Category Archives: Learn

Swim Step 3: Teaching Kids to Swim

Editor’s Note: This is the third post in our three-part series focused on teaching kids to swim with the SwimWays Swim Steps program. The steps include Swim Step 1: Water Introduction, Swim Step 2: Water Exploration, and Swim Step 3: Swim Training. Swim along with us and teach your child the skills of a lifetime!


After introducing your child to the pool, watching them explore the water and gain confidence, the time has finally arrived to start swim training! You may choose to enroll your child in formal swim lessons right away or begin with some exercises at home or use a combination of both methods for a balanced approach.

At this stage, your child will start testing their limits of what they can do, so it’s important to remember to stay within arms reach of your child and remind them that they should never be in the water without an adult who knows how to swim.

Formal Swim Lessons

If you are going the route of formal swim lessons, a great place to start your search for a swim instructor is using the USA Swimming Foundation’s Make a Splash Local Partners. Additional swim lesson providers include the American Red Cross, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and your local YMCA.

An experienced swim instructor can be an excellent partner in your child’s learning to swim journey, and group classes can help your child gain confidence along with their peers, particularly for children four and older. (Further Reading: Choosing a Formal Swim Instructor by Mario Vittone)

Swim Training Aids

Power SwimrFor teaching kids at home, you may wish to use a flotation aid such as the SwimWays Power Swimr swim vest. (There are differing opinions about the use of flotation aids in swim lessons, so we recommend reading more about this subject before you decide what’s best for your child.)

Power Swimr flotation padsThe SwimWays Power Swimr is a graduated swim trainer that includes 9 removable inner flotation pads inside (5 in the back and 4 in the front.)

As your child gains confidence and skill, remove the pads one at a time to gradually move your child into a proper forward swimming position.

Graduated swim trainers enable your child to learn at his or her own pace. It’s helpful to think of the Power Swimr like training wheels for the pool.

Power Swimr graduated swim training system

Important note: If you are heading to a community pool or club to practice swimming with your child, check to see if there are any restrictions on flotation aids. Some pools require a Coast Guard-approved device such as our Swim Trainer PFD.

Tips from Our Swimming Expert

Watch this video to see some swim training tips in action!

If your kids are learning to swim this summer, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and share your experience with us and other parents! Connect with our Swim Steps ambassadors who are also teaching their kids to swim this summer too.

Prepare Kids for Swim Lessons with Swim Step 2

Editor’s Note: This is the second post in our three-part series focused on teaching children to swim with the SwimWays Swim Steps program. The steps include Swim Step 1: Water Introduction, Swim Step 2: Water Exploration, and Swim Step 3: Swim TrainingSwim along with us and teach your child the skills of a lifetime!


SwimWays Swim SweaterLast week we talked about 10 tips for introducing your baby to the pool and this week we’re continuing our series on teaching kids to swim with the SwimWays Swim Steps program with a focus on water exploration.

Be sure to review all the water safety tips we shared in our first post if you are starting your child out at Swim Step 2. Another tool for teaching preschoolers water safety tips at this stage is a children’s book from JCMF Children’s Charities called Josh the Otter. (Buy the book or watch it online.)

Once your child is comfortable being in the water in their baby float, it won’t be long before they will want to start exploring the water. However, it’s a big step between introducing your child to the pool and jumping into formal swim lessons, so that’s why we created Swim Step 2 to help ease the transition.

Swim Step 2 Goals

In Swim Step 2, the goals are:

  1. Continue to build confidence in your child gradually as they start to explore the water.
  2. Continue to develop trust between you and your child.
  3. Help your child learn pre-swimming skills such as balancing upright in the water and leaning forward to paddle.

Helpful Tools

Swim Sweater circa 1974Our Swim Sweater, Swim Vest, and Float Shorty swim training products (sold at Toys “R” Us) feature permanent flotation and are great tools at this stage. They provide just the right amount of support and freedom of movement so kids feel more confident as they take their first strokes.

Did you know we’ve been making Swim Steps products for more than 50 years? A few of you (including this author!) may have learned to swim with the little red Swim Sweater. There’s a reason this product is still around: It works!

Colorful Swim Goggles and Masks are also great for kids just getting used to water splashing in their face. They might even be tempted to lean forward and blow bubbles in the water!

(An important note about our Swim Steps flotation aids: Our flotation aids are NOT life-saving devices, they are designed for swim training. If you are looking for a life vest, try one of our kids PFDs.)

Water Exploration Tips

Maintain constant touch supervision with your child. They may feel more confident than their skills will support at this stage, so it’s important to be right by their side in case they want to reach out and hold you if they feel a bit insecure.

That said, don’t hold onto your child the whole time – let them explore and start to develop a sense of independence and confidence in their budding skills. At this stage you are learning what your child needs, so relax, have fun, and figure it out together.

Pool Toys and Games

SwimWays Pick Me Up PelicanWater surface toys can help to engage your child while still keeping them in their comfort zone. This water play also helps to create a positive association with being in the pool.

For kids 2 years of age and older, try toys such as Pick Me Up Pelican (sold at Walmart), Gobble Gobble Guppies (sold at Target), and Spouts (sold at Toys “R” Us) that also have a fun educational component.

Brightly colored floating balls or pool noodles spread out around the pool can also help encourage your child to swim over to them, building hand and eye coordination along the way.

Watch our Swim Step 2 video to see these tips and more in action!

If your kids are ready to explore the pool this summer, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and share your experience with us and other parents!

10 Tips for Introducing Your Baby to the Pool

Editor’s Note: This is the first post in our three-part series focused on teaching children to swim with the SwimWays Swim Steps program. The steps include Swim Step 1: Water Introduction, Swim Step 2: Water Exploration, and Swim Step 3: Swim TrainingSwim along with us and teach your child the skills of a lifetime!


Learning to swim is a skill we take very seriously here at Swimways. Not only is swimming a great way to stay healthy and lower the risk of childhood drowning*, it can lead to a lifetime love of water and fun times in the pool with friends and family!

But where do you start when it comes to introducing your littlest member of the family to the water for the first time? Read along with us for some helpful step-by-step tips.

1. Water Safety First

Before you head to the pool, make sure you are fully aware of water safety practices. Review the American Red Cross water safety checklist and visit our resources page on TeachMeToSwim.com. Arming yourself with knowledge and a plan will help you to relax and feel more confident. If you are one of the many adults that did not learn to swim, sign yourself up for swim lessons before you get in the pool with your child. There are swim lessons courses available just for adults, and it’s never too late to learn.

2. Attitude is Everything

Dad and Baby in the PoolThese first few experiences in the pool are very important, so make them a fun and secure experience for your baby… and for you. Make sure your child is relaxed and enjoying the process, and that they want to be in the water. Babies pick up on their parent’s feelings quickly, so the best way to set the tone is for YOU to be relaxed and confident first.

3. Tools of the Trade

Baby Spring Float Activity CenterTo assist you with the water introduction experience, we recommend purchasing a secure baby float with a wide, stable base and a low center of gravity, such as one of our Baby Spring Floats. Make sure the float is fully inflated before use.

Note: Choosing to use a swim aid, such as a baby float or swim vest, during the learn to swim process is a personal decision. Here’s what water safety expert, Mario Vittone, has to say on the subject.

4. Use the Buddy System

For your baby’s very first time in the pool, have another family member or friend with you for assistance – someone your baby knows well and trusts (just make sure it’s someone who can stay relaxed and cool). If you have older children, they may want to help, but for this first time in the water, we recommend they not participate. Wait until your baby is comfortable being in the pool with you and one or two other people first.

5. Create a Comfortable Environment

Make sure the pool is at a comfortable bath water temperature, clean and removed of debris and obstacles, and that there aren’t a lot of other people around creating noise and waves in the water. Be mindful of how long you are in the water. Babies are not as good at regulating body temperature as adults are, so keep your pool sessions short.

6. Start Slow

Mom and Baby in the PoolBefore you place your baby in the float for the first time, hold them close to you and splash a little water on their toes. If your baby is liking this water-on-the-toes experience, bob up and down a few times. Slowly sway their legs in the water so they can feel the sensation of water flowing around their legs. “This sure is different than the bathtub!” Use soothing sounds to reassure them and try singing their favorite song. These familiar sounds will help your child stay calm as they discover this watery new world.

7. Introduce the Baby Float and Toys

Bring the baby float closer to you and have your partner hold the float steady while you put the baby into the float. If your baby resists getting into the float, hold them close to you again. After a few minutes, try the baby float again. It’s helpful to have some toys on hand to engage your baby as you place them into the float. One of our more popular baby floats, the Baby Spring Float Activity Center, includes baby toys.

Dad and Baby in the Baby Spring FloatIf your baby is happy to be in the float, experiment with gently splashing water in the mesh area of the baby float, or tap the water with your fingers so they can see what happens. Play with some toys and make it fun.

If your baby just doesn’t want to be in the float at all after an attempt or two, try it out another time – do not force them into the float or into the water if they do not want to be there. Remember, this water introduction process is about establishing confidence and trust in you and having a pleasant first experience in the water.

Which brings us to one of the most important things we can say about the learn to swim process…

8. Go the Distance, Don’t Worry About Winning the Race

It’s normal to be a bit nervous, however, if your child is afraid of being in the water at any point during the learn to swim process, don’t force your child to stay in the water.

Each child is different, and they will learn to swim at their own pace. It’s better to have a slow and steady water introduction experience so that your child can build confidence in the water gradually. You want them to love the water and swimming, not to be afraid of the water or see swim lessons as a chore.

9. Love (or Fear) of Water is a Learned Behavior

Some of us were thrown into the pool to “sink or swim” in our childhoods, or forced into swim lessons we weren’t ready for. What some may see as discipline and structure could create a fear or apprehension of water in some children that will be hard to reverse later. We may also expect our children to learn the way we did and have the same experience since they are our offspring, but that’s not always the case. Even competitive swimmers can have a child that is scared to get in the water. Every child is different. (Further Reading: How to Overcome Fear of Water, Psychology Today; Preventing and Overcoming Apprehension of Water, Mario Vittone)

10. Water Introduction Goals

The goal at this stage is to create a secure space for your baby so they want to be in the water, and later, will want to explore the water and learn to swim. Make this process about each child’s learning to swim journey and what they need along the way and you won’t go wrong.

A few things to remember when your child is in the water:

  • Never leave your child unattended in or around the water.
  • Stay within quick and easy reach of your child at all times.
  • If your child is submerged in the water and swallows water, even a little bit, this can result in near drowning (or dry drowning / secondary drowning). Take them to the hospital immediately to be monitored. (Further reading: What You Need to Know About Dry Drowning, Parenting.com)

Watch our Swim Step 1 video to see these tips in action for baby Vivian’s first time in the pool!

If you are introducing your little one to the pool this summer, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and share your experience with us and other parents!

Next week we’ll go over Swim Step 2 – Water Exploration.


*Did you know that drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1-4? Help turn this tragedy around by teaching your kids to swim and practicing water safety with your family. Share this infographic online to help spread the word.

Save the Date for the 6th Annual Swimways’ National Learn to Swim Day on Saturday, May 20th

Save the date for the 6th annual Swimways’ National Learn to Swim Day on Saturday, May 20th!

We started National Learn to Swim Day six years ago as part of water safety month to help raise awareness about the importance of learning to swim to help prevent childhood drowning*. Read the press release for more information on the history of this event, learn more about how you can get involved at the National Learn to Swim Day website, and get tips on how to host your own National Learn to Swim Day event.

*Did you know that drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1-4? Help turn this tragedy around by teaching your kids to swim and practicing water safety with your family. Share this infographic online to help spread the word.

Join us for the 6th annual Swimways' National Learn to Swim Day!

Join us for the 6th annual Swimways’ National Learn to Swim Day on Saturday, May 20th! Learn more at TeachMeToSwim.com.