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Baby swimming

The great photo of Melissa and her son inspired us to find out more about baby swimming. Instructor Bryony Johnstone, who runs classes in local pools, was happy to tell us more: “When I first started running Water Babies classes in 2002 I had no idea how much they were going to take off and for me, this picture sums up what Water Babies is all about – showing a happy, and confident child having fun in the pool with his mum. The benefits of taking your baby swimming go far beyond the half hour class each week”.

It can seem quite extraordinary to see a baby swimming happily underwater, yet baby swimming is now mainstream – with more than 300,000 babies and toddlers participating in sessions each week in the UK alone. Baby swimming is not a recent trend. According to Water Babies, the UK’s leading baby swimming company, historical records show that “babies have been swimming underwater for centuries.” Baby swimming has also been studied for many years; with an early study by Dr Myrtle McGraw published in the Journal of Paediatrics in 1939.

Children lack the strength or co-ordination to swim on the surface until at least two years. Water Babies classes enable babies from birth to swim short distances underneath, allowing them to move freely without constraints of gravity. Being totally happy underwater creates a complete sense of confidence when on the surface – yet while it’s a key part in developing their confidence, it’s only a fraction of everything they’ll do on the course.

The benefits of these classes, according to Water Babies, are that “babies can be taught life saving skills such as turning onto their backs or, following a sudden submersion, swimming to the nearest solid object. They grow familiar with what it feels like to fall into water, so that should they ever accidentally fall in they are far less likely to panic and drown. And our results speak for themselves. In the last three years alone ten of our tiny clients have saved their own lives as a result of the skills they learnt at Water Babies – and five of them were just two years old at the time.”

Also, research by the Norwegian University of Science & Technology found that baby swimmers had better balance and grasped objects more easily than non-swimmers. This study was published in the May 2010 issue of Child Care Health and Development, and reported in the Daily Mail.

Water Babies swimming classes run throughout the year in pools in Bath, Bradford on Avon & Radstock. For the next course of classes, starting 6th February, click here – or you can email or visit for more information. Their next term starts in May and all babies need to be under one to start a course with Water Babies.