Should parents get their children into swimming lessons from a young age?

When you think of the word swimming, what pops to mind?


Chances are you thought of freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. However, another vital aspect of swimming is survival skills.


According to KidSafe, “drowning is a one of the leading causes of unintentional death for Australian children”. This information is not new, yet it is key for parents in deciding whether they enrol their children into swimming lessons. There are many swim schools across Australia whose goal is to teach children from as young as 3-months-old different survival skills as well as basic swimming strokes.


Shannon Gardner completed her AUSTSWIM qualification in Teaching and Water Safety and has now been a swimming instructor for 3 years at PARC swimming centre in Frankston. “I have always loved swimming myself and enjoy working with children. I think swimming is a super important skill to learn, especially water-safety skills”, Shannon said.


When asked what age is best to get children into lessons, Shannon said, “I believe as young as possible, usually around 6-months-old”. She went on to say that her own mother had a fear of the water, and so she was never able to bond with her through swimming lessons or fun days out at the beach. This fear of her mother’s prompted Shannon to teach swimming, as she wanted to help other people overcome their fears.


“Accidental falls in water is the leading cause of drowning among children from 0-4 years old. Teaching children basic skills that they can practise if they have fallen in the water and ways to prevent falls in the first place will decrease the statistics”, Shannon stated.


The Adelaide Aquatic Centre said there are a few reasons that children should learn to swim. Most importantly, it gives children confidence in the water and ensures they earn basic water safety skills. It also encourages them to exercise, helps develop their skills such as hand-eye coordination and muscle tone, and helps them meet new people and make friends.


Swim England then listed some activities that children could only do if they have done swimming lessons. These activities include things such as kayaking, canoeing, scuba diving, surfing, triathlons, and yachting.


Despite these claims, some parents do worry about getting children into lessons from a young age. A survey was conducted on a Facebook page called Langwarrin Locals, and the main reason that parents kept their children out of swimming lessons was because of the cost.


“Downside is definitely the cost! $22 per lesson is making me delay putting my 7-month-old in lessons”, Jessica Bell commented.


Virginia Sutherland believes that children under the age of 4 should only be doing survival strokes, not regular swimming lessons.


“Children at that age aren’t strong enough and haven’t grown anatomically enough to be able to swim…I think swimming should only be taught after they learn the skills of self-survival and that they are physically able to swim”, Virginia said.


She is a mother of two and started her own children in swimming lessons from around 2-years-old. She went on to say, “I think it’s all personal. For example, if a child doesn’t live near the beach or water and doesn’t have a swimming pool, I don’t think that there is any need to rush them into lessons. Also, unfortunately, money quite often plays a big part in deciding which lessons to do”.


Virginia said her children hated the regular swimming lessons and hated going under water. She then found Kids Aquatic Survival Skills (KASS) which focused on just survival strokes and had her children there until they finished the course.


“Very early on after my kids graduated their survival course, we went to the beach. A wave caught my oldest off guard and within the first second she was on her back floating. It becomes instinctive”, Virginia stated.


Carolyn MacLeod is a mother of three kids who all had swimming lessons from the age of 10-months-old. Her children are now grown up and have their own children who they have been getting into swimming lessons. Carolyn said she is happy she got her children into lessons early for a number of reasons.


“They gained confidence around the water and learned the dangers of the depths. Their coordination developed quickly as well. The fact that they listened to and respected someone other than their parents was a big plus”, Carolyn said.


She said that her children learned survival skills as well as normal swimming strokes, and her grandchildren are now also learning the same things. However, during one lesson, Carolyn said one of her sons had a scare, and suddenly developed a fear of the water.


“My second child was learning to tread water. He was up to about two minutes and then out of nowhere started to panic. He forgot what he was doing and started to sink. He went through a stage of not being able to get past eight seconds. It took several weeks to get him back on track. The teacher was patient and kind which made a big difference”.


Shannon told the story of one of her students who went away camping with their family and fell over the side of a boat. Luckily, the child was wearing a life vest, but Shannon said, “they ended up flipping over onto their back and waved their arms in the air, signalling for help”.


Whether a child attends regular swimming lessons or a survival skill course, the end goal is ultimately the same, to ensure children know how to save themselves and so lower the statistic of children who drown each year.


The major downside for swimming lessons is the cost of them, and while swim schools often offer discounts if parents have more than one child in their school, the money still adds up.


The main question to ask is whether children would know HOW to save themselves from drowning if they do not attend swimming lessons.


As a swimming instructor, Shannon begged, “while I understand some parent’s reasoning or bad experiences, I urge them to please not let that get in the way of providing necessary skills for their children”.




Secondary Sources




Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


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About Shannon Cole

My name is Shannon Cole and I am 20 years old. I am a journalism student at Deakin University, while also working part-time as a swimming instructor. I got the opportunity to write for The Footy Almanac through one of my university units, and I also have a personal blog where I post articles (, so feel free to check that out. I hope you enjoy my articles and keep an eye out for any new ones I post!


  1. Well done Shannon excellent article although you’re kind preaching to the converted here. My wife normally teaches swimming especially the little ones at a swimming school in Brisbane and helps to recruit and train people like you i.e. young university students to help with the program but given the unique times we find ourselves in at the moment that’s on the back burner for the moment.
    I’ll check out your blog – on one condition that you check out my blog from the last 8 months or so ( with over 80 posts plus a YouTube channel you can click on the logo on the front page you’ll find it at ) embedded in the far north Arctic region of Canada also you can read my article of how I got home at least to the hotel in Brisbane where I find my self isolated ( one week to go) here on the almanac cheers Richard Marlow

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