Is the rise of swimming toddlers in Gaborone a trend or a safety measure?
The other day, my cousin humorously flung my 2 year old niece “Sky” into the swimming pool during a braai. The moment was flashed by a rush of panic for our guests, and I remember the distinct look of one of my sister’s friends screaming in horror. Eventually, the panic dissipated as little Sky flipped over to float on her back and swam to the nearest wall of the pool. A sense of calm, humour and relief overcame the backyard.
I beamed with pride and relief as I marvelled at Sky’s capability to swim, “such a big girl”, I thought. Ultimately, I was jolted into a moment of nostalgia as I thought back on my interaction with water as a little girl, at that tender age of 2, I knew nothing about how to quickly flip on my back as Sky had just done, nor did I think it was knowledge and skill my parents regarded important for me to learn. However, today there are so many just like Sky who know how to manoeuvre through water at a tender age, more so there are various institutions that empower young children with this skill, something of which was not quite popular a couple of years ago.
In a bid to find out more about this emerging trend, my journey begins at Gaborone Aquatics Centre, popularly known as Water Babies. I have a chat with Marhna Mupfeki, a member of the crew who shares about the centre’s origin. “To be honest, everyone at every age needs to be water-safe, at the end of the day drowning can happen anywhere and not necessarily just in swimming pools, that is where our desire to teach came from”, she explains.
Water Babies runs classes for 6month – 2 years old’s with a focus on teaching them the basics of floating on their back until they reach a wall where someone can get them, a technique which is said to have saved many families from grief. “Water safety is very important, such that we run adult courses on it, as Water Babies, we strongly felt that there was a need for water safety missing, we are happy when families are empowered with such knowledge”.
Linda Donora, a guardian who subscribes to this notion explains her point of view, “swimming is not always for fun’s sake, the fact of the matter is knowing the basics can save a life, I have personally attended a funeral of a 5 year old who drowned at a party, parents are much more aware of the need for this life saving safety skill”.
Despite the morbid reason that seems to have inspired the wave of swimming schools for toddler’s, for some families, teaching toddlers how to swim was a more light hearted inspiration, “enrolling my kids was more than just a safety decision, I love the swimming sport, over and above safety I am grateful for swimming schools for toddler’s because they help nurture talent at a tender age” explains doting mother of two, Sekgopi Moagi.
Uniquely so, so one young parent by the name Audrey Marr, explains her unique reason for joining the bandwagon, “I grew up not knowing how to swim, it made me a little insecure when with the other kids and I want to assure that my little boy doesn’t ever have to feel that way”.
While other’s may just be keeping up with the times of parenting today, nurturing talents or assuring the safety of their precious kids, it is without a doubt that swimming toddlers have become a common thing in the generation of parent’s today. The reasons are endless, but the fact of the matter is water safety is a need and necessity that cannot be denied.
Share your comments below with your own personal experiences, are/ were your toddler’s enrolled in swimming school? If so what were your reasons, and if not, comment away too! 🙂