Swimming lessons are not recommended for children under three years old as far as learning to swim. I personally would say late four years old would be the earliest a child should take real swimming classes. When a child takes a water class at nine months with his/her parent(s) he/she is only really learning to be comfortable with the water, not how to keep afloat by his/her self.
Some dangers present in this type of swim program that the parent needs to be aware of are:
1. Parents must realize that their child cannot swim and that the parent must still maintain a high level of supervision with the child in and around water.
2. A child who is comfortable with the water might become confused with mixed messages about swimming with mom and then being told to stay away from the water at other times.
3. Children who are around nine months old taking swimming classes need the water kept warmer to keep them comfortable. Children at this age wear diapers. Each child must wear snug rubber diaper covers to maintain a safe and healthy swimming area.
When children reach five years old they might be ready to start lessons. The local community educators, YMCA, YWCA and some health clubs sponsor classes. Before enrolling in the classes:
Ask for references of other parents to determine the quality of the courses.
Take a tour of the facility and the pool.Is the water clear or cloudy, can you see the bottom?Does the air in the pool smell fresh or is the air over whelming with chemical smell.Is the water too cold, just right or too warm? Are the locker rooms clean or are they moldy and the floor slippery?
Is the teaching staff certified by the YMCA, YWCA American Red Cross or BSA Scouts of America?
When Do I Know That My Child Can Swim?
To determine if your child can swim use the following tests:
1. Can he stay on the surface of the water and be able to breath, for at least one minute?
2. Can he swim the width of the pool twice (50 yards) without stopping to rest?
3. Can he do this without the use of flotation devices (“swimmies”).
For the sake of safety, if a person can do the above things he can swim - in that pool. It does not necessarily mean, however, that he is a good enough swimmer to swim across a lake. To swim well, a person should be able to use good form in the different swim strokes taught in the swimming classes. All swimmers, weak and strong, must remember and follow the rule to always swim with a partner.