25 answers

Can a 3 Year Old Really Learn to Swim?

My 3 year old daughter (just turned 3 in April) took swimming lessons last summer, introducing her to the pool. She initially hated it and screamed, wanting out. Then she gradually improved to the point that she enjoyed the water. She's been taking classes for a month so far this year, and loves it...but she still doesn't know how to swim. They focus on putting their faces in the water and blowing bubbles and gradually learning how to kick their feet and move their arms. It's time to sign her up again for another class...but it doesn't sound like she'll be actually swimming on her own in the next class either. Is she still too young to swim on her own? She now loves water to the point that it scares me and I really would like her to learn to really swim. I'm not a good swimmer myself. Thanks in advance!

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So What Happened?™

Thank you for all of the responses! I did check the infantswim.com website but didn't find any instructors on the southwest side of the metroplex...but I'll keep checking. I'm going to keep my daughter in her swimming lessons for now. They're not perfect, but I think it's still good for her until I find something better. I didn't learn to swim until my early 30's, so I want my kids to learn at a young age. When we go to the lake to feed the ducks, it scares me when she gets too close to the water...even though my husband says he's got her! Knowing that she could swim would give me more peace of mind. Thanks again!

Featured Answers

Hi. I noticed several people mentioning ISR swim lessons. I am one of the few people in the area who is certified to teach this technique. I teach students as young as 6 months (if they are crawling) up to 6 yrs. Students under around 14 mo learn to float until someone can get to them, and students older than that learn to swim and float. All lessons are one on one. It's an amazing technique. You can go to www.infantswim.com to watch video and learn more. I have a few openings, so let me know if you're interested.

I. Kohleriter

Emler Swim School is the best! We have been going there since my son was 15 months old and he is a great swimmer! He loves the water! I would highly recommend Miss Carla - she is an absolute doll! She is so patient and sweet - she has 6 kids herself!

Yes. a 3-year-old can learn to swim. My daughter learned at 2. We went to a private teacher at her home. Good Luck!

More Answers

I would like to encourage you to look very hard around the metroplex and find someone who teaches swimming using the ISR (Infant Swim Research) style of swim lessons. I moved here from FL nearly five years ago and it is very popular there because FL is covered with retention ponds and drowning is the #1 cause of death in FL for children under 5. Two weeks before my daughter turned 3, she started her lessons. This program is amazing, my daughter took her lessons M-F for 10 minutes. Yes, 10 minutes, that's all it takes. My daughter started on a Monday and by the beginning of her lesson on Wednesday, she was swimming. The idea is to teach your child survival swimming. They learn to swim under water and to roll over and float to rest and breathe and then back under water until they can get to a safe place in the pool (i.e. steps or side). Most kids complete the program in 6 weeks, my daughter took 4. It is pretty pricey, back then, it was $50/week. But it was the BEST $200 I ever spent on my child, I had 99.9% confidence that unless she was unconscious in the water she would not drown if she should fall into a body of water. What's really neat was the very last lesson, I had to bring her fully clothed with shoes and all so the swim teacher could "test" her to see if she were to fall into a pool, could she save herself. It was one of the proudest moments I've had with my daughter. I have to warn you though, that the first few days can be a bit tough watching and you may even need to walk away. In no way do they hurt your child but they do get them under the water from the beginning and until your child learns how important it is to hold her breath, she's not going to like it. But I GUARANTEE withing 3-4 days, you will have a child that can swim alone under water, holding her breath. My daughter swam that way until nearly 5 when she taught herself to doggy paddle. The lady my daughter took her lessons from taught my friends 6 month old son to float on his back, she said they can learn to swim underwater starting at 9-12 months. Could you imagine having that kind of peace of mind? I can't express enough what an amazing program this is.

1 mom found this helpful


I 100% agree with Glenda W. on the ISR classes. We have a pool and actually took our infant daughter last year to ISR to teach her just the float portion for safety reasons...just in case. I don't beleive that you can be too safe with this. Anyway, this is her second year and she is 17 months old and learning to swim, float, and get to the edge....SO in answer to you question, 3 is definitely not to you. IRS instructors do 1 on 1 training with the children, and you don't even get into the pool. Like Glenda said it is only 10 minutes, but they catch on very fast and I see anwhere from infant age on up to 4 when we are there. The class is really not for "Fun", but it is designed to teach your child to swim and survive in the water. Most of the children your childs age seem to enjoy it , while mine screams through the whole thing (ugh) any, like I said I cannot put a price tag on her safety. I live in Plano and it is $75 a week, and if your daugher has already started to learn, she will probably catch on pretty fast. You can check to see if you have an instructor closer to you at www.infantswim.com

Best of luck to you!


I moved to Garland when my daughter was two years old, about to turn three in September. We lived in a townhome with a pool. During the summer she wore "floaties" for most of the summer--but hated that she couldn't go into the area where the "big kids" got to swim. I told her she had to swim really well before she could take off the floaties and go into the deeper water. During that one summer she learned to swim like a fish. People were amazed how strong a swimmer she was. So, yes, it is possible. A lot depends on how much they want to learn. My six year old still can't swim that well. He just doesn't have the same "drive" that my daugher did.

i begain swim lessons last year when my oldest turned 3 - it took alot of times going to the pool and well this year he can swim, but not good enought for the swim team KWIM ??

My daughter could swim by herself at this age. But she was around a swimming pool all the time!!

Hi becky -
i agree with many moms here that what you are doing is great, but having taught swim lessons for almost 7 years - red cross, ymca and ellis- it depends on the child and very few children have the coordination, mental development to swim - i realize that some may dog paddle, but few can grasp the concept of what to do in am emergency. Now, i have never heard of the isr, so that could be helpful - all this rambling to say - let your son have fun with it, play around and enjoy the process. there is plenty of time for him to learn strokes - also at this age how vital isit that they learn to "save themselves" they shouldn't be unattended in the water - EVER. And if you have concerns about your own abilty swim where there are lifeguards and share your concerns of your child's swimming ability. You know what could be fun - take private lessons with your son! Both of you could come out on the other end a little more confident - good luck.

Absolutely! We just finished a session at Emler b/c we just built a pool and I wanted her to know how to swim. We tried at the YMCA last summer and it was a disaster and she ended up more scared. Emler was fantastic. My daughter is 4 1/2 and I saw plenty of kids that were much more advanced than she is and far younger too.

Emler Swim School is the best! We have been going there since my son was 15 months old and he is a great swimmer! He loves the water! I would highly recommend Miss Carla - she is an absolute doll! She is so patient and sweet - she has 6 kids herself!

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