New national guidelines to ensure baby and toddler safety during swimming lessons have been launched by Parliament.
The key points of the new guidelines:
The Baby and Toddler Swimming Teaching Safety Guidelines have been developed in collaboration with the BSI, by key industry players Water Babies, Splash About and the national governing body for swimming, the ASA, to keep these children safe in swimming pools.
The guidelines are intended to provide a standard for all British baby swim schools to adhere to and for parents to rely on.
According to the ASA (Amateur Swimming Association) almost half a million babies and toddlers aged up to 3 years will take part in swimming lessons this year.
Baby swimming is increasingly popular, not only because it is one of the few physical activities that can be done from birth, but also because of its potentially lifesaving nature. This nationwide rise in baby and toddler swimming lessons has also seen a corresponding reduction in the number of deaths by drowning in children aged 0-4 years with a drop of 25% since 2010, according to the WAID (Water Accident and Incident Database).
As well as providing crucial guidance for ensuring the safety and wellbeing of babies during swimming lessons, the guidelines also give recommendations for appropriate swimwear and underwater photography.
They advise that children under 4 years should wear a leak-proof neoprene swim nappy cover over a disposable or reusable swim nappy to ensure pool water is clean for all swimmers.
The recommendations also cover best-practice teaching methods and a focus on pool operation including temperature and hygiene.
Find out more at www.swimming.org/learntoswim
The new guidelines provide reassurance for parents and carers that important quality aspects for baby swimming lessons and underwater photography have been carefully considered. Here’s a simple summary of what to look out for.
Teachers should have an industry-recognised swimming qualification specific to teaching babies and toddlers. There should also be a trained lifesaver and first aid member of staff available at all times throughout the class.
All employees who work directly with children should have undertaken relevant criminal records checks, have attended a Safeguarding Children in Sport course and have been trained in its swim school’s safeguarding policies and procedures.
Health and hygiene
All children under four should wear a double-nappy system for their swim class - a disposable or reusable swim nappy, with a snug-fitting neoprene nappy on top with close- fitting leg and waist ribs.
Pools should be heated to at least 320 for children 0-3 months old, 300 for children 3-12 months, up to a maximum of 350. Pool safety
Swim schools should monitor pool conditions closely to ensure its venues are maintained safely and efficiently. They should carry out risk assessments at each pool to ensure they operate to the highest health and safety standards.
Swim schools should be fully insured, with both Public Liability insurance and professional indemnity protection to £10 million.
Some swim schools offer a highly evolved programme with clear aims and objectives, while others offer something that’s rather less developed, so make sure you know which you’re getting.
Taking a baby underwater is an important part of a lesson structure, but it should never be the main focus of the lesson.
Lessons should always evolve at your child’s own pace, and place emphasis on both of you having fun.
The person who will be swimming little ones under the water at the photo shoot should be a fully qualified baby swimming teacher who’s been trained in the act of intentional submersion.
Babies should only be submerged at a photo shoot when they have experienced previous submersions and are comfortable with the process.