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Family Fun

Last One in the Pool is a Rotten Egg!

If you live in a northern climate, you’re dreaming of summer. If you live in a southern climate, you’re enjoying the moderate temps before cranking up the A.C. In either case, you may be looking forward to time spent in a lake, ocean or pool. Swimming will virtually guarantee you a lifetime of family fun. But when should you learn? And what if you’re an adult who can’t swim? Spring is a great time for lessons so you can hit the water when the weather is perfect for swimming.

A Swimmingly Good Idea 
If you can swim, have you noticed how many people in movies can’t swim? The Sandra Bullock character (Margaret Tate) in The Proposal couldn’t swim. Neither could Jonah Hill (Schmidt) in 22 Jump Street. Or Robert Redford (Sundance) in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Recently, an ex-NFL player fell overboard while ocean fishing, and then swam for 16 hours and 27 miles to get to shore. His wife and young children were no doubt glad he could swim.

It’s not just a good idea, but a GREAT idea to learn how to swim if you don’t already know how. Dog paddling, floating and breast stroking are swimmingly good ideas because …
  • Swimming can save your life. Seriously. If you end up in water over your head, you could save yourself. Being able to swim didn’t help Jack in Titanic, but that’s another story.
  • You could save someone else’s life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 3,400 people drown every year in the U.S. If you know how to swim you could save your child. Advanced swimmers with training can save other adults.
  • Swimming is great exercise. Have you seen how incredibly fit those Olympic swimmers are? While that may not be what you look like in the mirror, swimming allows you to use muscles you don’t use during other activities. It isn’t high impact, but swimming can be a high cardio workout.
  • Swimming is fun! If you float in the ocean it’s relaxing. If you surf it’s exhilarating. If you play water volleyball it is a riot. If you splash about with your kids it is fun for the entire family.

A Swimming Timeline 
Everyone is different. This is a suggested timeline.
  • One year and younger. Although there are “Baby and Me” swim classes offered, at this age it’s all about getting comfortable with water. Hold your baby as you bob about. Gentle splashing while sitting in shallow water is fun. Just make sure your baby is wearing swim diapers that won’t leak.
  • Two to three years. Your toddler can learn skills such as putting his or her face in the water and blowing bubbles. Youngsters should be comfortable in the water continues when you support your child as he or she floats. Avoid water wings as they provide a false sense of security and keep an eye on your little one. Their confidence often exceeds their capabilities.
  • Four to five years. This is when the “real” swimming lessons can begin. Children this age can learn to float, submerge under the water for five to ten seconds, and use coordinated kicking and arm movements. Pool and water safety are important lessons at this age. Even if a lifeguard is present, a parent’s supervision is recommended at all times.
  • Six years and older. Children this age can start learning the different types of swimming strokes. They can swim underwater and dive for objects at the bottom of the pool or lake. They can swim longer distances, although adult supervision is still recommended. This is a good time to institute the buddy system and teach other important safety lessons such as ocean current safety and diving cautions. When on open water, children should wear a life vest.
You can also learn to swim when you’re an adult. There are adult swimming lessons offered at a reasonable cost. If deep water scares you senseless, there are special classes for people who are afraid of water.

Extreme fear of water (aquaphobia) or oceans and seas (thalassophobia) is rare and would require psychological help.

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