Fall and Winter Swimming – is it safe for my child?

Here are some really important tips about why it is important to keep your student in lessons throughout the fall and winter months.

When the summer months leave, and the temperatures start dropping, people will often put their child’s swimming lessons on hold until it gets warmer. However, we’re here to give you some inside tips and tricks of the trade, hopefully enticing you to keep those kids enrolled in swimming lessons year round!

It’s important to remember that swimming is a life skill that should be taught to all children. Taking extended seasonal breaks can set a child back, and in today’s world of available equipment it is actually unnecessary. In fact, a key factor of how children (and adults!) learn is through repetition. Breaking the pattern of repetition may have them repeating levels that they previously passed, or losing skills or confidence.
So you’ve made the decision to brave the elements with your child to keep them in a progressive swimming program? There are actually some added benefits to doing so.
Class sizes are typically significantly smaller and staff is typically more seasoned or experienced than during the spring and summer months:
  • Once the late spring rolls around, everyone and their playgroup is registering for swimming lessons. At Starfish Aquatic Club our enrollment increases by over 50% during these months.
  • The aquatic instruction world is usually a younger generation, many of whom are high school students, or 20-somethings. College students may be returning to teach evening swim lessons for more money, or the stay-at-home mom may come back to teaching daytime lessons while her children are in preschool. That’s the benefit of enrolling in group swimming lessons: the diversity of the instructors. You may find that your child really clicks with a particular instructor that you may not have had the opportunity to work with during the summertime.
  • If you’re only interested in doing private lessons or small group lessons, our hours are typically easier to schedule because of an emptier pool and less daytime youth programming.
The pool and surrounding areas may be maintained better:
  • During the busy summer months, the influx of people starts to put a strain on the pool. The filtration systems work double-time, trying to keep up with the additional bather numbers. Since chlorine is used as a chemical to clean the water, the more people that get in the pool, the more chlorine (or other cleaning agent) must be added. That means that the water holds more organic and inorganic substances. Pool chemicals are all strictly monitored through certified personnel as well as the Health Department, keeping them at acceptable and healthy levels. However, you may notice that your local pool simply appears a bit dirtier, and possibly slightly cloudy during the summer months. Many pools are drained down in either the fall, or early spring, as an annual maintenance, and other filtration maintenance is done annually as well, leaving the pool sparkly clean and the water refreshing.
  • Aquatic staff (lifeguards, instructors, pool assistants) are usually the ones in charge of basic pool and deck maintenance, such as vacuuming the pool, sweeping and hosing the pool deck, etc. The slower, less programmed winter months will leave the staff with more time to complete these tasks, making the aquatic center a cleaner environment in many (and most) cases.


Some common misconceptions about swimming in the colder months:


MYTH: My student will get a cold or ear infections from the outside cold air after their lessons.
FACT: Colds and ear infections are caused by germs and not from being wet during the winter. If colds and ear infections were caused by getting our heads wet, taking baths and showers would not happen once the colder months start. If having a wet head is a concern, make sure to bring warm clothing, hats, hoods, and completely dry your students hair after their lessons.


MYTH: It’s cold outside, so we won’t be swimming.
FACT: Just because you won’t be trekking to the outdoor community pool until the weather is warmer doesn’t mean you won’t encounter the chance to go swimming elsewhere, including:
  • An indoor water park resort. These family-friendly resorts are based on having everyone swim and play in large, heated indoor pools with waterslides, which are very enticing for kids of all ages (regardless of swim ability).
  • Holiday break, winter break, spring break, or visiting family and friends in a tropical locale could definitely mean an opportunity for heading into a pool or the ocean.
  • Instead of having the kids over in a heavily-decorated basement, many families choose to have their birthday parties in places of business designed for hosting parties
MYTH: Since we only go swimming where there are lifeguards, if anything happens someone will be able to help.
FACT: Even though lifeguards are specially trained, it can still be difficult to spot someone in distress and react in time. That’s why it’s important for parents and other swimmers to be able to recognize the signs of drowning and what to do if someone needs help while swimming – and why you need water safety tips in winter, too.
Instructors incorporate water safety skills during each lesson. These skills include understanding what role lifeguards play, how to act appropriately in and around water, what to do if kids are having trouble swimming or if they see someone else in trouble, and lifesaving techniques. And, just like any other important lesson, water safety is one that bears repeating, over and over again, so it’s second nature.
MYTH: My baby isn’t even walking yet, so I don’t need to worry about water safety.
FACT: Babies are masters at moving around deftly (and sometimes silently) whether they are walking or not, and they’re also very curious and inquisitive little beings who want to learn and investigate everything they see. Sometimes, that includes bodies of water. By teaching your little one how to swim at a very young age (yes, your baby can start taking swimming lessons before age 1!),  you’ll be giving her the tools she needs should an accident happen in water…because seconds count.
MYTH: I don’t let my child go swimming without me, so we’re OK.
FACT: Accidents can happen near ANY body of water, whether or not you are nearby. Frozen ponds, backyard pools that are covered, other bodies of water that children may be around during the winter that may be frozen over can be hazards that children need to know how to be safe around.
Hopefully we’ve convinced you to keep your child in swimming lessons year round. A major concern for many parents though is the weather. If you’re swimming at an outdoor facility that stays open for year round programming, know that there are some products available on the market today that will keep your child protected from the elements.
All the pools that Starfish Aquatic Club use are heated to over 82 degrees, and air temperatures are 85 degrees or more. This environment is warmer than it will be outside, and will be a safe and enjoyable place to be as it gets colder outside.

Keeping children physically active in the fall and winter months will increase endorphins, boost immune systems, increase mood, help with structure and consistency with sleep schedules and eating schedules, and will give them an indoor activity to look forward to during the colder months.

Some additional options…
Swim Shirts:
We adore this Konfidence. It is 1mm thick, and perfect for those children that chill easily during swim lessons, either indoors or outdoors. It’s flexible, and doesn’t allow for much movement restriction or extra buoyancy.
It’s a bit thicker, and warmer than your typical “rash guard” type swim shirt. As a bonus, neoprene lasts much longer when exposed to chlorine, as opposed to lycra, so it will hold up much longer and won’t get stretched out, or start to break down and get thinner.
UV shirts, or rash guards, are typically made out of lycra, and will help keep the sun off your child, and keep them warmer during the chilly time in the pool. These Konfidence would be a wonderful option for your baby, toddler, or preschooler who struggles with remaining warm during swimming lessons. Or, if they don’t enjoy the full suit option, just a UV shirt is available, which will also trap in their body heat more.
Wet-suits are made out of neoprene.  They serve two functions, 100% UV protection as well as keeping the person wearing them warm. These Konfidence are a favorite pick, because of the vibrant colors, and the made-for-children style.
The important part of a body to keep warm is the chest/shoulder/arms area, and this shorty-style wetsuit does just that. The short legs and sleeves allow for better movement in the water, which is vital for children.
It’s easy to zip on and off, and perfect for a chilly day on the beach, or in the pool.
Note: Neoprene is a more buoyant material, so sometimes it allows children the ability to float easier. Making sure they periodically experience the water sans-wetsuit is important.
The roll & go babychanger is a genius product because public changing tables can be downright icky – especially in a damp aquatic environment. The one side will be clean and sanitary for your baby, while the other side won’t slip or slide, because of the grippers, while you’re in the locker room.
reusable swim diaper is a much more economical choice if you’re going to be in the water with your baby or toddler regularly. Many public pools also require “plastic pants” to be used overtop of disposable swim diapers as well.
Whatever choice you make, we hope that it involves aquatic training and education with your child as much as possible.
We’ll see you at the pool!