Teaching your children to swim is a lifetime gift, making it worthwhile to spend the time and/or money it takes to raise healthy, safe swimmers. Children who swim well have a fun, full body source of exercise that can serve them for the rest of their lives. Plus, and perhaps most obviously, children who know how to swim are far less likely to face dangerous accidents in the water.
If you’re not up to the task of teaching your kids to swim on your own, we’ve gathered information on some local swimming lessons that effectively teach kids to swim. What’s great about the summer swim lessons is that many of them take place everyday for a short period of time, allowing kids to move quickly through the skills.
Send us your suggestions as well!
Wildkits Aquatics: Located at Evanston Township High School, what this program lacks in a decent website, it makes up for in an excellent swim program. Instructors come from the high school swim team and are managed by an outstanding head instructor. Swimmers as young as 3 learn basic skills and up to age 13, become comfortable in the water and eventually learn all strokes. Graduates of the swim program can try out for the Wildkits Swim Team.
Skokie Swim America: Located at Niles North HS in Skokie, Swim America program is a progressive learn-to-swim program offered jointly through the Skokie Park District and School District 219. Each class of 30 children are broken into small groups based on their skill level. For ages 5-16. Classes are on the weekends or for two week sessions everyday of the week.
Big Blue Swim School: Located in Wilmette, the Big Blue Swim School offer continuous lessons for children as young as infants.
Wilmette Park District: 30 minute private and semi-private lessons are taught seven days a week between 8-9:30 a.m. and Monday-Friday evenings between 7:30-8:30 p.m.
YWCA Flying Fish Aquatics: The YWCA Evanston/North Shore teaches 1,500 children how to swim each year through the Learn-to-Swim program, boasts about 550 registered Flying Fish swim team members, and has 80 adult swimmers on the Masters swim team. The Aquatics Program also serves adult members through aqua aerobics and lap swim.
Following are water safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Never leave children alone in or near the pool or spa, even for a moment.
- Install a fence at least 4 feet high around all four sides of the pool. The fence should not have openings or protrusions that a young child could use to get over, under, or through.
- Make sure pool gates open out from the pool, and self-close and self-latch at a height children can’t reach.
- If the house serves as the fourth side of a fence surrounding a pool, install an alarm on the exit door to the yard and the pool.
- Keep rescue equipment (a shepherd’s hook — a long pole with a hook on the end — and life preserver) and a portable telephone near the pool. Choose a shepherd’s hook and other rescue equipment made of fiberglass or other materials that do not conduct electricity.
- Avoid inflatable swimming aids such as “floaties.” They are not a substitute for approved life vests and can give children and parents a false sense of security.
- Children ages 1 to 4 may be at a lower risk of drowning if they have had some formal swimming instruction. However, there is no evidence that swimming lessons or water survival skills courses can prevent drowning in babies younger than 1 year of age.
- The decision to enroll a 1- to 4-year-old child in swimming lessons should be made by the parent and based on the child’s developmental readiness, but swim programs should never be seen as “drown proofing” a child of any age.
- Whenever infants or toddlers are in or around water, an adult – preferably one who knows how to swim and perform CPR – should be within arm’s length, providing “touch supervision.”
- Avoid entrapment: Suction from pool and spa drains can trap a swimmer underwater. Do not use a pool or spa if there are broken or missing drain covers. Ask your pool operator if your pool or spa’s drains are compliant with the Pool and Spa Safety Act. If you have a swimming pool or spa, ask your pool service representative to update your drains and other suction fitting with anti-entrapment drain covers and other devices or systems. SeePoolSafely.gov for more information on the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.
- Large, inflatable, above-ground pools have become increasingly popular for backyard use. Children may fall in if they lean against the soft side of an inflatable pool. Although such pools are often exempt from local pool fencing requirements, it is essential that they be surrounded by an appropriate fence just as a permanent pool would be so that children cannot gain unsupervised access.
- Children should wear life jackets at all times when on boats or near bodies of water.
- Make sure the life jacket is the right size for your child. The jacket should not be loose. It should always be worn as instructed with all straps belted.
- Blow-up water wings, toys, rafts and air mattresses should not be used as life jackets or personal flotation devices. Adults should wear life jackets for their own protection, and to set a good example.
- Adolescents and adults should be warned of the dangers of boating when under the influence of alcohol, drugs, and even some prescription medications.
Open Water Swimming
- Never swim alone. Even good swimmers need buddies!
- A lifeguard (or another adult who knows about water rescue) needs to be watching children whenever they are in or near the water. Younger children should be closely supervised while in or near the water – use “touch supervision,” keeping no more than an arm’s length away.
- Make sure your child knows never to dive into water except when permitted by an adult who knows the depth of the water and who has checked for underwater objects.
- Never let your child swim in canals or any fast moving water.
- Ocean swimming should only be allowed when a lifeguard is on duty.
- Teach children about rip tides. If you are caught in a rip tide, swim parallel to shore until you escape the current, and then swim back to shore.