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January 13, 2009



I don't have kids but I remember my own experience. This was in the days before the "Tot Swim" situations so I first learned to swim around 5 or 6.

Everything went well EXCEPT at the very end of the time, they were having the kids jump off the low-dive board (really only about 3 feet or so above the water surface) into the deep end. I didn't want to. They tried to coax and cajole me. I still didn't want to. Finally, before my mom could leap up from her chair and stop him, the instructor picked me up and THREW me into the water.

I was terrified of water for years after that. My mom used to have to distract me when we would have to drive over a bridge or I'd start screaming because of the deep water.

Several years later, I went to a day camp. My mom explained to the swimming instructor how fearful I was. She said she was sorry I had a bad experience and she'd work with me to try to help me stop being afraid. It took a couple summers of her working with me and coaching me until I got to the point where I passed the "intermediate" swim test, which involves swimming an ENTIRE lap (through the entire pool, even the scary deep water).

I am no longer afraid of deep water; in fact, I was on the swim team in high school.

I guess the moral of the story is: it's a good thing it's no longer the bad old days with instructors like my original one. And that it's best if kids not be forced into doing something they are genuinely not ready for. And even a bad fear can be overcome with the help of a patient, caring instructor.


I have two boys who just started swimming lessons last summer at the Y. They are 6 and 4. I should of started them earlier, but I was lazy. They seem to really enjoy the lessons now and look forward to them each week. Our lessons are more of the standard 45 minute once a week kind. It takes awhile sometimes, but I think that they all warm up to it eventually. It's a really good life skill to have I think, plus it makes going on beach vacations much easier :)


I think swimming lessons for tykes is essential!! I swam laps with my 2-year old hugging my neck while my 4-year old took YMCA lessons. Lessons need to be fun and you need to play in the water with them. Kids need to know Mom will protect them in any environment. I still swim laps at 56 (got to stay in shape for SCUBA) and see a lot of parents using their Blackberries and sitting in the stands instead of interacting with their kids. That's so sad, because swimming lessons are a great bonding opportunity!

I also have a 15 year-old step-granddaughter who wants to be a marine biologist, but her Mom won't let her learn how to swim! Not being able to swim is not only dangerous, but it can limit you socially and professionally. KUDOS to you for putting your family first, and my knitting addiction can be delayed a day or two while you are involved in 'essential Mom-ing!!'


I have a pool in my yard and had to know that my kids could swim. They were in the water very early - in float rings etc. They did take lessons but I think mostly it was because we were in our pool all summer long( so was every kid in the neighbor too). I have a great memory of my daughter jumping off the roof of our house into the deep end(9 ft) wearing her graduation gown!

Sue Johnson

I started our son with Mommy and Me lessons at 18 months at our municipal pool. Smartest thing I ever did because today he is a certified life guard. He never knew fear of the water. All he ever knew was that it was fun. I think it is vital for children to learn to swim. I commend you for your efforts and foresight.


Our son took a "swim" class at 6 months. At 1 year, he loved the pool. At year 2, we couldn't even get him anywhere NEAR a pool. At year 3 he was back in love with the pool. I wonder what next summer will bring?


Oh, you'll have such fun! I took both of my sons for lessons when they were wee things, less than a year old, and they loved it - no fear, no worries, just lots of splashing and playing - now they are 14 and 12 and love the water...


Well, I am old, but when my boys
were little I took them to the "Y"
and they just took to the water
like little tadpoles. That made
me very happy because I can't swim. Took lessons three times, but
still couldn't swim. Almost drowned
when I was 14 and I guess that did


My kids are 16 and 18 and they BOTH learned at a young age too. My daughter was afraid of water at first but we persevered and now she swims like a fish! My son took to it right away.
I truly believe that if you live in North America, with all the lakes, ponds, river and streams that EVERY person should know how to swim or at the very least tread water!
Good luck and have fun!


I started my son when he was 18th months. He HATED it. It was a program where mother and child were in the water and do not know how to swim. I thought that he was sensing my fear, and decided to wait a little until he could be independent. When he was 4 me moved to Florida and there is water everywhere here. Back to swimming lessons and he loved it and it has been a big part of his life and still is. He is a grown up guy and swims several times a week as a part of his exercise routine. I think it is paramount to give them this tool to be safe and also gives them a lot of confidence. I am glad that James likes it and do not forget to post the pictures. Do not worry about the blog, we understand that they are very demanding at this age and you want to do the best for him. When he starts school you will be more able to do what you like. And think of all the knitting time while you wait....


I have a 5 year old and a 7 year old. My daughter started around 18 months but didn't like it, so I didn't push her. We tried again around 4 and she loved it, then hated it. We tried here and there the next few years (same with my son)and they liked it 'OK' but were always hesitant. Seemed like they both really started to love it at around 4 yrs for my son and 6 yrs for my daughter...and then their skills really excellerated too. They are both absolute fishes now. I think the key is not to push them (warm water helps too). Seems like maybe it's a maturity thing too as many of the Moms I know have also said that they just seem to be more ready for it around 5 years, and then really took off.

Jean Marie

My older son, now 15 years old, liked the water so much when he was little that he would walk into the deep end (no fear, sigh) before he knew how to swim. We weren't able to teach him to swim, so when he was about 3 or 4 and we could manage the schedules, he started swim lessons at the local indoor pool. He took lessons for several summers, is a competent swimmer and enjoys the water, but "outgrew" the lesson format and didn't have a great desire to continue.

Younger son (turns 5 on Wednesday) did not like water when small. we belonged to an outdoor pool for a couple of summers, and the first year we would help him stand on the top step with just his feet in the water. He would lean over, look at the water, stand up and say "Wah!" the entire time his feet were in the water. Wouldn't go near the edge as he got older, wouldn't go in on his own. I expect he's somewhat more likely to play in the water now that he's older, but we haven't had the spare money for the pool fees (indoor or outdoor). We will most likely try for lessons now that he is older, but I'll have to figure out where - he doesn't like loud, chaotic environments and the indoor pool is an echo chamber - lots of noise from splashing and voices - so that's probably a no-go with this kid.

Definitely, if your little one likes the water, do something to help them learn basic water skills - but I agree that pushing isn't helpful if you have a little one who doesn't like the water. Sometimes they just need to be a bit older. Hope you enjoy!


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