The process of “learning to swim” covers a very broad spectrum of skills and abilities. It is challenging to define what constitutes a “swimmer” since the expectations of individual parents are often involved. For example, some parents believe that if their child can tread water for a certain amount of time then they can “swim”, while others believe that they must learn all of the competitive strokes to be a “swimmer”. At Swim Tank we initially define a child as a “swimmer” when he or she can efficiently and independently navigate across a 25 ft span, and react appropriately after jumping or falling into a pool.
At the Infant/ Toddler level we begin introducing skills that pave the way to water safety. These skills include, water adjustment, floating with assistance, and swimming under water independently. If you participate in the Infant/ Toddler class for 4 consecutive sessions your child should have mastered all of these skills. Depending on your child’s age, strength, and amount of time in the program, they may even be able to swim across the pool before graduating out of this level.
At the Learn To Swim level our focus is on safety skills and independent swimming. In this level the difference between swimming one time a week versus two times a week is crucial! Your child’s development and progress will dramatically change if you commit to swimming more than once a week, especially if your child is under 4 years old. Most children who are enrolled in a Learn To Swim class for 4 sessions consecutively (Sept – June) will learn to swim independently for more than 25 feet and will have mastered safety skills such as floating and wall recovery. However, there are always exceptions to this based on your individual child’s comfort level and strength.
“Swimming” in general is a much larger picture for us. In addition to the skills mentioned above, we also want to make sure that children can tread water for a significant period of time and float so that they have the ability to rest if they are tired. After that, we want to see them develop their strokes so that they have the option to try swim team some day, enter a triathlon, or just swim laps for exercise. Our program has broken down all of these goals into levels, which are marked by our level achievement badge system. These guidelines for progression will give you an idea of the average amount of time it takes a child to move from one badge level to the next, but remember these are not exact time frames as every child is different!