Swim Lessons: Teaching My Fishy to Swim

Brooks loves the water.  If he could stay in the pool all day, he would.  I’m sure you have the same situation with your little fishies!! 

We have a pool at our house and although we have taken every safety precaution possible, I will breathe a HUGE sigh of relief when Brooks becomes water safe. 

Brooks recently started taking swimming lessons with the amazing Eshom Nelms.  He is so, so, so great with Brooks AND with me, because you know this momma wanted to helicopter parent around the pool! Eshom was kind enough to answer a few questions for MollySims.com which I thought would be helpful to all parents now that summer has arrived.

Happy swimming!!  

Tell us a little about you and your background. 

I’ve been teaching swim for half a decade now. In that time, I’ve taught hundreds of kids to swim. I’m not a competitive swimmer.  That’s not what I do.  I teach kids the basic swim strokes and give them the ability to enjoy the water through being “pool safe”.

What should parents look for in a swimming teacher?

There is no one way to teach swimming.  The fun part for me is figuring out how each child thrives, and what I need to do in order to get the best results. 

Swim lessons should be about swimming.  If you have an instructor bringing in a truckload of toys, that’s a red flag for me.  While there are opportunities for making lessons fun, the focus should be on swimming, not games.

A positive attitude can make all the difference.  Make sure you get an instructor who truly enjoys what they do. 

What age should swim lessons start?

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that not all kids learn at the same pace.  I know it’s tough, but try not to measure your child by others.  On many occasions, the kids who are slow to swimming end up being the ones who take it the farthest.   

You can introduce a child to water right away, but I’ve found the sweet spot for constructive lessons really starts between 18 and 24 months.  Here I introduce them to the basics: holding their breath under the water, diving for toys, kicks, strokes, and back float.

I’ve found three years old to be a great return on invested time. At this age, they can become very competent in the water. 

Four and above should all be owning the water. 

What can I do as a parent?

Parents frequently tell me, “I want my kids to love the water.”  And they will.  But you need to have faith in the process.  99% of young kids cry during the first few lessons. This is 100% normal and in no way a precursor to them “hating the water.”

The child is simply out of their comfort zone and letting you know it. This is one of their first experiences with the student / teacher dynamic and that takes getting used to. As a parent, it’s best to back the instructor and let them work past the tears. I’ve found that it usually only takes three lessons for the tears to stop, and within five, they will be racing to the door when “coach” arrives for swim class.