Children’s Swimming Milestones by age

It’s difficult to quantify the statistical significance of how effective swimming lessons can be, however research out of the US suggests that formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning for children aged one to four by 88%. This is significant, especially considering that drowning remains the leading cause of accidental death in this age group.

I cannot stress enough that children need ongoing weekly swimming instruction to maintain their swimming and water safety skills. At every age, structured swim classes help kids become familiar with, and confident around, water and set the foundation for later swimming skills and aquatic safety.

The Royal Life Saving 2022 Drowning report shows that there were 17 drowning deaths in Australia among children aged 0-4 years – a 29% decrease on last year and a 23% decrease on the 10 year average, so a welcome improvement after a rising dramatically during covid lockdowns. It is generally accepted that the optimum age to start formal structured swimming lessons is six months of age, and the sooner a child is able to get themselves back to the side of the pool independently, the better. Our program has children swimming independently of their parent or carer from around 2 years of age.

Tragically, 15 drowning deaths occurred in children aged 5-14 years, a 7% increase on last year and a 36% increase on the 10-year average, perhaps a reflection of children missing out on swimming lessons during the pandemic.

Children who are 11-12 years old should be able to continuously swim 50m using freestyle or backstroke, scull (use their arms to move around in the water) float or tread water for two
minutes, throw a rescue flotation aid to a partner at five metres away and swim fully clothed, in swimwear or normal clothes (to simulate an accidental fall into water). Royal Lifesaving reports that children who had regular weekly lessons were most likely to reach these national safety and swimming benchmarks at age nine and 10, yet sadly only 25 per cent were staying in lessons long enough to reach this standard.

As for teenagers – well, this age group isn’t always known for making the best decisions. At this age parents and teachers should be addressing any lacking swim skills, as well as knowledge, behaviour and attitudes of this group of students to promote safer and sensible behaviour in water environments.

We have been teaching the local community to swim and educating about general water safety for over 30 years, and operate seven days a week, all year round, at 2 locations, with proven and trusted lesson options from babies to adults. The structure and discipline learnt in our program – often a child’s first lesson experience – promote optimum learning outcomes, and their ultimate safety.

Get your kids swimming!