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How long will it take for my child to learn to swim?

It’s the most frequently asked question about swimming lessons. While it’s nice to have an idea of what to expect, and how long it will take and how much time you have to spend at the pool, as well as how much it’s going to cost, there are a few things to bear in mind.

And FYI - by swim we mean basic freestyle and every child is different and therefore it is impossible to give an exact answer to this question. However practice, exposure and encouragement are the keys to learning something. If you want your child to learn and expedite the process then you need to invest in a good swim school or coach, keep up your weekly lessons consistently as well as take your child to the pool regularly and this means two or more times per week and keep up the encouragement.

Getting children in the pool early has been proven to help with learning to swim and through continuous development in our program, a child who has been taking swimming lessons since the age of 1 should be able to swim basic freestyle and backstroke by the time they are 6. We always advise parents that learning to swim takes a lot of practice and patience and every child will accomplish the goals in their own time as it happens with any other learning process. We do not rush or force any child into any activity they are not ready for.

Another important aspect is dependent on the goals and expectations of the parent. What are you hoping to get out of swimming lessons? Do you want your child to become water confident and learn basic safety skills, or do you want your child to learn all four competitive strokes? To give you a better idea of what we offer at Aquabubs in our Learn to Swim program, here's a breakdown of our levels: :

Sharks/Orcas 1: After graduating Sharks/ Orcas 1, your child can hold their breath for a short time, lift their head up to take a breath while swimming, swim to the side of the pool and be able and confident of climbing out by themselves (if they fall in). These are basic safety skills that can buy you seconds should your child ever fall in a body of water.

What this means for parents: You still need to be in the water with your child to supervise and support them and be within arms reach at all times.

Sharks 2 : Graduates of Sharks 2 can swim without swim aids both on their front and their back.

What this means for parents: You don't need to be in the water with your child, but you need to be watching, alert and prepared to jump in at all times.

Sharks 3/ Orcas 2: Graduates of Sharks 3/ Orcas 2 are just starting to learn basic freestyle and backstroke and increasing their endurance in the water.

What this means for parents: You can now sit on the lounge chair, while keeping both eyes on your child at all times (no phones, no kindles, no distractions).

Sharks 4/ Orcas 3: S4 graduates are now completely comfortable swimming freestyle and back stroke with improved technique.

What this means for parents: Your little swimmer is confident and will be able to swim across the pool and know the safety technique of rolling on to their back to take a breath and tread water. However, you should still supervise your child at all times.

Rays/ Orcas 4: Rays/ Orcas 4 graduates can swim 25m freestyle and backstroke and beginner breaststroke and butterfly

So, depending on what your goals and expectations are for your child in swim lessons, you can stop when you feel your child has mastered self confidence and safety skills or they can continue and improve on their skills and techniques. But remember, no-one is ever completely ‘drown proof’ (not even international swimming champion Michael Phelps!). And we encourage swimming as an important life skill and a love of water for life.

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