Here at the swim school we have advocated for years that swim lessons are a major layer of protection in preventing drowning. We work very hard to teach a child that there will be a consequence for stepping off the edge of the pool. They will go under water! Now I personally have two, yes two, major resources that support this theory. In a recent blog, we reported on the results of the brand new, just released, National Institute of Health study that confirmed the fact that swim lessons play a role in drowning prevention.
The study concludes: Participating in formal swimming lessons was associated with an 88% reduction in the risk of drowning in children between the ages of 1 to 4.
(Arch Pediatric Med. 2009; 163(3):203-210)
Now on top of that great research, I have had the personal experience of confirming the value of swim lessons in effecting a two year old's behavior around a swimming pool. Yup, I ran my own research study.
Last week I was walking a house in our neighborhood that is for sale with my daughter, son-in-law and just turned two year old grandson, Frank. Frank has been in swim lessons since he was an infant and is an excellent swimmer. He could comfortably get himself across a 30 foot pool by swimming on his belly, rolling over and then rolling back on to his stomach. While mom and dad were talking to the Realtor, I wandered into the backyard with Frank to check it out. There was an unfenced pool sitting right outside the back door.
Now as we approached the edge of the pool, Frank looked at me and said:
"Grandpa we can't go in the pool without someone watching us."
I wanted to jump up and yell Hallelujah!!!! This is where the battle against childhood drowning will be won. The kids have to learn and understand the fun and the risks of being around a pool. If we look at other childhood safety issues such as seat belts and bike helmets, it is the kids who remind us not to start the car until they are buckled and the kids who go and get their bike helmets before we leave on a neighborhood ride. In swim lessons we teach you as parents to let the child go under water when they walk off the side of the pool. We teach the children, and often times the adults, how to go under water without panicking and how to think about what to do when they are in the pool (roll over and float or turn around and go back to the side).
So encourage your friends and neighbors to get their kids in the water. You now have two major sources of research to support you --- The National Institute of Health and Frank!!! Both high quality research studies.