Babies as young as a few weeks old will soon be able to take part in new structured swimming lessons starting in Freshwater and Cowes this Autumn. The multi-award winning Water Babies classes are designed to make the most of babies’ natural affinity with water, teaching confidence and safety techniques and enabling them to swim both above and below the waters’ surface.
‘Sadly, drowning is still the third highest cause of accidental death in the UK,’ explains Budge Pountney, director of Water Babies locally. A former rugby star, he set up Water Babies classes in September 2007, together with wife Ali, having been so impressed with the course when taking their own daughter, Naeve, to lessons in Northampton. ‘In most cases, it’s the shock of sudden submersion that causes children to panic. We believe that by introducing babies to water as early as possible, they’ll be less likely to experience fear if they did fall in.
‘With progressive training, babies can be taught life saving skills such as turning onto their backs or swimming to the nearest solid object, following a sudden submersion,’ he adds. ‘Last year alone we had three of our tiny clients save their own lives: one in an unheated pool, another in a canal and a third in a flood swelled stream. It’s fantastic what vital skills children can learn, despite still being so young. And it’s so important that they do. All of these children were just two when it happened.’
Jo Hobbs who has been swimming both her children with Water Babies in Southampton since September 2007 has now trained as a water babies teacher.
She will be running classes at West Wight Leisure Centre on a Monday and at UKSA in Cowes on a Thursday and Saturday.