Teaching young children to swim

Almost all children love playing with water, and that's good. Let your child play and experience the water: that's the first step towards wanting to learn to swim. And getting used to the water.

Wherever we are in Sweden, we are nearly always close to lakes or the sea. The school curriculum states that by year five, pupils should be able to swim 200 metres. This means almost everyone can swim, and many of us associate summer with soft sandy beaches, rocks, games and picnics.

Water play for young children
Bowls, buckets, mugs and cans – give your child various opportunities to pour and splash water about and the playing will come naturally. The earlier your child learns to enjoy and spend time in the water, the greater the chance of them learning to swim at an early age.

Swimming lessons for babies and young children
You can start swimming lessons in the form of baby lessons between the age of three months and two and a half years old, and take traditional lessons from age two and a half. If you don't go to swimming lessons, it's fun and good to stay with your little one in and by the water.

Always supervise children when they are in or near water
Lakes, the sea, ditches, large puddles, baths, large buckets or tubs – as soon as there's the slightest risk of your child's head going underwater, an adult must be present and giving their full attention to the child at all times. Drowning happens quickly, and even when supervised, a young child should not have too much water in the bath, for example. If your child is playing on a jetty, always make them wear a life jacket.

Swimming aids as toys
Swimming rings and arm bands should be viewed mostly as toys. All children who do not know how to swim must be under adult supervision at all times. The safest thing is for you to stay with your child at all times, in or very close to the water.
• A float with two containers made from solid plastic combined with a solid belt may be suitable for children who can swim a little.

• Inflatable plastic arm bands can also be helpful to children who are learning to swim.

• The classic swimming ring puts the child in the wrong swimming position and is not recommended, according to the Swedish Lifesaving Society.

Swimming rules for children who can swim
• Never swim alone.
• Swing alongside the beach.
• Never jump or dive into unknown water.
• Never push or hold someone under water.
• Only cry for help if you need it.
• Never swim under jetties or jumping posts.
• Avoid the sun's strongest rays in the middle of the day.
• Always have something between you and the person in distress: “the extended arm”.
• Always let people know where you are going and when you expect to return.
• Do not play with life-saving equipment.
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