Babies less than a year old accept the water more readily than older children. Often they willingly go underwater in the first lesson.
Fear of water is acquired as children grow older. The longer the baby is kept away from the water, the more likely the child will develop aqua phobia.
Human infants are well adapted to swimming. When submerged, they automatically hold their breath and make swimming movements. These reflex behaviours begin to fade however as early as three months of age and need to be revived.
Babies can exercise more muscles in the water than on land. They are less restricted by gravity and their inability to sit or stand. This increased strength often manifests itself in early acquisition of physical skills, such as walking.
Swimming improves the child’s cardiovascular fitness. Although babies are limited in how much they can improve their endurance, swimming does have a beneficial effect.
Early mastery of water movement gives children a head start in learning the basic swimming skills. Stroke instruction can begin as early as 2½yrs for children who have had proper early preparations.
Water helps improve co-ordination and balance by allowing the babies to move bi-laterally to maintain their equilibrium.
Warm water, combined with gentle exercise, relaxes and stimulates babies’ appetites. They usually sleep and eat better on swimming days.
Doctors often recommend swimming as the exercise choice for asthmatics. Exercise improves bronchial activity and swimming stimulates less wheezing than other forms of exercise, probably because the warm, moist air is less irritating to the lungs.
Babies flourish in the focused attention their parents lavish on them during swimming. Parents often confess that the lessons provide the only time they can spend 30 pleasurable uninterrupted minutes with their babies.