Learning to Swim With or Without Floaties? – What To Consider

What is a floatie?

Floaties have been around since the early 1960s, and since then, they have remained a popular choice for many families and still crowd our store’s shelves. Floaties have been known by many names over the decades, such as water wings, arm bands, swimmers or swimmies, and plastic bands. Floaties are now offered in bright, appealing colors or decorated with popular childhood characters and cartoons. As far as pool toys go, they are relatively affordable, easy to use, and reasonably durable.

Swim instructors, including our experts at Steve Wallen Swim School, strongly advise against using water wings for many reasons. Yes, floaties in your child’s favorite color will be an easy treat. In addition, some children find that floaties allow them to build confidence. However, there are many downsides to floaties. If you have never put water wings on your kids, just don’t! If your children currently use floaties, giving them up may be a bit of a battle, but this is a fight well worth winning!

But my kids love their floaties!

Consider floaties’ darker side. First, they can become deflated, meaning your non-swimming child will no longer float and begin to drown within seconds. Second, armbands can also slip off; our bodies are slippery when wet! Third, many children do not understand the risks of water, particularly pre-school children; most children can easily remove an armband in mere seconds. Finally, using arm bands does not prevent drowning, and because they can easily be deflated or removed, their use could prove to be fatal in the water. 

If used regularly, children become dependent on their floaties and might refuse to be in the water without them, which will be frustrating and counterproductive when learning to swim. Even more frightening, some children feel invincible in their wings and may jump into pools, lakes, or any body of water when adults are absent.

Finally, swimming requires us to learn to hold our bodies in a horizontal position, and floaties do not allow for this necessary swim position. Instead, floaties will guide a child’s body into a vertical position, which does not support learning to swim. Learning to float is a challenging skill. Suppose your child has spent time with floaties. In that case, it will be difficult for them to overcome the vertical position that floaties put them in and become comfortable in the horizontal position needed for floats. 

So, what should I do instead of using floaties?

Enroll the entire family in learn to swim lessons today! Qualified and highly trained swimming instructors, like those at Steve Wallen Swim School, will tell you that your best option is to enroll your child in swimming lessons and to use approved lifejackets when engaging in water activities and sports. 

When learning to swim, your child will discover how their body naturally moves in the water and how it wants to float. Your child will also learn how to submerge or ‘dunk’ and how to come back up to the surface. When wearing water wings, the physical methods of submerging and surfacing are unnatural. Your child’s safety depends on them learning to swim without water wings; lessons are safe and will provide your child with a lifelong skill.

Come swim with us at Steve Wallen Swim School, in either El Dorado Hills or Roseville, and see how expertly we can excite your little ones about the wonders of water, guide them to feeling comfortable and safe, and teach them to swim for life!

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