Interesting facts about swimming
Why learning to swim is so important
In the past, learning to swim was part of compulsory education for children. Today, studies show that one in five people considers their swimming skills to be insufficient. Especially in the digital age, the interest in learning to swim seems to be fading. This could have serious long-term consequences.
More and more swimming pools are closing permanently
The closure of swimming pools is always in the news. The reason for this is that swimming pools, despite relatively cheap entrance fees, are very expensive to maintain. Swimming pools used to be a regular part of family outings. Parents made sure to make leisure time an experience at the weekend. Now, more than 100,000 people own a private poolin Austria alone. Although they use this for splashing around, proper swimming is considered secondary. Austria’s indoor swimming pools are therefore often subsidised. However, due to decreasing interest and increasing maintenance costs, they are usually not viable. As a result, the closure of numerous pools is always at the heart of political discussions in Austria’s federal states.
Even though many swimming pools are closing, learning to swim safely is becoming more important than ever. More and more Austrians are going to the sea on holiday to relax and enjoy the water. They are also participating in recreational activities such as diving and surfing. Those who have taught themselves to swim in the pool usually have no understanding of real waves and do not know how to help themselves effectively in an emergency. At the same time, many parents expect their child to be safe in open water if he or she can already swim well in the pool at home. This is a tragic misunderstanding that can sometimes cost lives.
One in five drowning accidents end in death
The most common cause of accidents in children is drowning. Under water, a child is quickly confronted with an under-supply of oxygen to the body. “If oxygen is missing, there is a maximum time window of 2 to 3 minutes before massive damage can occur,” says Holger Till, CEO of the University Hospital of Graz. The potential for drowning is underestimated, especially in shallow swimming pools. A child cannot hold up his head under water until the third year of life due to the so-called “death reflex” . Such a situation is dangerous and, in the worst case, can lead to serious injury, disability or death.
The results from an analysis by Holger Till and the association “Größe schützen Kleine” show that, of the 200 drowning accidents between 2000 and 2017, one in five accidents were fatal. Since children in particular are fascinated by water, it is incredibly important to never leave them alone near pools and water. In 2018,the skiing world champion Bode Miller also found out how quickly a tragic accident can happen when his 19-month-old daughter drowned in a swimming pool after having being left unattended for a minute. Today, he warns parents: “I can now confirm first-hand that it happens incredibly fast and incredibly sneakily.”
Swimming badges as a measure of swimming skills
The Austrian swimming badges are a good basis for determining how your own swimming skills or those of your child compare to international standards. Children obtain the “Frühschwimmer-Abzeichen” (early swimmer badge) with us starting at 4 years old. In our children’s swimming courses, the little ones are introduced to the water in a safe environment and learn important swimming styles such as breaststroke and backstroke. Only when fear of the water has been overcome is the child ready to take the next step towards swimming independently in the water. But an adult still needs to support the child in the water and watch over him or her closely!
Only when the child is mature enough and has had many hours of practice can the parent finally let the child swim on his or her own. Then, the child can also consider attempting to obtain the Fahrtenschwimmer badge and more advanced badges. But these swimming skills and badges do not protect anyone against the many dangers in the water such as fast currents, ice-cold water, fatigue, convulsions, etc. However, a professional swimming course can be one way to prepare the swimmer for such situations.
Just because a child can swim the length of a swimming pool without any problems does not mean that he is able to swim safely in every situation. Badges such as the Fahrtenschwimmer can therefore only be understood as proof of solid swimming skills under normal conditions. The Fahrtenschwimmer is required for admission to many educational programs and is, among other things, a recruitment criterion for applying to the police.
Learn to swim, because you can never be too careful
The most important thing is the health and safety of your children. Parents are responsibile for young humans who are facing new physical challenges on a daily basis. For this reason, it is important to give them a motivating and efficient swimming education starting at a young age. Talk to your child about the risks and dangers of water and leave nothing to chance.
The team of the Steiner Swimming School is there to support you and your loved ones when it comes to learning to swim. Find out more on our website or visit us for a personal conversation. We look forward to welcoming you to one of our swimming courses!