In this blog, I am going to discuss the topic on Swim aids and Puddle Jumpers and if they are helpful or harmful.
Firstly, and fore mostly let me introduce myself – my name is Greg Ganley. I am an InstaSwim swim instructor, hiring
manager, and most of all a concerned parent who has a 3 and 4 year old currently getting ready to learn
how to swim.
My two boys, like most parents are my world, and ultimately the driving force in
everything I do. I have also been teaching swim lessons for almost a combined 8 years of time from age
ranges 1.5 to adult age. I have seen a lot of positive results from teaching swim, and I am extremely
passionate about aquatics, water safety, and teaching the life skill of learning how to swim.
With that being said I can tell you there is often a topic that comes up as early as the introductory phone
call, or just before I enter the pool to teach a child a swim lesson, and that is the topic of swim aid
devices such as puddle jumpers, life jackets, and swim floats.
For as long as companies have been trying to make a profit there will continue to be new and shiny versions of these devices. These devices come
with a lot of benefits, and also come with some drawbacks.
For the sake of time and interest I believe it is appropriate to address these three main types of swim aid devices. In this first post we will review the puddle jumper swim aid device and go over its benefits and challenges for your swim student!
This is the type of device that has gained a lot of popularity in the past decade because of their ease of
use, and non-restrictive nature. For those of you who have never seen a puddle jumper, please just use
the power of google and YouTube, you will find a gold mine of information. My two kids currently utilize
some version of this swim aid currently, and would not be able to swim without them.
The positive effects are obvious as the kids are able to float unassisted, it keeps them from going under
the water, and it allows them to find the use of their float when doing beginner strokes such as freestyle
and the doggie paddle. My four year old has been using one of these since he was 1.5 years old and will
not go in the pool without it. His progress as a swim student is owed to this device, however just as you
can list the positive attributes of something there will be those inevitable drawbacks.
My son had begun swim lessons in February in order to build a foundation for the summer (obviously
right before the COVID-19 pandemic) and when we put him in the water; what do you think was the first
thing he asked for? Bingo! His puddle jumper!
He has developed an attachment to his puddle jumper
(jumpy, as he calls it) that was hard (and still is hard to break) when we try to perform at home lessons
Kids, much like the rest of us go towards what is familiar and comfortable. When trying something
new the overall fear in the situation of the unknown can be daunting for them.
So my son currently goes back and forth being using the puddle jumper and learning to swim with me.
Much like when you toilet train when you move from the kiddie potty to an actual potty, there will be
pain staking moments, and the transition to success will take a load of patience and a lot of persistence,
but when it happens it is magic!
Overall, a puddle jumper is a useful swim aid, and ultimately a great
piece of mind for a parent that wants to enjoy swim time with their children in the 1.5 to 4 years old age
range, just be ready for the weening process when they begin swim lessons!
So here is the big question….
Do I recommend a puddle jumper for your child to begin their swim journey with a puddle jumper?
At InstaSwim we believe each child is different, and that is the reason we created the
company is to provide a custom, nothing like it, one-on-one swim instruction experience. It is with that
philosophy in mind it would be improper for me to make such a specific recommendation, however I will
say that in my opinion that puddle jumpers are a good introductory swim aid device to get your child
acclimated to the water at a young age.
However, I would caution parents from becoming over reliant on puddle jumpers and other swimming aids so much that their child will not swim without it.
If you use this device to get your child used to floating over a few summers it would be my recommendation to try and gradually eliminate the use of it over time much like introducing a new food into your child’s diet. Children, by nature, crave
structure and want to please their parents/guardians so if you present unassisted swimming in a positive
light and do not shun their beloved puddle jumper they will dive into solo swim lessons with a positive
attitude (the most important thing when learning how to swim).
In the next part of the blog we will examine life jackets, and their positive and challenging items when
helping your little ones learn to swim. Until then, Swim Safe!
InstaSwim Swim Instructor & Hiring Manager