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Techniques to help a child learn to swim

Teaching a child to swim can enable him or her to enjoy a life filled with fun in and around the water. It is also one of the ways to prevent water-related injuries or death.

Water safety is nothing to take lightly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that in 2007 there were 3,443 fatal unintentional drownings in the United States, averaging 10 deaths per day. An additional 496 people died from drowning and other causes in boating-related incidents. Also, more than one in five fatal drowning victims are children ages 14 and younger.

Although teaching a child to swim does not negate the necessity to carefully watch young children whenever they are around water, it does offer a measure of safety. A boy or girl who knows how to swim may be able to prevent an injury or get out of harm's way better than one who is floundering in the water. In fact, the CDCrecommends it as one method of preventing water-related injuries.

Teaching kids to swim requires some patience and general knowledge of swimming techniques. Parents or caregivers unsure about their teaching abilities can enroll their children in swimming courses offered in their towns and cities.

Adults choosing to teach swimming on their own can try these techniques.

1. Start with teaching the child to blow bubbles out of his mouth and nose. This teaches the youngster how to prevent water from being inhaled. With only his or her mouth and nose under the water, the child can blow out and create bubbles. Once this technique is mastered, he or she may be less frightened about water going up the nose.

2. Have the child hold onto the side of the pool or a floatation device if out on a lake or in the ocean. The child should extend his or her legs outward and practice floating and kicking. Begin by kicking any which way, eventually evolving to a control kick once he or she is more comfortable.

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