What Is The Best Age To Start Swimming?

What Is The Best Age To Start Swimming

Swimming is a valuable life skill that promotes heart health, builds muscle, and gets kids into the great outdoors. It is an excellent physical or leisurely activity for people of practically any age. Read more to discover how and when it is best to get your child started.

Defining Goals

Before teaching your kids to swim, it is important to define your goals with the sport. Do you want them to become a professional swimmer, make sure they are simply able to save themselves from drowning, or is swimming a means of having fun and interacting with others? Once you have an idea of what you want for your child, you are more prepared to provide them with what they need to succeed.

Ages 3-5

You can teach your child to swim even as a toddler! In fact, this is when a lot of parents decide to first get their kids’ feet wet. Teaching your child young prepares them to know what to do if they fall into any type of water. Show them how to keep their head level with the water and kick their feet so they can safely make it to the pool’s edge. There are also local teachers in pretty much all communities that can facilitate these beginning steps.

One great way to teach your toddler to swim involves standing in the water with them and putting your hand on their stomach as they kick. Make sure to explain that they must keep their mouth shut and not breathe in the water. Having them wear floaties or a life jacket is always a good idea when you are not immediately near them.

Ages 6-11

Starting children in early adolescence is very similar to starting your toddler to swim; it is all about the basics. However, older children should be able to do more than kick their legs and swim to a pool’s edge. Start kids aged 6-11 with teaching them how to swim freestyle and how to do the breaststroke. Get them hooked up with swimming lessons in your area if you want.

Swimming is also an excellent way to get kids active and outdoors. If your child is starting, have them wear a life jacket and show them how to tread water and do simple swim strokes. Once they have a feel for moving in the water, have them take off the life jacket. Remind them never to swim alone, even after they get the hang of swimming.

Ages 12 and Up

Teenagers should be able to grasp swimming quickly. Show them how to tread water and stay afloat first, then teach them basic strokes such as the freestyle or breaststroke. At this age, kids can probably touch the floor of the pool standing, so a life jacket is likely unnecessary even when starting.

Swimming is a great activity to keep your children active and healthy. Remember to teach them proper swim safety, even older kids. They should never swim alone, never run by the pool’s edge, and follow all pool, lake, or beach rules.

For Future College Athletes

Collegiate swimming is highly competitive. If this is one of the goals you’ve set for your child, they will need to put in a lot of work from an early age. Additionally, it is essential to help your child find their niche. It is not enough to be a great all-around swimmer; that won’t win competitions. You need to help your child practice in a specific event, such as the 50 Freestyle, 100 Backstroke, or 400 Freestyle Relay (for the relay, you would need to get your child on a club or team to practice).

Start your child as early as possible. Have them join their school’s swim team or a club. Look at USA Swimming’s “Find a Team” webpage to find a swim team for your future college athlete (they will need to have had much practice if you expect them to be accepted.

For Future Professional Athletes

Professional swimmers are no joke. Take Michael Phelps, for example, who ate 10,000 calories and trained over 6 hours a day year-round while preparing for the professional circuit. Granted, Michael Phelps is an extreme, but his workout routine should still give you an idea of the intense nature of professional swimming. To raise a future Olympic athlete, you must expect training to lean towards the Michael Phelps variety.

Furthermore, there are other ways to make it as a professional swimmer than the Olympics. Clubs and leagues, such as The International Swimming League, allow non-Olympic professional swimmers to get their chance. Still, training will be arduous. Only you and your child can determine if they have the determination, focus, and mental fortitude to become a professional swimmer.

Safety Concerns

Drowning is the biggest cause for concern while swimming. Make sure you teach your children never to swim alone. If they are not comfortable with their abilities, or if you feel they still need some practice swimming, ensure they wear a life jacket. Encourage them to follow all pool, lake, and beach rules.

Also, have your child wear sunscreen and stay hydrated. Do not let them swim while overtired or hungry. Supervise children at all times while swimming.


How do I get my kid started with swimming?

Start with the basics. Teach them to tread water, swim freestyle, and do the breaststroke. For younger kids, start them with a life jacket or floaties. Teach toddlers how to swim by standing in the water and holding their stomach level to the water as they kick their feet.

How old should my child be to swim?

Your child can start swimming anytime after age one. Be careful with two-year-olds and toddlers. Make sure they wear a life jacket or floaties if you are not immediately near them. To ensure the greatest success and safety, children this young usually learn best by a toddler swimming instructor.

Can I teach my child to swim?

Yes, you can teach your child swimming by getting in the water with them and showing them the strokes. Certain ages, such as toddlers, will be more difficult to teach and instructors will help there, but older children generally are easy to teach. If you don’t know how to do certain swim strokes or techniques, look them up online before demonstrating them to your child.

How do I pick a swimming coach for my child?

USA Swimming is an excellent website for budding collegiate or professional swimming athletes. Go there to find a school, team, or coach for serious swimmers. If you want something milder, search “swimming coaches near me” and choose what works best for your child.