How Long Does It Take a Child to Learn to Swim?

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One of the most frequent questions we get from parents at Little Fishes Swim School is: How long will it take my child to learn to swim? It’s a valid—after all, the sooner they can swim, the less opportunity there is for drowning. Unfortunately, it’s not an easy question to answer. The fact is—it just depends. Each little fish is unique, and there are many factors that could determine their progression timeline. Below are the top three things to consider.

  1. Like with any new skill, practice and exposure are the keys to learning. Children need regular guided practice to learn swimming, and maintain their physical and cognitive growth milestones. Regression is common among young children that swim only seasonally, and the idea that a child will pick up where they left off is not realistic. In fact, the longer a child is away from swimming, the longer it takes him or her to work back to the initial skill level.
  2. Class size. Group lessons are often ideal for beginners because it gives them the opportunity to learn and draw motivation from their peers. However, if the class size is too large, students spend much of their lesson waiting for their turn. That’s why Little Fishes Swim School offers small class sizes to ensure individualized instruction—which leads to quicker progression.
  3. It is recommended that children be introduced to water at the earliest age possible. As we mentioned in an earlier post, a baby’s brain is developing rapidly. When parents nurture an infant’s natural love of water, a baby is more likely to have successful and safe water experiences throughout a lifetime. However, depending on the previous factors we’ve noted, an older child can learn just ask quickly and successfully.

With those factors in mind, we recommend that children attend frequent, year-round practices and begin swimming at a young age. But again, it depends on your child. Other various factors—including fear of water and natural ability—may also slow down or speed up the process. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that each little fish will learn at his or her own speed. If you want them to develop skills properly—and have fun while doing so—don’t rush it.