Parents encouraged to put children in swim lessons at younger ag - - Columbia, South Carolina

Parents encouraged to put children in swim lessons at younger age

Rick Jones remembered his first swim lesson like it was yesterday.

"I've been swimming since I was three years old," Jones said.

Now, the 14-year-old Jones says the water is one of his favorite places to be. But it was his first lesson that got him started.

"He basically just dropped me in the pool and told me to either sink or swim," Jones recalled. "So, I swam and then he taught me how to actually swim."

Like Jones, many have taken their first strokes at a swim club in Lexington. Years later, some are actually teaching.

"They'll put their arms out," Monica Garvin said. "They'll suck their stomachs in, They'll tuck their chin up and learn to float on their back and that gives them more confidence and makes them feel more confident in the water and ready to start swimming and start into the strokes."

Garvin says she has also been swimming since she was three. However, she has given swim lessons to much younger children.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents should put their children in swim lessons by the time they are a year old. Dr. Elizabeth Mack from Palmetto Children's Hospital says exposure to the water at an early age can make a difference.

"It's not necessarily going to prevent them from drowning, but it can't hurt to get them in the water earlier so, if they were to get in without your supervision, then they will be able to get to the side."

Dr. Mack says this is just one of the ways to prevent something she sees too often.

"Drowning is way too common and unfortunately they are usually preventable," Mack said. "A pool or a lake or creek needs to have a locked gate or some barrier in between the child and the house and the body of water outside"

Chris Wooten, owner of Topspin Racquet and Swim Club, says there are several parents at his club who have their young children in private lessons.

"The key is just awareness," Wooten said. "You know at one or two years old, we've got folks that bring their kids and do swim lessons. Just private lessons. Just to blow bubbles, get used to their face in the water, trying to breath a little bit and you build on that. It's a progressive thing. You just don't them to panic."

Not only could it save their lives at some point, but Garvin says it helps with their confidence down the road especially if you spend your summers near the water.

"I mean, whenever you get them started at a young age, it's when all their friends are trying it for the first time, too," Garvin said. "Whenever you put them in at an older age, it's harder for them to start picking it up. They are going to feel behind and discouraged."

Parents can find a list of places offering swim lessons by clicking here.

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