Swimming games to help kids feel safe in water

In light of the report from the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) which reveals a third of children in England cannot swim by the time they leave primary school, here are five simple, yet fun games which parents can play with their children to help teach them how to swim and to feel confident and happy in the water.

1. Skittles

Parents, you’re the target in this task. As the ‘skittle’, stand five metres from your child in the water and cheer them on as they take it in turns to walk, skip, hop, jump or paddle through the water to ‘bowl’ you over (drop to your knees if it’s shallow!) Encourage them to use their arms to propel through the water, using floating aids to help with buoyancy. For the ‘big strike’ they must kick their legs to paddle through the water to hit the target. As their confidence grows try the game again, but travelling backwards, or even sideways through the water. To vary the game, use a waterball as a different type of target.

2. Starry Sky

This is a safe technique, which teaches children how to float on water. Support your child with floating aids as they stretch out horizontally on the water, like a big star in the nightsky. Once floating, encourage them to lift their head and chest, and using their arms, change to a standing position. When they feel confident, help them to float on their front with their face submerged, before rotating to a standing position once again.

3. Frog Hopping

Teach your child to jump like a frog into the water – knees bent, back straight and with confidence. For the first few tries, use floating aids and hold their hand as they learn the technique. The ‘frog’ starts with toes gripping the edge of the pool looking forward; then jumps away from the side, landing on their feet with bent knees. Kids love this activity, so always remember to check the pool depth first.

4. Surfboards

Surf’s up! This technique is important to learn as the ‘push and glide’ is the foundation of all swimming strokes. Staying straight like a surfboard, your little ‘dude’ pushes off from the side of the pool, gliding on their back through the water. Try to keep hips and head close to the surface and stretch the arms ahead or to the sides. Until your child feels confident going it alone, use floating aids to help with buoyancy.

5. Treasure Island

It’s time to get their feet off the floor! In this task you’re a treasure island. Stand five metres away from your child in the water and encourage them to paddle towards you, using their arms and feet to kick and push through the water. Using goggles to help them keep their face partly submerged as they paddle, and help them to dodge floating treasure (e.g. waterballs). Use floating aids to give extra support while they develop their technique.

The tips were provided by Speedo®, a leading swimwear brand.

About Monica Costa

Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London http://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums

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