To Swim... Or Not To Swim
As winter in Los Angeles keeps creeping ever closer, families begin to wonder... “Should my child keep swimming year round?” The short answer is yes, absolutely. The long answer can be more complicated.
First, let’s touch upon the benefits of swimming year-round. There are a variety of benefits to swimming year round. At young ages, children are constantly learning new things. As they learn, their brain is compartmentalizing all of the new information. During this stage repetition is key. There is so much info being absorbed that they cannot hope to memorize it all. When we take a break from swimming for the winter months, as much as 60% of what the child has learned about swimming is liable to be forgotten. When this happens, the first few weeks of the next summer are spent re-teaching skillsets that have already been mastered. Not only does swimming year round help with remembering, but it also gives us 3-4 extra months within the year, to teach.
Studies have shown the best time to teach a child to swim is between the ages of 6 months and 3 years of age. The second best time is between 3 years and 6. A child is only between 6 months and 6 years of age for a small portion of time. The larger amount of time spent within this age frame working on swimming skills, the more likely they are to absorb and remember. Another reason for year round swimming is this form of exercise is low impact and can improve your child’s health without damaging their body. Exercise, as we all know is filled with positive health benefits, however; it can sometimes be very difficult to entice children into doing it, especially when it is cold out. The last beneficial point for year round swim lessons is that it continues to reinforce vital skills in regards to drowning prevention. The more we can reiterate water safety the better.
Second, let’s touch upon the concern that often prevents children from benefiting from year round swimming—outside temperature. The main reason parents don't want their children to swim, in the winter, is their concern about the effects of the outside temp on the health of their child. This concern is a legitimate one, but swimming in the winter is truly A-Okay. As parents, it is our job to worry, but let me put your minds at ease. As long as you are willing to keep your pool heated, it just doesn't get cold enough in LA to be concerned about hypothermia or illness. The main reason children get sick from swimming is due to water temperature, not air temperature. When the water is too cold, even in the summer, it affects their internal body temperature, which can cause them to be sick. Even water that feels good to you and me can make a child sick. Ideally, a pool should be kept at 90 but 85 is acceptable. This goes for both summer and winter. As long as the pool is heated, the child does not spend enough time outside of the pool in the 50-degree, LA temperatures to negatively affect their health. So if you are worried about your child getting sick, crank that pool temperature up and let them continue swimming for it’s amazing benefits to their health and safety.
There are other reasons why swimming in the winter is ok but I don't want to take up too much of your time. Year round swimming is important for children and adults alike and as long as the water is warm, the air doesn't have to be. Enjoy your swim lessons and I hope I have helped with your winter swimming decisions.