Thoughtful Parenting: Children and water safety |

Thoughtful Parenting: Children and water safety

As summer approaches, many parents are gearing up for the swim season. It is important to keep water safety in mind with the increased opportunities to recreate in and be around water. Following — and having your child follow — guidelines can make their water experience an enjoyable and safe one.

USA Swimming lists four safety recommendations on its website:

• Get an adult if you go near the water. No one is ever “drown-proof.” This especially true for small children. Drowning may happen fast and unexpectedly in a small amount of water, and constant adult supervision is the best method of prevention. Even if you are at a location staffed with lifeguards, your supervision provides a necessary layer of protection. If the child is old enough to comprehend, their respect for water and an awareness of potential danger is also important.

• Learn to swim by taking lessons. Children go through the following progression on their way to becoming competent swimmers in the water: First, they must adapt to an aquatic environment. Swimming instructors provide verbal instruction, visual demonstration and physical guidance so that the child can make the connections necessary to becoming comfortable in water. They then learn balance, or floating, and breath control, including blowing bubbles and performing “bobs” on their way to developing propulsive movements, such as turning around and swimming back to the side of the pool. After this foundation is laid, the path is cleared for more refined movements and techniques to be learned with further guidance and practice. Throughout this process, parental encouragement and support is crucial for children to build confidence and enjoy their time in the water. Like anything else, children will pick up skills at different rates depending on cognitive, emotional and physical development — there is no exact timeline as to when your child will begin to swim on his or her own.

• Summer group swim lessons at Old Town Hot Springs begin April 27 and last through the middle of August. Visit for the complete summer schedule and registration forms. Scholarships are available on the basis of financial need. Old Town Hot Springs receives referrals for eligible candidates from our partners at Routt County Department of Human Services and member organizations of Routt County Youth Services Coalition.

• Always swim with a buddy and If someone is in trouble in the water, call for help, don’t go in. As children gain more independence, these guidelines help them stay safer when they are not within arm’s reach of an adult. (The buddy system is not a substitute for adult supervision.) The sense of responsibility for another that goes along with the buddy system adds yet another safeguard in the larger water safety picture. Along with this, children are unlikely to be strong enough to safely assist someone else in the water and can easily become the “floatation device” for their distressed buddy and endanger themselves in the process. They should get an adult’s attention as soon as possible instead of trying to physically help.

Practicing water safety and taking swim lessons increase the odds that your son or daughter’s childhood swimming experience will be positive and can influence his or hers attitude toward water for the rest of their lives. They will have a basic understanding of staying safe and may even pursue swimming as a lifelong activity.

Sam Huff if aquatics director at Old Town Hot Springs. Huff can be reached by calling 970-879-1828, ext. 316, or by emailing

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User


See more