Swimming goggles: Why children should learn to swim without them

Swim goggles have become a regular piece of equipment in an experienced swimmers’ toolkit. However, parents should think twice about buying their children goggles if they are learning to swim.

Goggles can be an effective aid for all swim levels. They can help children see better underwater and can assist in building a child’s confidence and comfort in the water. Of course, they’re also good for protecting sensitive eyes from irritation.

However, it’s crucial for a child to learn to swim without goggles.

“We want children to know the sensation of swimming without goggles in the event they were to fall into water without goggles on,” Shapland Swim Schools operations manager, Chris Shapland, says.

The renowned swimming coach, who has more than 50 years’ experience teaching children how to swim, says children should never think they can only swim with goggles on.

Children under five remain the highest risk of drowning

Worldwide, children under five years remain the age group at highest risk of unintentional fatal drowning. Between 2002 and 2018, Queensland recorded the highest number of drowning deaths among children aged zero to four in Australia.

The most common place for drowning deaths among young children in Australia is in a swimming pool. Bathtubs ranked second most common.

In its 25-year report into child drowning, Royal Life Saving said the risk of drowning triples as soon as a child starts to crawl. It peaks shortly after a child’s first birthday. This coincides with children becoming more curious about their surroundings, which is why Chris Shapland says parents and carers cannot be complacent around the water.

Learning to swim is an important skill

He says teaching children how to swim and be safer around the water is important from an early age. By enrolling your child in a learn to swim program, you are giving them a skill for life.

“A fundamental skill is how they react if they fall into water, and they probably won’t be wearing goggles if that happens,” Shapland says.

He says children will likely panic when they hit the water without goggles. Which is why swim instructors at Shapland Swim Schools encourage swimmers to practise water safety skills without goggles.

“If a child can fall into water, float and get to the side of the pool, without goggles, they are more likely to be able to survive an accidental fall into the water,” Shapland says.

Water survival skills your child should know

Swim safety is important to prevent accidents. Shapland says before children learn to stroke in the water, there are swim survival skills they should be taught.

Water survival skills with young children can be a great way to introduce water safety. They are also the building blocks to swimming skills. Shapland says there are five water survival skills every child must learn.

  1. Children must get used to the sensation of having water fully in their face and eyes. Being comfortable with putting their full face in water without protection, such as goggles, when learning to swim is essential.
  2. Teaching children to lie on top of the water in a relaxed state without goggles is a huge survival skill. “This gives them time to call for help if they accidentally fall in, or float towards a wall to climb out,” Shapland says.
  3. A child should be able to make a full turn and face a wall should they fall into the water. Then they can slowly try and swim towards it.
  4. “Once your child gets to the edge they should be able to pull or climb out of the pool without having to make it to a ladder,” Shapland says. This is an important water survival skill.
  5. Children don’t need to be expert swimmers to get to safety. They do, however, need to swim or tread a minimum of 12.5 metres to get to a wall where they can use the ‘climb to exit’ skill.

All these skills, and more, are taught at Shapland Swim Schools. The schools are located throughout south-east Queensland and cater to children from five months of age. With only three per class your child will receive more individual attention, ensuring they can learn to swim with ease and confidence.

For more information about the swimming programs available at Shapland Swim Schools, visit the website.

Written by Calista Bruschi

When she’s not moulding Play-Doh or dancing in the living room with her children, Calista Bruschi is an editor and writer. She has oodles of experience working on newspapers, magazines and websites. Calista likes to organise and be organised. She loves being a mum, Italian food, wine, sport and stationery. She hasn't sleep a full night in more than five years and is powered by coffee.

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