10News' Lee Ann Kim, Son Dive Into First Swim Class
5:11 AM, Jun 7, 2006
With every kick, splash and dip, babies are learning how to enjoy being in the water. These are the first steps toward teaching them how to swim, which usually happens a few years later. 10-4 San Diego anchor Lee Ann Kim and her 10-month-old son, Weston, recently dove into his first swim class. Weston took to the water immediately at the Noonan Family Swim School in Del Mar. It's one of a handful of swimming schools in San Diego teaching parents how to safely soak in the fun with their infants. Usually, there no more than six babies are allowed in each class, and the pool is set at a very comfortable 94 degrees. The American Academy of Pediatrics has certain guidelines as to what age actual swimming lessons are appropriate. "Many times, I'm asked when a baby should learn to swim. The AAP says 4- or 5-year-olds are developmentally ready to swim. However, what they are talking about is learning to swim stroke and learning how to breathe, it's not talking about putting kids in water," pediatrician Dr. Richared Buchta said. Buchta said it's perfectly safe and even beneficial for children to get used to the water as long as they are at least 6-months-old. And that's the minimum age requirement at the Noonan school. Safety exercises at the school also make a big splash. Weston and Lee Ann are taught the "elbow, elbow, stomach, knee" method -- teaching babies how to get out of the water safely. Learning how to protect a water baby is key with parents, especially for those who are a little anxious. "You're always a little nervous as a parent, but the instructors here know how to keep them happy and entertained. It was really easy, and I know she loves it," father Jeff Philips said. But when it comes to taking the plunge, baby usually loves it -- mom, maybe not. "I remember the first time he had the opportunity to submerge. I didn't want to do it. The instructor did it for me, and once I saw that I was okay with that, I was able to do it myself," mother Doreen Young said. "Children feed into parents' fears, and part of the whole program is getting the parent comfortable in the water with their child. So what we do is tell the parent to relax and take a couple of deep breaths. If the parent's relaxed, it's more likely the child will relax," instructor Monica Noonan said. If you're looking for a swim school, be sure to ask if their instructors are certified by the National Swim School Association. Also, know that the cost of the classes may vary from $40 to $100, depending on class size and pool conditions.