How We Do Swimming Lessons

Photo Source: AirmanMagazine


We’re in the midst of swimming lessons around here. 


Here is where I tell you that my kids are really not “natural” swimmers. I know some children take to water like little fish– I’m related to a few of them. I was actually kind of like that myself, as a child. Swimming was never difficult for me.


My two older kids really struggle with swimming. The little one does fine, but she’s still a tad hesitant and certainly isn’t as wild and fearless in the water as she is in, say, gymnastics. Still– swimming lessons for all of them. No arguments. No debates. No discussion.


A. really wants to be good at it and, if he can just relax a bit and not try to overthink it, I think he’ll get better and better. He’s already making good progress, but he never looks like he’s having too much fun doing it. His mind is always, always working.


G. will likely move through the levels with the least amount of trouble. I don’t know that she’s ever going to be a super-swimmer, but I’m pretty confident that she’ll be fine.


And then there’s my C. Oh, sweet, skinny little C. That child is so poorly designed for swimming, it’s not even funny. There’s nothing buoyant about her, at all, and she’s also not particularly strong. She hates getting her face wet and she doesn’t– not for one little moment– trust someone to catch her/hold her/help her. The results? Are not pretty.


She gets anxious just talking about swimming lessons. She started fretting way back in early Spring when I signed her up. She tries to wheedle out of them.


I’m not hearing it. While I do not believe in forcing my children to do sports or activities that are of no interest to them, I do not categorize swimming that way.


Swimming is an essential life skill and I insist that my children learn.


I’ve told C. at least a dozen times now–

I don’t care if you ever love swimming. I don’t care if you never want to swim for fun in your life. If you prefer sunbathing or playing in the sand for the rest of your days, that’s A-OK…. just so long as you’ve demonstrated that you can competently swim should you need to.


She doesn’t like that answer, but she accepts it. I think she’s just hopeful that there’s an end in sight.


We do lessons at the lake. They run for three weeks, four days a week.


I’ve had people say, “Ew, the lake? Don’t you worry about all the STUFF in there?”


To that, I reply, “No more than I worry about the chemicals in pools.”


The truth is, we swim in both places. Plus the ocean. There are advantages and disadvantages to everything. But this program works for us and we love the instructors. The lake is calm and relatively warm and there’s sand for the kids to play in.


We’re one week in so far this summer. I’m seeing good progress from all of them, but I feel safe saying that this will not be the last year of lessons for any of them.


How about your family? Do you do swim lessons? Where at? What kind of expectations do you have? I love to hear what works for others.

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6 comments to How We Do Swimming Lessons

  • Amanda

    This is our first year of swim lessons for our oldest. He’s 6 and is a kid that hates having to wash his hair because his head gets wet. His lessons are at a pool we are members of and are done by two of the lifeguards twice a week for 4 weeks. We are half way through and it’s amazing how much progress he has made. He will now willingly go under water and attempt to swim. He’s gotten so much better. His little brother (18 months) is a little fish. He gets on the shallow end and walks until the water is up to his nose and I have to pull him back. My grandparents had a pool and we spent our summers there. I don’t even remember learning to swim. I vaguely remember wearing water wings but I’m pretty sure I wore them just to give my mom a break from having to have eagle eyes. I agree that learning to swim is not optional. It’s definitely a life skill. I wouldn’t force it on my oldest sooner because he was so scared but now that he’s older he understands why we want him to learn and is much more willing.

    • My older two were five and six when we first started, I think. And we did pool lessons that year. I am glad that we started our youngest earlier, but she doesn’t have the same fears/concerns. It’s definitely important to pay attention to the needs of the individual kiddo! :)

  • mlearley

    My kids haven’t had swim lessons, we take them to our community pool weekly and allow them to take it at their own pace. Granted we use those floaty devices at all times but my 4 yr old is REALLY picking it up using those. We see a huge change in confidence and using her arms/legs to get her where she wants to go. Our 1 1/2 yr old wears the same floaty device and is starting to kick her legs and move her arms with me holding her on her belly. I learned how to swim by just swimming in our pool all the time. Maybe next year we’ll sign our oldest up for lessons.

  • Laraba

    I chuckled a bit over your non buoyant child. Our older 5 (ages 13 to 7) are very competent swimmers. Our 6th child (age 5) is learning. Let’s not talk about the 2 and 1 year olds. I’m just watching them carefully. But our 5th kid is our most buoyant and it was funny watching her learn to swim. That kid has almost NO problems at all. She just bobs to the surface. Several of our kids are skinnies and they had more challenges (not as skinny as your little one, I’m guessing, but still skinny.)

  • Katie

    I agree, swimming is an important life skill. How cool that your kids get to have their lessons at the lake!

  • Jennie

    I think learning to swim in a lake is awesome. Learning to swim is a must if for no other reason than safety. I’m like you, I don’t care what kind of swimmer they are as long as if they fall in, they can swim to the edge and hold on.

    My daughter is the fish and my son…not sure. He’s better now that we’ve been in the pool more often but he’s not fearless which is good on one hand and not-so on the other.

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