Introducing children to the water from a young age is an ambition many parents share, especially those who are keen swimmers themselves (or those who regret never learning). The desire to raise water babies from the off is clearly illustrated by the popularity of baby swimming classes where new parents bond and splash in the pool with babies of a few weeks old. But can starting swim classes early make a difference?

How young?
Being a regular at the pool before your first birthday won’t place you on a fast track to swimming success, as proven by Michael Phelps. The greatest swimmer of all time didn’t lean to swim until he was 7 years old. However, experts are in agreement that removing any fear of water should be a top priority for parents. Starting from a young age can help children remain calm while in the water, which is an important step towards helping them become strong and happy swimmers.

But don’t delay
Beware waiting too long to start swimming lessons. Research shows that if a child hasn’t learnt how to swim by their 9th birthday, they might never do so. Swimming coaches believe that the prime aim to start lessons is somewhere around the age of 4 when children are able to try making strokes and absorb actual techniques. At this age children are generally considered to be developmentally ready for their brains and bodies to coordinate well enough to propel themselves through the water.

Swimming is a brilliant all-round exercise and a skill for life – children who have swimming lessons are thought to be safer around water (but this is no substitute for supervising your child around water at all times, from the bathtub to ponds and streams).

SwimEngland offers a wealth of inspiring advice to support your child with swimming, here –