Many parents view learning to swim as a one-time event. Often we hear a mom or dad say, “My child learned to swim on such and such a day.” In reality, learning to swim is not a one-time event, but rather a journey that consists of many phases and steps. The length of the journey is dependent upon many things.
One variable that influences the length of the journey is the parent’s definition of “swimming.” Some parents think that “swimming” is simply moving independently through the water, a skill that we teach in level 1. Others think that “swimming” is moving independently in the water, being able to catch a breath, and then continuing to move through the water (a skill that we teach in level 2). Some parents think that “swimming” is doing freestyle, and others think that “swimming” is doing all four strokes with ease and efficiency.
Other variables that influence the length of the journey of learning to swim are a child’s listening-skills, his or her water comfort, the extent of a child’s separation anxiety, and his or her athletic ability. In considering all of these variables, one can understand why it is impossible to give a set time frame as to how long it will take for a child to learn to swim. Every child is unique and our teachers are trained to adapt their teaching style to meet each student’s needs.
Parents also sometimes think that the journey of learning to swim will be a steady incline where their children will constantly progress at a rapid rate. In reality, it is more of a stair-step progression in which a child will progress rapidly and then plateau for a time, then progress rapidly, and then plateau for a time. This stair-step progression is due largely to the variables that we discussed above which influence the learning process.
We encourage parents to be patient with their children and remember that their child is developing not only a life-saving skill, but a skill that will stay with them for life. It is true that the journey is the reward.