The opening of beaches in New York and New Jersey and Connecticut over the weekend, coincidentally occurring with National Learn to Swim Day on Saturday, offers a hope, albeit an early and measured one, that outdoor and group activities may be on the way to returning as well. Water safety, pandemic or not, is always a concern, says the Aquatic Safety Research Group (ASRG).
In connection with Leslie’s Pool Supplies, ASRG suggests five tips in children’s water safety, as swimming is a fun and healthy activity that can be enjoyed for a lifetime, competitive and otherwise. These include:
Start early and practice often: Children can begin learning to swim as early as age 1 to adjust to the water and learn safe boundaries. Learning how to swim can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children 1-4 years old, according to the National Institutes of Health, so it’s important to keep active throughout the years.
- Be patient and reassuring. New experiences can be frightening for any child, and it’s normal for little ones to cry the first time they are in the water. Don’t force them, and always make sure they aren’t hungry or tired when it’s time to practice.
- Keep learning separate from play time. Have designated times for swim practice apart from regular pool recreation so kids will be focused and ready to learn. Make it fun and reinforce new skills during water play, keeping practice to 15-30 minutes to better engage kids.
- Practice the basics. Proper breathing, kicking and strokes are all key elements of swimming and can be practiced in shallow water, at the edge of the pool or with specially approved learn-to-swim aids. The initial focus should always be on breathing and becoming comfortable in the water.
The right tools can make a difference. It’s important to have certified learn-to-swim equipment and swim trainers to help swimmers learn to be safe in the water and feel confident while learning to swim — but remember that swim aids are never a substitute for adult supervision and formal lessons.
“Our team and Leslie’s share a mission to make sure every child learns how to swim,” said Dr. Tom Griffiths, president and founder of the Aquatic Safety Research Group. “We hope these tips will help keep kids water safe as they become strong, confident swimmers — a skill that may one day save their lives.”