As we examined in the last post it is a good idea to develop a plan when introducing your children to swimming. This leads to the new big question, are Life/Swim Jackets helpful when swimming?
The plan should involve things that specifically help your child develop their comfort level when getting acclimated to the water.
Furthermore, the plan should be directed towards moving your child through the appropriate stages of learning how to swim, similar to how they learn how to walk.
Kids don’t just begin running out of nowhere (thank god) – but first crawl, walk, and then run; and the same can be said about swimming.
Swim aids or life/swim jackets, like a puddle jumper, should be used with that plan in mind to develop that crawl/walk/run in the pool. To that end let’s take a few moments to review the positive/challenging aspects of a life/swim jacket.
Positive Things of a Life/Swim Jackets
A life jacket is something that is an older version of the more modern day puddle jumper, and when you think of it you are probably picturing the life jacket you may have been forced to wear on a cruise ship or on a relative’s boat.
However, while those life/swim jackets do serve a purpose they are more of an item of essential boating safety and are a variant of the life jacket I am referring to.
The life/swim jacket that should be used in a swim setting is a USA Coast Guard approved (look for this on the item when you go to purchase it in a store or online) life jacket.
This item is made of similar material to a puddle jumper but lacks the arm inserts. This item should be used for older swimmers who may have used a puddle jumper in the past.
This swim aid is a good item as a next step down from the puddle jumper because it still allows for a child to find their float with assistance while providing them some independence to work on their strokes.
Further, the life jacket allows for a child to practice their front float, and their ever important back float which is critical to survival swimming. The life jacket should be used to help a swim student find their back float and transition to their front as they perfect their freestyle and doggie paddle strokes.
These are critical items to becoming a stronger swimmer and ultimately moving from the crawl (puddle jumper) to the walk phase (life jacket) with the ultimate goal of moving to the run phase (independent swimming).
Challenges of a Life/Swim Jacket
In this section the item I want to express most is the social responsibility we all have as swim instructors and parents, and that is to make sure you do your proper research when purchasing a life/swim jacket for your child.
Make sure you start with friends or family who may have used them in the past. Take the time to ask around to people you trust and ask their experience with different types of swim jackets, and use that as a springboard to research which type of swim jackets to consider and which ones to avoid.
Next, take the time to look up these swim jackets to ensure they are coming from a reputable company such as Speedo who manufactures their swim jackets specifically to USA Coast Guard requirements.
Lastly, make sure you take the time to acclimate your child to the swim jacket prior to putting it on them and then putting them straight away into the water.
Allow your child to put the jacket on and spend some time on your pool’s steps or entrance area so they can gradually increase their usage of the device so they can find their float and further their comfort level with the swim jacket.
Summary For Life/Swim Jackets
The Swim Jacket is a good item for a mid-level swim student who is ready to graduate from a puddle jumper but may not quite yet be ready for independent swimming.
My oldest son is currently on the verge of moving from his puddle jumper to a Swim Jacket. It is critically important to make sure we do this in an incremental fashion so we can make sure he is comfortable as he continues his swim progression.
The same should be said with your children. Each child is different and will be ready at their pace when it comes to learning how to swim.
My son likes to explore items prior to using them, so we’ve allowed him to unpack his swim jacket from the UPS box, and throw it in a bath tub full of water so he can see it is used to float.
Further, we’ve allowed him to wear it for his bath to experience the floating in a more controlled manner. By doing this in an incremental fashion we have acclimated him successfully in moving from his puddle jumper to a swim jacket.
Eventually, our plan will be to move him to some form of a combination of swimming with the swim jacket and independent swim lessons. The key takeaway is that we have developed a plan that is tailor made for his needs.
So a Life/Swim Jacket is a good swim aid as you move your little swimmer along from the next step of their swimming journey.
Conclusion To Life/Swim Jackets:
At InstaSwim we would love to have the privilege to work with your swim student as we work to develop their specific swim journey.
Our goal is to provide a one of a kind experience that will be inclusive to fun and learning the necessary life skill of swimming.
Let us work with you to develop that plan and get your swimmer on the road to independent swimming.
Next time we will observe the last part of this series, arm swimmies, and review the positive and challenging parts of working with this swim aid.
Until Next Time Everyone!