- Blowing Bubbles. This is not only incorrect, but can also be dangerous. Children who are taught to blow air bubbles underwater sacrifice precious air that can make a difference in an emergency. The theory is that blowing bubbles to release air keeps children from inhaling water (aspirating). The reality is that in healthy child the body automatically protects itself from water going into the lungs. The epiglottis, a flap at the back of the throat, is designed to divert anything more dense than air to the stomach and away from the lungs. By teaching this the bubble blowing technique, it can actually create a dangerous situation for the child. Within approximately 2 minutes of submersion a child can lose consciousness and it only takes four to six minutes before permanent brain damage can occur. Every second is valuable. Teach your child first to hold his or her breath when going underwater. A professional swim instructor should be able to do this without blowing in a child’s face or counting. Your child needs to learn to respond to the natural environment instead of a person. You may not always be there.
- Using Noodles and Kick Boards. Despite the fact that most swimming programs advise against children using flotation devices, many continue to teach basic swimming lessons with noodles and kickboards. Floatation devices provide children with a false sense of security and confidence in the water. Even when using them for their intended purpose of isolating kicking skill, they still promote head up posture which is less effective in swimming progression. Kickboards and noodles should be used only for their original intent, which is to isolate the kicking skill for children who are more advanced in their swimming and have the skills to survive if the apparatus were to accidentally slip away.
- Bobbing. Though it seems fun to pop in and out of the water, bobbing teaches children that air is available only when standing up. Unfortunately, most children who fall into the water alone cannot touch the pool or ground with their feet. Struggling to maintain a vertical position can also cause a child’s body to be pulled under the water more quickly. Instead, children should first learn to float in the water, and then progress to learn to swim with their face down and rollback to float when they need to take a breath. The swim-float-swim survival sequence helps children more effectively rescue themselves in an emergency.
- Lifting the Head for Air. Children become exhausted trying to continually swim and lift their head for air. Teaching a child to rollback to float is the most effective approach to helping them get air in the water. The back float posture provides children with rest and unlimited access to air until they can swim to the edge of the water or be rescued. Many swim programs claim to teach children how to float but then skip teaching the child how to get there from a swimming posture. Make sure the program you choose teaches not only the float but how to get attain it and maintain it.
- Wearing Goggles. Sometimes the protection goggles provide can lead children to believe they won’t be able to see in the water without their goggles. Children who swim with their eyes closed often incur collision injuries with other children or walls. Children who fall into the water need to see the way out of the water to survive. Only provide your children with goggles for play or advanced swimming once the child can confidently swim underwater without them.
No matter which swimming lesson program you choose for your child, remember these tips to ensure your family is prepared to safely enjoy the water.