If you want your child to get the right introduction to swimming, learn proper skills, and have the kind of positive experience that will make them a lifelong swimmer, look for a local swim association or recreation program that follows the Swimming Canada recommendations for each age.
Following the Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model, Swimming Canada has developed specific guidelines for children’s skating at the elementary school age levels:
Active start (children aged 0-6)
Swimming programs at the Active Start stage should introduce kids to basic movement skills. In swimming lessons, your child will learn about safety in and around water, how to move in the water, and basic swimming techniques. Programs should also promote mental and emotional development through fun, inclusive learning environments and group participation. Out of the water, you should encourage your child to be physically active “on land” as this helps to develop fundamental movement skills for swimming.
FUNdamentals (females 5-8, males 6-9)
Swimming programs that follow the guidelines for the FUNdamentals stage will encourage your child to pursue physical literacy both in and out of the water. As swimmers, children this age should learn all strokes, turns, and starts as well as how to use equipment. They should not be required to compete, but they may gain a valuable sense of rules and sport ethics by participating in club events.
Learn to train (females 8-11, males 9-12)
In the Learn to Train stage, swimming programs should develop and refine the core physical attributes that your child has developed in previous swimming programs. The focus should now move towards refining the technical skills of swimming. Your child should also learn practice skills and racing principles. Your child should spend four to seven hours in the pool weekly, and compete in one or two meets every season.
When you look at a swimming program for your child, don’t be afraid to ask if they follow the Swimming Canada LTAD guidelines.
You can learn more about quality swimming programs at Canadian Sport for Life.