Benefits of swimming for toddlers

Encourage kids to tap into their interests from a young age

In Summary

• An urge to give my son a head start fuels my mission to take him to swimming classes

A child leaps into a pool
A child leaps into a pool

There are many reasons why I love swimming. I grew up around water, and we were "thrown in water" from a very young age. You see, I come from a long line of sea men. My brother, father, his father before him and father before him (going all the way back to the ancestors). I come from a long line of seafarers. So the ocean is not just our home, it flows in our veins.

My son came out loving the water. He loves baths, rain, puddles, swimming pools and makes a straight line for the crashing waves when we are at the beach. Whenever there are water bodies around, his sense of danger goes out the window and his passion is ignited. He will dive into any water without a second thought.

I decided from early on that the child should have baby swimming classes from a very young age. However, for some strange reason, I couldn't find anyone who would teach swimming to babies and infants. Ironic as we come from the part of the country where swimming is the most revered sport. All the coaches and trainers only taught children from four years of age.

At long last, I found someone who agreed to teach him. I was so excited I could not stop gushing about how my baby loves water and how he would be the best student ever!

Remember last week, I wrote about babies throwing you curveballs when you least expect it? That was me this week. I stared with my mouth agape as my water-loving tot wanted out of the water during his first class! He has never in his life refused to play with water. To say he left me speechless is an understatement. I gawked cluelessly as my child screamed for nearly an hour in the water. "What happened to my water-loving son?"

Luckily, the coach is experienced and wasn't fazed by the dramatic wails. We knew he was being dramatic because he would act out as soon as he saw me. I had to sit far back from the pool so I could let the coach do his thing. By his third class, the kid was doing paddles by himself around the pool (with floaters, of course, and under supervision).

You see, some might argue that it is too early to introduce my baby to swim class. Others might even go as far to claim that I might be traumatising the kid. However, it is prudent to remind ourselves that not everything a kid loves is good for them, and keeping them away from "scary" experiences is not protecting them.

Swimming is a proven therapy. Not just physically but in all other branches of development in children as well as adults. Swimming allows children to overcome fear. It encourages them to explore the world beyond that which they know. It also boosts their cognitive and motor skills.

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