At our school, we believe that swimming is so much more than an activity or a sport; it’s an essential life skill. Like any other valuable skill, swimming ability must be developed slowly and steadily. A specific sequence of steps allows students to learn the fundamentals and expand their capabilities over time.
The three main steps in learning to swim are:
- Water Comfort
- Stroke Development
- Stroke Enhancement
All students at Tom Dolan Swim School take classes that move through each of these three steps, beginning with Water Comfort. Our Water Comfort classes are open to babies as young as 3 months old (and Waterbabies I is even free for babies 3 to 5 months old!). y
We find that, in general, the earlier, the better when it comes to starting swim lessons. Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among small children, ages 1 to 4, so teaching water safety and basic swimming skills at an early age can save lives. And when they start swimming at a young age, they haven’t yet heard any negative stories about the water, and they have fewer mental hurdles to overcome.
What is Water Comfort?
The Water Comfort stage of learning is exactly what it sounds like; it helps children become more comfortable and confident in the water. They practice being in and moving through the water. They learn that the water will hold them up, and that the more relaxed they are, the better they’ll float (and when they tense up, they sink like a rock!). Kids have to feel this sensation for themselves to understand it. As they gain more experience, they grasp that they need to slow down to go fast in the water.
Why Is the Water Comfort Stage Important?
Water Comfort classes are all about cementing the basics – building a strong foundation so children will become lifelong swimmers.
We structure our curriculum around child development and what children are capable of at different developmental stages, from learning a back float and a front glide to full submersion and breath control skills. A five year old isn’t going to be learning butterfly or diving technique, for example, because they are simply not yet equipped to master those skills. Our instructors understand the abilities of different levels and adjust the curriculum to the needs of each particular class.
Classes are skill-based levels, not centered on age or size, so a 6 year old and a 9 year old may be in the same Penguin II class, for instance. Each class is small, so every student has an opportunity to get personalized attention within the group. We cultivate an encouraging, rather than a competitive, environment. Kids learn from each other, while making new friends and having fun in the water.
Once students complete their Water Comfort classes, they move on to Step 2: Stroke Development and Step 3: Stroke Enhancement in the sequence of learning to swim. Stay tuned for more on each of those steps in future blog posts!
Learn more about our class levels and which one is right for your child.