TODAY

TODAY   |  April 30, 2013

Make a splash! More babies learning to swim

More and more pediatricians around the country are prescribing swim lessons for babies where the tots, along with their parents, learn basic swim skills and get comfortable in the water. TODAY’s Sara Haines visits one class at Swim Kids USA in Arizona to see what it’s all about.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we're all heard that swimming is good forfeitness, but now your child's doctor is taking the sport seriously.

>> as sara found out, for babies it's not just considered an extracurricular activity?

>> really?

>> it's a growing trend across the country and more and more doctors are prescribing swim lessons to infants as part of the water smart babies program. suiting up in the locker room, there are wiggles. getting ready to hit the pool. most of these young swimmers can't talk yet or even walk. lana is the founder of swim kids usa in arizona. in an ideal world , when would every parent start swim classes with their babies?

>> about the time of upright locomotion. in other words, when they start to get up and walk around things.

>> i sat in on a class with babies ranging from four months to 23 months old.

>> the idea of sputing a baby underwater, scares me to death. how did you feel the first time did you that with your kids?

>> it was scary. but i would rather her do that with me for the first time than for her to fall down and not know what to do. it's one of the other things as a new mom you're scared of everything. it's one more thing to push her into.

>> cross it off your list.

>> good girl.

>> we took the babies through different skills, beginning with, reach up, hold on. and trap ease, to teach them to climb out of the pool on their own. floating on your back is an essential skill for new swimmers and we used mirrors as a distraction. next was push down stand up in the shallow end. and when the class was getting restless, it was time for a motor boat ride to calm down. overall it was all about getting comfortable in the water. we try to get them under a lot?

>> exactly. you want to get them used to the feeling of water on their face. they fall into a pool, what's going to get wet. we want them to get used to the feeling of water on their face.

>> mom amber lee saw the benefits of her classes when her 4-year-old son, brady, fell in a pond.

>> he was reaching in and he flipped. i turned around and as i looked over to see him, he was -- turned back around and went to the edge, just like he knew to do. he was really scared because he thought the ducks were going to bite him. but he knew what to do and he was so proud. he couldn't wait, he wanted to get in the car and talk to his swim teacher to let her know he knew the right thing to do.

>> part work and part play, these water babies earned a warm towel and a snuggle at the end of class.

>> aw.

>> the cool part of the program is they're getting doctors involved which gives it a credibility.

>> it's just become so natural to them, the earlier you start like that, as long as it's supervised like that. it's awesome.

>> one thing i learned, i always thought it was recreational. i didn't realize the emphasis was all about safety. at the end of the program, they get in the pool in their clothes. because a lot of times kids fall into pools in their clothes so towards the end of graduation, they do with with their clothes.

>> you looked like a natural with those babies.

>> i know, they wouldn't let me take one.