Would you know how to spot a child who was drowning?

I was a much better parent before I had children. Back then, I would never entertain my children by sticking the TV on. I refused to let them get their own way just because they threw an epic tantrum. The only snacks that would pass their lips were carefully selected organic delights. I was the model parent… until my little girl came into the world. These days – and I am going to hold my hands up here – I give in to the tantrums, I let Peppa Pig babysit so that I can have five minutes peace, I bribe my little darling with a bag of Milky Buttons if we can just get round the supermarket without making a scene…

The movies totally misled me before having kids. They made it look easy, so I was sure that parenting was going to be an absolute walk in the park. Now I am a parent – a proud owner of a headstrong two year old – I sometimes feel that the only park I walk through is Jurassic Park!

How the movies show it…

It’s not the first time movies have ‘lied’ to us, and I am sure it won’t be the last. Most of the time, we know the ways things are portrayed in the movies rarely reflect the reality of our day-to-day lives. Other times, though, it’s perhaps not so obvious. Take drowning, for example; in the movies, we’d usually see lots of splashing, flailing arms, and lots of shouting – there’s no way you’d miss it. Growing up, I always assumed this is just what drowning looked like. I would know if I was ever to see somebody in trouble on the water. I would hear it. So would everybody else. Help would be on the way.

… and how it happens in reality

The reality of drowning, though, is often very different. The signs can be subtle, and thus easily missed. In sharp contrast to the movie norm, a person who is drowning:

  • Will often be silent, and therefore unable to call for help
  • May be unable to wave or signal as their natural instinct to press down on the water’s surface kicks in
  • Could be unable to control their arm movements, making it difficult to swim to safety or hold on to a lifeline
  • Will, more often than not, be vertical in the water and not showing any signs of kicking

I was a bit taken aback when I first heard this, as it’s never how I had pictured drowning before. When I became a parent, I was sure that I wanted to introduce my little girl to the water at a young age. Of course, I would always keep a very close eye on her but I always thought that, if she was to get into danger, I’d know about it.

One Nemo parent’s story

Nemo Swimming recently teamed up with Tumbles and Grumbles to share some hints and tips to help you keep your children safe in the water this summer. Following this, one parent got in touch with Tumbles and Grumbles and shared her story:

“One afternoon I was standing… in the shallow end of the pool. After chatting away to my father in law… I noticed something in the pool just behind him. On second glance, I realised that it was someone’s hat floating on the surface and then spotted two hands just flap very briefly out of the water… There was no real noise, just a bit of a gurgling sound… I rushed over to find a six or seven year old child actually drowning, with no parents in sight. The life guard would never have seen the child as there was a bush between the two of them.

I carried the child out of the pool and the life guard rushed over and thanked me. The child’s mother came rushing over, oblivious that her child was in the water by himself and could have possibly drowned on their family holiday. It just takes seconds!”

A scary story, but thankfully one with a happy ending. It just goes to show, though, how quickly children can get into trouble in the water, and how easily tragedies can happen. No splashing. No shouting. A silent tragedy that was narrowly avoided.

What can you do to keep your children in the water?

  1. Constant and active adult supervision – never leave your children unattended in the water, not even for a minute.
  2. Restrict access – place a barrier around the water to stop young children accessing it when your back is turned. If that’s not possible, place a barrier around your little one instead.
  3. Build water confidence – familiarise your baby, toddler or young child with the water, discuss water safety with them, and set rules for in and around the water.
  4. Rescue and resuscitation – make sure you are trained in basic rescue techniques, so that you know what to do in case the worst was to happen. Check out this fantastic video about the importance of learning CPR from Tumbles and Grumbles

Written by Emma, Nemo Swimming, with input from Caroline, Tumbles and Grumbles


Why the summer is a great opportunity to build your child’s confidence in the water

Who’s looking forward to the summer?! I tell you one thing… I am! I absolutely love it – lots more sun (I hope!), being able to sit outside in the evening, trips to the beach, maybe a little jaunt abroad. Yippee!

While the Nemo Swimming team will be hanging up their SwimFins and taking a little break over the summer, there are still plenty of things that you can be doing to help boost your little Nemo’s confidence in the water – and keep them entertained at the same time!

In this blog, we highlight the many ways that the summer months can help your baby, toddler, or young child when it comes to all things swimming. Let’s dive in, shall we?!

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming

On an average week, I take my little Nemo for a half hour swimming lesson. Every now and then, I’ll take her to a public pool for a bit of a play, too. Usually, though, she spends no more than an hour in the water – excluding baths, of course. When we go abroad, though, it’s a completely different story!

We recently returned from Tenerife – absolutely amazing time was had by all. My almost-two-year-old was delighted when she saw we had a pool in the back garden – it was, quite possibly, the most exciting thing ever! Every morning, she would wake up, point out the window, and shout “pool!”. Had we not fished her out every now and then for food and naps, she probably would have spent the entire week in that pool. Much as it didn’t do my tan much good, or give me a chance to enjoy a good book, it did wonders for her water confidence. Of course, this was in part down to the extra time in the water, but also because she had the opportunity to explore in the shallow water, to play new games, and to watch other swimmers – old and young – have fun in the pool.

The benefits of shallow water

Whether you’re heading abroad, down to the beach, visiting a nearby splash pad, or simply getting the paddling pool out in the back garden, shallow water provides phenomenal learning experiences for young children. Let your little Nemo explore by walking in the water. You’ll know yourself how different it feels to run or walk in the water; most babies or toddlers won’t have had much opportunity to really explore this new feeling, so it’s a great opportunity to let them learn about their own buoyancy and figure out what they can and can’t do. Encourage them to jump, hop on one leg, walk sideways like a crab, or – if the water is shallow enough – sit down. Of course, you’ll need to make sure that your little Nemo is always closely supervised, but I’m sure you all knew that already!

Water load of fun!

The summer is the perfect time to let your little Nemo indulge in some unstructured-play sessions in the water. They will love watching you have fun in the water, and their water confidence will come on leaps and bounds as a result.

Here are a few ideas you can try:

  • Grab some toys, and let them be the teacher for a change – encourage them to show you where they want to go, what they want to see, and what they want to do.
  • Try getting your little Nemo to swim on their back – with your support, as needed – and kick a ball with their legs.
  • Grab a woggle and play some horsey horsey, go underneath the rainbow, or lie back on those lazy sun loungers – have some fun with it!
  • Let your little swimmer go down a slide into shallow water – the sensation of landing in the water will be new and exciting to them.
  • Encourage them to jump in, from the side or from a wobble board, and see how big a splash they can make. Sploosh!

That’s it from us for now, but we will be back soon with more hints and tips to help keep your babies, toddlers, and young children safe in the water this summer. If you missed it, check out our recent blog post about floatation aids – what are the best aids out there, and how can they help your little swimmers.

Happy swimming, y’all!

Written by Emma, Nemo Swimming

Ah, ah, ah, ah staying afloat, staying afloat…

Whether you are heading to the local pool, or hopping on a plane and flying far away this summer, the chances are that you – or perhaps a friend or family member – have raised a question or two about floatation aids. My mother-in-law very kindly bought my little Nemo some inflatable armbands for her first holiday. Armbands were the floatation aid of choice back when she had young children of her own. Today, though, there are plenty more options available. So, how do you select the best one for your child? In this blog, I chat to Theresa, co-founder and director of Nemo Swimming, to find out more.

Hi, Theresa! Let’s talk floatation aids; what do parents need to know?

Every year, at around this time, I get a new wave of questions from parents: What floatation aid should I buy for my holidays? Which armbands are the best? What alternatives should I be looking at? Let me start by saying that, when used properly, floatation aids are a fantastic tool for helping little ones gain confidence in the water. We, along with many other swimming providers, use them for this very reason in our lessons. Those of you who come to our classes regularly will know that we favour woggles (or pool noodles, as they are sometimes known), and the super-cool SwimFins. There are, though, lots of other options out there – and each of these options has its merits and its drawbacks. Whatever aid you use – no matter how good it is – it goes without saying that you must ensure that you supervise your baby, toddler, or young child in the water at all times. It is important to remember that little ones can drown in even one inch of water – so make sure you’re always by their side.

What are the best floatation aids out there?

That’s easy – the best floatation aid is you, the parent! Whether your little Nemo is just a few months old, or about to start school, they could not ask for a better buoyancy aid than their mummy or daddy. Use some of the holds that your learning in your Nemo Swimming lessons, and invest in some fun toys for the pool – rubber ducks, little fish, watering cans. Let them explore, tell you where they want to go, and what they want to see. When they see you having fun, your little one’s water confidence will come on leaps and bounds – it really will. If it’s usually mummy who attends swimming lessons, spend some time showing daddy what you learn in the pool. It’ll give him a brilliant opportunity for some daddy-little Nemo bonding, and it’ll also allow you to have five minutes to yourself!

Armbands always seem like a popular choice; what are your thoughts on them?

Personally, I’m not a fan. They’re still probably one of the most popular and commonly used floatation aids out there thanks to their low cost and durability. They’re certainly not my first choice, though. Although they do, of course, offer many advantages, armbands can really restrict the movement of children’s arms and, in my experience, some kids will become too dependent on them. This may mean that they find it difficult to move to a different swimming aid at a later stage, which can then hinder their progress. It’s also important to remember that, unless both bands have been inflated equally, your child will have to work harder on one side.

What would you recommend instead?

Depending on the age of your child, woggles and/or SwimFins. Woggles, which are sometimes referred to as pool noodles, are great for all ages – even adults! For your little Nemo, they allow a degree of independence, and can be used to play all sorts of games – underneath the rainbow, horsey horsey, and lazy sunloungers are just a few of the ones that we encourage in our classes. They are low cost, too, and can be picked up from many pound shops, not to mention the likes of Amazon.

For slightly older children – two years plus – I absolutely love SwimFins. We’ve used these in our lessons for many years and our little Nemos think they are great! I mean, what kid wouldn’t want to be a scary shark or a friendly dolphin?! Although they are suitable for children from around 18 months, I’d say that children aged two-and-a-half years and up will get the most benefit from them. Use them under the supervision of your Nemo Swimming instructor first but, once your little swimmer is used to the SwimFin, it’s fantastic.

Any other tips for parents this summer?

The summer really is such an amazing opportunity to help boost your little Nemo’s confidence in the water, and to have lots of fun at the same time. You don’t get many summers with young children, so enjoy them while you can. Take some time to make some memories.

Thanks, Theresa, some great ideas and thoughts here. Don’t forget, we’ll be sharing more hints and tips over the next few weeks to help keep your little ones safe in the water this summer.

Happy swimming!

Written by Emma, Nemo Swimming