What is the Best Age to Start My Child in Swim Lessons?



A lot of people have asked and even wondered at what age is my child ready to start swimming?

To be honest, the sooner the better, here at Patti’s Swim School we start our students as young as 5 months old in the Baby and Me class.  We do this because we find that the sooner the student gets comfortable in the water the faster they will learn to be water safe.  The Baby and Me class is broken down in a way that makes learning fun and exciting for you and your little ones.

We get your baby comfortable going underwater by doing dips from teacher to parents and vice versa.  Babies will naturally start to close their eyes and their mouths when they see the water coming, this is not to say that they will never drink water but it will happen less and less as they start to spend more time in the pool.

The Baby and Me class also integrates the basic water safety skills needed in case your child falls into a pool by accident.  For example we work on getting your child comfortable on their back as well as getting used to the motion of rolling front to back so that they can start to understand the process of needing to breath when inside the pool.

We also do drills where we will start to glide them from parent to wall so that we can teach them to reach up and grab.  This way if they fall in or stray too far they have a better chance of being able to grab onto something so they can lift their heads out.

When choosing swim lessons for your young tot or toddler what is better, private lessons or baby and me?  I believe that if it is your child’s first time in the swimming pool and they are between the ages of 5 months to 2 years then baby and me is  a good way to go.  This way they can get used to be being in the pool, having an instructor around but still have the comfort of having mom or dad near by.  Once they are comfortable in the water and used to getting their face wet then it is time for private lessons.

Yes private lessons may seem expensive at first but they are well worth the money.  Other swim schools will have baby and me classes and not let your child join regular lessons until they are three to four years old.  Even then your child will be in a 4:1 ratio, where they get about 8 1/2 min of learning.  Yes the classes are cheaper but in the end you will be spending more money because your child will be in lessons for much longer than you desired.

With private lessons your child will learn to be water safe much quicker and be able to perform the basic water safety skills need in case of emergencies.

Why Should Parents Learn to Swim?


When people think about swim lessons they always think about how important it is for their children to be water safe, but what about us as adults?  Here are some reasons that although it is important for children to be safe in the water it is also important that their parents be safe and comfortable in the water as well.

Children learn from the adults in their lives.  They learn right from wrong, what they should fear and not fear, and what is safe vs. unsafe.  If they see that you, their parents are afraid of the water, but trying to convince them to learn how to swim, they relate that as meaning they should be afraid as well.  Children are intelligent and they know if mom and dad are afraid of something it must be for a very good reason.  This can cause the process of learning to swim to be that much more difficult for them.

As a parent learning to swim can also be a life saving skill.  Water sports are very popular in California especially during the warmer months.  If you yourself know how to swim it will be easier to assist your children if circumstances call for it.

For example you are at a BBQ, pool party with some of your friends and family, then all the sudden you hear your child screaming for you to help them.  You turn around and notice that they have accidentally wandered into the deep end of the pool.  You of course jump in, swim towards them and then tread to the safety of the wall while holding their head out of the water.  Now think for a moment that you, yourself can’t swim or are not very comfortable in certain depths of water.  This can leave both you and your child helpless.

Knowing how to swim with your child can also be a great past time.  Finding fun activities to do with your child is something that all parents love to do.  Knowing how to swim can be a great way to bond.  Just think of all the different sport and activities you can do once you both know how to swim: water skiing, wake boarding, surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, just to name a few.  All of these are fun activities that you and your child can both get involved in, that can help the whole family live a healthier, happier lifestyle.

I know some parents are reading this and thinking, maybe she is right but I don’t want to be embarrassed or uncomfortable.  Self doubt is perfectly normal and everyone goes through it.  Here at Patti’s swim school we can gear our lessons towards your own personal comfort level and schedule.  If you don’t want a lot of people around we can have your swim lesson in the morning or early afternoons, if that doesn’t work we can figure something else out for you.  Maybe you feel more comfortable with a female instructor or vica versa, not a problem.  We want everyone to have the best learning to swim experience they can have.





Goggles vs. No Goggles

Now if this were any other swim school my recommendation would be for yourself or your child to use goggles.  This is purely based on the fact that most swim schools have highly chlorinated pools that will burn the eyes if they are open too long.  Since however we are primarily saline here, I think it is important for parents to understand why a lot of our swim instructors will ask their students to swim without goggles or at least do jumps into the pool without them.

I know it may sound harsh or possibly a little bit scary, because everyone would love to be able to see clearly 100% of the time.  However learning to be in the water without goggles is a skill that could end up saving your life or your child’s life.

Take for example that your child can swim back and forth from wall to wall doing big arms and rolling to their back to breath with goggles.  Meaning you feel confident enough in their water safety ability.  Then one day while swimming in the pool with their friends your child’s goggles starts to leak.  They panic, because they have never really had to swim or find a wall with water in their eyes before.  Since they don’t really know where they are going they begin to swim in circles, their body starts to tense up and ultimately they start drinking water.  Luckily you notice in time and are able to grab them and pull them to safety or maybe there is a lifeguard on duty and he does the same.

Now think about how different the outcome could have been if your child was comfortable with swimming without goggles.  Instead of panicking your child would have probably just taken off their goggles,swam to the nearest wall, put their goggles back on and then continued swimming with their friends.

Here is another situation you might find yourself in.  Your child isn’t completely water safe yet but they know enough swimming that they can jump in and swim back to the wall without any trouble.  You have seen them working on this with their swim instructor for the last couple weeks (the swim instructor asks them to put their goggles on, jump in and then swim to a wall).  Meaning if they fell into the water at a pool party or while they were playing at grandma’s you would feel pretty confident that they would be safe, right?

Your child however is not always going to be prepared to fall into a pool at any given time.  Their goggles are not going to be on their heads or around their necks just waiting for some crazy event to occur.  Which means if cousin Ned pushed them in from behind as a joke and your child can’t find the wall without goggles, you could be looking at a serious problem.

Maybe your child however swims at Patti’s Swim School and they have been practicing the jump in and return to the wall without their goggles.  Which means you can safely say that with or without goggles, it doesn’t matter.  Your child will be able to enter and exit the pool safely no matter the circumstances.


Throw Those Swim Floaties Away!

We all know that floaties are very popular for young children, especially the ones who do not know how to swim on their own yet.  Just because they keep your child up and out of the water, does not mean that they will help them in the long run and can even cause dangerous habits.

Most young swimmers use floaties before they even start swim lessons and this causes them to have the understanding that if they lift their heads out of the water they will be just fine and naturally float.  Anyone who knows about swimming, knows that the slightest lift of your head will have the opposite affect of a float.

When in a standing position your legs will not float but in fact will start to sink, the sinking sensation then causes people to panic and the panic leads to going under and drinking water.  This is a very important reason why we should not be encouraging that upright position which is created by floaties.

Floaties also give a fake sense of security, for both children and parents a like.  The reason I say this is because when young children use them, they are convinced that they already know how to swim.  This leads to young children taking more unnecessary risks around the pool.  Some children will jump in thinking they can float just like they did with the floaties and instead will go under. Other children may wonder off the ledge thinking they are safe and realize too late that they are not able to swim in that area or stand.

Another thing to think about if your child uses floaties is that they limit movement.  So what happens if you turn your back for a second and your child some how gets tipped over?  They can’t move, they can’t breath and they cant flip on their back, these are other dangerous circumstances that could arise from using floaties.

Floaties also create bad habits that are hard to break once your child starts swim lessons, for example lifting their heads to breathe is something that children are told not to do from the very beginning of most swim lesson programs.  This is because we want the children to start learning the habit of rolling on their back to breathe.  This roll makes sidebreathing a lot easier to learn in the long run.  It also makes it so they can relax on their back when they get tired or if they fall into a pool they can roll on their back and call for help.

So parents please throw away those floaties and get your child started in on swim lessons!





How Can I Help Improve My Child’s Swimming Skills While At Home?


I know not everyone has access to a swimming pool while at home and not everyone can afford multiple days of swimming lesssons either, so how can you help your children improve while they are at home?  Here are some helpful tips and tricks to help your child improve even if they can’t be in the water every day.

If your child has never taken swim lessons before and has recently started, here are some tips for the beginning swimmer.

1. When in the bathtub get them working on bubbles inside the water.  This is sometimes the hardest thing for children to learn because they always seem to want to open their mouth.  Once they have this nailed it is a lot easier to get them to start swimming on their own.

2. Learning to point their toes can also be a hard concept to learn, so have your little ones practicing while their feet hang off the bed.  (Ask them to show you pointed toes and then have them show you flexed feet, do this multiple times so that they start to learn the difference)

For the more intermediate and advanced swimmers, here are some tips they can do at home even while they are relaxing.

1. We all know this is the tech age and most of our children are on a computer, tablet or electronic device at some point during the day.  This is the perfect time to do something constructive.  While on the device have them go on YouTube and look up different strokes/technique.  This method can also help with flip turns and dives if those seem to be the biggest challenge.

2. If breastroke is the most challenging for your child to learn then have them lay down on their stomachs and hang their legs off the bed (just above the knee).  Have them repeat (Monkey, Airplane, Soldier or Up, Out, Together), this motion will help them start the muscle memory for the breastroke kick.

3. If arm strokes are the major struggle for your child whether it is freestyle, butterfly or anything in between have them stand up and tuck their chin.  Then have them slowly go through the motion of the arm strokes.  Not sure of the correct form?  Not a problem have the instructor show you the correct form during your child’s swim lessons that week.  If your child or maybe even yourself forgets what the arms should look like throughout the week, then go to YouTube and check out a video.

Looking for more tips and tricks?  Then go ahead and comment below or send us a message on our Patti’s Swim School Facebook!



Is My Child Ready For Summer Swim Team?

I know that it seems a little too early to be thinking about getting ready for swim team, I mean it’s winter, it’s cold and 6am practices, polyester swim suits and the perfect pair of goggles aren’t exactly at the top of your list. However Summer will be here sooner than you think and now is the perfect time to figure out if this year is the right time for your child to start swim team.

Every child is different, some are born water babies and ready to dive right in, some are a little more cautious when taking that first plunge. What happens after that though? After all the tears, the laughs, the toys and the basics, what is the next step?

The first thing to do when thinking about whether your child should join swim team is to take in to account how they feel about it. Do they like it? When you tell them that it is time for swim lessons, do their eyes get wide with excitement and their dimples appear from grinning ear to ear? Or do they start to get anxious, cranky or maybe even cry? Depending on how you answered those questions will give you a pretty quick answer on whether you should even consider having them join swim team this year.

If they really enjoy it, great the next step would be considering their age. The local summer leagues start with the 6&Under group and end with the 18&U group. However the average starting age is probably 5- 6 years old. This in no way means that a younger student couldn’t join, but there would be a requirement/ swim test for them to pass.

*The swim test would look something like this*

-Swim 25 yards of freestyle without assistance

-Swim 25 yards of back stroke without assistance

-Must be water safe

The technique needed will vary depending on the team your child is trying out for as well as the coaches preference.

You should also take into account that the older your child is the more requirements they have for them before they join. Which means in some cases your child would be expected to already know how to swim all four strokes as well as dives and turns.

Which brings us to the next step in deciding if now is the right time, ask your child’s swim instructor what they think, is your child ready? What they need to work on? Tell them that your child is interested in joining swim team so that they can gear the swim lessons towards meeting that goal. This also makes it possible for you to get timely updates on whether they think your child is ready.

Finally check out the local summer leagues and find ways to contact the coaches. The sooner the better, because spots on the local teams do fill up pretty quickly. Once you are able to reach them, find out the days and times for try outs, what they will require your child to do based on their age and anything else you may want to know.