• Amelia Colley, M.D., FAAP
  • Philip Dawson, M.D., FAAP
  • Scott Iwashyna, M.D., FAAP

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Swimming Lessons: Good Idea for Kids

Between 2000 and 2005, 6900 children died of unintentional drowning; and the younger the child, the higher the risk.  Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children over 5 have swimming lessons but doesn't address the issue for younger kids. Researchers at the NIH took a look at the records of those who had drowned unintentionally, compared that to a control population, and found a significant protective effect for swim lessons in those children between 1 and 4 years old. The protective effect applied to older children too, but it definitely showed protection for the young ones. (Brenner et al, Arch. Pediatr. Adolesc. Med. 163:203-10, March 2009)

I'm not sure when Michael Phelps started taking swim lessons, but look how it protected him from drowning!  Joking aside, it's obviously a good idea to teach your toddler to swim.  Swim lessons alone will not guarantee prevention of drowning and you still have to be very vigilant around the pool; but maybe you'll also be going to some foreign city in 2028 to watch your child swim in the Olympics all the while keeping them safe in the water.       

Dr. Dawson