Homegrown with Hope: Our First Swimming Lessons

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BISMARCK, N.D. - It is just about time to pull out the swim trunks and floaties. Summer is almost here and the water is calling. May is National Water Safety Month and I took it as a cue to start my 11-month-old in swimming lessons.

"I think my oldest was six months when I started parent-child classes," Tiffany Schwahn, said at the Missouri Valley YMCA. "I was just dunking them in the water for a second and bringing them up. I wanted them to feel comfortable and I wanted them to obviously trust me that I'm not going to let anything happen."

That attitude paid off for Schwahn and her kids, who have now spent nine years learning and loving to swim.

"They flew through lessons faster and faster each time. I feel the younger the better," she said.

It's the attitude instructors at the Y are hoping to impart to parents, too.

"As parents, sometimes, we have anxiety about our kids doing new things. Don't let them know you're anxious about this. Let them know it's great. It's going to be fun," said Christy Cameron, senior program director at the YMCA.

So, my goal was just to keep a smile on my face. The experts say my daughter is getting used to the sensations of being in the water and I'm getting used to trusting the process.

"The kids who participate in the parent-child classes tend to excel in the child lessons once they're not with mom any more," said Cameron.

At this age, lessons are focusing on simple exercises, including rolling from back to belly and getting familiar with getting the back of their head wet. Instructors say having that basis will help them acquire the next level of skills faster.

They recommend recreating those experiences in the bathtub for children with fears of the water.