What to consider when choosing a swimming aid

Updated: Jul 5, 2021

The swimming pools are finally open, your little one is hugely excited to start swimming again or you're on countdown to that long awaited holiday. But wait, which is the best swimming aid to choose, so you have the peace of mind that your child will be safe and comfortable in the water? There is so much choice!!


What do you need to consider?

  • Does the aid have sufficient buoyancy to keep your child a float?

  • Is your child’s body correctly supported in the water?

  • Do they have enough mobility in the water so they can freely use their arms and legs?

  • Is the aid fitted securely so they can’t easily wiggle free or through it?

  • How long will your child need to use the aid?


Why it’s important to consider these


Does the aid have sufficient buoyancy to keep your child a float?

The amount of buoyancy your child needs will depend on their age, size, strength and the amount of swimming they have already done. However I would be mindful not to expect your child to be at the same level they were before the pandemic started. It's been over a year since we have been able to do any swimming unless you own your own pool or live near the sea (lucky you).So your child may need additional support now compared to perhaps a year ago. Looking at swimming aids which give you that flexibility in the amount of buoyancy it offers will be beneficial so it can grow with your child’s progress.


Is your child’s body correctly supported in the water?

Young children haven’t developed muscles to independently hold themselves in the water yet, which is why they naturally use doggy paddle strokes with their legs performing a cycling (running) action. This technique isn't very efficient and it can quickly become exhausting for the child. Hence why having a swimming aid is vital to their safety and for them to have fun for longer periods of time.


Do they have enough mobility in the water so they can freely use their arms and legs?

By giving them maximum body mobility, especially their arms and legs, they can begin to build up their muscle strength and have the opportunity to start practicing the correct swimming techniques. This in turn also creates muscle memory so the child intuitively starts to position themselves correctly in the water over time and with enough practice. A swimming aid gives them that opportunity to do this in a safe way.


Is the aid fitted securely so they can’t easily wiggle free or through it?

This is especially important for those children who are particularly apprehensive or anxious of the water. By having the feeling of extra buoyancy it will more likely give them the confidence and sense of being safe to give it a go. The aids which fit around the torso are more likely to help with this.


How long will your child need to use the aid?

This will depend on your child and how they feel in the water. Some swimming aids are more adaptable to a child growing and something to consider especially if you go for the more expensive aids on offer.


So what is on the market?

There is a wide range of different floatation devices on the market and they all do the job in slightly different ways. Some support your child with the floatation device being affixed just on their backs like the Shark fin, Aqua plane or Turtle pack. Others will support the child around the torso such as the swim vests or jackets. Then you have the classic noodles, floats, arm bands and rubber rings which you’ll need to inflate with air each time your child gets in the water. New on the market is the Orca swim trainer which is an all-in-one adjustable swimsuit with integrated floats in the back and front of the costume. You can remove the floats one at a time as your child increases their strength and capability (there are 9 flat float pads in total). And with adjustable straps it grows with the child.


Which one to choose?

Over the course of a number of years our swimming expert has used or is familiar with all the products below so shares with you her experience of them so you can decide which works best for you and your requirements for your little one.


Shark Fin


Price: £20.76*

Pros: Has multiple uses - works for younger children learning to swim and the seasoned swimmer who wishes to improve their stroke techniques.

Easy to get on and off with adjustable straps.

Cons: Gives complete mobility of arms and legs.

The buoyancy on the back causes the body to be pushed down into the water so the child is continually having to work hard to lift their head up.

Straps can easily ride up under the arms causing possible soreness.

Very bulky to fit in a suitcase.

Difficult to transition from front to back whilst moving.


Aqua plane


Price: £23.08*

Pros: Same as above.

Cons: Lightweight and less bulky.

The buoyancy on the back causes the body to be pushed into the water so the child is continually having to lift their head up which causes legs to drop.


Swim jacket


Price: £12.99 - £40

Pros: Gives complete mobility of arms and legs.

Some brands give UV protection due to the material used.

Buoyancy is created with floats dotted around the torso.

Cons: They have a tendency to rise up the body around the neck which makes it very uncomfortable to swim in.

There are limited amounts of floats which reduces the control over how much buoyancy the child can have.


Float suit


Price: £15 - £45

Pros: Gives complete mobility of arms and legs.

Quick drying material to make it easy to get on and off.

Buoyancy is created with floats dotted around the torso.

There are limited amounts of floats which reduces the control over how much buoyancy the child can have.

Cons: Bulky for the child.

Not snug around the torso so can ride up or be very loose.










Arm bands