You might be wondering, how long do children have to be enrolled in swimming lessons for to become competent swimmers? The answer depends on several factors, not least the level that you, as a parent, want them to attain.
Ideally, if lessons are conducted on a regular weekly basis, children can become comfortable and mobile in a short time. Obviously, if a child continues their lessons, they are more likely to develop into stronger swimmers than those that just achieve a minimum skill level.
Royal Lifesaving Australia recommends that children be able to swim 400m continuously before they cease formal swimming lessons and our experience is that this ability is required to give kids and adults the ability to cope in different aquatic situations and to enjoy water based activities.
Through years of experience, we can safely say that the following factors are likely the most important for estimating the length of time your baby or child will need to take lessons for:
1. Frequency of Lessons
In a nutshell, the more often they attend their swimming lessons, the faster they will progress.
As with most pursuits, the more often a child, and adults for that matter, participant in lessons or practices, the more comfortable and confident they become, and the easier it gets to develop more advanced skills more quickly. With regular training, children develop muscle memory as they get accustomed to certain movements. The shorter the gap between sessions, the more likely they are to retain this knowledge and improve their technique at a faster pace. One lesson per week is considered a good routine, with regular practice sessions in between.
In addition, doing an intensive block of classes every now and then (such as during the school holidays) really gives kids the opportunity to consolidate their skills and improve quickly in a short space of time.Doing an intensive block also means that any breaks they have in tuition have less impact.
2. Natural Physical Ability
Even in young children and babies, genetics play a role in how quickly they adapt to the water. Now, we’re not saying that your child needs to show early signs of being the next Ian Thorpe, but even at this stage of life, kids have varying abilities of strength, coordination, flexibility, range of motion, and other physical attributes. The good news is, though, that all children can be taught to develop their attributes, and kids often learn and progress so fast that physique becomes a moot point. Nevertheless, natural ability can determine how long your child needs to take lessons for and everyone progresses at their individual rate. If the program schedule is adhered to, and regular practice is also being done, you’ll be amazed how quickly an initially slower paced learner can “click” and get right up to speed!
3. Confidence in the Water
Confidence is crucial. It’s the basis of all we do at Tanya’s Tadpoles. Great care is taken to instill confidence in a child, because without it, everything else that we teach can be hindered. We see the full spectrum of confidence when we begin to introduce kids to water, from those that are timid and shy or even afraid, to those seem at home in the pool from the very beginning. Naturally, confident kids will progress at a faster rate than those who aren’t, but no matter how long it takes, allowing a child to become comfortable in the water is the single most important factor at the start of a program. It should never be rushed or forced.
In general, the earlier that children are introduced to being in the water, the easier it is for them to develop confidence.
4. Type of Program
Children enrolled in private lessons are more likely to learn at a quicker rate than those who take lessons in public swimming pools. Sometimes, kids are taught to swim en-masse, and like with a lot of other areas of study, the smaller the group, the more attention a child will receive, and the quicker they’ll progress. With one-on-one swimming lessons, the rate of progression is increased enormously. Also, the pace of the lesson and the skills focused on is directly influenced and adjusted according to just one child’s individual development.
5. Parental Influence
Kids learn everything from their parents! At such a young age, they really are the proverbial sponge, ready to soak up all the encouragement and praise from those closest to them. We strongly encourage parents to be involved and swim with their kids between classes; if a child sees how much enjoyment a parent has in the water, it’s only natural they’ll follow suit.
We would always encourage children to continue swimming until they are proficient and strong in all strokes, but there may well come a time when your child is confident in and around the pool, and more importantly, you the parent are confident in your child’s ability around water.
This peace of mind comes at a different stage for each student, but if your child reaches this level more quickly, they may just be showing abilities beyond simply being safe and happy in the pool, and it might be in their interests to continue on to more advanced lessons in technique and to move towards competitive swimming and squads.
At Tanya’s Tadpoles we offer a range of programs to suit all levels of ability, and tailor each lesson to the individual child. Register here, or take a look at our Holiday Intensive Swimming Program, which really does get the maximum benefits from swimming lessons!