LUTZ, Fla. - Before families head to the beach or pool this Memorial Day, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated their guidance on water safety and drowning prevention. They now recommend parents consider swim lessons for kids as young as one.
Mother Terra Bredeson is taking part in a parent tot class at Seal Swim School in Lutz. She started her toddler in classes here when she was six months old. “It’s slow and it’s mostly safety. Falling in and getting the wall and how to float."
The American Academy of Pediatrics or AAP used to recommend that most children start swimming lessons at 4 and older but they are now suggesting parents consider lessons as young as one. Bevin Maynard is the Safe Kids Tampa coordinator for St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa. “The AAP was really nervous that parents would think their children were drown proof I honestly believe that's why it took them that long to come out and say mommy and me classes are the way to go ."
Also, the AAP had said there was little scientific proof that lessons prevented drowning or resulted in better swim skills. But Terra believes the lessons are working. She says her three and a half year old daughter Dhara, who also started classes at 6 months, is the proof. “My oldest daughter is a very strong swimmer now. She dives in the pool and she can swim across the pool.”
Micha Seal Beatty runs the Lutz school. Although the AAP only recommends starting kids at one, she starts kids as young as five months in the parent tot classes. “We've been teaching swimming for the last 30 years and we've been able to teach kids as young at five months of age to be able to save themselves if they were to fall in the water."
Kids move up without parents to a level one class around two-years-old -- depending on the child -- where they work on more basics: roll over, float to breathe, swim to the wall, and pull yourself up and out of the water.
Level two is where different swim strokes are introduced. And water safety is always part of class.
Terra says, “As soon as you say what do you do if you fall in the pool Dhara can tell you to get the wall. She shows people and she can do it. And I've seen her get the wall from 8 months on. This one now turns over and floats when she's in the pool.”
Prices on classes vary. For those who can’t afford swimming lessons Maynard says the Hillsborough County water safety team offers scholarships. For more information on that contact Bevin Maynard: child advocacy center at 813-615-0589.
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