The Waterwaze Swim Academy prepares you for summer

One of the best things about living in Rockland County is the accessibility to swimming pools. Many of us have friends or neighbors willing to share. Maybe you’re not lucky enough to know the “right people,” but you still get invited to pool parties or a weekend bungalow colony. Virtually all camps offer swimming daily and many offer seasonal excursions to water parks. Swimming is a great activity that entertains the whole family. It offers many benefits, including sensory input, tone and muscle strengthening, and helps with concentration. The problem is that drowning is the sixth leading cause of death worldwide among children aged 5 to 14. Statistically speaking, if you both own a gun and have a pool in the backyard, the pool is about 100 times more likely to kill a child than the gun. Each year in the United States, there are more than 4,000 fatal accidental drownings. Having been in the industry for over 15 years, Waterwaze Swim Academy aims to educate parents, therapists and educators on what to look for when hiring a swim instructor. Over the next few weeks, this column will address the 10 most frequently asked questions about swimming lessons.

What is the best age to start swimming lessons?

Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to this question, and as with many swimming-related questions, the short answer is that “it depends.” For example, I had a client who started classes with her child at 5 months old because she had a swimming pool in her backyard. Even with all the proper safety features in place, she knew most of their summer afternoons would be spent by the water and wanted to make sure her child was safe in case something happened. Some parents birth their children at a young age for other reasons, including sensory integration and increased muscle tone. Parents tell us that thanks to swimming lessons, their children have learned to concentrate better and listen to instructions better.

I trained in Portland, Oregon, where it was very fashionable to sign up for baby swimming lessons as an after-school activity. Here are some questions to consider when deciding at what age you should start teaching your child to swim: Do you have a pool or are you exposed to one? How much time and money are you willing to invest? What are your goals? Do you want your child to be safe in deep water or have perfect movements?

Another factor to consider is which camp you are sending your child to and be sure to research their swim program. The Health Ministry only requires camps to provide one lifeguard for every 25 children. For older groups who can swim well, this might be enough. But for young children, this ratio can be dangerous. If your child is attending a camp with a large pool and minimal lifeguards, it is imperative that he or she is safe in deep water before the camp season begins.

On another note, to end drowning we need to make sure all adults learn to swim. This way, they will truly understand the importance of passing on this life skill to future generations, which is difficult to understand if it is something they themselves avoid out of fear or discomfort.

Next week we’ll talk about how many lessons it will take for your child to learn to swim.

Stay wet and stay safe!

Yours sincerely,


Zahava Shapiro is the owner of Waterwaze Swim Academy, based in Monsey. At Waterwaze, we teach swimming to all ages, from 4 months to 99 years old using a gentle approach that prioritizes comfort over skill. Instructors are trained in total immersion, infant swimming and Angelfish swimming methods. Waterwaze swimming instructors specialize in serving people who have been traumatized or affected by a negative experience with water. We believe that every person is capable of learning to swim. You can reach Waterwaze at 551-775-2745