Not sure what programs to enroll your young child in this summer? Many aquatics directors in the Upstate agree that swimming should be at the top of every parent’s priority list, especially for children 6 months to 5 years old.

“Swimming is a life skill that every child needs as soon as possible,” said Will McCormick of the Caine Halter YMCA.

Jenny Falconer of the Greenville Rec Westside Aquatic Complex agrees.

“It will allow them to go to pool parties, water parks, summer camps, field trips and not only be able to participate but be safe while they are in the water,” she said. “Swimming lessons are the most important step to keep your child from drowning!”

Any activity from fishing to rafting to backyard kiddie pool play can be a potential hazard area for a young child.

Every swimmer starts at the same spot and progresses at his or her own pace. Children that aren’t comfortable can start with observing swim class, sticking their feet in the water or taking a parent/child class offered by both Greenville County and any of the Upstate YMCA’s. Swimming encourages gross motor coordination as well as cognitive and emotional development. All the Upstate classes are geared for leveled learning and instructors will make learning to swim a fun and entertaining experience for your little one.

“We make swimming a game and the kids learn to trust us and themselves,” said Tim Rhymer, Eastside Family YMCA aquatics director, “even the ones that scream the first class.”

He encourages parents not to give up on swim instruction and insists that even the most reluctant child always comes around to liking the water.

Parents not able to begin swim classes with their babies before 1 year old can work on skills that make them ready to accept classes later on when they are 3 or 4. At home while in the bathtub have them practice blowing bubbles, being in the water horizontally on their tummy or back, and having water poured over the tops of their heads and faces without panicking.

Swimming and water safety classes are offered the entire year with more being added during the summer months. Look for a clean pool, lifeguards on duty during the session, a low teacher to student ratio that teaches safety and swim skills, and a program certification by the Red Cross, YMCA, Starfish Aquatic Institute or Boy Scouts of America.

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