LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Early swim classes are just as beneficial to mom and dad as they are to baby. At the YMCA, parents can start classes as early as 6 months old.
Les Fugate signed up his infant daughter, Kensington, knowing these first classes are quite basic. "Introduce her to water, get confident in the water," explained Les. There are also classes for 18 months up to 3 years called the Super Tots. But the Y does not start actual swim classes until age 3.
VP of Programming, Becky Gamm, is a 30 year veteran of teaching pre-schoolers how to swim. She believes the early classes are essential to not only learning how to swim, but also for teaching parents how to supervise.
"A big part of our program is parent education," Gamm said, "and helping parents understand the importance of always being within arms reach of their child."
If a parent is wondering when to start swim classes, Gamm's answer is simple. "The sooner the better. The younger the kids are comfortable and see the water as an enjoyable place, they're comfortable with water in their face, the quicker they're going to learn to swim."
That said, Gamm's number one rule is "there's nothing that can replace good supervision."
Even when little ones start showing some skill in the water, she warns parents, that is when you have to watch even closer. "Those are the ones you really to watch because they don't have any concept of their limits." Children can be fearless and just do not understand the dangers.
David Russell learned that about his son, Dawson, 4, a couple of weeks ago. "He didn't have his swimmies on," said Russell. "He was out eating lunch and just jumps straight in the pool. He went to the bottom. He was only there for a second because I was in there. Still, knowing he's not scared of the water!"
It is a scary scenario for any parent. Both Dawson and his sister Libby, 3, are now taking swim lessons. "I want to make sure they're taught by an instructor on how to swim enough to keep afloat just in case," said Russell.
Still he realizes and any parent should know another rule Gamm shared. "There's no such thing as drown proofing a child."
It is why these parents are doing everything possible to prevent a tragedy.
"Our responsibility, when we're at the pool, is to be watching her and taking care of her" Fugate explained. "But it's important for her to have those basic instincts."
Outside of class, Gamm said any child under the age of 7 should have a parent in the water with them at all times. For younger children, she said parents need to be within an arm's reach or the child should be in a life jacket.
Click here for more information about swim classes at the YMCA of Greater Louisville.