Okay. Just people with new babies or immanent babies from here on out, right? Let's get into it.
So. Obviously, learning to swim is among one of the most essential life skills a person can have. For little ones, being able to swim and being confident with water is not only a potentially life-saving skill, but it also helps on many deeper levels with developing self-confidence, socializing skills, and trust. As a parent, this is one of the better gifts you can give your child -- an essential one, especially for expat families, who tend to take vacations in lots of places with hotel swimming pools. Got to teach your kid to swim. You've got to. Skills like these will set one up for a much more rounded and independent life.
But when is the right age to bring your kid to the water? One school of thought -- the one I subscribe to -- is the earlier the better. The earlier we can get our children into the water the better. From about 6 months onwards they're ready for the pool.
There are a lot of detractors to "Water Babies" classes and giving babies swimming lessons. Some say babies are natural swimmers and that these skills develop naturally with time anyways. Some say babies are just not developed enough physically to deal with water (they tend to have issues with closing their mouths to stop the intake of water…and… um… basic issues with successfully pulling off "floating"). For me, I've learned that the only things babies do naturally is breath, drink milk, pee, and poo. Everything else is learned. It's also my background, growing up in Australia, the big outdoors and swimming in particular is a big part of our childhood. Getting my kid used to and familiar with water as soon as possible transfers this culture and heritage. It's also a great way to bond with your child. Their lessons are for you as well.
So where can you give your little one swimming lessons?
Lots of athletic clubs about Shanghai offer in-house lessons for kids -- Shanghai Town and Country Community (STCC), Ambassy Club and Kerry Sports -- however, from our digging around, there are only two reputable organizations that specifically do infant and children's swimming and water safety lessons: Multisport and Sport for Life. Both have qualified instructors and provide lessons for babies and parents, and beyond into competitive swimming as they grow older.
Multisport (www.multisport.com.cn) do their classes at several facilities in and around Puxi area. The next sets of classes -- duration, five weeks -- starts at the end of August at the Lakeville Regency in Xintiandi. A five-week course cost 800rmb for non-members. The facility itself is a well-appointed compound with a heated pool. They also provide classes in the Pudong area which is at the Ambassy Club Pudong. Multisport runs four programs a year, and each program is a five-week course for their "Baby and Parents" classes. Registration for next term starts now (August 3) and classes start the week of August 31.
Sports for Life (www.sportforlife.com.cn) are the only swim school in China recognized and approved by AUSTSWIM, Australia's national organization for swimming and water safety. Their AUSTSWIM swim programs starts August 17 and runs for 19 weeks, with each class costing 130rmb (not including venue charge). They take kids from 6 months to 24 months and their "Water Babies" classes are in both Puxi and Pudong. Sports for Life also has their own indoor sports arena (www.jinqiaoarena.com.cn), available for children’s parties, corporate team building events and adult sports events.