Water Babies, Ireland’s leading baby and toddler swim school, recently conducted research into Irish parents swimming skills and capabilities and the results are astounding.
Out of over 1,000 parents surveyed 59% said they were not confident swimmers with 4% being afraid of water and 5% never having learnt to swim. Shockingly 38% of the people surveyed (390 parents) said they wouldn’t feel confident jumping into a swimming pool or swimming out to sea to save a child which demonstrates how important it is for a child to learn to swim at an early age.
Water Babies research showed that 11% of parents were unable to swim a length of a pool or tread water and cited a number of reasons for their lack of swimming skills – 20% didn’t have a local swimming pool when they were growing up, 34% said swimming lessons were not available in their school and worryingly 23% said their parents didn’t think it was an important life skill. 88% of the parents who can’t swim regret not being able to swim now.
Thankfully attitudes to swimming are changing. When asked to prioritise why it was important for children to learn to swim, safety reasons was cited as most important with 67% of today’s generation of parents think that swimming should be learnt for safety reasons so that their children have the ability to save themselves should they ever fall into water. Swimming as an important life skill was regarded as the second most important motivation with 39% of respondents agreeing with this. Finally, 39% swim for health reasons (the third motivator for swimming) because it’s a great form of exercise.
Carol McNally from Water Babies commented “Children as young as just one day old have enjoyed Water Babies lessons which goes to show it’s never too early to get started. Babies love being in the water and they show it with giggles and gurgles galore! Having spent nine months relaxing in the womb, it’s no surprise it comes naturally to them.”
Carol McNally continues: “Swimming with your baby is a magical experience for both parent and child, allowing you some special one on one time to focus on each other in the relaxed environment that water provides. In addition to bonding benefits, studies have shown that participating babies have improved sleeping and eating patterns, thanks to the hidden physical workout received during the gentle class.”
While Water Babies lessons are fun for both parent and little one, the course also has an extremely serious added benefit. In most cases it’s the shock of sudden submersion that causes children to panic. We passionately believe that by introducing babies to water as early as possible, they’ll be less likely to experience fear if they do fall in.
“With progressive training, babies can be taught life-saving skills very early on such as turning onto their backs or, following a sudden submersion, swimming to the nearest solid object. In the last few years at least ten tiny Water Babies pupils have saved their own lives, five of whom were just two years old at the time. It’s fantastic what vital skills children can learn, and it’s so important that they do so as soon as possible.”
Water Babies new Winter term of classes starts this week and next across Ireland, in Dublin, Louth, Meath, Kildare, Wexford, Waterford, Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Cork, Kerry, Galway and Sligo. For more information, please visit www.waterbabies.ie