Start swimming lessons at home, keep summer safe, fun

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

If your preschooler doesn’t know how to swim, this summer may be the time for swimming lessons.

Teaching little ones how to stay afloat and master strokes all starts with having fun.

YMCA Instructor Scott Mennicke said he starts his swim lessons with the “bucket game” to help children get over the fear of putting their face in the water.

Then it’s time for a little kicking.

“You want to teach them the basic kicking and splashing,” Mennicke said. “Then they go with the backpack so they can learn how to float with the backpack.”

The backpack is filled with Styrofoam.

Gradually each piece is removed until the child is strong enough to get around in the water without them.

The next step is learning to stay horizontal to master the basics for the freestyle stroke, often called the crawl.

They practice kicking with a kick board, learn to scoop with their arms and blow bubbles to keep from gulping down water.

Mennicke said teaching kids to swim actually starts in the bathtub.

“Use buckets in the bathtub, pour it over their face, have them lay in the bathtub, kick, splash, learn how to blow bubbles,” he said.

It’s all about having fun while building skills to be safe, confident swimmers.