Swimming is not only a life skill but an important safety skill that many of us take for granted.  This may sound like hyperbole, but, trust me, it’s not: teaching children to swim is as important as teaching them to walk and talk. As the owner of Davina’s Swim House, a Toronto swim school, I have been fortunate enough to teach 1,000’s of kids and adults to swim and to pass on to them the knowledge of water safety.

A few years back, someone asked “what do you do?” The obvious answer was to say that we teach infants, kids, and adults to swim. But, my answer didn’t feel right. There was something far deeper. I thought about it a bit more and refined my answer. While we do teach people to swim, what we really offer is peace of mind. The latter cannot be emphasized enough.

As a mother of three children of various ages, I know that my kids are water safe and that they can swim. I can send them to camp, pool parties, and water parks, and I can take them to lakes and oceans feeling confident that they will be safe in the water. They will also respect the water, be cognizant of other swimmers and the environment around them, and understand their limitations.  I have peace of mind.

From experience, I know that many parents do not have peace of mind. Their kids have not been exposed to the water and have not taken swim lessons. Knowing how to swim is an essential life and safety skill. Without it, kids and adults alike put their lives and possibly the lives of others into jeopardy.

I was approached by a gentleman recently who lives in a cottage by a lake with his child. His child doesn’t know how to swim. So, he locks down the cottage at night and makes sure that they sleep in the same room together because he’s absolutely terrified that his child will wander outside into the lake and drown. I suggested registering his child for swim lessons but he said that he’s afraid of the water. “That’s even more reason to get him in classes!”, I said. I asked him “if your child knew how to swim, how would you feel about going to the cottage?” He said it would give him peace of mind.

This is why it is so important for parents/guardians to expose their children to swimming at a young age. And, the earlier, the better. We offer Parent & Tot Swimming Lessons for infants as early as 6 months.

Drowning is the leading cause of accidental deaths of children in Canada. It could be that child who accidentally falls into the pool or the parent who allows their child to visit a waterpark thinking the lifeguard is there to help; it could be that pool party assuming someone is always watching or not understanding the depth at the hotel pool; or going into the lake and swimming out too far. As a trained lifeguard, I have pulled a few out of pools and lakes who have just taken one too many steps in the wrong direction. Luckily, I, or someone trained in water safety, was there to help.

Teaching anyone, at any age, to be water safe not only gives them a life skill and bolsters confidence, it creates PEACE OF MIND – not only for the swimmer but for the parent/guardian.

Please! Start now. It’s never too late to learn to swim and be water safe and this will allow you, your friends, and family to enjoy the water, not fear it.