, there is one crucial factor to keep in mind – safety.

This summer has proved catastrophic for drownings in Australia and compared to last year, there’s been 60+ per cent increase in fatal drownings.

Furthermore a 2018 report by The Royal Life Saving Society Australia found that three out of four children had quit swimming classes by age eight, long before they’d learned skills that could save their lives.

While starting swim lessons early is proven to assist with children’s physical and cognitive development, it’s important to remember the skills learnt at an early age must be maintained. Even stopping lessons during the winter months typically results in a decline in a child’s confidence and independence in the water, as well as a drop in technique and stamina.

Kingswim Mernda Centre Manager, Jarrad Carey, says even if children aren’t interested in competitive swimming, learning proper strokes and becoming a strong swimmer is vital.

“Repetition is key to mastering and maintaining these lifesaving skills,” Jarrad says.

“While children may seem competent from an early age, a discontinuation of swimming lessons can result in children losing their feel for the water both physically and psychologically.

“What’s worrying is older children, who are less likely to be in regular lessons, are usually taking part in water activities like snorkelling or surfing, often unsupervised. It’s crucial they have the ability to keep themselves safe.”

The Royal Lifesaving Report also found

  • Only 25 per cent of children stayed in lessons long enough to reach national safety and swimming benchmarks at age nine and 10
  • 83 per cent of 12-year-old children couldn’t tread water for two minutes (the goal for children by the time they finish primary school)
  • 40 per cent couldn’t swim 50 metres of freestyle or backstroke
  • One third couldn’t swim 25 metres of survival strokes

“Learning to swim is much more than an extracurricular activity, it’s a necessity for children of all ages.”

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