"How long will it take my child to learn to swim?" It's a question we hear all the time at State Swim, and it's definitely one we understand being asked. Unfortunately, though, it can be a hard question to answer... how long is a piece of string?!
How long it takes your child to learn to swim really depends on a number of variables; like what you class as "knowing how to swim", how many times a week your child swims, if they take breaks from swimming, and - like any sport - if they demonstrate a natural aptitude for it.
Let's dive in and explore these factors more closely.
- Defining "knowing how to swim"
Firstly, what do you count as "knowing how to swim"? For some people, knowing how to swim simply means knowing the basics and being able to stay afloat. For others, it means being able to confidently swim a reasonable distance with a proper stroke, and retaining those skills for a long period of time.
At State Swim, we're firmly in the latter camp. We consider someone a confident swimmer when they can swim 400m of Freestyle, which children are able to do once they complete the State Swim 400 Gold program.
- How many times a week your child swims
Another massive factor in how long it will take your child to learn to swim is how many lessons they attend per week. Swimming at least twice per week helps to quickly familiarise new swimmers with the aquatic environment, which can be very different to anything they have ever encountered before. Swimming multiple times a week also helps your child to revise their skills often - and as we all know, repetition of skills is key to learning! A child who swims multiple times a week is more likely to retain the skills they learn in class, speeding up their learning progress overall.
- How many breaks your child takes a year
Swimming lessons are more important for children to do year-round, not just in the summer months. However, we do understand that children may want or need a break from lessons over winter. If you are planning on taking a break from the pool when the weather turns cold, it is important to remember that the more time your child has away, the more they might regress. For example, a child that has four months off over winter can regress as much as half a class backwards in terms of skills! We believe that if you absolutely need to take a break when you or your child are learning to swim, that shorter, more frequent breaks are better than extended ones that keep you out of the pool for months on end.
- How much of a natural your child is in the pool
Like any other sport, how long it takes a child to learn fundamental swimming techniques - and then be able to consistently demonstrate them at a high standard - depends largely on how naturally those skills come to that child. Consider this: some people are naturally gifted at basketball, while other struggle with the hand-eye coordination needed. In just the same way that some people have a natural high aptitude for certain sports, others may need to diligently work for long periods to master those same skills.
Every child is an individual, and as such, they will develop at their own unique rate that is right for them. Some children can progress slowly at the beginning of their "learn to swim" journey, and then progress rapidly from there. Other children may do the opposite. As a very rough guide though - if your child shows a reasonable amount of aptitude for swimming and starts the Glides program at the age of four, they may complete the 400 Gold program anywhere from the ages of 9 - 12.
How long it takes your child to learn to swim really depends on your child's development - but we will be right here with them, every step of the way, helping to shape them into a stronger, safer swimmer.