Helen Amos, swim teacher at Speedo Swim Squads, specialising in teaching the early years:
“When you first start teaching a child to swim, it’s all about building their confidence. So they can start off blowing bubbles in the water – that helps them get used to their mouths and noses being submerged... you don’t need to start with the eyes straight away. So once they can blow bubbles, the next step is getting them comfortable with putting their whole head under the water – you can get them jumping in off the side, with you catching them, and gradually, as they get more confident, you can let them submerge slightly more each time and let them get a bit of a splash in the face. Most importantly, you need to make it a fun game for them. It’s essential that you leave them to do it themselves and that you’re not forcing it. The more you force it, the more they’re not going to want to do it and will fight against you, so you need to let them do it themselves in their own time.”
Lesley Murray, swim director at Speedo Swim Squads:
“As soon as babies have had their first injections, they can come into swimming pools and take lessons. At this age, it is more about teaching the parents how to hold the child; how to work with the child confidently. As the child gets older, we start working with them rather than the parents, to teach them skills such as turning on their backs when they come up to the surface. Put simply, we teach children that they need to respect water – they can’t just throw themselves in. We teach them to walk on the poolside, to sit down and enter the pool, to make sure that they are waiting for Mummy or Daddy in the water... so a lot of it is safety. Kids can swim underwater from when they are just a few months old and can swim on their own for a few strokes while supervised from the age of one. I would say a child can be water-safe – meaning they can swim a few strokes, catch their breath and continue swimming – from about two-and-a-half years old.”
Speedo Swim Squads
Set up by director Lesley Murray 18 years ago, the Speedo Swim Squads offer swimming classes from ages nought to adult at locations all over Dubai. For more info, visit www.speedoswimsquads.com.