Age Your Child Could Swim?

Updated on June 21, 2011
M.L. asks from Irvine, CA
15 answers

At what age could your child crawl stroke? My 4-year-old daughter loves the water and is doing quite well at swim lessons. I am wondering if I get her private lessons where she gets more attention would she be able to swim this summer? She turns 5 in October. My first inclination is that she is a bit too young to have the coordination and maybe I shouldn't push her until next summer, however, she loves the water so much I don't want to quit on her if she could learn to swim sooner.

What she can do now:
back float briefly
front float briefly
swim to bottom of 3-foot area to pick up ring
swim underwater through your legs
jump in and recover and swim underwater to edge of pool
crawl kick and stroke with assistance or float belt

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K.O.

answers from Atlanta on

She's not too young for crawl stroke. Swim teams are big where I am, and many 4-6 year olds are swimming crawl (it's not pretty and there's no rotary breathing yet but they are using big arm strokes and kicking).

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R.J.

answers from Seattle on

In my family my son was the 'slowest' of all of us. MOST of us were little fish... easily swimming lengths and breadths of the pool by age 2 (underwater, crawl stroke/ freestyle, backstroke, you name it). Personally I learned to swim before I learned to walk, as did my brother (crawl stroke is named as such because it really is just crawling through the water, arms and knees just don't purchase). My son didn't really get the hang of freestyle until he was 5... although he could swim underwater/breast stroke/semi-freestyle (he wouldn't breathe while stroking but would stop and tread water to breath) by age 2... he just wasn't quite the fish the rest of us were.

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D.G.

answers from Las Vegas on

Sounds to me like she's doing just fine in the swim lessons she is in; she's learning age appropriate basics and water safety, and love of the water. I'm not sure what you mean when you say "you don't want to quit on her"??? Keep her in lessons, take her to the pool and let her play and have fun (supervised, of course). She doesn't have to know the swim strokes to have fun in the pool. However, if she has expressed an interest to progress faster, or is frustrated that her current level class is not progressing fast enough then persue alternatives such as private lessons or a higher level swim class.

C.M.

answers from St. Louis on

My daughter will be four in August and she crawl swims now - she kicks her legs up in the back and pulls (cup like) in the front....She is not doing nearly as much as your daughter but can swing the length of my parent pool - about 40 feet.

Sounds like she's doing great!! I think she's catching on and if she's in lessons she will be a great swimmer!

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T.P.

answers from Tuscaloosa on

She's too young to crawl stroke yet, but that doesn't mean she shouldn't take swimming lessons. It never hurts to start trying. My son is almost 6 and he can do flips off the diving board and swim to the side, but can't do the crawl stroke yet. I think it usually happens around age 7-8.

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D.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

My daughter's 5th birthday is at the end of October so she is very close in age to your daughter. She has been in private lessons since she was 3. Before her 4th birthday she could do big arms with kicking. She would roll over onto her back for a breath and then roll back to swim some more. She can now crawl 18 yards with proper side breathing, backstroke 18 yards, butterfly 6 yards, breast stroke 6 yards, dive and recover at 5.5 feet depth. She is working on her flip turn at the end of a lap.

Your daughter is capable of learning proper strokes. I'd put her in private lessons. They are costly, but they have made a huge difference in my daughter's progress. More importantly, she truly enjoys herself and looks forward to every lesson. So why not learn more? Good luck!

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M.M.

answers from Washington DC on

Can she make it across the pool? Mine were in swim lessons at 3 and 4, at 5 they were on the swim team. THe swim team they are on now has 5 year olds, they have to swim across the pool, they can do freestyle.
MIne are now 10, 13, and 16.

I would put her in more lessons, do it all summer, if she loves it that much.

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J.B.

answers from Boston on

My youngest was swimming the length of our pool and jumping off the diving board last summer, when he was 4. I don't think he or my 7 year old "crawl" per se but they do just fine with their own mish-mash of strokes. If she does all of what you list already I wouldn't bother with private lessons, just get in the pool with her and work with her yourself.

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M.C.

answers from Honolulu on

The main thing with swimming is the number of hours your child spends in the pool. My kids were 4 and 7 when we moved to a neighborhood with a pool. They had lessons previously, but I did not consider them to be strong swimmers. I was nervous to have a pool at such easy access, but seriously, swimming every day was what did it. Now they are absolute fish. If you want her to be in olympic form, then you need to continue with a coach, but seriously, they figure out all the mechanics of holding breath efficiently, moving through the water, diving down, etc just through experience.

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A.C.

answers from Savannah on

At three my son was swimming (crawl stroke) regularly, alone for short distances of like 10ft. I wouldn't let him in the deeper pools alone though because he could tire out, but we would let him go down the water slides alone. He knows if he gets tired or a cramp or whatever to just "dead man float" (what we called it when I was a kid, where you go limp and just let your legs dangle, rest face in water, and move your face to the side for air). Not pretty, but very useful when just needing to rest. He's only done that once in 2 years though (except when I'm telling him to, to practice). He did a belly flop out of the waterfall cave and it hurt, so he just floated and I got him within a few seconds, and got a lot of high fives and pats on the back for being calm and smart. He can't back float much (like 2 seconds, lol) but he can float, he does great at the crawl, and can go down and grab a toy in the 1-2 foot water. 3ft, it's kinda iffy. Sometimes he can get all the way down, other times he tends to float back up because he doesn't want to "lose his air" I suppose. He can swim the crawl all the way across the pool (but keeps his head up forward for air instead of the side), and he can swim a kid version of the breast stroke (underwater just a little, and doesn't come up except when he needs air) across the pool. But he cannot really back float, pick up rings in 3ft consistently, or swim through our legs (but then, we really haven't worked on those). Sounds like your 4 year old is doing really well. Just a matter of how long she's been swimming and what she's picked up so far. My son (now 4 1/2) has been taking lessons since he was a BABY every summer. But since we don't have access to an indoor pool, he literally has to retake lessons every year (if nothing else, for a refresher course). Little kids tend to lose or forget things that they don't use often. We swim every day during the summer (or at least 5 days/week). We like the lessons that are 2 days/week and then we sit and watch everything in a room, looking through the window, and practice whatever he learned that day until the next lesson. On weekends, we just play together as a family. They pick it up again faster as it progresses. Not sure when they are old enough to retain it permanently; we're not there yet. But one thing that was a little dangerous this year: our son REMEMBERS being the little mascot among the lifeguards, he was their "little buddy" because he swam SO well, SO fast, for a small 3 year old. He remembers jumping in and swimming across the 11 ft end playing sharks and minnows, etc. But this summer, he ran to jump in and sank like a rock. (Fortunately, he left me to jump in, to his father who was already in the water). He had forgotten how to swim, but "thought" he knew. That wasn't too good. We got him in lessons again quickly. He picked it up quickly, but he needed that time to "refresh". He didn't want to listen and learn from us because he "knew" it all, but it worked better with a "teacher". Then we work with him the rest of the summer.

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R.K.

answers from Boston on

My youngest was in the preschool class last year (3&4 yr olds) and most of the kids by the end of the two weeks of lessons were swimming. In order to move out of the preschool class they had to be 5, go under the water, and crawl stroke halfway out without assistance.
Do you have a pool? I'm sure if you work with her outside of lessons she could do it. I don't remember how old my oldest was he was a fish.

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T.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

I have 4 year old twins and they can swim the length of the pool
with the crawl stroke but they have been taking private swim lessons
since just before 2 years old. Its very expensive, but so worth it.
Your daughter sounds like she is doing a great job!

T.

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K.P.

answers from New York on

I grew-up in South Florida... we were ALL independent swimmers by age 2 b/c it was a safety concern for my parents. I now live in NY and my son (age 3) has been taking group lessons for about a year and is a "safe swimmer". We'll continue the lessons until he's independent and comfortable.

She's not too young to be a strong swimmer. Many children who live in coastal cities are good swimmers before the age of 3 or 4.

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S.M.

answers from Visalia on

If she has the basics down, then just let her play swimming on her own, with supervision of course. She'll learn to hold her breath longer, her muscles will get stronger, her coordination will improve and she'll have lots of fun just playing. By next summer another session of lessons will help her with technique.

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S.B.

answers from San Diego on

My daughter was swimming the crawl stroke at 3 or 4 and she's a extremely strong swimmer today. She started doing swim team at 7. My son is incredibly athletic in football, soccer, & other sports, but swimming isn't his strong suit so didn't start the crawl until he was around 7, and it's not a pretty stroke at all.

Your daughter is doing great! Have a fun summer!

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