Swimming courses for kids
Swimming is a life skill, a water sport, a form of physical therapy and a recreational activity. It is vital that children learn swimming for water safety reasons. Swimming is also one of the most popular Olympic sports given the speed, strength and stamina of contestants. It is one of the best treatments for bone and joint issues, it builds lung capacity and cardiovascular health, and releases endorphins and seratonin which reduce anxiety and depression. It is also relaxing and just great fun!
The best age for a child to learn swimming basics at kids’ swimming classes is between 1 and 4 years of age. However even infants as young as 6 months can enjoy parent bonding time and water acclimation classes. Children must first learn to be comfortable in the water and get in and out of the pool safely. Blowing bubbles then helps them adjust to the feel of being submerged. Floating is the next key skill to develop which allows a child to move to safety if necessary without suffering exhaustion. Then a child must learn the kicking action both to propel themselves forward and to be able to tread water. Usually a child must practice kicking with a kickboard or holding onto the edge of the pool during the children’s swimming lessons. The most critical aspect is having them focus on kicking from the hips and keeping their legs straight and close together.
Once a child has some endurance when paddling due to the kicking action, they can start to learn proper swimming techniques and strokes in the swimming classes. Breakstroke is typically the easiest stroke to learn because the head stays above the water and the hand movement is relatively easy to replicate. Instructors love to have fun with kids as they describe the “making two pizzas” circular hand movement in the swimming lessons!
Backstroke is a useful water safety stroke in case a swimmer needs to offer assistance to others and a great back workout. Kids tend to find backstroke easier than freestyle because the floating action makes it less of a cardio workout, although it can take a while to get more comfortable with not being able to see in the direction you’re swimming.
The butterfly stroke is the hardest of all to learn with its complicated wave like motion and dolphin kick, and is the most tiring but offers the best cardio exercise. A child must also be a little older to tackle the butterfly stroke because it takes a lot of strength in the legs to kick hard enough to launch one’s body out of the water, agility to then properly dive back in, and endurance to sustain the action. Most swimming instructors from the swimming classes recommend a child should be at least 8 years old before they begin learning the butterfly stroke because it requires a solid foundation in basic swimming skills, such as freestyle and backstroke, and for the child to be comfortable swimming for extended periods of time without assistance.
What is the best way to get a child excited about undertaking swimming training?
Getting a child excited about learning to swim can be a fun and rewarding experience. Here are some tips to help make swimming a fun and enjoyable activity for your child:
- Start early: The earlier a child is introduced to swimming, the more comfortable they are likely to become in the water. Consider enrolling your child in a parent-child swim program when they are young, so they can become familiar with the water in a safe and supportive environment.
- Make it fun: Swimming should be a fun and enjoyable activity for children. Consider incorporating games and activities into your child's swim lessons to make them more engaging and exciting. For example, you could have them swim through hula hoops or dive for toys.
- Use positive reinforcement: Praise and positive reinforcement can go a long way in motivating children to learn to swim. Celebrate their progress and accomplishments, and encourage them to keep trying.
- Set achievable goals: Setting achievable goals can help your child stay motivated and focused on their progress. For example, you could set a goal for them to swim a certain distance or to master a specific technique.
- Choose the right swim program: Finding the right swimming courses for your child can make a big difference in their enjoyment of swimming. Look for programs that are age-appropriate, safe, and led by qualified instructors who are experienced in working with children.
How can I tell if my child’s swimming classes are high quality?
There are certain indicators you can look for in order to determine if your child’s swimming training is high quality. These indicators include
- Qualified and experienced instructors: Look for a program that has instructors who are certified in teaching swimming by recognized organizations, such as the Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association (HKASA) or the Singapore Swimming Association (SSA). The instructors should also have experience working with children and be passionate about teaching swimming.
- Safe and well-maintained facilities: Check that the pool and surrounding areas are clean, well-maintained, and free of hazards that could pose a safety risk to swimmers. The pool should be properly maintained with appropriate safety equipment readily available.
- Structured curriculum: A high-quality swimming courses for children will have a structured curriculum that is age-appropriate and designed to help children develop their swimming skills gradually and safely. The program should also have a clear progression of skills and goals for each level, as well as opportunities for children to practice and master each skill.
- Small class sizes: Smaller class sizes allow for more individualized attention and instruction. Look for a program that offers small class sizes, or that has a low student-to-instructor ratio.
- Positive environment: A high-quality swimming course for children will have a positive and supportive environment that encourages children to learn and have fun. The instructors should be patient, energetic, and enthusiastic about teaching swimming.
- Focus on water safety: A good kid’s swimming course should also focus on teaching essential water safety skills, such as floating, treading water, and recognizing potential hazards in and around the pool.
- Accreditation: Look for a kid’s swimming course that is accredited by a recognized organization, such as the HKASA or the SSA. Accreditation indicates that the program has met certain standards for safety, quality, and instruction.
Are there any public swimming tournaments I can take my child to in order to inspire them by watching swimming athletes compete and win?
Kids are often inspired to take up a sport because they enjoy watching athletes and these sports stars make it look easy to compete and win. There are quite a few professional swimming tournaments that are open to the public that you can attend with your child to be awed by top competitive swimmers.
- FINA Swimming World Cup: The FINA Swimming World Cup is a series of swimming meets held around the world, including in Asia. The meet attracts some of the world's top swimmers and is open to the public to attend. In recent years, Singapore has hosted a leg of the FINA Swimming World Cup.
- Asian Swimming Championships: The Asian Swimming Championships is a continental swimming competition that is held every two years. The championships feature top swimmers from Asia and are open to the public to attend. In 2021, the championships were held in Dubai due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but previous editions have been held in other Asian countries, including Japan and China.
- Hong Kong Open Swimming Championships: The Hong Kong Open Swimming Championships is an annual swimming competition that attracts top swimmers from Hong Kong and around the world. The competition is open to the public to attend and is held at the Hong Kong Sports Institute.
- Singapore National Swimming Championships: The Singapore National Swimming Championships is an annual swimming competition that attracts top swimmers from Singapore and around the region. The competition is open to the public to attend and is held at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, which was built for the 2015 Southeast Asian Games.
- SEA Games: The Southeast Asian Games is a multi-sport event held every two years that features swimming and other aquatic sports. The event is open to the public to attend and is held in different Southeast Asian countries. In recent years, Singapore and the Philippines have hosted the SEA Games.
Who are some famous swimmers from Asian cities that might inspire my kids?
Although countries such as Australia and the United States are often associated with being top of the Olympic medal tally board in swimming, there are many swimmers from Asian countries that have achieved great success in their swimming careers.
- Sun Yang (China): Sun Yang is a Chinese swimmer who has won multiple Olympic and World Championship medals. He holds world records in the 1500m freestyle and the 800m freestyle.
- Kosuke Kitajima (Japan): Kosuke Kitajima is a retired Japanese swimmer who won four Olympic gold medals and multiple World Championship titles in breaststroke events.
- Ye Shiwen (China): Ye Shiwen is a Chinese swimmer who won two gold medals at the 2012 Olympics, setting world records in both the 200m and 400m individual medleys.
- Joseph Schooling (Singapore): Joseph Schooling is a Singaporean swimmer who won Singapore's first Olympic gold medal in any sport at the 2016 Olympics in the 100m butterfly. He has also won multiple medals at the Asian Games and Southeast Asian Games.
- Yip Pin Xiu (Singapore): Yip Pin Xiu is a Singaporean para-swimmer who has won multiple Paralympic gold medals and set multiple world records in backstroke events. She is also the first Singaporean athlete to win a medal at both the Paralympic and Olympic Games.
- Stephanie Au (Hong Kong): Stephanie Au is a Hong Kong swimmer who has won multiple medals at the Asian Games and other international competitions. She holds Hong Kong records in several events, including the 100m and 200m backstroke.
- Siobhan Haughey (Hong Kong): Siobhan Haughey is a Hong Kong swimmer who won two silver medals at the 2021 Olympics in the 100m and 200m freestyle events. She has also won multiple medals at the Asian Games and other international competitions.
What interschool swimming tournaments would give my child the opportunity to represent their school?
Interschool swimming competitions offer children the chance to develop discipline and mental toughness. Competitive swimming can also teach kids how to win and lose gracefully, and how to show respect for their opponents. As swimming training for children is a demanding sport, children benefit from learning how to persevere in the face of setbacks. Children also learn how to set realistic and achievable goals, break them down into smaller steps, and track their progress towards winning an interschool swimming meet. These soft skills can be valuable in many areas of life, including academics and career, a fact which is not lost on international universities. Standing out from the crowd in a sport like swimming by winning interschool competitions is one way for a child to earn an athletic scholarship or sport scholarship to an international university.
Examples of interschool swimming competitions include
- the Inter-School Swimming Competition, organized by the Hong Kong Schools Sports Federation, which is open to primary and secondary school students and features both individual and team events
- the International Schools Sports Federation Swimming Championships which is an annual swimming competition amongst international schools in Hong Kong
- the National School Games Swimming Championships, organized by the Ministry of Education and the Singapore Schools Sports Council, which is open to primary and secondary schools with both individual and team events
Benefits of taking swimming classes for kids
The benefits of taking swimming classes for children include
- encouraging an active lifestyle which establishes healthy practices for adulthood
- enhancing cognitive development, reducing anxiety and depression
- learning key survival skills such as water safety protocols
- improving social skills given often learned and enjoyed in a group setting
- physical benefits such as muscle and bone strengthening
- protecting against future cardiovascular disease, cancer and metabolic diseases
- increasing engagement levels and confidence