The Learning Curve
1) Babies less than a year old accept the water more readily than older children. Often, they willingly go underwater during their first lesson, whereas a child over the age of 2 may require 8 – 10 lessons before submerging their heads.
2) Fear of water is acquired as a child grows older. The longer a baby is kept away from water, the more likely they are to be afraid.
3)Babies are adapted to swimming.When they are submerged, they automatically hold their breath and their swim strokes resemble dolphins ( excellent butterfly leg action). However, these natural instincts begin to fade as early as 3 months.
The Physical Development
4) Babies can exercise more muscles in the water. They are less restricted by gravity and their inability to sit, stand or walk on land. This increased strength often manifests itself in early learning of physical skills, like crawling and walking.
5) Swimming improves babies’ cardiovascular fitness. Babies are obviously limited in how much they can improve their endurance, however swimming does have a beneficial effect.
6) Early control of movement in water gives children a head start in learning basic swimming skills.
7) Water helps improve co-ordination and balance by encouraging babies to move bilaterally to maintain their equilibrium (balance).
8) Warm water, gentle exercise and fun equates to a relaxed, stimulated and hungry baby, therefore they usually eat and sleep much better on swim days.
The Psychological Development
9) Babies flourish in the focused attention that their parents can offer them during swimming lessons. Parents often confess that the lessons provide 30 minutes of “ quality” time without interruption.
10) As babies learn how to manoeuvre in the water on their own, their self confidence and independence grows. This can be clearly seen by their huge smiles and enthusiasm to please/repeat.
11) Swimming provides babies with a lot of skin to skin contact with their parents, that psychologists say, may deepen and enhance the special bond between babies and parents.
12) Learning to swim is not only a fun, healthy activity but a safety precaution as well. All children should learn how to swim to reduce their chances of drowning and to free them from the paralysing effects of fear and panic when near water.