Level One Milestones
Level one milestones are about the same for preschool swimmers and swimmers aged 6 years old and up. They include getting in and out of the pool safely, blowing bubbles through the mouth and nose, floating on the back, treading water using hand and combined arm and leg motions on the front and back. Children must be able to meet these requirements before moving onto to level two.
Level Two Milestones
Again, level two milestones are just about the same for the preschool level swimming classes and the classes for children 6 years old and up. Children must step into the pool, switch from front to back and back to front floats, tread water using arm and leg actions and bobbing. The one difference between each age group's level two milestones is that those in the 6 years old and up group must also be able to submerge themselves under the water and hold their breath.
Level Three Milestones
This is the final level for children under 6 years old and the middle level for children over 6 years old. For both age groups, swimmers should be able to jump into the pool from the side, tread water, bob, recover from a float to a vertical position and do a back float and glide. Those in the older age group should also do the front crawl and elementary backstroke, use flutter, dolphin and scissor kicks and go into the water headfirst from sitting and kneeling positions.
Level Four Milestones
This level is only for swimmers 6 and above. Children should be able to dive into the pool from the compact position, swim underwater, perform the front and back crawl, backstroke, breaststroke, sidestroke and butterfly stroke. Swimmers also work on turns from the front crawl and the backstroke as well as treading water using two kinds of kicks.
Level Five Milestones
This is the most advanced level of swimming instruction; students at level six focus on particular skill sets such as advanced diving, fitness or water safety. At level five, children learn to do a side dive and then begin a front stroke, tuck and pike surface dives, all the strokes and doing flip turns while swimming.
Jennifer C. White, director of operations and swim school specialist for Starfish Aquatics Institute, says that the water temperature for babies should be at a minimum 85 degrees and ideally from 87 to 88 degrees. Other factors can affect how warm your baby is while in the water, White explains, including air temperature, swimwear and weather conditions. How often and how much of your baby's body is exposed to the air while swimming also makes a difference, she adds.
Most swimming pools serve multiple populations and strive for a happy medium with water and air temperatures. While this means temperatures may not be ideal, they will most likely be within an acceptable and safe range for swimming with your baby. In a pool where programming includes learn-to-swim programs and recreational swimming, but no high intensity lap swimming or swim team, the USA Swimming website's facilities guidelines recommend a water temperature of 86 to 88 degrees. The ideal air temperature for these activities, suggests USAS, is 82 to 84 degrees, but never higher than 84 degrees, although slightly lower would be considered acceptable.
Outdoor pools in many warm-weather climates are not heated, which means the water temperature cannot be regulated. Cooler night-time air temperatures can result in a drop in water temperature overnight. If this is the case with your pool, it may be best to wait until the sun has warmed the waters before taking your baby swimming. The water in lakes, oceans and other open bodies of water tends to be cooler than swimming pool water, and weather conditions like wind and sun can also affect water and air temperature.
Tips and Warnings
While 85 degrees is the minimum recommended water temperature for swimming with young children, any water that is colder than body temperature can result in heat loss. You can help keep your baby warm in the water with a rash guard, thermal swimsuit or wet suit. Stay low in the water to keep his body -- and yours -- out of the cooler air and away from chilly breezes. If you notice that your baby’s lips are turning blue or he begins to shiver, it’s time to get out of the water and warm up.
Resort Indoor Water Parks
If you book a stay at Ramada Tropics Resort and Conference Center in Des Moines, your kids can swim and play to their hearts' content inside the resort's 18,000-square-foot indoor water park. You'll get to enjoy three large pools, a huge hot tub, a pirate ship with interactive play features and a variety of slides. In Williamsburg, your family can enjoy water activities at the Clarion Inn Amana Colonies and Wasserbahn Waterpark Resort. Inside the 11,000-square-foot indoor waterpark, your kids can get soaked by the dumping bucket, play in the wading pool, zip down the fast slides and climb and play on the interactive play structure.
Hotel Indoor Pools
Days Inn and Suites in Cedar Rapids features a large indoor heated swimming pool that your family can enjoy together any time of the year. If your family is looking for a place to stay and swim in the Des Moines area, you can check out the Embassy Suites Hotel Des Moines Downtown. This hotel has a huge saline indoor swimming pool, as well as a nice, hot whirlpool for guests to relax in and enjoy.
City Indoor Pools
In Cedar Rapids, you and your kids can go for a swim at the Bender Pool, maintained by the City of Cedar Rapids Recreation Department. The indoor pool is open year-round and features a water basketball area, a slide and handicap access. Kids can also go to special youth swim programs and participate in swimming lessons. The City of Urbandale maintains the Urbandale Public Swimming Pool. This indoor pool offers public swim times throughout the year, as well as special programs like swim lessons and theme nights, with themes like Superhero Night and Luau Night.
YMCA Indoor Pools
If you're in Ankeny, you and your kids can go for a swim at the Ankeny Family YMCA branch of the YMCA of Greater Des Moines. Swim lessons are offered in the spring and summer, and kids can also participate in the Y Swim Team. Other Des Moines branches that offer indoor swimming include the John R. Grubb Community YMCA, Walnut Creek Family YMCA and the Boone County Family YMCA. In Cedar Rapids, your family can enjoy swimming indoors at the Helen G. Nassif branch of the YMCA of the Cedar Rapids Metropolitan Area. This YMCA location features a six-lane heated indoor pool and offers swim lessons and a competitive swim team for kids.
Recognize the fear. Talk to your child using age-appropriate language about why he is afraid of the water. Do not minimize his fear, or tell him he has nothing to be afraid of. However, while it is important to acknowledge his feelings, don't let him manipulate you or others with his fear.
Take it slow. Do not force your child into the pool if he is truly terrified. While watching him closely, let him play alongside the pool and let him watch you and other children have fun in the water. Provide him with pool toys and flotation devices, and let him gradually ease into the water as you support him.
Make it fun. Get your child used to putting his face in the water by blowing bubbles and pretending to be a fish. Use a toy watering can to pour water over your child's head to simulate taking a shower. Once your child is comfortable getting into the pool, pretend to be animals in the pool such as a bunny hopping up and down, or a crocodile snapping his arms or legs.
Enroll in an age-appropriate swimming program. Swim lessons will help a child learn to be safe and confident in water. Know the environment that will be most comforting for your child. Many swim clubs offer a mommy-and-me class that allow the parent into the water with their child. Others require the parents to stay on the sidelines. Other factors to consider include the temperature of the pool, the class size and teacher personality.
Give a lot of positive reinforcement. This will boost a child's confidence and self-esteem without inflicting pain or punishment. Give plenty of specific praise, such as "you are so brave to put your head in the water" or "you are the best bubble blower!"
Things You Will Need
- Pool toys
- Flotation devices
Never leave a child unattended near the water, even for a short time.
Take your infant into the shower with you. Make fun faces and show the infant that water is a joyous experience. As the water hits the baby’s face, he will learn to close his mouth and adjust his breathing. If your baby is old enough to sit up in the tub, try playing peek-a-boo by dragging a wet washcloth over his face. This helps him get used to moisture on his face as he learns to control his breathing.
Help your baby “float” on her back at home in the tub. Support the infant’s shoulders and gently move the little one through the water. If your infant seems startled or anxious, talk in a soothing voice so that she learns to relax and trust the natural buoyancy of the water.
Take the baby to the pool at least once before lessons begin. Show him how to blow bubbles in the water. Make your face as silly as possible so that he sees this as a game. If he can sit up, place small toys in a shallow part of the pool. Many babies will learn to put their faces in the water to look at the bright colors. But don’t force this on your infant. Keep the first pool experience as fun and happy as possible.
Pack a swim bag for the baby that includes a swim diaper, warm clothes to change into after the class and a bottle if needed. Even a short playtime in the pool will tire your baby out. It is very natural for the baby to be hungry and tired after any pool session.
According to a study done in the journal "Pediatrics," children who swam in chlorinated pools before the age of 2showed a 3 percent increased risk of bronchiolitis as well as an increased risk of developing asthma later in life.
The Iowa Children’s Museum provides a learning environment designed for families with children up to 12 years old, offering a place for parents and children to spend quality time together. Children may be so busy playing in the museum’s permanent and changing interactive exhibits that they do not realize they are learning while playing. For example, the ABC Forest exhibit, designed for preschoolers, features a 125-foot forest mural where kids can search for objects that begin with all letters of the alphabet, along with a child-sized hole in the trunk of a tree where kids can sit and read favorite books.
Iowa City does not limit pool time to the summer. The Robert A. Lee Community Recreation Center, located in downtown Iowa City, is open year-round, featuring an L-shaped pool with a 25-yard area with depths of 3 to 5 feet, a deep diving well and a wading area for children. The Mercer Park Aquatic Center, also open year-round, offers lap swim and lessons on one side of the pool and public swim, lap swim, exercise programs and lessons on the other side.
Hockey and Skating
Hockey is a popular sport in Iowa, and the Iowa City area has a youth hockey association with programs for beginners and experienced skaters. The Iowa City Coralville Hockey Association’s beginner category, called Mini-Mites, is for skaters aged 7 and under, teaching skating and hockey fundamentals. The association also offers a competitive travel hockey program for kids who want to compete against teams from other hockey associations and a non-travel program for kids who want to compete against local recreational teams. The Hawkeye Skating Club offers skating activities for kids, including coaching, competitions and skating shows.
In addition to regular wintertime activities, the Iowa City area offers special holiday events. Coralville has an Aisle of Lights weekend in early December, featuring free events throughout the town and 30,000 luminaries. The luminaries, white paper sacks filled with sand and a votive candle, are donated by local businesses and displayed by area residents. The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, located in nearby West Branch, displays Christmas trees representing themes from America’s heartland and hosts the Christmas Past Celebration in early December. This celebration includes horse-drawn carriage rides, entertainment and holiday music.
Davie Nadadores hosts swim camps at the Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale annually. Overnight camps and day camps are offered throughout the summer months so you can find one that fits your child’s schedule. Swimmers come from all over the world to participate in this camp, which is known for preparing its campers for competitions. Some of the campers have even qualified for the Olympics. Overnight camp fees include hotel accommodations, meals, swimming practice, daily transportation to camp, dryland sessions, classroom activities and a goodie bag.
Aquatic Adventure Camp
Enroll your child in a summer swim camp offered at the Pembroke Pines location of the YMCA of Broward. The Aquatic Adventure Camp is a week-long day camp that that is offered at different times during the summer. Your child will work on her swim stroke development and be given instructions on water safety. Campers are also are introduced to other water-based activities such as water polo and diving. Discounts are offered for YMCA members.
Pine Crest Swim Camp
Pine Crest offers three different swim camp choices on its Fort Lauderdale campus. Competitive swimmers can attend the competitive swimming overnight camp for two weeks or up to seven weeks. A competitive swimming day camp is also available for campers who do not want to stay overnight in the residence facility. Campers who attend the day camp will follow the same schedule as the overnight campers. The Rising Star day camp is offered to children as young as 4 years old. In addition to swimming and diving instruction, campers will participate in other activities such as movies, camps and arts and crafts.
City of Hollywood Summer Camps
The city of Hollywood offers two different swim camps. The Beach Jr. Lifeguard Program is designed for kids aged 8 to 17. The week-long day camp is offered throughout the summer for different age groups. Campers will learn about ocean and beach safety and lifesaving techniques. The aquatics summer camp provides swim lessons for kids. After registering for the camp, children will attend eight classes over a two-week period.