Confident toddler swimmer trained in survival swimming

Some additional statistics by Emma Grynbal.
Living in Tampa Bay, I feel blessed to be surrounded by water. I love that I can raise my kids somewhere where they can swim and enjoy the pool, lake and ocean year-round.As a girl who grew up in the pool with parents who were lifeguards and competitive swimmers, I never had a fear of water or realized its dangers until I grew much older. I learned to swim with my parents so early that I have no memory of the learning process.

Swim Lesson Learned

When my son was born and our family moved to a Florida lake, I knew I wanted and needed him to learn to swim at a young age. But I didn’t know where to start. When he was around age two, I started taking him to the popular local swim school for weekly lessons. He cried and cried for weeks but I kept at it. I knew the crying was normal but I was frustrated by how little progress he made as weeks and weeks went by. He was distracted by toys and other kids and couldn’t focus on the instruction.

Then, a friend told me about the specialized survival swim lessons her son was taking. At a playdate at her pool, I could see that her two-year-old son had quickly learned valuable survival skills. He didn’t just know how to swim in the shallow water along the steps. He was a confident swimmer, even in deep water. At the time, I was uncomfortable with the time commitment of the survival swim lessons. Looking back, I wish I had given it more thought. Instead, we took a break from swim lessons at age three. Maybe it will go better when he’s a little older, I thought. But still at age five, it’s something we’re still working on developing to this day.

Why I Love Survival Swim Lessons

When my daughter was born, I knew I had to look into survival swim lessons. I wanted to give her a strong foundation of water safety skills at a young age.

Instead of weekly classes, survival swimming programs provide 10 minutes of customized one-on-one instruction four times per week for about six weeks. I know committing to take your child to an activity four times per week can be tough for many families, but this is not just any activity. It’s a potentially lifesaving, one-time course.

Repetitive techniques teach the child how to get to safety if they were to fall in the water.  They use a swim-float-swim sequence to get to the wall. The repetition of the daily lessons and techniques helps the water safety skills taught to become second nature for the child.

In just six weeks with Ms. Emma’s Swim and Survival Academy in Tampa, my 19-month-old daughter became a smart, safe swimmer who could swim to safety from the middle of the pool. Ms. Emma first taught her to swim to the wall and then to float on her back. Once she was confident with those skills, she put them together. She taught my daughter to swim and then turn to her back to float and rest as she made her way to the wall.

While survival swim lessons are more expensive per week than most traditional swimming lessons, they are short-term programs that develop safe, independent swimmers. They are worth every penny in my opinion.

Don’t Put Off Swim Lessons

We live in a region surrounded by water. Drowning tragedies happen far too often here, and throughout the U.S.  According to DCF Florida, 88 children lost their lives due to drowning in Florida alone in 2018. Drowning is the leading cause of death of 1-4 year olds in Florida.  Survival swim lessons can prevent these tragedies and truly save lives.

Parent vigilance around water will always be critical. But knowing your child also has strong water safety skills provides peace of mind. When you have confidence in swimming, parents and kids alike can more fully enjoy the Florida lifestyle.

It’s never too early or too late to learn to swim and survive!

About Alisha dos Santos

An adventure-seeking mom, Alisha is constantly pursuing new experiences to feed her adventurous soul and encourage a courageous spirit in her two young kids. When she’s not out adventuring with her family, she’s juggling real estate and marketing communications consulting businesses from her home office in Lutz. When life gets hectic, she finds peace on her paddleboard. Growing up in Pittsburgh, Pa., she always dreamed of living by the water and eagerly dove into the Florida lifestyle in her college years. Join Alisha on a journey to live an adventurous life as a mom at