Never too early to learn how to be a water baby

It's possible for a youngster to be able swim a few metres before his or her first birthday.
It's possible for a youngster to be able swim a few metres before his or her first birthday.
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Anne Hawley says grandparents often tell her they wish they had taken their own children swimming when they were much younger.

As they watch their toddler grandchildren happily swimming around, they look back on a time when youngsters perhaps didn’t learn until they were a bit older.

But Anne says there is no reason why a child can’t be swimming between five and 10 metres unaided by the time they reach their first birthday.

She believes children should be experienced swimmers by the time they are three.

And that even newborns can get a lot out of being introduced to the water early.

While parents might understandably be concerned about introducing their little ones to the water when they’re so young, Anne says if it’s done correctly, it will aid their development.

Anne – author of Swim Baby Swim and My Waterbabies – will be taking classes in the Waterlooville area next month.

She’s been a pioneer of infant swimming for the past 30 years and says she can teach any child to swim in three hours of sessions.

The key, she explains, is the right techniques and solid safety advice.

‘What’s important is that if babies can learn to swim before they can walk, they never forget it or question how they learned,’ she says.

‘It’s part of their development. I say the earlier the better.

‘My classes are very small, just five or six children, and I don’t hear any crying, there’s just a lot of fun.

‘I’m so passionate about teaching children to swim.’ Anne has just produced a new iPhone app designed to help parents get their children into the pool and stresses that they should never be left unattended for even a second when in the water.

And it’s for safety reasons that she’s not keen on children relying on armbands and floats either.

‘I think a lot of these buoys and aids are on too long and children become dependent on them and that’s a problem if they get into trouble,’ she adds.

But as long as they’re safe, Anne stresses that swimming can be really beneficial for little ones.

‘There’s been a lot of research on this,’ she adds.

‘Any form of exercise is crucial and getting into the habit early is beneficial, be it swimming or walking.

‘Swimming, particularly for kids, has that feelgood factor. It’s something you can do when they’re very young or when your toddler has lots of energy. If you fit in a swimming programme and do it regularly they will be using all the muscles in their body.’

Anne’s next classes start on Thursday February 17, and runs from 12.30pm until 2pm at The Physio Centre in London Road, Widley.

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