Swimming Lessons: Why Every Child Needs Them

As summer draws near and we spend more time in swimming pools and lakes, it’s important as parents of young children to be extremely vigilant around the water.

Here are some alarming statistics about drowning from the CDC:


-Drowning is the second-leading cause of accidental death for children under 14 years of age.

-80% of drowning deaths are males.

-In 2007, there were an average of 10 drowning deaths each day in the US alone.

-In 2007, among children 1 to 4 years old who died from an unintentional injury, almost 30% died from drowning.

-For every child who dies from drowning, another four received emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.

-Among children ages 1 to 4 years, most drownings occur in residential swimming pools. Most young children who drowned in pools were last seen in the home, had been out of sight less than five minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time.

Here’s the good news:  Participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children aged 1 to 4 years (source).

Both of our boys (4 years and 2 years) recently started taking swimming lessons at a local swim club. Prior to this, Big Brother had loosely participated in a toddler swimming class. After brushing up on these alarming facts on drowning (especially since we have a pond in our backyard), I am upset with myself for not starting these lessons sooner!

The swimming lessons the boys are taking are hard-core. In fact, they ask that parents don’t even watch for the first few sessions because it distracts the kids and often makes them emotional. The instructors are tender with the emotions and feelings of the children but they also realize that the reason they are there is to learn how to swim…and learning to swim could save that child’s life someday.

If you don’t have your child enrolled in swimming lessons, I would HIGHLY recommend it! If you are unable to afford swimming lessons, check with your local YMCA, fitness club, or parks & recreation department to see if they have any discounts available. You could even ask grandparents and family members to give swimming lessons as a birthday/Christmas gift instead of toys!


*If this post resonated with you, would you consider sharing it with others? I had no idea of some of these statistics until I started researching it…EVERY parent needs to know this information!


  1. We just finished ours yesterday. I was AMAZED at the difference it made with my 4 year with just 3 one hour sessions. He went from frantic, akwardness to swimming under water. So thankful, these statistics are heartbeaking.

  2. We have an in ground pool and two children. We started swim lessons with my daughter at 13 months and have enrolled our 9 month old in a mommy/baby class. So sadly a local child died last summer under the same circumstances – was suppose to be inside, was gone for a few minutes, both parents at home.

  3. This is a kick in the booty for me! I was just talking about signing up our kiddos and feel horrible that I was complaining about the price! It’s obviously worth the investment! Thanks for the stats.

  4. What a great reminder, thank you. My mother-in-law was a swim instructor years ago as well as a highly skilled and competitive instructor, she will be teaching my 3 & 2 year old this summer. Kids are so attracted to water that it is vitally important to teach them the skills to swim and the kniwledge to go to the edge of the pool/pond. Thanks again for reminding everyone. God bless.

  5. I appreciate that swimming lessons give confidence, but realize that they also give a false sense of security. Children can still drown even if they know how to swim. The stats are higher for boys becoming victims of drowning because they, over all, take more risks. I didn’t learn to swim, and now I have a pretty bad attitude about swimming and water sports. I’m leaving it up to my husband to decide when our daughter should start taking lessons. That’s interesting that the swim teachers don’t allow the parents to be present in the first few lessons. That sounds like a pretty good idea.

  6. Where do you have your kids enrolled that they are ‘hard-core’? We take lessons at our local high school which I believe is through the American Red Cross?, but I don’t think my 4 yr. old is learning too much. … I could be wrong… We have also taken lessons at our local YMCA, and I did think they focused more on actually learning the swimming movements(while wearing a life jacket). My local pool doesn’t have the kids wear life jackets while learning so apparently two different ways of learning!??

    1. SwimKids teaches kids 6 mos and up. They work one on one with the students to keep their skill and confidence equal in the learning process. Swimming is a life long skill for safety and health. I highly recommend these lessons.

  7. My daughter will be 4 in July and will be taking her first swim lessons at a local University run by the Head Swimming Coach. It runs 2 weeks straight for an hour each session and they take the smaller kids away from the parents too. All of my local friends agree that having their kids in those lessons really helped. I’m actually nervous for my daughter because as of now she thinks she can swim (because she’s always worn floaties). I keep telling her how she is going to learn to swim without them. One good thing though is that she will be in with some friends so hopefully that will help. In these lessons their goal is to have the kids be able to jump in, go under water, surface and float on their backs. They have a very high success rate so I feel good that she is enrolled.

  8. I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, our oldest son was a victim to drowning almost two years ago. Never in a million years did we ever think this would happen to us. We were THOSE parents–the ones who are diligent and protective and would do anything to keep our children safe…and yet it still happened to us. Our youngest (and only surviving child) is currently enrolled at a swim school. DO NOT PUT OFF LESSONS! It’s absolutely important! Pools are not the only hazard. Mop buckets, washing machines, bath tubs and toilets are also a hazard.

    Lastly, I wanted to mention that no matter what the swim school/instructor may tell you, NEVER take your eyes off of them at lessons…EVER! I have heard of incidents over and over again where children have nearly drowned at lessons. The coach cannot keep their eyes on all of those children by themselves…they must have parents actively watching too. I’m sorry, but I highly disagree with what your swim club has told you.

    1. Oh my goodness, Shannon! I am SO SORRY for the heart-wrenching tragedy your family has experienced. Thank you for your comment!

  9. I have twin boys, 19 months old…at what age do you think swim lessons should happen? We dont have a pool so the boys are only “swimming” occassionally and I thought they’d get more out of lessons next spring. Any thoughts? Thanks!

  10. Thank you so much for this post! There cannot be enough said or enough education on this subject. This subject is near and dear to my heart as my mom owns a swim school that specializes in infant survival swimming lessons. Swimming lessons can make a huge difference and kids can learn so much earlier than parents often realize! However, I agree that NOTHING can ever substitute for adult supervision. Even when kids have the skills to swim on their own they often don’t have adequate judgement skills to be left unsupervised.

    http://www.infantaquatics.com is a great source for quality swim lessons starting as young as six months old with instructors around the US.

  11. I live in the Bay Area where we have mommy and me classes starting at 3 months old. I’ve been taking my son since 3 months and he is now almost 3. He now attends a class where he swims by himself and the ratio is 4:1. I don’t think it’s ever too early to enroll your child! Also, I’d be concerned with letting my child use floaties for the reason another poster stated. It absolutely gives the kids and their parents a false sense of security. We have a large waterpark here and they don’t even let children wear them so that way parents must be vigilant 100% of the time. Thanks for bringing up this very important topic!

  12. I’m a nanny and am so happy they’re finally putting the about to be 3 year old in lessons! The older two had several sessions and are great swimmers. I’ve been pushing since he turned 2, but mom kept insisting he was too young. Ha! Oh well. It is really hard in the pool though with the toddler and an 8 month old….thank goodness for watchful lifeguards.

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