This is where we have tried to answer the most common and important questions you might have. We will keep adding to the list as necessary.
Why teach my baby to swim?
The Sarnia Sea Lions Swim School philosophy is to ensure safety and water confidence, encouraging parents to fully utilise the benefits and enjoyment that they can have swimming with their children < whether at classes, on holiday or trips to the pool. Water confidence and the ability to swim from a young age is certainly a gift for life < opening the door for you to enjoy a wide range of water based activities from diving to sailing and we think is especially important living on an island such as Guernsey. We also provide a great social environment for parents and babies, especially for mums as their social life totally change with the new arrival, to meet and share their precious baby time. For dads this is an occasion to share something special with their babies. We have found our weekend sessions have provided a great opportunity for dads to be able to attend.
In our lessons not only babies have fun but parents are usually the ones looking forward to the next lesson as they really enjoy this experience with their babies which helps to develop a stronger, special bond between parents and baby.
Why start so young?
Introducing your baby to water from an early age helps them avoid the traumatic experience that older children sometimes suffer when introduced to water later on. More importantly we believe that babies who learn key life saving skills from an early age, many of whom can swim by as young as 3 years old, whilst not drown proof, have a much greater regard for water and are safer around it.
What benefit does our courses give?
In the first few years of your baby's life they experience a huge development as their brain grows much faster than in later years. With our swimming lessons, we are helping babies to make new brain connections and strengthen their learning through exercise and stimulation. Introducing babies to swimming aids, and improves babies and children's development in many areas such as: physically, intellectually, language development, emotionally and socially.
Physical: Strength is built through muscle development from swimming activity, which can aid early walking, Co-ordination and associated motor skills are also improved through regular exercise. A weekly swim provides a good workout and improves the cardiovascular system, heart & lungs
Intelligence: Weekly classes maintain intellectual development < using building blocks of development and progressive practices. Classes are structured to ensure babies are constantly and continuously stimulated.
Language: Language development can be also improved via swimming. Babies are constantly interacting with their parent / guardian throughout the sessions. The teacher also provides a verbal stimulus through teaching. Babies are also interacting with other babies & children.
Emotional: Water is a natural environment for a baby. Babies feel safe and secure within this environment. Weekly swimming is a very special time for a baby and parent, and further develops the parental bond. Many parents state that their babies' sleeping & feeding have improved. Starting to swim early can avoid traumatic experiences that some children go through when learning to swim. It familiarises children with deep water and gives them the confidence to swim below the water level.
Social: During our lessons, babies interact with adults and other babies & children in a fun and happy social environment. Parents & carers also interact and socialise. These unique swimming sessions can develop a special relationship, which are enthusiastically anticipated each week.
Baby Swim lessons are Fun. Classes use games, nursery rhymes, toys and large floats. They perform an integral part of all the lessons and Sarnia Sea Lions Swim School actively encourages learning through play in this safe environment.
Is my baby safe to swim in the water?
Babies have a natural affinity with the water. They become totally liberated, as water is a free environment for them. We all have an inborn "gag reflex" and the "mammalian dive reflex" but it is generally strongest in babies up to 6 months old, these enable them to hold their breath underwater naturally and keep supplying oxygen to the main organs, which help us to provide a gentle introduction to submersions. They also have primitive swimming stroke actions up to 6 months of age and can propel themselves through the water. Sarnia Sea Lions Swim School builds upon babies natural reflexes to enable your baby to be completely happy moving in and through the water.
Do the lessons include submersion?
Submersion is an element of our classes, but is not the main focus in our lessons. The exercises are very gentle and just undertaken when both parent and child are ready and happy in the water. We will advise and guide you in the submersion techniques and exercises.
Do parents need to be confident swimmers?
No, although parents need to be in the pool with the babies, the pool is shallow enough for parents to stand up (we send the tall dads down to the deeper end!). Our teachers are fully trained and experienced in helping parents to feel
confident in the water. We will assist you with other activities should you not wish to do the submersion exercises with your child if you do not want to go underwater, although it is a wonderful experience to share with your child.
Will my baby learn to swim on his/her own?
Our classes are held within a group of similar aged children (up to a maximum of 12 in any one class) in the Forest School pool. Getting children in the pool early is vital and means that by the time they are 3 years of age, they will have learnt to doggy paddle and will most likely have mastered some basic strokes. At the earliest stage, they learn lifesaving skills including floating, turning and swimming to hold on. Through continuous development on the course, they should be able to swim 5m unaided by the age of approximately 3 < 3 1⁄2 years old. We always advise parents that learning to swim takes a lot of practice and patience and every child will accomplish the goals in their own time, as it happens with any other learning process. We do not rush or force any baby or parent into any activity they are not ready for.
Does my baby need to be fully immunised?
It is never too soon to introduce your baby to water. Medical research shows that a baby does not have to have completed the full immunisation course before you take your baby swimming. However, if you have any concerns about pre< immunisation, we do advise that you speak to your G.P. or Health Visitor or visit the NHS website for guidance. Swimming lessons can occasionally take place on the day your baby has one of their inoculations. If you are concerned, then this is also something you should check with your GP or health visitor.
What should we wear?
Sarnia Sea Lions operates a double nappy system for all babies and toddlers until they are toilet trained. The double nappy system is a disposable or reusable swim nappy underneath a fitted bathing costume/trunks or Happy Nappy (neoprene nappy), which should fit closely enough to form a tight seal around the waist and thighs. You are able to purchase a Happy Nappy or similar via the internet. Disposable/reusable Swim nappies are available from supermarkets and drugstores. Children do not need to wear anything else apart from the double nappy system. Adults must wear appropriate swimwear and never outdoor wear. No T-shirt or other street clothing will be allowed in the water. Please note, the instructor will not allow any child or parent in the water who does not wear the appropriate swimwear. School pool rules also require children to wear swimming hats (we do not make parents wear them!). We start being strict with the wearing of swimming hats very early on, as children often have lots of hair, that may get in the way of learning to swim. We sell polyester material or silicon Sarnia Sea Lions Swim School swimming hats for your convenience.
When should I feed my child?
Babies can be fed 45 minutes before entering the water to allow food to be digested, when it is still liquid. If you are feeding with solids, please allow at least 45 minutes for a snack and at least 1 hour for a meal. Babies may be hungrier (and sleepier) after swimming due to all the exercise so they may need a big feed after the swim. Please note that food and drinks are not allowed on poolside or in the changing room areas.
What if my child is ill?
Never come to your swimming lesson if you and/or your child have any illness, such as, but not limited to: chest infection, conjunctivitis, measles, impetigo, ear infections, asthma or a heavy cold (first days of the cold). Please DO NOT come to your swimming lesson until the symptoms have cleared at least 48 hours prior to your swimming lesson or when your doctor has given the all<clear. If your child has just a runny nose but feels happy and active, you will be able to come to your swimming lesson unless your GP has advised you otherwise. Under no circumstances must anyone suffering from diarrhoea or vomiting attend swimming during illness and up to 2 weeks after full recovery and stools have returned to normal. If you are concerned about any medical condition, we ask that you always check with your GP before coming to any lessons.
Babies have a natural ability for swimming, being born with reflex actions. Reflexes are defined as automatic responses to an outside stimulus. Healthy babies are born with extremely sophisticated natural reflexes that protect them from any harm and are very important to promote their survival. At Sarnia Sea Lions Swim School, we work around these reflexes to turn them into deliberate actions. The ‘gag' reflex is activated when water enters the mouth. The glottis and epiglottis automatically close preventing water from entering the throat and providing a watertight seal to the lungs during submersion. This is why you often see babies swimming with their mouths open. The mammalian dive reflex (often confused with the gag reflex) is activated when baby's face enters the water, covering their forehead and nose area; submerging the face the body automatically redistributes the blood flow ensuring the main organs such as the brain and heart, receive a constant supply of oxygen. The ‘Diving Reflex' is perfectly natural and slowly recedes from around 9 months of age. The Amphibian Reflex is an involuntary movement of their arms, legs and torso, which help us to introduce turns, rotations and kicking in our lessons.
Do you offer make up lessons (catch up lessons)?
Unfortunately this is difficult for us to offer as we are a small swim school with limited places and times. Please refer to our Terms and Conditions.
Do you offer a sibling discount?
No, unfortunately we do not offer a Sibling Discount for brothers and sisters.
Tips and advise for your first lessons
Very young babies get tired and hungry quicker than older babies, so feeding the babies 45 minutes before the lesson is very important. If you are feeding with solids, please allow at least 45 minutes for a light snack and 1 hour for a meal. Try to feed them just enough to keep them going during the lesson and keep the rest for after the lesson, as they will be very hungry. Sleeping time is very important too, so for them to have a good nap in the morning before swimming is vital. Parents play a very significant role in the babies' behaviour, so it is very important for all of you to feel relaxed and confident in the water with your babies. As you may already know, babies can feel our emotions, so being relaxed in the water is essential. Of course, getting you relaxed in the water is part of the course and it takes time for the babies and parents to feel totally relaxed and comfortable in the water. Because it is very common for new babies to need more time to get used to the water and new environments, please don't worry if your baby is not really enjoying the lessons at the start. After a few weeks of getting used to the new experience, you will find they really begin to enjoy the lessons. Although some babies love bath time, please note that the pool is not the same as the bath. It is a completely different environment, to which babies have to acclimatise. The pool is a more impersonal environment, with a lot of people, noise, changes of temperature, etc. All these factors contribute for the babies to feel more insecure and they need a little time to adapt to the new experience. Usually we really start to notice a big improvement in relaxation and confidence in both babies and parents after the 3rd or 4th week of swimming. Very young babies are not able to maintain their body temperature as long as the older babies. At the same time, the signs of coldness are different, small babies will not shiver when they are cold. The sign to look for is a bluish or purplish lip. (Our pool is warm at 30 oC). During the lesson your teacher will monitor all these signs that will indicate coldness, tiredness, being hungry, etc., and advise you what course of action to take.