Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Reaching for a submerged toy, Joshua Kubinak, 5, learns the basics at the Steiner Aquatic Center in Salt Lake on Thursday, June 14, 2012 during a morning swim lesson. This is the third year Joshua has been enrolled in swimming classes.
Kids swim best when the pressure’s low and water’s fun

Kids’ fitness » Summer’s here, with almost any age just right for the first swim lesson.

First Published Jun 20 2012 04:00 pm • Last Updated Jun 21 2012 01:11 pm

Liz Walker thought an inflated ball would keep her safe as she went down the slide of a hotel swimming pool.

When the ball popped out of her hands on the way down, Walker landed in the pool with nothing to keep her afloat. The 7-year-old girl, who did not know how to swim, almost drowned.

At a glance

Where to go for swim lessons

Steiner Aquatic Center

Where » 645 S. Guardsman Way (1580 East), Salt Lake City

Info » 801-583-9713 or www.recreation.slco.org/slcsports

Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center

Where » 7500 S. 2700 East, Cottonwood Heights

Info » 801-943-3190 or www.cottonwoodheights.com

South Davis Recreation Center

Where » 550 N. 200 West Bountiful

Info » 801-298-6220 or southdavisrecreation.com

SwimKids

Where » 4679 S. 2225 East, Holladay

Info » 801-944-8811 or www.swimkids.biz

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"Luckily, someone was walking by on the outside of the gated area," said Walker, now 53. "Growing up, teaching children how to swim was always at the back of my mind."

Walker went on to open SwimKids in her early 20s. Founded soon after the birth of her daughter Kirstin, the business specializes in teaching children of all ages how to move in, through and above the water.

Armed with a degree in early childhood education from Utah State University, Walker applied her knowledge to the best methods of teaching children how to swim. She quickly learned that children, who have concrete thought processes not easily broken down into parts, learned best when the swimming was taught to them step-by-step, then woven into a whole skill.

"Once they’re comfortable being underwater, and kicking and moving their arms in correct fashion, then I can teach them the backstroke and how to float," Walker said.

No other recreational skill gives parents greater peace of mind, and gives children a more valuable sense of self-confidence, than swimming.

Drowning endures as the second-leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 19, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Only car accidents top that. Once you get past the fact that swimming is a life-saving skill, you and your children can appreciate its aerobic qualities that exercise almost every part of the body, and all the social opportunities it affords by the beach, lake or neighborhood pool.

As recently as two years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended against swimming lessons for toddlers between ages 1 and 3. When evidence was presented that early swim lessons might prevent drowning, the ban was lifted. The academy now says it’s fine for children as young as 1 to start learning strokes, but no younger.

Swim instructors say there is no ideal age for anyone, young or old, to start swimming. What matters most is an enthusiastic instructor who won’t make kids nervous, can assure anxious parents and is interested in fun and safety above all.


story continues below
story continues below

"A positive instructor who won’t push too hard, too fast, is ideal," said Colin O’Connor, aquatics coordinator at Steiner Aquatic Center. "Even if the wind’s blowing, and it’s cold, you don’t want an instructor with a frown on his or her face. The kids pick up on that."

Becky Kubanik remembers that her son Joshua Kubanik cried many times the first year of his lessons at Steiner because he was so scared. Now in his third year at the Salt Lake County facility near the University of Utah, he relishes every session.

"I don’t even know what strokes he’s learned," said Kubanik, a Salt Lake City kindergarten teacher and mother of two. "He just jumps in the water and swims through it. That’s a great show of confidence."

Walker said parents need to learn to relax during lessons, even if their child seems anxious or cries.

"I wouldn’t say my lessons are without tears, but I also help parents understand what children are communicating when they cry," she said. "Swimming lessons are an opportunity for growth and safety. Parents take their children in for immunizations, and they cry then as well, but most parents realize that immunizations are good for their children."

Ashley Burnham, a stay-at-home-parent of two in Salt Lake City, remembers that her son Van cried too during his first lessons at Steiner at age 1. Her calm demeanor saw him through, she said.

"If they sense a parent’s worried or concerned, they will be, too," Burnham said.

Now, in addition to watching her 3-year-old son float and stroke, she gets the pleasure of watching as he learns small lessons in pool safety and first aid.

"He’s at the age when he asks ‘Why?’ all the time," she said. "Now he’s the one reminding me to put on sunscreen before we go out."

bfulton@sltrib.com



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.