New guidelines for infant swimming lessons


by Sandra Parker

Posted on June 17, 2010 at 5:15 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 17 at 6:04 PM

VIRGINIA BEACH --  Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children ages 1 through 19 and according to the American Academy of Pediatrics toddlers and teenage boys are at greatest risk. 

Previously the AAP has advised against swimming lessons for children before age 3 because there was little evidence the lessons prevented drowning or resulted in better swim skills. 

new evidence shows that children ages 1 to 4 may be less likely to drown if they have formal swimming instruction.  So the AAP is now recommending that parents consider whether their young child should get lessons, based on how often the youngsters are around water, their physical abilities, emotional development and other things.

At Dive Quarters in Virginia Beach, there are two infant swimming resource instructors to teach children ages 6 months to 6 years.

The focus is on skills, not strokes, says instructor Kim Doczi Schwartz.

 "I don't drown proof anybody. Nobody is drown proof, but I think it gives them a good foundation to progress into other types of lessons," she says.

Skills include what to do if a child falls into a pool, "whether it be turning and reaching for the wall or turning, swimming, going to your float then flipping back over, to your swimming reaching the wall or just going to your float and maintaining your float for varied amounts of time."

19-month-old Bronwin Bates is taking lessons because her older sister took them.

"I think there's a lot of water in this area. There's a lot of water activities and i just want to be really certain if i stepped away for a moment or looked away for a moment and there were an accident that they would know what to do," said mom Cynille Bates.

The essons last 10 minutes a day and the children get one-on-one instruction.