Before enrolling their children to swim lessons, parents have many questions they want answers to. One question that pops up a lot is how long do swim lessons last and how long should a child take swimming lessons for?
How long each swimming lesson lasts depends on the child’s age, aptitude, and goals. Swim lessons for infants only last about 30 minutes where they will mostly play under constant supervision. For children aged 3-5, who are full of energy, swim lessons will take 30-45 minutes long to help them learn water safety skills and expend their energy. For children aged 6-9 and older, lessons will increase in length yet again to be around 45 minutes to one hour long.
As for when a child should stop taking swimming lessons, that is deeply personal and depends on numerous factors such as their goals and what their passions are. Some end up taking lessons for years and become competitive swimmers, whereas others just learn the basics and use these skills to stay safe while enjoying recreational water sports.
In this article we will discuss what kinds of skills are taught during a swim lesson, factors that can affect their length, and why keeping swim lessons to under an hour is optimal. We also discuss when the optimal time is to drop out of swimming lessons.
How is the length of a swimming lesson determined?
Why are most swim lessons only about 45 minutes long? Why not longer or shorter? Many factors are considered by the swim instructor when designing a lesson, and a good balance needs to be reached regarding lesson length and what skills can be taught in that time.
There are various factors that limit how long a swimming lesson can be, such as:
- How old the children are and their maturity level.
- The children’s stamina and strength.
- How quickly the kids are learning, which influences how many skills are taught in a single session.
- How much time must be spent going over a skill that was previously taught.
- How to keep the lesson fun and engaging the entire time.
After considering these factors, swim instructors have found that the magic number for swimming lesson length is around 30-45 minutes.
Any longer than that, and kids will: lose focus, get tired, get overwhelmed by how much is being taught, and become irritable. Since lessons are taught once a week, kids are given ample time to rest up and process what they have learned so that they can improve lesson to lesson.
How much can be taught in a single lesson?
There is no guarantee that your child will learn at a certain pace. Every child is unique and at different stages in their development. However, given enough encouragement and patience, all children should be able to learn the skills taught in formal swimming lessons.
Starting from the youngest age group (6 months to 18 months), children are not being taught swimming per se because they are not capable of swimming yet; they will mostly be playing and getting used to moving their body underwater.
The goal here is to acclimate them to the water so that they feel comfortable in it and help set them up for future swimming lessons. Without any pool experience, they may grow up to fear any bodies of water which makes learning how to swim harder.
As children get a bit older, they will be taught essential survival skills like how to turn onto their backs and stay afloat while conserving energy. They will be taught the backstroke, and will eventually learn how to fully submerge their face underwater and then safely surface.
Swim instructors will employ repetition so that kids get multiple chances each lesson to try out what they have learned. For instance, by limiting the length of the pool lane, kids can swim multiple laps quickly and receive more feedback and encouragement from the instructor.
It is really important for swimming lessons to be kept short and fun. If it is too long and feels like work, then focus and morale drops. Instructors often teach through playing games, such as cops and robbers, which encourages participation and allows the children to practice what they have just learned in a fun way.
Skills can be taught within a few lessons, but it can take months to become really proficient at each one.
Do older swimmers have longer lessons?
Older swimmers (ages 10 and up) have the stamina and focus to handle longer lessons, but that does not necessarily mean that all lessons will be long; 30-45 minutes is still the sweet spot.
That said, sometimes the point is to have a long swimming session for the purposes of increasing stamina and training the body. Swim modules will be longer and laps will get longer.
As arduous as this sounds, it’s not all work and no play. Fun is still at the core of the learning experience, and instructors will find ways to keep children engaged and motivated without feeling like it’s work.
Typically, lessons will not exceed more than an hour simply because swimming can be so tiring. Also, spending so long in the water can cause the core body temperature to drop, resulting in shivering. This can be offset by being very active to increase the body’s temperature.
How long do most children take swimming lessons for?
The decision of when a child should stop taking swimming lessons is between the child and his/her parents. Many children are enrolled into swimming lessons at the behest of their parents, not necessarily because they want to.
For the sake of learning basic water safety, putting children through a few swimming lessons can be one of the greatest investments a parent can make. The skills taught in the course may one day help their child survive a potential drowning situation.
If a child learns basic water safety skills, it can also give parents peace of mind whenever their child goes to the swimming pool or beach.
Many children drop out of swimming lessons around age 10, after taking them weekly for a few years. That is around the age when many children decide that they no longer like swimming and want to stop.
At that age, it is also when they have already learned the basic swimming safety skills and are relatively strong swimmers. Therefore, many parents acquiesce because ultimately their goals have been met.