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Swim Lessons for Kids: Why They Matter

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Over the course of my 40+ years, I’ve collected a fairly large life list of embarrassing moments and things I wish I’d done differently. But there’s one big one that will probably stay #1 on that list for the rest of my life.

I don’t know how to swim.

It’s not something I’m proud of.

As a child growing up in the 1970s, I wasn’t given swim lessons. I was the youngest child in the family with a 9-year age gap between my closest sibling and me. I suppose swim lessons just fell off the radar.

I promised myself I’d learn as an adult. But fear grows with age, and several rounds of swim lessons later, I still have fear. I still don’t like the feeling of being underwater. I still can’t go into the deep end.

As a mom of two kids, this is problematic. I’m not winning any Fun Mom in the Pool awards, that’s for sure. But more importantly, I’ve set a poor example for my kids: fear can get the best of you, and you can still get by in life without knowing how to swim.

When I was pregnant with our first child, I told my husband that making sure our kids knew how to swim was a huge priority for me. I never want them to experience the slow crawl of fear that I endure when I am in the water.

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At 10 weeks old, we put our son in the backyard pool with us, my husband taking the lead on helping him get comfortable in the water. By the time he reached 18 months of age, he was jumping into the pool and swimming across. We’d created a little dolphin.

Since then, our son and daughter have spent many happy hours in the pool with us, and have taken more professional swim lessons than I can count. They jump off diving boards, snorkel, surf, boogie board. My kids know how to have fun in the water safely, and that’s hugely reassuring to me as a parent. They have a healthy respect for the water, but lack my irrational fear.

Watching my kids in the water inspires me, and gives me hope that there’s still time for me to become a dolphin, too.

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Water safety organizations and swim instructors around the globe are joining together on Friday, June 20 to host The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson, raising awareness about the importance of teaching children to swim. If you miss it, you can still give your kids the tools to stay safe in the water this summer – it’s never too late to sign them up for swim lessons!

We also recommend visiting Safe Kids Worldwide, for which Johnson & Johnson is a founding sponsor, for more resources on water safety.

Gigi Ross is the Manager of Corporate Social Channels for Johnson & Johnson. She is also a wife and the mom of two tweens (one boy and one girl). Gigi lives with her family in sunny San Diego, CA.

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