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children swimming

Dive into health and happiness

By Health, Mental health, swimming

The benefits of swimming for children

As parents, we all want what’s best for our children. We strive to provide them with opportunities that nurture their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. One such opportunity that should not be overlooked is swimming. Beyond being a fun recreational activity, swimming offers a wide range of benefits for children that can positively impact their development and overall health.

Physical fitness
Swimming is a full-body workout that engages multiple muscle groups. It helps children develop strength, endurance and flexibility. Regular swimming can contribute to a healthy weight and reduce the risk of childhood obesity – a growing concern in today’s sedentary world.

Cardiovascular health
Swimming gets the heart pumping and the blood flowing, promoting cardiovascular fitness. It helps improve circulation and lung capacity, lowering the risk of heart-related issues later in life.

Co-ordination and motor skills
Swimming requires coordinated movements of arms and legs, enhancing a child’s motor skills and proprioception. These skills are transferable to other activities and can aid in their physical development.

Teaching your child to swim is a crucial life skill. It equips them with the ability to stay safe around water, potentially preventing accidents and drowning incidents.

Confidence and independence
Learning to swim instills a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence in children. It’s an achievement they can take pride in, boosting their self-esteem. Additionally, as they become proficient swimmers, they gain a level of independence in water-related activities.

Social interaction
Enrolling your child in swimming lessons provides an opportunity for social interaction. They can make new friends, learn teamwork and develop valuable social skills in a supportive and structured environment.

Stress reduction
Swimming is a fantastic stress reliever for children. The soothing sensation of water combined with physical activity can help reduce anxiety and improve overall mood.

Improved sleep
The physical exertion during swimming often leads to better sleep patterns. Children who swim regularly tend to fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper, more restful sleep.

Respiratory health
Swimming encourages controlled breathing, which can be beneficial for children with asthma. It can help improve lung function and reduce the frequency of asthma-related symptoms.

Life-long hobby
Introducing your child to swimming at an early age can foster a life-long love for the sport. Swimming is an activity they can continue to enjoy throughout their lives, promoting a healthy lifestyle well into adulthood.

Academic benefits
Studies have shown that children who engage in regular physical activity, including swimming, tend to perform better academically. Exercise promotes cognitive function and can enhance concentration and problem-solving skills.

Emotional wellbeing
Swimming can also be a soothing and therapeutic activity. It provides children with a sense of freedom and relaxation in the water, helping to alleviate stress and boost their emotional wellbeing.

Incorporating swimming into your child’s routine can be as simple as enrolling them in swimming lessons at a local pool or taking them to swim in natural bodies of water. It’s a versatile activity that can be enjoyed year-round, regardless of the weather.

In conclusion, swimming is not just a fun pastime; it’s a valuable investment in your child’s health and development. From physical fitness to emotional wellbeing, the benefits of swimming are far-reaching. So, encourage your child to take the plunge and discover the joy of swimming, helping them lead a healthier, happier life.

learn to swim

Six questions about baby swimming that you are perhaps too afraid to ask

By Sport, swimming
by Susan Lee
new mum and Blue Lagoon regular

Being a first time mum there are so many new experiences as I learn to navigate the journey of parenthood, and baby swimming has definitely been a highlight for me. When I began my baby swimming adventure I had so many questions, so, in the small hours of the morning between feeds, I started my research online and then in person a few weeks later.

Now having experienced classes with my baby, I believe these are the top six questions parents want to ask when it comes to baby swimming, so decided I would share them with you.

When should I start to take my baby swimming?
Babies are allowed to go swimming at any age and do not have to have had their eight week vaccinations before entering a pool. It is, however, recommended that their umbilical cord stump has come off. It is also advised that mums go in the water only after having had their six week postnatal check. For your first time, it’s also great to go with another adult, another pair of hands to help with the bags and someone to help you relax in the water. Whilst we started early, it is never too late to embark on your swimming adventure – although the later you leave it the more likely you will have a delightfully stubborn toddler to contend with!

Do I need to attend classes or can I just take my baby to a swimming pool?
We found classes to be an excellent way to introduce our baby to the water. Not only did we learn some amazing skills, we got to meet other parents and have the reassurance of the teacher’s guidance. We were informed that babies who attend classes are more likely to be super confident in the water at an early age. You don’t however, need to attend structured classes and can simply go to your local swimming pool that offers parent and baby sessions.

Or why not treat yourself to a private swim where you can take your whole family along – we also did this so that our daughter’s grandparents could join in with and enjoy her swimming journey.

I learnt that taking my baby swimming was great for strengthening her heart and lungs, bonding with myself and my partner and creating a positive relationship with water. I found that swimming really helped to regulate her sleep – and boy did she sleep well after her class.

What should I put in my baby’s swim bag?
My big fear of taking our newborn into the water was, what if she has a poo? Having read that normal nappies blow up like balloons and then explode, we packed the suggested swimming nappies and neoprene covering pants which gave us total confidence that no ‘code browns’ would happen in the pool on our watch! We also packed a little swimsuit (because let’s face it they are just so cute), a poncho towel and a roll-up changing mat, although the place we went to did provide them, along with a changing table.

Please also remember to bring your own swimming costume and towel, so unlike my partner who once forgot his, you won’t have to go into the water in your underwear – turns out this is not good swimming pool etiquette! It made me laugh though, at least I can blame things like that on having ‘mummy brain.’ He didn’t have the luxury of that age old (but very real) excuse.

Do I need to be able to swim to attend classes?
Although I consider myself to be an honorary mermaid, in my classes there was a grown-up who was really sacred of the water. In fact, it was their main motivation for taking their little one swimming, helping to ensure that they wouldn’t grow up feeling the same way. Their fear was no issue at all as there is so much support from the staff and other parents and we were never out of our depth or our comfort zone anyway.

How to choose the perfect swim school?
Apparently not all swim schools are required to use trained teachers. So, whilst that may not be seen as essential, I wanted the reassurance that my teacher was a qualified baby instructor. Also important for me was:
• Nearby free parking.
• Good changing facilities – friends of mine have been to classes held in private residential homes and found themselves having to get changed by the side of the pool or in unsuitable facilities.
• A warm shower to wash off the chorine before getting dressed.
• Somewhere to feed after swimming. Again I’d heard horror stories of only having fifteen minutes to change afterwards and having to feed in the car – babies in my experience tend to be very hungry and tired after classes.

Is it important my baby goes underwater?
All of the classes we attended were child-led learning which I loved. If for any reason, our little one didn’t want to go under the water, which was part of the programme, it was never a problem. We were taught that an early underwater experience is a great way to teach our baby all important self-rescue skills. This means, should our daughter find herself falling into water she will kick up and float on her back or turn and return to safety whether that be to me, a noodle, or the side of the pool.

Amazingly, newborn babies have a very strong natural reflex that helps them not to take a breath underwater. Swimming classes use this reflex to give children an underwater experience in a safe and fun way. I have to say however, watching my baby go underwater for the first time really took my breath away. We were delighted to see that she was completely unfazed by submerging, and were encouraged by the instructor to give positive reinforcement, which resulted in big smiles all round.

In summary, we both really love our weekly half hour swimming sessions. We have so much fun together through guided learning and look forward to the coffee and cake in the café with the other mums and babies after the class. I get to feel a real sense of community and know that my baby is getting the best introduction to water play. As a bonus the underwater photographs at the end of our first term were so beautiful – great memories from this very special time in our lives.

learn to swim

Six reasons why you should learn to swim

By children's health, Sport, swimming
by Darren Bubb
Swim Safe Director

1. It’s great for your health
Swimming when young helps children to develop their strength, co-ordination and flexibility. It helps solidify a love of physical activity and exercise which will help them keep fit and stay fit no matter their age.

2. There are no age limits
Swimming is for EVERYONE, it doesn’t discriminate against age. From babies and children to parents and grandparents. It’s never too late to learn to swim and open up a whole form of physical activity.

3. It’s a low impact sport
Unlike other popular sports, swimming’s low impact means that you reduce the chance of injury. Which means that not only is it a great recovery and rehabilitation sport it means that you can swim well into older age.

4. Swimming lasts a lifetime
Learning to swim not only gives you a new skill. It gives you the opportunity to enjoy swimming for many years to come.

5. Great place to make friends
Swimming is a powerful way to bring people together, whilst having fun, overcoming struggles and fears. It gives your children a chance to meet people away from their classrooms and gives them a wider social circle. It’s also a great way for parents to meet other parents too.

6. Swimming could save your life
Drowning is the second-biggest cause of accidental death in children aged one to 14 years old in the country. This means that it’s vital that your child knows how to react should they find themselves in trouble in the water. Learning to swim will help your child become a strong swimmer and give them the best chance of survival should they find themselves in a difficult situation in water.

For more information please visit


The importance of learning to swim

By children's health, fun for children, Playing, Safety, swimming

by Tara Highway
Swimming Squidz

The earlier you can begin a child’s swimming journey, the better that journey will be! Many start when only a few weeks old, which is ideal. My own three children began swimming at about two months old and have had a real passion for swimming and the water ever since.

The idea at a young age, is to grow awareness of the water, learn safety skills and ignite a love for the water. The journey begins as a very sensory one. One, we as instructors and parents need to be very in tune with. It is a slow process during which we must learn to listen to each individual baby/toddler and work to their own needs. One baby may excel, another may struggle with the whole process – what we need to do as instructors and professionals is see and understand their fears and anxieties and then work along side the parent/carer to help them work through their fears. Often, the anxieties and fears are passed through from the parent, so you are not only starting the work with the baby but, on a regular basis, you are helping work on the parent/guardians worries too. Adult anxieties can often stem from a childhood trauma or sometimes there is no trigger, just an ‘irrational fear’.

So, beginning as early as you are able to is paramount for a child’s early safety awareness and confidence in the water, be it a bath, swimming pool, the sea or a river. It also helps them not gain a fear of the water from the outset.

We start them with a cue, so they can relate the words to know what is about to happen. This can be a simple trickle of water over their head, with a ‘Ready go’ command helping them learn to understand it means they are about to get wet. The most important thing is to make it fun, even if they have their own worries. It is so important that the parent or carer shows a huge smile and lots of positive noises, so the baby or toddler understands there is nothing to fear and it is all great fun!

Learning how to blow bubbles is important for their onward learning and planting the idea about learning breathing skills. So we demonstrate bubble blowing by blowing them ourselves – all children find bubbles funny and us doing it often make them chuckle. They need to learn how to blow bubbles and in this way they slowly start trying to mirror what we are doing which is a fun activity for all involved.

For early years learning in the water the key element is fun and enjoyment. It is made more enjoyable involving themes, especially toddler age, from unicorns, tools, space, pirates, flowers, building, Christmas, Easter and so on – different themes keep interest and excitement in the learning. Whether they are working on arm or leg movements, turning, diving, working with noodles, floats or on a big mat, there are so many fun ways to learn in the water, so much so, they think they are just playing and having fun, but they are learning an incredible amount more! For a simple example, if they are on noodle ‘seahorses’ it is the start of them learning about balance, core strength and treading water – what a skill to have!

If you are unable to start them off at an early age, don’t worry that is no problem, things are not always in the right place for an early start. A later start can cause a fear of water or an over confidence, both can be problematic, but equally, it will be fine with the right instructor. It is being able to (as an instructor) ‘curb’ the over confidence, without taking away or ruining the passion and joy of the water or learning. In equal measures, helping an older child (four and above) find their love for the water can be so rewarding as it can be a long journey with many blips along the way.

Every child learns at their own pace but you also have to factor in any special need as these can be very complex. Making sure you understand these needs is all part of your ability to teach successfully, to help each and every child. All these things need to be taken in to account when teaching a confident child, or a very anxious child. Remember, start at the basics and work from there, work to each child’s ability, not what you think is ‘expected’. It is incredibly important to stop and remind yourself that what one child will find easy another may not – finding the way forward to help and encourage their love for water is always a priority. Keeping a routine is what the children like, repetition is key, and we all learn from routine.

Growing a firm bond with each child is a huge step in their confidence, they need to know they can fully trust you in the water, know you will keep them safe. Making absolutely sure they all know, on an individual basis, that what they have achieved no matter how big or small, is fantastic, they need to leave every lesson knowing how well they have done and how proud you are of them. Ending every session with a fun activity is always such a reward for all the children and us as instructors, seeing how happy they are after a great session in the water. One of the mantras in my lessons is always “I can do it, I AM AMAZING.”

There is sadly still a massive proportion of children who have no knowledge or skills in the water at all – this is something that needs to change and soon. Swimming and basic water safety skills are imperative for everyone – it could one day save your child’s life

So, why not find your local swim school and book lessons now?

Swimming Squidz, is a family run business teaching babies and children up to the age of 11 to love the water while staying safe.

swim safely

Water safety a little preparation can make a big difference

By Safety, Sport, swimming
by Tara Highway
Swimming Squidz

As summer arrives offering the chance for long lazy days on the beach or at the lido and with the possibility of paddling pools or swimming pools in the garden, not forgetting the flurry of ‘summer’s here’ excitement everywhere, we need to be sure we are not ‘throwing safety to the wind’.

Water safety needs to be at the forefront of our minds at all times, but especially over the summer months.

A recent survey carried out by the Drowning Prevention Charity, Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS), showed that 1 in 10 people had almost drowned at some point in their lives and that 13% of people knew someone who had drowned.

During the period of May through to August, the number of drownings increase hugely, and between the UK and Ireland, there are on average 402 drownings a year. Children and young people aged under 19 accounted for 57 deaths – 19 were under 10 years old. Worldwide the (conservative) figure of deaths by drowning is estimated to be 235,000 every year!

The importance of water safety cannot be expressed strongly enough. It is one of the most imperative things for a child to learn and they should be taught as early as possible. They need to be aware of how to help themselves, be aware of the dangers around them and what they can do to help someone else in an emergency.

So, what can we do to help our children in and around water?
Swimming lessons from as early as possible is a great start. An early introduction to the water can teach them how to help themselves – from blowing bubbles and breathing to rolling onto their back so that they can breathe. We need to help them recognise dangers and how to stay safe by being able to climb in and out of the water safely on both a solid or potentially wobbly surface. We can teach them how to rescue another person by using equipment around them and checking for dangers nearby, and how to stay low themselves to pull someone out of water ensuring they are well grounded and less likely to be pulled in too!

Understanding survival techniques and knowing how to put them into practice is also an invaluable skill. For example, how to be able to control the situation if they were to fall into an icy lake and how to guide themselves out. This understanding is invaluable and could one day be the difference between life and death.

We also all need to know about the dangers of ‘Cold Water Shock’. CWS causes the blood vessels in the skin to close, creating a resistance in blood flow, causing the heart to work harder. Blood pressure increases and the potential for a heart attack increases too – even in the young and healthy. It is not that commonly known about although with the increase in open water swimming since the pandemic, it has become far more highlighted. These are just a few things we need to teach our children about how to be safe in and around water.

On your family fun days around the pool or at the beach there are simple things you can put in place and believe it or not, these can be as simple as the colour of your swimming costumes! For example, both blue and white swimming costumes become all but ‘invisible’ in the water, so if you are in trouble it is far more difficult for your rescuer to see you and help you. If you are in a brightly coloured swimming kit (neon orange and pink for example) you are instantly more noticeable. MAKE YOURSELF VISIBLE.

When setting up at the beach ensure you have plenty of shade and plenty of drinking water and try to be in sight of the lifeguards.

Observe any lifeguard flags that have been put in place and know what they mean.

Red = NO swimming, red and yellow = lifeguard on duty, swim between the flags, yellow = seek advice, green = safe to swim, black and white = surfing area, NO swimming and white and blue = diving in progress.

Be aware of the tides and learn about rip tides in the area. Rip tides are long narrow bands of water that flow quickly away from the shore and are extremely dangerous. The sea might seem a calm but rip tides, which form in waves, quickly pull a swimmer away from the shore.

Ask the lifeguards for waterproof wristbands which you can write your contact details on and place on the wrist of each of your children so that, if you become separated at the beach, you can be contacted.

Remember, at the beach we can call 999 for lifeboat and the Coastguard.

Throughout my teaching career, I’m aware of at least two situations where children who I teach have been out with their parents and they had known exactly what to do in a hazardous situation. Firstly, a little three year old boy went fishing with his father in October and he fell, fully clothed, into the river. He knew straight away to roll onto his back and float – he hated back floating in class and often refused to do it – but when it counted he knew what to do until his father got him to safety. Secondly, whilst on holiday a six year old girl saw her younger brother slip on the step of the pool and fall under the water but she managed to get him out safely without causing any danger to herself!

Keep yourself and your little ones safe and aware of all the dangers in and around the water – a little preparation can make a big difference. Hoping you have a fun summer and enjoy the water safely.

Swimming Squidz, is a family run business teaching babies and children up to the age of 11 to love the water while staying safe.

sun safety

Are children more susceptible to the sun in water?

By Playing, Safety, Sport, sun safety, swimming

How to keep them safe, according to an expert

As summer rolls around, parents love seeing their children soak up the sunshine; after all, it finally tears them away from their screens. Although, this does give rise to one prominent concern: sun safety. Children’s skin is notoriously susceptible to the sun and, according to experts, they’re even more vulnerable in the water – is this true and, most importantly, how can we keep them safe?

Children’s skin is more vulnerable because its natural defence mechanisms aren’t fully developed, meaning a staggering 80% of total lifetime sun exposure takes place before the age of 18. Ultimately, children are at a higher risk of sun and eye damage resulting from UV rays, whilst being in the water enhances these risks. Why? Firstly, water has an obvious cooling effect; as your children have fun in the sea or swimming pool, they won’t feel like they’re burning. Meanwhile, reflective surfaces (e.g., pool tiles, inflatables) can amplify UV rays. If your child is set to be in the water, you must understand how you can keep them safe.

Thankfully, we have an ideal expert on hand to help ensure that children stay safe in the sun – and water – this summer. Danny Anderson is the owner of Aqua Splash, a business comprising of two incredible, water-based assault courses in Essex. As Danny welcomes thousands of excited children to this water-based activity every year, he is uniquely familiar with the risks that sun exposure can pose, including the proactive steps we can take.

To help you stay on the right track, he’s sharing his top tips:

1. Always remember to ‘use an ounce before leaving the house’.
A helpful rule of thumb when it comes to using sun cream is ‘Use an ounce before leaving the house’. By using this quantity (roughly), and allowing it to soak in for 30 minutes before going outside, you’ll be laying the right foundations. Most people reportedly use less than half this amount, as they severely underestimate how much sun cream is needed; make sure your little one is thoroughly covered.

2. Re-apply every two hours (minimum).
Whilst your children might not be happy to leave the pool and reapply their sun cream, it’s incredibly important that they do. As a minimum, you should re-apply every two hours; if your child is climbing inflatables or going down flumes, re-applying even more regularly is ideal.

3. Never go below SPF 30.
Arguably the most important thing to get right when it comes to skin protection is the SPF factor behind the sun cream you’re using; if this isn’t sufficient, it simply won’t fulfil its purpose.

When choosing sun cream for your children, always opt for SPF 30+ at the very least; if you can find a higher SPF, do! The higher the factor, the better protection your cream will provide.

4. Don’t forget the cream’s UVA rating.
Although your sun cream’s SPF factor is vital, it’s not the only important thing you ought to consider. Beyond this, it’s also crucial that you evaluate its UVA rating; more specifically, that you ensure the cream’s UVA rating is 4 or 5 stars – any less and you simply can’t rely
on its resilience.

Thankfully, creams with strong UVA ratings aren’t difficult to find. Almost all of the biggest brands on today’s market, including Nivea for example, boast 5-star UVA-rated creams – if you do your homework, you can find the perfect cream for you.

5. Consider hats and T-shirts.
As children are particularly vulnerable to sun damage, consider having yours wear hats and t-shirts whilst they play in the water. This way, you won’t need to worry about them burning, especially in the areas which are most susceptible (their shoulders and hair line).

Enjoying the sun without encountering any damage is possible, even when you’re excitedly climbing water-based inflatables! You just need to understand how much sun cream you should be applying and how regularly you ought to be re-applying, whilst considering the components of the cream itself.

For more information about Aqua Splash, visit


Why swimming should be the top priority for your child after lockdown

By children's health, family, fun for children, Mental health, swimming
by Eri Coles
Sports Generation

The recent lockdowns have resulted in a significant decrease in physical activity levels among children. Sport England’s latest study shows that 31.3% of children and young people in England do less than an average 30 minutes a day of sport or physical activity. That is an increase of 2.4% from the previous year, bringing the total number of less active children to 2.3 million. There are countless activities children can get back to after lockdown, but we strongly believe swimming should take priority over other extra-curricular activities for every child. Read on to find out our reasons.

1. Swimming can save lives
Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide with the highest rates of drowning among children of one to four years, followed by children of five to nine years. Therefore, swimming is a life skill that everyone should acquire from a young age. Even before the pandemic, 23% of children were leaving primary school unable to swim 25 metres unaided and one in five cannot self-rescue, despite swimming being on the national curriculum. With regular swimming lessons, children learn how to stay safe in and around water – something you cannot learn by reading a book or watching YouTube!

2. Swimming helps to build a stronger body
Swimming is a perfect sport for improving overall health and fitness as you move most of your muscle groups against the resistance of water. Because it is full-body workout, it helps to tone muscles and build core strengths far more effectively than any other sports. Swimming increases heart rates without putting stress on the body, therefore it is also beneficial for building cardiovascular strength. In addition, swimming helps to expand lung capacity and improve breathing control which is valuable for everyone but especially for asthma sufferers. These are reasons why many children who swim regularly tend to be good at other sports as well.

3. Swimming is a mood booster
There is increasing concern about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and young people’s mental health. Data now conclusively indicates a substantial overall worsening of mental health in children and young people during the pandemic compared to previous years, according to the APPG’s latest report. Some children find it more difficult to express their emotions or share their thoughts verbally with others and therefore it is important to keep them active and provide enjoyment whilst doing so. So, how can swimming improve your child’s mental health? Swimming naturally reduces the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline whilst simultaneously creating endorphins, the hormones that make you feel happy and increase positivity. The breathing patterns and rhythmic movements created with swimming can be meditative. Another study shows that swimming can reverse damage to the brain from stress through a process called hippocampal neurogenesis. We have seen time after time anxious or fidgety children leave swimming lessons calmer and more relaxed.

4. Swimming can make your child smarter
Studies carried out by Fusion Lifestyle and Griffith University reveal regular swimmers are lengths ahead in school than non-swimmers. When it comes to classroom-based subjects such as maths, English and science, children who frequently take swimming lessons are more likely to perform above average:
• Children who have taken swimming lessons enjoy reading more and are more likely to read outside of school.
• Children can better recite their times tables, with 39% of swimmers able to recite their five times table vs only 28% of non-swimmers.

This is down to several factors:
• A child who swims after school has busy weeks, meaning they are disciplined with their time. It is natural they would apply this time-management to their studies.
• It develops focus in children, showing you must work hard and consistently to achieve your goals.

We all find it that little bit easier to work hard when we have something positive to look forward to – like swimming in a warm pool!

5. Swimming builds self-confidence
Swim England’s research has revealed that seven to 16-year-olds who swim rated a higher feeling of life being worthwhile compared to those who don’t. Swimmers are, on average, 2.5% more confident than non-swimmers. Girls who swim have considerably higher increases in wellbeing, health and self-confidence compared to boys.

As you can see, swimming is one of the best and most valuable activities out there for your children, and with this skill it would open doors
to other opportunities later in their lives. It is a true worthwhile investment for your children.

Sports Generation offer swimming lessons to children from age two years and above with up to two children per class to maximise learning potential. Lessons, taught by highly experienced coaches, are engaging, confidence building and results-based. If you want your child to get back into swimming, email or call 0208 940 9431 to find out more.

References: Sports England: Active Lives Children and Young People Survey. Academic Year 2019/20, January 2021 World Health Organization: Drowning, April 2021 Swim England: Value of Swimming, 2019 All-Party Parliamentary Group: The covid generation: a mental health pandemic in the making. April 2021 PsychCentral: How Swimming Reduces Depression,2010 Griffith Institute for Educational Research, at Griffith University, 2013.

Swimming on prescription?

By children's health, fun for children, Safety, swimming

Swim England tell us why it should be and Vicki Bates from the little swim school thinks she agrees!

Ahead of this year’s World Health Day on April 7th, Swim England launched their #LoveSwimming Campaign to ask doctors to prescribe swimming more often to help long-term medical conditions, backing up their campaign with real life examples of people whose lives have been transformed by being prescribed swimming!

Wanda says she was feeling like an old lady before she was forty with asthma, arthritis and back pain. She described her life as planning around her medical conditions until her physiotherapist suggested swimming. In the short Swim England film Wanda says “It’s been absolutely life changing for me and my whole life is easier than it used to be – I totally feel that I have claimed my life back”.

Steve’s physical health was appalling – he was massively overweight and had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, but still did nothing about it. He then had a stroke and that, he says, changed his life. He started swimming and realised his fears about people looking and pointing at him weren’t necessary as they weren’t looking or pointing! Steve said “The benefits of swimming – physically, mentally and socially are massive – the exercise I’ve found that works for me is swimming.”

Paul suffered from constant back pain as a result of working long hours, sitting in a chair – often for 12 hours at a time. He managed his pain with painkillers but then looked for an alternative and saw a physiotherapist who recommended swimming. He literally built up from one length to 40 and says “The further I go, the better I feel afterwards – I feel as if I’ve had some type of internal massage – for hours I feel as if I had no pain at all – for whole days – I love swimming!”

These inspirational stories show what an amazing tool swimming can be in recovery from serious illness and aches and pains, as well as for the many other health benefits it delivers; fitness levels, weight loss, feelings of wellbeing and mental health benefits, to name but a few.

Swim England go on to say that the current Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has called for a ‘culture shift’ and for medical professionals to act on the evidence that activity, such as swimming, can cut the risk of illness and boost survival from major disease.

Elaine McNish, Head of Health and Wellbeing at Swim England said: “Swimming is an ideal activity which can help people manage a range of medical conditions and we are calling on the medical profession to consider recommending swimming to people who would benefit from improved physical health.”

I’m not sure if it’s me getting older but I think over the past few years, as a nation, we are waking up to the realisation that if we want to live long healthy lives, we need to take care of ourselves both physically and mentally. Some of the medical profession also appear to be moving towards the more progressive idea of prevention rather than cure and alternative therapies rather than the constant prescription of drugs that just relieve the symptoms, but don’t help the actual condition. I have a bad lower back and after years of taking care and being over-careful, I have started to build up the muscles around my back – swimming along with weight training have helped me to feel better now than I have felt in a long time. I’m lucky, running a swim school means I know the many benefits of swimming but I really agree with Swim England that if doctors prescribed swimming for relevant conditions – physical and mental, we would definitely be a healthier nation.

I have mentioned many times the multiple benefits of swimming and this just adds another reason as to why, as a parent, you should encourage your little one to love the water and take them swimming or to lessons that teach them water confidence, water safety and swimming skills. It has been shown in many studies that if children are physically active with sports like swimming when they are younger, they are more likely to be fit and healthy as adults. Even if your little one doesn’t continue swimming as an adult, they will have the skills to fall back on if they ever need them in later life. I say teach your little one to swim – for now and the future – for safety and long-term health – it’s all pros and no cons!

If you want more information on preschool swimming, do visit call us on 01273 207992 or email

Swimming- your lifelong friend!

By children's health, fun for children, Health, swimming

In the 15 years that I have been running the little swim school, I have written many articles and spent many hours thinking about swimming! While thinking about this article I realised that much has changed in that time – in terms of swimming and in my life as my children have been growing up and we have all been getting older!

One main thing is the increase in the number of babies and toddlers swimming and the realisation of why it is so good for them to start their relationship with swimming literally from birth – although some would say they spend nine months in amniotic fluid so that relationship has already begun and being in water is the most natural thing for them!

The benefits of baby swimming are well-known now; so much so that we have parents of one year olds asking us if it’s too late to start them swimming! Of course, it is never too late to start swimming but there are real benefits for your baby literally from birth! Although most of our brain cells are formed before birth, most of the connections between them are formed in infancy and the toddler years and research from Queensland University in 2014 showed that the movements of swimming activate both hemispheres of the brain and all four lobes of the brain simultaneously – resulting in heightened cognitive behaviours and ease of learning.Interestingly, another study from Australia showed the cognitive benefits increased when in warm water!

Once babies become toddlers, learning water safety and water confidence have huge potentially lifesaving benefits and toddlers also get loads from the social aspect of the lessons and the learning – as well as swimming there are numbers, letters, games and listening skills, to name a few.

From starting school to well into their teens swimming is great for lifesaving and a social activity but also for keeping children fit and active – especially as when children move into secondary school they tend to reduce activities and increase screen time. Mental health is also really important in these years and exercise can be a great benefit. Lots of recent studies have shown that open water swimming is good for our mental health and is becoming more and more popular. I am lucky to live in Brighton and have found myself swimming in the sea more frequently. I managed to get to October last year in a costume and have plans to use a wetsuit this winter and see how far I can go – it is hard to get in but you really do feel amazing afterwards!

Swimming is often hugely beneficial for children with disabilities of all levels. My daughter was diagnosed with mild scoliosis when she was about 11; one of the best things to do for this is spine lengthening exercise and swimming offers the perfect opportunity. Over the years at the swim school we have had children with many disabilities who have been told to swim by their doctors or specialists.

As children grow swimming is a fantastic thing to do as a family. Now that our children are older, our family spends hours together in the sea on holiday snorkelling, diving and swimming. Many fond memories from our holidays are of us all as a family in the sea!

Even if you don’t fancy swimming as a hobby and haven’t swum much for many years, there are many reasons you might want or need to take it up again. Swimming is great as a solo exercise, but many runners, cyclists and other athletes swim to gain muscle and help them in their chosen sports. And if your goal is weight loss swimming is also a great tool – it burns calories, builds muscle and can be done by larger people with mobility issues.

As we go through life, some of us develop bad backs, osteo-arthritis and all manner of ailments; we need to keep fit and often can’t do the things we used to. I have had a bad back for years and was told not to do any ‘impact’ exercise and even though I hadn’t been a regular pool swimmer for a long time, if I swim twice a week and do Pilates, my back behaves! Swimming allows you to do resistance and cardio training with little or no impact on your spine – I don’t think you will ever hear an osteopath of physiotherapist tell you not to swim! Dr Don Duff from Balanced Back says: “Whenever a patient asks ‘Is swimming good for back pain?’, my answer is always a resounding ‘absolutely! Not only does it have a positive effect on your overall health, but also it’s been shown to be one of the most useful exercise programs for people suffering from lower back pain.’”

As we age, we can end up with more and more limitations on our exercise, but being in water and swimming is one thing we can literally do forever – at one of the lovely, warm, private pools we use, the owner runs aqua fit classes and some of her customers are in their nineties. It helps keep older people fit and active, and again, it is a social thing too.

As you can see, I’m sold on swimming! I suggest that if you haven’t already, introduce your little one to swimming and what could be a lovely relationship that benefits them in so many ways, throughout their lives.

If you want information about baby, toddler and pre-school swimming visit or
call us on 01273 207992.

Articles to check out:
Information on swimming benefits in Coach Magazine –
Information on swimming and back pain –

Swimming with babies

By Education, Safety, Sport, swimming, Uncategorized
by Fiona Edwards
Little Dippers

Baby swimming has become increasingly popular over the last 10 years and with good reason. As one of the first activities you can do with your new baby it not only gives you special one on one time with your baby, but also imparts your baby with a skill for life.

But taking that first step into the pool with your baby definitely comes with its fair share of questions and nerves. What if they get cold? What if they cry? What about their ears? Rest assured your babies are so much more adaptable than you realise and swimming is a completely natural progression for them having spent nine months in the fluid environment of the womb.
What’s more, babies are born with a natural dive reflex action which means they are already fully equipped to go underwater. It is truly amazing to see your baby dive underwater for the first time and come up again completely unfazed!

One of the first considerations for going baby swimming must be safety. With drowning still the third most common cause of accidental death in children, learning to swim must surely be a priority for all parents. Teaching your baby key water safety techniques and confidence in the water will give them skills that, if they should ever fall into a pool, lake, pond or even the bath, will mean that they won’t panic and can utilise the skills that they have learnt – which could potentially save their life.

Baby swimming is a great way to spend special one on one time with your little one away from the intrusions of everyday life. This is a time when you can truly focus on just you and your baby. Plus the added benefits of skin on skin contact can help to regulate baby’s heart rate and breathing as well as making them feel secure. For mums, it can release hormones to help with breastfeeding and build the nurturing instincts. It’s also a great way for dads to get involved and enjoy special bonding time.

Physical and physiological benefits
The buoyancy of the water enables babies to use muscles they could never use on land and they love the sense of freedom to kick freely. Despite looking gentle, swimming is great exercise for your baby, helping to strengthen their heart, lungs and respiratory capacity which in turn aids the development of the brain.

In fact, the exercises taught in baby swim classes, kicking, reaching, learning and responding to commands, provide the perfect stimulation for your baby’s brain and helps to develop their cognitive skills and hand/eye co-ordination. It has also been proven that the combination of activities in the pool strengthens nerve pathways between the two sides of the brain, helping to store and retrieve information more effectively. All good for future learning!

What’s more, regular swimming can improve your child’s eating and sleeping patterns – surely a bonus for everyone!

Fun for all the family Swimming is great exercise for all the family and is something you can enjoy together even when babies are very little.

Parents’ confidence
Don’t worry if you are not confident in the water yourself, most baby swim classes take place in shallow pools and don’t require you to do much more than hold your baby. However nervous you may be feeling make sure you try to remain calm and keep a big smile on your face as your baby will pick up any apprehension that you may feel. It’s amazing watching parents’ confidence grow as they watch their babies thrive in the water.

Meet new friends
Besides learning key survival skills swimming is fun! Singing songs, splashing around, blowing bubbles and playing games, it’s an easy way for parents to get involved and meet new friends along the way. It’s best to go somewhere with small groups so that everyone can get to know each other and your baby will respond to other babies in the group and enjoy the clapping and splashing.

A few things to think about before you go swimming
You can start swimming with your baby from birth although most parents tend to wait until their baby is around six to eight weeks. Contrary to popular belief, babies do not need to have had their immunisations before coming to a pool.

It is best to book a course of baby swimming classes before you take your baby to the pool on your own, so that you can learn how to hold your baby
and exercises that you can practise with them. Smaller classes with groups of around six or seven in private pools provide a calmer quieter environment for you and your baby. Try to find warm water pools; babies can’t regulate their temperature so look for classes that take place in pools ideally heated to around 32 -34O C.

Before choosing a class think about your baby’s feed and nap times. A tired or hungry baby won’t enjoy their class and give yourself plenty of time to get to your class and get changed. It’s amazing how much longer everything takes with a baby in tow and you don’t want to start your class flustered and stressed.
You can help prepare your baby for lessons by having fun in the bath splashing, grasping toys and singing songs.

With all these benefits surely it’s worth taking the plunge!

Little Dippers have been teaching babies to love the water for 25 years.
Classes in lovely warm water pools in the North Laine and Patcham in Brighton with free drop in sessions.
Free trial available to book.
For more details check our website or call 01273 229 390