Why you shouldn’t cancel your kid’s swimming lessons in winter

Keeping up your child’s swimming lessons during the cooler months will pay off in the long term, experts say.

Swimming is the most popular organised after-school activity for kids, according to an Australian Sports Commission report.

Yet by the time they finish primary school, up to 40 per cent of children can’t swim 50 meters. And tragically every year, there are reports of children drowning in pools, lakes, dams, creeks, rivers and at the beach.

Learning to swim is a vital life skill, but surviving and thriving in water takes practice.

So it’s important to maintain swimming lessons throughout the year, says Royal Life Saving Australia.

“Royal Life Saving research shows that kids who drop out at the age of six or seven miss out on essential swimming and water safety skills, and fail to learn basic survival strokes,” says the organisation.

The swimming in winter dilemma

Swim Australia executive officer Gary says parents often cancel swimming lessons during winter and early spring because it takes a little more effort to stay warm and dry.

They may also mistakenly believe that children are more likely to be exposed to colds if they swim in cold weather.

But cutting back on swimming classes can negatively impact a child’s progress in the water, says Gary.

“Kids are growing 12 months a year and how they are in April and when they return to swimming classes in November is different,” he says.

“Their motor skills and co-ordination change, but if they’ve continued lessons, they adapt to those changes.”

Benefits of swimming in winter

They get better faster

After a break, most children have to re-learn skills again, says Gary.

“Consistency is important when learning to swim. Like learning to talk, walk and write – the more you do it, the more you master those skills,” he says.

It may help them fight off winter bugs

Swimming over winter keeps children active as a time when they can’t play outside as much.

Exercise has been shown to boost immunity, which may help them fight colds and flu.

They may get more teacher time

Because some children drop out of swimming classes, winter and early spring can be an opportunity for your child to get more individualised attention.

They will be better prepped for summer

If kids start lessons in October or November, summer will be over by the time they have enough confidence to swim.

Learning during winter means children can enjoy the water more when summer comes.

Top tips for winter swimming lessons

  • Layer up clothing to keep kids warm and dry.
  • Have a wet bag and a dry bag for clothing,
  • Dry your child’s hair thoroughly when they get out of the pool.
  • Check that the pool you are going to has heated change rooms and warm water.

Written by Sarah Marinos.