Updated: Sep 8
There are various advantages and disadvantages to using swimming aids to teach children to swim. Which camp do you fall into? Each one has different benefits and hindrances which will be discussed in more depth below. You can refer to our July 2021 blog where we discuss what to consider when choosing a swimming aid.
The disadvantages to using a training aid
Those who don’t believe in using flotation devices say it is important for the child to experience the water naturally so they can develop their swimming skills instinctively. Their bodies get a more realistic feel of what it is like to be in the water practising their skills.
Early on, when a child is just starting to develop their skills and building up their strength, it will mean that the swim teacher will need to be more hands on. Therefore, their groups will be smaller to accommodate this.
There is also a risk that the child will become too reliant on the training aid and possibly become lazy. Weaning them off may prove to be challenging too and perhaps a stressful exercise to go through.
Advantages to using training aids
At Mini Water Adventurers we actively use the training aid called the Orca Swim Trainer. For numerous reasons which I outline below. Firstly the Orca has been designed by Helen Hughes the co-owner of Mini Water Adventurers as she couldn't find an aid that fitted all her requirements. We believe there are several benefits to using a training aid. However, it is important to emphasise that there is a place for including time in the swimming lesson where the children have the opportunity to practise their skills without the aid so they do get to know how it feels both with an aid on and off when practising their skills. This also reduces the possibility of them becoming too reliant on them.
The reasons why we advocate using a training aid during our lessons are:
The Orca helps to support the child’s body in the natural horizontal swimming position which also helps them to swim closer to the water line. It also puts the body in a better position for the swimmer to practise putting their heads forward and in the water to begin the familiarisation with breath control.
It is important to provide an environment which feels safe and relaxed. Wearing a training aid like the Orca gives the children confidence - it’s like having a hug in the water - and certainly benefits children who may feel especially anxious or afraid during their swimming lessons.
Having that extra buoyancy will enable the swimmers to concentrate more on their skills for longer periods of time and thus reduce the effort needed by the child to keep a float. One of the most important skills is breath control. By reducing the amount of physical effort the child has to put in will help them to lift their heads and breath better. This creates a good habit. We have often found children without an aid are more inclined to hold their breath which is not what we want to encourage, otherwise they will start to form bad habits. Or be forced to roll on to their backs to catch a breath, and in our experience there aren’t that many 2-3 years olds who are enthusiastic to do this either.
Being independent as a toddler is a milestone in their cognitive and physical development, so creating the opportunity to do this in the water is great. Wearing the Orca enables the little swimmer to have that independence as well as giving the parent peace of mind that they are safe to explore their watery environment with them by their side.
It is vital that children are introduced to the water as early as possible. Swimming is not only an important lifelong skill but also great fun with many health benefits. The more we can create a safe, inviting and fun environment for the children, the more successful you’ll be in teaching them to swim, and giving them the option to use a training aid for a large part of the lesson supports this.
More about the Orca Swim Trainer
The Orca has been designed to be progressive. It is a perfect learn to swim aid from first splash to confident swimmer. It offers adjustable buoyancy ideal for learning to swim quickly and easily. The buoyancy levels are easy to adjust.The nine individual float pads allow you to customise the child’s buoyancy giving them enough buoyancy for their ability level. The pads are removed one at a time to suit the child’s buoyancy level and swimming development.Your child won’t be overly conscious of the levels being slowly decreased over time so they can focus on their swimming skills and having fun whilst their ability develops.They are also ideal for family fun sessions and perfect to take on holiday too.
It is adjustable at the shoulders and around the core to create a nice snug fit and be positioned correctly around the child’s torso. Thi also accommodates the child growing so you optimise the usage.
Important safety message - parents should never be more than an arm's reach away from their child when the Orca is on. This is not a life-saving device.
If you are interested in finding out more information about the Orca Swim Trainer please head over to our website where you’ll find a video showing you how it works, some testimonials from parents and a chance to purchase them..