September 11, 2008,
S.W. asks from Littleton, CO on September 08, 2008
How Important Are Swimming Lessons?
My two oldest daughters have both taken beginning swimming. They are definitely not the best swimmers and they are definitely not the worst. My in-law family has harped and harped on me to put them in continual lessons to master the skill of swimming. They seem to really believe they need it in order to live a safe life. I've never taken swimming in my life, yet I grew up vacationing every summer (just about) on a lake. So I probably was given the opportunity to swim about 2 weeks total a year. My swimming skills are probably not the best, but they've always done fine for me. My brother never took lessons, but he swam back and forth carting people from a boating accident he witnessed to shore saving several lives. My in-law family will not lay off about lessons. My MIL can't swim and is resentful that her mother didn't put her in lessons and my FIL had a scary experience of being rushed down a river. They believe by their personal experience that everyone should be put in swimming lessons. My SILs both took a lot of swimming and swam competitively and so regard their experience as one all should have. What do you all think? What is your experience? Is it really that important to master the skill of swimming?
So What Happened?™
Thanks to everyone for your input. I've researched more about the importance of swimming lessons. Everything I've learned says that although swimming lessons are part of an equation for safety that they are definitely not a lifesaver alone. When I go to the pool with my children, I'm constantly with/watching them. I've seen most mothers where I go tend to just lay out and read while the lifegaurds babysit. I feel good about where we are at right now since according to the equation of best safety I've been filling out those suggestions. As our schedule becomes more open, I believe I will put my middle child in further lessons but not with force. She could use a little more help on her ablities. Thanks again!
T.T. answers from Denver on September 09, 2008
Swimming lessons aren't probably essential, but they are fun and great exercise. I was in swimming lessons from the age of 5 until 12. I always really enjoyed them. If you don't take your kids swimming that much or they don't enjoy it at all, then I wouldn't push it and try and explain to your in-laws that it's just not something you see as important. Hopefully it won't cause a huge wedge, but you are the mother and you do what's right for your family, not what someone else thinks is right. I plan to put my kids in swimming lessons, but that's me. I had a great experience with swimming lessons. And it is great exercise for healthy kids, especially in the winter when you don't get outside much to play. But ultimately, you need to make the decision for your family.
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K.C. answers from Denver on September 08, 2008
It sounds like your in-laws are freaking out because of their own experiences. Are they offering to pay for the lessons and drive your kids back and forth from them? If your kids can swim to the point where they're enjoying themselves, can keep themselves afloat for a while and can get from point A to point B in the water (not miles, of course, but, say, across a large pool), I see no reason to push them into more swimming lessons. As long as they learn water safety and have a healthy respect for water (without being scared of water), they should be just fine. Even the best swimmers can get swept away in a riptide or river current, no amount of "swimming lessons" will prevent those situations if they're being unsafe. If your kids have lots of opportunities to swim, their skills will continue to improve. It may be a good idea to have them take lessons to the point where they can do the breaststroke and crawl correctly and safely. But there's really no reason to learn, say, the butterfly, if they're not going to compete. Competitive swimming is a whole other thing altogether. If your kids love to swim and want to compete on swim teams, go for it. But if they don't want to, forcing them will turn them off totally. Competitive swimming is time consuming and tiring for the whole family - it takes real commitment. It's ultimately your call. Do what you feel is right for your girls and don't get bullied into doing something you feel is not necessary. Good luck!
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K.R. answers from Denver on September 09, 2008
I think that kids should be able to be safe in a pool. I think that this means being able to swim the length of the pool and tread water. If there is no desire to be a competitive swimmer it is enough that they can swim and hang out with their friends as they get older and feel competent in water. There will be situations (a rushing river, or an undertow in the ocean) in which even the most mastered swimmers would have difficulty and not because they aren't capable.
Sounds to me like your kids will be fine.
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A.G. answers from Denver on September 11, 2008
I have to side with the in-laws on this one. I used to take a laid-back approach to swimming lessons with my daughter but we had an experience while we were camping earlier this year and I totally did a 180. I contacted ISR (Infant Swim Resource) www.infantswim.com. She attended classes for 10 minutes a day for 6 weeks and all I can say is that I now have 100% peace of mind knowing that god forbid my daughter should ever be somewhere (lake, friend's house, community pool) she is fully capable of saving herself if she were to fall in or get pulled under.
The lessons aren't cheap, but I looked at it as an investment and as a gift that will last my daughter a lifetime. You may want to check it out and approach your in-laws with helping offset the costs.
I wish you the best.
K.D. answers from Denver on September 10, 2008
I had years and years of swimming and hated every minute of it. I can function in water. Not well, but can survive. I plan to do lessons for my kids, but only to the point of safety and competency unless they want to go further. It sounds like your kids can swim well enough to be safe and have a great time with friends in a pool. In law stuff is never fun. I hope you can explain your decision. You didn't mention your husband's view, but he might be a better one to field this subject for you. GL!