What is baby swimming?

Baby swimming (swimming for infants and toddlers) is a program of learning and developing basic swimming skills in a playful atmosphere. The program involves parents with their babies – from 6 months to 3.5 years old – under the guidance of a qualified instructor in a specially designed pool with warm (around 32°C) and shallow water.

Baby swimming programs are designed to help babies become familiar with water and develop confidence in it, through their participation in safe and pleasant pool activities. Scientific studies have shown that through play, exploration and encouragement, these activities can lead to learning basic swimming movements and skills that heighten their safety in the water. These programs started in the 1960s in America and Europe, and have been developed further in Germany and the Nordic countries where they are widely used and quite popular.

 

What are the benefits of baby swimming?

The neuromuscular development of infants has not been completed, and so baby swimming is likely to affect the child’s overall development through proper physical and mental exercise. The water with its characteristics (silky texture, buoyancy, resistance, etc.) gives infants a familiar environment and many opportunities for sensory activation that they don’t necessarily get elsewhere. Despite the characteristics of this age (decreased muscle strength, stiffness and improper body ratio due to lack of maturation and development), water gives babies a great opportunity to discover that they are able to manage their movements.

Studies have shown that swimming programs for infants and toddlers support their overall development, impacting positively on kinetic, motor, and neuropsychiatric development. By swimming, children acquire adaptability to stimuli, courage and a higher degree of confidence in themselves while becoming more independent. Studies also emphasize the positive effect of infant swimming programs in the personality development of children, perceptual abilities and intelligence. At the same time, their immune systems are strengthened, they suffer fewer ear infections and get sick less (Kontzia Costas, Kourtesis & Tzetzis, 2004, Ahrendt, 1997, Serebriakova et al., 1989). Baby swimming improves appetite, and sleep becomes more pleasant and calm, as the water regulates muscle tone and creates a sense of relaxation. The involvement of parents strengthens the parent-child relationship, and through early contact with other babies develops sociability. The pleasant ambience of the pool along with exercise through games offers a fun and enjoyable experience for children. Finally, an important element is to learn basic swimming movements and skills that help children be safer in the water. Through this program the correct conditions are created for children to love swimming.

Many researchers and scientists agree that reflex swimming is a primary motor behavior, and having newborns in the water immediately after birth connects to a phylogenetic memory of life before birth. If such reflex movements are cultivated properly, they can become voluntary swimming movements by the age of 11 months, and through appropriate stimulation and proper guidance they lead to autonomous swimming by the age of 16 months. Of course, even after that age, it is never too late for children to start swimming and reap the benefits of baby swimming.

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What is the right age to start a baby swimming?

The answer is "the sooner the better!" In fact, infants at 6 months of age perform reflex swimming movements, and have a breath-holding reflex when submerged under water. This is because when infants are submerged in water the reflex motion of the epiglottis allows them to hold their breath without swallowing water. Infants should be taught swimming from the beginning, because as the infant grows, this reflex is lost. Learning baby swimming should begin by the age of six months, in order to cultivate these characteristics and provide a voluntary skill.

Is it safe for children's health? (Do I need to worry about germs in the pool, the transmission of colds, etc.?)

A natural concern of parents is whether the participation of young children in baby swimming programs can increase the risk of diseases or other harmful health situations. When the pool maintenance and water quality is excellent (as they are in the pools where we conduct Family Athletic Club Ydria’s lessons) the risk to children's health is minimal. By contrast, many studies have shown the positive effect of infant swimming programs in strengthening the immune system of infants and young children, and in reducing the frequency of illness (Kontzia Costas, Kourtesis & Tzetzis, 2004, Ahrendt, 1997, Serebriakova et al., 1989). In Baby Swimming, children get stronger and get sick less. Furthermore, swimming at this age has been shown to reduce the incidence of otitis and similar infections of the ear, since the water has a beneficial effect on the functioning of the eustachian tube (Robestson, Marino, Namjoshi, 1997).

Many parents are afraid of accidents. Is there a risk?

We minimize the risk of accidents, since the pools where we conduct the lessons of Family Athletic Club Ydria meet all safety standards, and the lesson happens with the involvement of parents. Along with the swimming lessons we also teach water safety skills to both children and their parents in order to prevent accidents.

Do certain weather conditions prevent classes?

There is no weather that prevents the ability to hold class because the lessons of Family Athletic Club Ydria are conducted in specially designed indoor swimming pools. Both the pool and the surrounding area maintain a constant warm temperature for children. So, regardless of weather conditions the courses operate normally.

How often should I bring my child to baby swimming programs?

Research has shown that once a week for 30 minutes at a time is enough for the effectiveness of the program.

News & Announcements

Thumbnail Something is changing in the global swimming world. The first meeting of the International Swimming Schools Association (ISSA) was held in the Gold Coast of Australia. Our program advisor and ISSA Ambassador, Margarita Konzia, had the honor of...
Ydria in Swim Schools in Australia
Saturday, 18 August 2018
Thumbnail During our educational trip to Australia, we had the privilege of visiting some of the best swimming schools in Australia. Our director, Margarita Kontzia, visited seven swim schools in two different cities and learned so much from all of her...
Ydria in ASSA and ISSA
Saturday, 18 August 2018
Thumbnail At Ydria, we always strive to be informed about the best practices in swimming and we are always looking for the very best for our children, so our director, Margarita Kontzia, traveled to Australia. She was the only Greek participant in the...

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