How fast can you teach a child to swim? Let me start by asking you these three questions: How fast does a child learn to walk? How fast does a child learn to talk? How quickly does a child learn to read? Learning to swim is really not much different. It is a process, not an event. Can you remember when you were teaching your child how to walk or talk? Do you remember how encouraging and how excitable you were as your child made even baby steps of progress? I believe it's important that you give the same unconditional support and patience when your child is learning to swim. With that said, there are a variety of things to account for when determining how quickly you can teach a child to swim:
- Your definition of swimming
- Age of the child
- Natural ability
- Individual's focus, effort, and motivation level
- Instructor's level of teaching expertise
Your Definition of Swimming
Ask 10 different people this question and you may get 10 different answers. In an effort to communicate to parents what children are capable of learning, I wrote "What Does it Mean to Learn to Swim?
" In that article, I listed a set of benchmarks that defined what children are capable of performing in the water within reason:
- 3 months: Baby is capable of happily having water gently poured over the head using our conditioning method.
- 6 months: Baby is capable of performing a brief underwater pass.
- 12 months: Baby is capable of a brief underwater swim.
- 18 months: Toddler is capable of maneuvering himself thru the water for 3-5 seconds using the legs for propulsion (independently from mom/dad to the teacher).
- 24 months: Toddler is capable of getting back to the side of the pool from a sitting entry.
- 30 months: Toddler is capable of swimming with face in the water for 7-10 feet.
- 36 months: Toddler is capable of getting back to the side of the pool from a standing entry.
- 3 ½ years: Child is capable of swimming with the face in the water and breathing as needed using a pop-up or roll-over breath.
- 4 years: Child is capable of swimming freestyle with the face-in-the-water for 20 feet.
- 5 years: Child is capable of swimming Freestyle with side breathing and Backstroke for 30 feet.
- 6 years: Child is capable of swimming a 100-yard individual medley (25 yards of each stroke: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle) competently.
If it were up to me, everyone should be able to master the 5-year old benchmarks at minimum (Freestyle with side breathing and Backstroke for a minimum of 30 feet), and preferably the 6-year old benchmarks (100 yard swim, 25 yards of each stroke). To me this is swimming. At the same time, it's also important to realize that younger children, for example, aren't physically capable of those strokes yet, thus, the development of my Swimming Benchmarks.