"If you don't teach your kids to swim, you're selfish."

I’m going to say it: This is straight-up lazy parenting.

I’m about to throw an accusation at you so brace yourself.

If you don’t put your kids in swimming lessons you are selfish.

And I’m sorry, but your children are not welcome at my house.

I get that life is busy, Mums. I get that there is everything from ballet to cello to Scouts to ferry your kids to. I get that there are extra curriculum activities galore that stretch us to breaking point.

But if you are in the “swimming lessons are too hard” camp then you are putting your children’s lives in danger. And that is not on.
Summer is rapidly headed our way. Before we know it, the beach will beckon and the after-school swim will become an imperative part of the day.

It’s our lifestyle, our culture and our RESPONSIBILITY.

I am obsessed with making sure my kids can swim because we have a pool and we spend a lot of time at beaches and relatives’ homes who also have pools.

Of course ours is well-fenced and meets all the regulations, but kids can surprise you in the ways they can get in.

So it shocks me to the core when I have mothers drop their children – six, seven and eight-year-olds off at my house with the casual disclaimer as they race out the door, “Oh don’t let Daisy/Edward/ Wilson swim. He doesn’t know how.”

It’s straight-up lazy parenting. It’s damn irresponsible and it could be deadly.

If you’ve got time to attend Bikram Yoga, if you have enough time to get that all-important bikini wax, if you’ve got a regular Saturday afternoon tennis game scheduled in, then you certainly have enough time to teach your damn kids to swim.

I know I sound like I am lecturing, and I am. It makes me angry that parents will fob the responsibility off to me.

Of course, I am not going to let your child in our pool gate to do what they please. You’d have to be crazy not to have a responsible adult on “pool duty”. But the fact your child can’t swim is not my problem. It is yours.

It happen, you see. Last summer a child managed to pile up a few chairs and scale the regulation glass fence of our pool. She was one of the ones who couldn’t swim.

Happily my next sentence is not going to shock you because I saw her only moments after she entered the pool area and got her out before anything happened.


But the story could have been different.

It could have been a tragic tale to tell. The little girl was old enough to drag two chairs and build a semi-ladder. She was old enough to hitch up her skirt and slide down the glass fence on the other side. Old enough to know better. But still a kid.

She was years past the date she should have started swimming lessons.

I asked her mum why she didn’t enroll her in lessons.

She said she tried, she said her daughter cried, she said the baby was always hungry at the same time as lessons and it became difficult, she said the rigmarole of towels, and wet cossies, and damp change rooms was just too exhausting.

What she didn’t admit was that she was lazy. What she didn’t admit was that she was wrong.

I’m sorry to say that that little girl hasn’t been invited back since.

Do you think I am being harsh?

Maybe – but for a reason. Kids drown.

In fact in Australia there has been an increase in deaths by drowning in swimming pools of 95% from 2012 to 2013. And for the under 5’s there was the biggest leap in deaths. Tragically swimming pool drownings accounted for 61% of all drowning deaths of children under the age of 5.

I’m proud to say that my four kids could all swim by the time they were three. Yes, aged three.

They weren’t fast, they couldn’t swim far and they certainly weren’t on course to be the next Ian Thorpe. It was simply a lot of practice and a determination to show up at the damn lessons.

If they fell in they knew how to climb out and they could swim long enough for the adult supervising to be able to help them get out.

If my three-year-old can swim, then so can your eight-year-old can.

Get it together, Mums. It is your responsibility.

Have your children had swimming lessons?

Want more? Try:

60% of parents don’t want to have this conversation.

“I thought my biological clock was broken. It’s not.”

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