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Safety & Prevention

5 Reasons to Enroll Your Children in Swim Lessons

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Learning to swim can provide your child a lifelong source of fun and fitness. It also adds a layer of drowning prevention when they're around water.

Here are some of many reasons to enroll your child in swim lessons. Also learn when kids are ready, how to find quality lessons, and why you may want to consider signing up, too!

1. Swimming can be fun!

Children of all ages are often enthralled by water. Whether kids jump in, splash at the surface, or toss in objects to watch them float and sink, water endlessly fascinates t them. Learning to swim is one way to engage your child with water and allow them to safely experience the joy that water has to offer.

2. Swim lessons promote water safety

Each year, many young children and teens lose their lives by drowning. Children are naturally drawn to water. And if they do not know how to swim, they can easily get into trouble. The leading reason that children drown is that they wander and encounter a pool or other body of water while unsupervised. Making sure that children know how to swim is a layer of protection to prevent drowning. Swim instruction includes lessons in water safety that even very young children can learn.

3. Swimming is great exercise.

Daily physical activity is important for all children. Swimming is a low-impact way to gain strength and endurance while having fun. Children of all fitness levels and abilities can enjoy time in the pool. Becoming comfortable in the water is a great way to build the idea that fitness is fun. Early and regular swimming can lay the foundation for a healthy level of activity and lifelong enjoyment as an adult.

4. Swim lessons promote healthy development.

Swimming can support a child's healthy mental development, endurance and strength, general coordination and balance. Children of nearly any age, background, size and physical ability can learn to swim. Swimming allows children of all levels of ability to get outdoors and be active while socializing with their peers. Skills learned in swimming can translate to other sports as well, including building the confidence to try other physical activities.

5. Learning to swim can build self-confidence

Children love to say, "I can do it!" Competence is the ability to accomplish a task well. Competence can lead to self-confidence. As children grow, challenges such as learning to swim help children to develop the confidence to persevere in difficult tasks. In swim class, a child can learn that something difficult can be accomplished over time. Developing competence is a vital step in gaining the independence that children will eventually need to transition into adulthood.

Benefits of swim lessons for kids with autism or ADHD

Children with neurological differences can benefit greatly from learning to swim. Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have a higher risk of drowning, possibly because children with ASD tend to wander.

Swim lessons not only help keep children with ASD safe but may improve their motor skills (such as running, catching and balancing) and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Exercise in general improves social skills and reduces certain behaviors (such as rocking and spinning) in children with ASD. Research also suggests that as little as 12 weeks of swim lessons improved school performance and behavior in children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Parent FAQs about swim lessons

Is my child ready for swim lessons?

Most children are ready for swim lessons by the time they are 4 years old. Children younger than that can participate in classes that allow a parent or caregiver and child to be in the water together with an instructor. This is a great way to create comfort in the water and build swim readiness skills. Infants can also enjoy a fun time in the water with their caregiver; however, they can't yet raise their heads out of the water well enough to breathe.

How can I find a swim program?

The Red Cross offers swim lessons throughout the country. The YMCA also has swim programs, as do private organizations. You can find swim programs by using the search box called "Find a School" on the US Swim School's website. There also may be low-cost or free swim programs available in your community. Check your local city, village, or town hall for information about swim programs.

What if I never learned how to swim?

When your child is ready to swim, it is a great time to learn if you do not know how to swim. Sometimes parents who are not able to swim avoid the water. This can prevent your child from learning to enjoy water activities but also can put your child at risk.

The AAP suggests that families provide layers of protection around children, to keep them safe in the water. For example, one layer of protection is teaching a child to swim. Another layer is a caregiver who is confident in the water.

Preventing young children, even those who do know how to swim, from getting into water when it is not time to swim helps as well. Teaching teens to be safe around water by avoiding alcohol and risky behavior is another example.

If you haven't yet learned to swim, sharing the challenge of learning to swim as a family can be a great bonding experience.


Learning to swim, like learning to ride a bike, can be a rite of passage for children. Those who learn to swim as children can draw on that young experience forever. Learning to swim provides the opportunity for lifelong fun, fitness, and feeling confident (and safe) around the water.

More information

Last Updated
Adapted from Healthy Children Magazine (American Academy of Pediatrics Copyright © 2024)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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