How do you keep your kids safe around the water this summer?

This year I have read lots of articles on kids drowning. Children pushing BBQ’s up to the fence and climbing up and over to get into the pool. Children almost drowning in pools where adults are not supervising properly.  Getting out of reach of your children when you are in the sea.

 

As a mother and swimming instructor it is my worst nightmare having children get out of their reach and go under the water.

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DROWNING IS SILENT

 

Most people think it is like the movies where people are screaming for help and splashing around but in real life it is silent. Children will slip under the water and sink to the bottom. If there are lots of children around then it could be hard to watch properly.

 

KEEP WITHIN ARMS REACH OF YOUR CHILD AT ALL TIMES.

 

Both my children have been taught to be safe in deep water. They roll over and float on their back or lift their heads to breathe to get themselves to the side of the pool. But even though I feel confident that they are safe in deep water I still ensure that myself or my husband is in the water with them.

 

AN ADULT OVER THE AGE OF 16 YEARS NEEDS TO SUPERVISE.

 

If you are at the beach then it is also important to stay within arms reach of your children as there can be strong currents and rips at some of the more dangerous beaches.  Even the beaches that seem safe can have strong currents and can take your children away from you at a moment.

I stand down in the water while my children splash around in the shallows. Often if I have my nephew with me and I ask that he helps out, because if they both got swept away I am left with the question of which child would I be rescuing.

Ensure that with preschoolers and children who are not strong swimmers it is one adult to one child at the more dangerous beaches.

 

TWO CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 4 YEARS OLD WITH ONE CAREGIVER AT PUBLIC POOLS.

 

Recently on a trip to the public pools there was a massive line to get into the pools because it was the holidays and they only allow a certain number of people in so that they can supervise accordingly.  There were people in the line wondering why the line wasn’t moving and why we couldn’t get in. I turned around and said

“I would prefer that my children were safe than have so many people in the pools and have a child drown.”

Often people don’t understand why there are rules at the pools but they are there for your safety.

 

Please keep your children safe around the water this summer. Remember that DROWNING IS SILENT and to always keep both eyes fixed on your children at all times.

But also have fun and enjoy the water just know your children’s limits when it comes to the water if you are at the pools, beach, lakes or rivers.

Have fun this summer and stay safe.

How do I teach my baby to swim?

I think this is the most frequent question I get asked.

I have had old swimming instructors that I have worked with in the past have had babies and friends from school email me and ask me how do they go about teaching their baby to swim.

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Infants is a specialized group and I feel more often than not instructors with little training in this area get thrown in to teach Infants without knowing why an activity is done. They just go through all the songs and activities but do not explain to the parents why they are doing it.

Both my children learnt to swim as soon as they came into this world. They started with a bit of water over their heads and built up to going under the water.

Babies are in amniotic fluid for 9 months so it is only natural for them to feel relaxed in the water. If babies do not have water familiarization early then they learn to become anxious around water. This can also come from parents who are anxious in and around water. Babies can feel if you are relaxed or anxious.

How do you get your baby confident though?

Start of small with a flannel over the head squeezing out drips of water. Right from the beginning cue (baby’s name, ready, go) before the water goes over their eyes.

Once you have done this for a while move onto a cup that is ¼ full of water and do the same thing cue (baby’s name, ready, go).

Continue to build the amount of water in the cup and eventually you will see your baby start to get ready and close their eyes because they know the water is coming. This also encourages breath hold.

Once you have worked up to a full cup of water then count 1,2,3,4,5 as you tip the water over your babies head, you see they are ready and can now move onto submersion.

Go to the swimming pools hold your baby an arms length away from you under their armpits facing you. Once again you bring in the cue (baby’s name, ready, go).

In a horizontal position put them under the water for about 2 or 3 seconds moving them towards you. Once they get to you bring them up out of the water smiling and praising them. Ensure you start with horizontal work until your baby is confident to move on. If you submerge your child vertically before they are ready there is more chance of them getting water up their nose.

Once you feel as though they are confident coming to you. They could swim to the wall and hold onto the bar or swim from one adult to the other.

After mastering horizontal movement through the water you can move onto vertical submersion.

One parent drops baby into the pool slowly facing the other parent in the water so the baby has their back to the wall. Slowly the parent in the water manipulates the baby to turn and hold onto the bar or wall. This can also be done sitting on the wall. Often at swimming lessons in New Zealand we do this with a song,

“Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall, Humpty dumpty had a great fall”

Babies and preschoolers sit on the side of the pool with mum or dad holding them on the wall if they are little.  At the end of the song the babies come into mum/dad and then turn to hold the bar. This teaches the infants that if they ever fell into a pool that they can turn around and hold onto the side of the pool or what ever they have fallen off.

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Once the baby is confident doing this they can then be put out a wee bit further and encouraged to turn and move towards the wall to hold on. As the child gets older they will be able to jump into deep water and turn to find the wall.

Ensuring that your baby can get themselves to the side of the pool or has spent time in deep water practicing is extremely important, especially in New Zealand with our summers spent, the majority of time near water.

Floating is also another important step. Once your baby is confident submerging and even while learning to submerge get your baby on their backs as much as possible. Have their head on your shoulder so they feel your support and sing to them or have a toy for them to look at. Once they are happy on their back on your shoulder move them in front of you and extend your arms out. The more you do it the more confident they will become on their backs.

Next when your baby in confident in the water try to encourage them to roll from their front to their backs without much manipulation.

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Steps to take.

  • Flannel over the baby’s head with drips of water
  • Cue your baby’s name, ready, go.
  • 1/4 cup of water and build up to a full cup, count 1,2,3,4,5 for breath hold.
  • Horizontal movement through the water towards the parent.
  • Vertical submersion after confidence is built with horizontal movement.
  • Teach safety from the side of the pool coming in and turning to hold back on to the wall.
  • Floating
  • Rolling from a front position to a back float
  • Take it slowly and at the pace of your child.
  • Never push your baby under the water before they are ready.

I love teaching infants and believe that a lot can be done at home. As long as you ensure that you follow the steps. It can be terrible if your baby gets water up their nose and they end up taking a few steps backwards, but it does happen. Just start back at the beginning with a small amount of water and cueing their name until you see they are ready to put their head under again. If they do have a fright don’t put them back under the water straight away as it can be more detrimental. If you don’t feel your baby is ready to move on then don’t just take it at their pace, you know how far to go with your own child.

Take it slowly, make it fun and your babies will love the water as much as my children do.

If you would like swimming lessons with Turtle swim school please contact me on turtleswimschool@gmail.com or 0211024184

When are children ready to learn breaststroke?

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In other countries children start out their swimming life learning breaststroke and this is the main stroke, they don’t start learning freestyle or backstroke until they have mastered how to swim breaststroke with their heads above the water!

Crazy for us to even think of teaching our children in New Zealand to swim breaststroke before freestyle or backstroke but it is done in Europe and other countries.

In New Zealand we concentrate on freestyle and backstroke before even thinking about getting into breaststroke or butterfly.

When I was working in Scotland we taught from 4 years old all 4 strokes from when they started swimming. After the children can submerge and are confident in the water, they moved onto floating on fronts and backs and were then taught a basic breaststroke kick and dolphin kick.

Some children that I have taught over the years seem to be natural breaststrokers and know how to do breaststroke kick before they know how to do a freestyle kick.

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Should we hold them back and get them to learn freestyle first if they are already showing signs of being capable and confident doing breaststroke?

I believe that if a child is showing natural movement towards breaststroke why not make that stronger before moving onto freestyle. The child will gain confidence and feel accomplishment.

If we are to hold the child back because they are unable to do freestyle they may take a step backwards.

When a child learning breaststroke is in a class with other children learning freestyle this may be a challenge. But worth it when you see their face and get the feeling of accomplishment.

So when is the right time to start learning breaststroke? I feel as though children can start learning right from the beginning. Once submersion and floating is established why can’t we start teaching breaststroke.

At Turtle Swim School the focus is Freestyle and Backstroke to start with and Breast stroke is brought in after they have had at least one term of learning to breathe for freestyle.

I would always be open to teaching it earlier if the child was showing a natural movement towards it or they wanted to learn that first.

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With my own children I find it a challenge for them to listen to me so I do all 4 strokes from the beginning as I find it mixes it up a bit and keeps them thinking. My son is 4 years old and is currently learning how to do breast stroke kick and arms and being able to put them together. He is also doing breathing for freestyle and backstroke and dolphin kick.

I try to bring in breaststroke kick early at least two or three times a term in the younger lessons but find parents in New Zealand like to have their children learn freestyle and backstroke first and some parents don’t see a need for breaststroke or butterfly.

In conclusion I feel as though breaststroke should be taught a bit sooner and endevour to change this in my lessons, having a balance of all 4 strokes from the early ages. If you feel as though your child is a natural breaststroker then ensure that you are telling your instructor and swim school.

If you would like swimming lessons with Turtle swim school please contact me on turtleswimschool@gmail.com or 0211024184

Can swimming at an early age have your child ahead of the class before they start school?

In the past I have read articles and seen videos on how swimming from an early age can improve your child’s intelligence before they get to school.

Recently I watched a video on you tube from Australia which says that children who have swum from an early age are 15 months ahead of their peers when they get to school.

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Have a watch below, it is fascinating!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Pu_ZPQFwP0&feature=youtube

Both my kids started learning to swim from birth.  They were in official swimming lessons at the age of 4 months.

My kids did seem like they have been ahead of other children’s milestones growing up, but I  have never thought anything of it as I thought every child develops at different rates.

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Below I have a link to a wonderful article on how children who learn to swim early develop earlier in many different areas.

It also discusses how it helps motor development, cognitive development and emotional development.  Please take the time to click on and read the link below.

It states “No matter how old your children are, you have the power to affect their development and even their success in life”

http://www.aquazone.co.nz/uploads/2/4/3/3/24337322/develop_your_childs_genius_with_swimming.pdf

Swimming is fantastic for children as it teaches socialization, hand eye co-ordination and helps children reach their developmental mile stones sooner than other children who don’t swim. It is never too late to get your children swimming.

If you would like to have lessons this summer with Helene then contact her now Turtleswimschool@gmail.com or 021 1024184

What is more important, learning to swim or learning water safety?

Recently whilst being at the pools I was wondering what is more important.  Teaching my kids to learn to breathe or teaching them to be safe in and around the water?

Being a swimming teacher myself I have high expectations for my own children.

Turtle swim school

I would like to see my 4 year old son swimming the length of the pool breathing by himself before the end of the year and I would like for my daughter, 3 years to be following closely behind knowing how to roll out and breathe and trying to swim by herself.

Am I being to hard on them?  Am I pushing them too much?

in the past I have had a 4 year old swimming 30 lengths of the pool breathing.

My expectations for my children are to be among the group of kids that I have taught that were at the top of their age group.

But maybe it is too much to expect my 4 year old son to be swimming 30 lengths of the pool before he hits 5 years old.

Being a swimming instructor I feel as though teaching two preschoolers how to be safe in and around the water is crucial!

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I have taught water safety from the beginning and will continue to teach it every time my kids are in, around and near the water.  My kids are confident in the water with and without goggles.  They are confident in deep water and are continually taught to float on their backs if they are in trouble.  I am always talking to them about water safety so that it is always something that they are thinking about when around the water.

I teach my daughter to kick across the pool and then roll on her back to breathe and then turn over to kick again to get to the other side.

Even though I feel as though my kids are water confident it doesn’t mean that I am not always within arms reach of them.

But that brings me back to my initial question.

As a parent I think water safety is much more important than teaching your child to swim lengths of the pool.  The 4 year old child that was swimming 30 lengths of the pool.  Did that child know how to be safe in deep water?  Could they float on their back if they got in trouble or could they just swim lengths of the pool.

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Some things that you could do to ensure your kids are water safe;

  • Take your kids to the public pools and get them jumping into the deep pool and swimming back to the side.
  • Teach lots and lots of back floating
  • Teach your kids to roll from front to back
  • Ensure that your kids know how to swim without their goggles on

So I think I have answered my own question!  Learning water safety is crucial.  Floating is the base of a good swimmer so if your child is water safe it will reflect in their learn to swim lessons.  I think I need to ease up on the pressure I feel that I put on my kids and know that they are both fantastic for their age, confident and happy in the water.

Does my child need one to one lessons?

I think there is a time every parent thinks

“Should I spend some money and get my child a one to one lesson?”

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One to one lessons can be fantastic for progression.  It gives the instructor time to concentrate on your child without having the distraction of others.

If your child is disrupting other children by screaming or not wanting to get in.  They have been to many lessons and you are not seeing any progression or you can see their frustration when they are not understanding what the skill being taught is.  You may like to think seriously about getting a 1:1 but you may also be able to save some money and help your kids yourself.

I have had many kids come to me for a one to one over the years and it proved to be great value for money.  I had one child who was struggling with his breaststroke kick.  All he needed was a little bit of time just me and him and he took everything I said on board and put it into his swimming and by the end of the session his breaststroke was beautiful.

I have had other children who are beginners and just need a bit of time spent convincing them that the water can be an enjoyable experience.  It is sometimes hard to get children who are screaming and unwilling to enter the pool in the water when you have other children waiting for a lesson.

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If your child is a beginner and has not been to the facility before on the first lesson they may be hessitant.  My sugestion is to come to the pool early to watch other lessons and get familar with their suroundings.  If you come to the middle of the term and your child is still hesitant to enter and upset coming then I would say that having a 1:1 might be a good idea.

If your child is stuck on a particular skill sometimes having a 1:1 can get them over the hurdle.  I would also recommend always going to the public pools and keeping that confidence up.

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As much as we don’t want it to happen often something happens and your child goes backwards.  Maybe they were in the bath and they went under the water?  Or they went to the pools and got a big mouth of water?  Maybe there has been a change in the family a new baby, parents have separated, child has moved houses.  Sometimes we as parents don’t know what the cause is but the instructors have to take a step backwards to go forwards.

It is often frustrating for the parents and instructors when we  know their child was doing a particular skill or was at a certain level and now they can no longer complete it as well as they previously had.

Sometimes like I have said above your child just needs a bit of play time in the water at the public pools to gain that confidence back.  If it is something like a near drowning this is more delicate and I would recommend having a professional instructor do a 1:1 with you.

1:1’s can be excellent and get great progress out of your child.  But you can also take your child to the public pools to regain that confidence or build it up.  You may only need one or two 1:1 lessons.  I don’t feel as though you would ever regret getting a 1:1 and spending that money.  If you feel your child needs it then go for it and also ensure that you are taking them to the pools.

 

If you would like to book in with Turtle Swim School please contact Helene on turtleswimschool@gmail.com or 0211024184

How do I teach my own child to swim?

Recently I was at the pools and I got talking to another parent.  She started saying she had taken her child out of swimming lessons during the winter because he continually got sick and wondered if she was getting value for money.

If she just knew how to teach him herself or they told her what to do at home it would make a huge difference. She suggested lessons for parents. To teach them how to teach.

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As we all know swimming lessons are expensive.  At Turtle Swim School we try to keep our prices affordable.  I can understand that it would get frustrating when your child is always sick and missing swimming lessons.

There is a lot you can do at home or at the pools yourself.  I have mentioned it before but always worth saying again.

Do you need to know the steps to get your kids progressing?  Here they are!

The first step for your children is Water Confidence.

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Go to the pools and just play with your kids, never force them under the water they will do it when they are ready.  Once they have water confidence and are happy going under the water the next step is Floating.

Try to have fun with floating, get your kids floating like mushrooms or balls.  Maybe they could float in the letter of their name.

Get your kids Gliding from one parent to the wall or from one parent to the other.  They need to be looking down to be able to float on their fronts so maybe put some sinkers at the bottom that they can see.  Use boards or the big floating mats that are free to use at public pools.  They will find it easier to float with aids.  Then try and get them floating with you holding them and then decrease the amount of help.

Remember to try and make it fun and don’t be too concerned if you don’t get what you want out of your kids.  Make is relaxed and fun they will get there.

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I have been teaching my own two kids for a couple of years now and it is a challenge but worth it when you see the improvement.  We go to the pools and spend on average between 1-2 hours at the pool most of the time playing, but they still learn.  I also use a bit of bribery telling them they will get a special treat if they show me their best swimming.

After your kids can glide, Kicking comes next.  The legs need to be stretched out and long.  The kick comes from the hip and the toes are pointed.

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Then they need to do big arm strokes with kicking.  Arms need to be reaching up high, legs out long with pointy toes and floppy feet.

Breathing is the next progression.  This one may be a bit tricky and may be worth looking at starting swimming lessons.  But by all means have a go.  The main thing with breathing that does get looked over is if the children are blowing bubbles.  I often start teaching breathing but having the kids stationary and getting them bobbing up and down just blowing bubbles and then breathing.

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I do believe that you can teach your kids to swim up to a certain point.  Breathing does get a bit tricky and would suggest that when they reach this stage you do start to look at putting them into swimming lessons.  Getting them up to the stage of breathing yourself would have saved you a lot of money.

Start with water confidence, then move onto floating on their fronts and backs.  Gliding, kicking and then arm strokes.  Make it fun and don’t worry too much about structure as they will learn as they play.

Ensure that you go to the pools at least once a week or more to keep up the confidence and water play.

If you need any advice please ask.  I am more than happy to help out.  Helene Aitchison at turtleswimschool@gmail.com or on https://www.facebook.com/TurtleswimschoolNZ

Terrified beginners

Last term I had a couple of children that were terrified of swimming lessons.

On the first lesson they clung to their parents and refused to enter the water.

I have already covered this topic in my blog but as it is quite common I thought it is time for a recap.

I feel as though it is the responsibility of both the parents and the instructors to come up with a solution.

The first thing as an instructor is to ask the parent questions about why the child is so afraid.

“Have they had a bad experience in the past?”

“Is this their first lesson ever?”

“Have they been in a pool of this size before?”

Sometimes we as the parents are unaware of what may have happened to make them so petrified.

Maybe they have swallowed some water in the bath or in the pool while we were not watching.

The solution to a petrified beginner I would say is to take it slow. Both the instructor and the parent need to tread lightly and take it very slowly.

  1. Encouragement from both the parents and instructor to get them to enter the water.
  2. The instructor should be spending an equal amount of time with the child who is terrified as well as the other children in the class.
  3. A 1:1 could be beneficial
  4. Coming to the pool a bit earlier
  5. Taking your child to the pools to play.
  6. Tell them that they don’t have to put their head under the water.
  7. Don’t give up!

Sometimes I have had parents come for 5 or 6 lessons and they feel like giving up. DON’T GIVE UP. It is essential for our kiwi kids to learn to swim. Persist and it will pay off.

I had one little boy this term who was hesitant from the beginning and it felt as though we would never get there. His parents took him to the pools in the weekend and just toward the end of the term his confidence grew leaps and bounds.

Don’t ever force your child under the water. At times you may feel like that is the only way but they need to do it themselves. They need to be confident and relaxed in the water to progress. So my advice is to take it slowly and eventually your terrified child will become confident!

How do I keep my confident toddler/preschooler safe around the water.

The other day I posted on facebook that I was throwing my 2 year old daughter into the pool and encouraging her to swim back to the wall.

I can’t imagine that there would be many mothers of 2 year olds throwing their children into the water but I do it for her safety.

 

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Both my children have learnt to swim before they have walked and are both extremely confident in the water. That does not mean that I am any more relaxed when they are around the water. If anything I think I am more worried about them being so confident because they do not have the fear that other children have when they are around the water.

I am always encouraging both children to float on their backs as much as possible so that if they were in a situation they could float on their backs to get their breath back. But most of the time they choose to swim with their faces in the water and kicking on their front. So I decided that I would take a different approach to ensure their safety.

Initially I would drop my daughter into the water vertically In a deep pool facing away from the wall. Once she was in the water I would encourage her to rotate and turn towards the wall and hold on. This was done both with goggles and without.
Children who slip into the pool often do not have goggles on and if they fall in don’t realise that the wall is only behind them and they just need to turn around and hold onto it.

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Every time we went to the pools I would do this with her a few times. Once she was turning around and holding on herself I then dropped her in further out and got her to turn and kick back to the wall.

Once you feel confident with your child doing it themselves. Get them to do it without an adult in the water and extend them out further. Make sure that you are right there if they get into trouble and you need to get back in.

If your child is not confident enough to kick back to the wall yet then just practice dropping them in right next to the wall and encouraging them to turn around and hold onto the wall. Talk to them and tell them what you are going to do. Explain that they need to turn around to hold onto the wall and when they are dropped in have another adult in the water to begin to ensure safety and to gently rotate them around.

Once you have talked to you child to let them know what you are going to do use the cue that you would have used when they were younger to put them under the water. “Paige ready go”. Or “Paige 1,2,3, go”

I hope that this has helped and that you are still always an arms length away from your children when they are around the water at all times. But we all know that sometimes things just happen and you can be right there the whole time and they can still fall into the water.

Do you run swimming lessons in the winter?

Recently I have had lots of people ask me “What do we do in winter?”

“Do you do lessons somewhere else?”

As much as I would absolutely love to continue lessons in the winter I feel as though it would just be too cold swimming in the hail, rain and thunder!

That does not mean that swimming needs to stop for you and your children.

In the winter I take my kids down to the local swimming pools once a week. It is free in Auckland for under 16 year olds and is only $4.90 for a supervising adult. If you travel out south it is totally free for everyone! So there are no excuses.

If you can make time once a week to take your children to swimming lessons you can make time to take them to the public pools.

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“But I don’t know how to teach them to swim” you say.

You don’t need to know how to teach your children. You will be surprised at how much they will learn by just playing at the pools.

1. Take your children to the pools once a week.

2. Have competitions to see how well they can do.

3. Use their older siblings to encourage them to practice.

4. Don’t push learning too much, let them play and just try to get in a tiny bit of swimming when they are ready.

5. Use bribery! I tell my kids that they have to do some swimming to get sushi for lunch. Seems to be the only way I can get them to show me some swimming.

6. Practice at home. If your children are doing arm strokes or breathing get them practicing on the table with their heads down and manipulating their heads and arms.

7. Make it fun, change it into a game where your kids have to swim to their sinkers across the other side of the pool doing their arm strokes and breathing.

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You could always take your child to different swimming lessons during the winter but I feel as though you can keep up the progress they have made by just getting to your local pools once or twice a week.

You will be amazed at how well they can do and retain what they have learnt at lessons with play.

If you can get to the pools this winter then your children will retain what they have learnt or even progress a wee bit and your instructor can continue come term 4 lessons.

It is so important to keep the swimming up. If you don’t go to the pools in winter you may end up with your children digressing and your instructor may have to go backwards before going forwards when going back to lessons.

My advice is to continue with lessons else where or go to the public swimming pools once or twice a week during the winter to ensure that your children don’t lose what they have learnt this summer.

Keep up the good work and get your kids into the water!

 

If you are interested in learning to swim with Turtle Swim School please contact Helene at turtleswimschool@gmail.com or on 098263366