For most children, the first step to learning to swim is to feel comfortable and have fun in the water.
Regardless of their age, no child will learn how to swim safely if they are not comfortable playing and enjoying the water. That’s why the instructors at Old Town Hot Springs teach young children how to swim through playful and productive exposure to aquatic environments.
“When I’m teaching little ones through exposure, I really want them to want to play in the water,” said Bebe Lloyd, swim instructor at Old Town Hot Springs. “It’s all about the fun part. They get excited about being in the pool and playing in the pool. Then they start wanting to do it themselves.”
Exposure of infants and toddlers to aquatic environments
Learning to swim and becoming comfortable with aquatic environments can begin right away for toddlers with bath time. Lloyd suggests bringing some of your child’s favorite bath toys to the pool to help ease a smooth transition from the tub at home to the larger pool environment. Parents should start bringing toddlers to the pool one to two times a week as early as possible for water-based play.
“I love the parents who get them in the water faster, not even with an instructor,” Lloyd said. “Bring your baby to the pool once a week starting at six months.”
Private lessons and group swimming lessons
One of the biggest benefits of private or group swimming lessons for young children is the accountability and consistency of practice. Professionally trained swim instructors at Old Town Hot Springs are adept at dozens of pool-based games to help engage children with the aquatic environment and help build basic swimming skills.
Lloyd describes how she turns the largest pool into an aquatic world for swimmers to learn, including Mermaid World, Lava World and other areas with specific features and games designed to stimulate fun and skill building. . Activities like underwater tea parties and floating exercises get kids comfortable with basic swimming skills.
Private lessons are beneficial for children who need one-on-one interactions and personalized programming. Group swimming lessons offer children the opportunity to learn from their peers and participate in larger pool-based games such as sharks and minnows or green light with red light.
The first water points for children
Skills parents should look for during early aquatic development, from comfortable play to first underwater experiences. Here are the milestones that swim instructors at Old Town Hot Springs look for when helping kids learn to swim.
1. Comfort and confidence in the water, playing independently or with peers.
2. Comfort and confidence navigating on your back, with assistance and independently.
3. Gliding in comfort and confidence (also known as a “rocket-ship”) through the water. Here children place their feet against the pool wall, extend their arms in front of them and push off the wall to experience a sliding motion.
4. The students are then encouraged to start putting their faces under the water. This corresponds to learning to blow bubbles from their nose under water.
“I was a high school chemistry teacher, so I like to incorporate science into my lessons,” Lloyd said. “I teach children to blow their nose bubbles by telling them to hum under water. If you’re humming underwater, you’re blowing air out of your nose and the water physically can’t get in.”
Finally, students begin learning their first swimming strokes, such as the Ice Cream Scoop stroke, which teaches students how to coordinate arm and leg movements for swimming.
Learn to swim in the old town’s hot springs
Parents have many opportunities to teach their children to swim at Old Town Hot Springs. Start by bringing your children to the pool for play often throughout their early childhood. Next, consider enrolling your child in private or group swimming lessons for their appropriate age group.
Adults who are interested in learning how to swim should consider scheduling private lessons with an aquatics staff member.
“With the adults, we go straight to the lap lanes and work on technique using the kickboard,” Lloyd said. “We’re teaching them so they can swim for exercise and safety, or they want to go snorkeling or scuba diving or for cross-training if they’ve had an injury.”
Sarah Konopka is the director of marketing at Old Town Hot Springs. Visit Old Town Hot Springs in person or at OldTownHotSprings.org to learn more about available programming.