Is swimming important?

The UK sets a target for primary school children of being able to swim 25m without aids. According to the latest statistics, 45% are unable to achieve this -
What is the situation in France? Can any members with children in school tell us? How many lessons do they get during the school year?
Do we think swimming is important? What target would you set for competence in swimming?

That's how I started my son but I think he was a few months older as it was in the sea. Best route, methinks, to get gain some confidence and at least the ability to float.

The reason very little research has been undertaken, is that it is impossible to conduct experiments on real children because of the risks involved. But I personally know of one case where a child became unwell following one of these sessions. I don't doubt there are others.
The infantswim website is professional and impressive and they say a lot of wise things. You would expect that, because there is a lot of money to be made out of parental pride - and fear. But there is no real science behind their claim to have saved 800 lives.
I took my kids the pool when they were old enough to decided for themselves that they wanted to come with me. They were quite happy to get on my back and hold my shoulders as I swam around the pool. They seemed to get the idea by a sort of osmosis and eventually started swimming by themselves, with no formal instruction. They never needed swimming aids.

The way I read the Canadian article was that very little research had been undertaken. They do that a lot in the UK with regard to many medical issues, say that there is no evidence without actually looking at the evidence or performing their own research.

What do you think of the other website? I hadn't seen that originally just a video of him talking on Youtube - but I thought the cases where children had survived after falling into water were quite interesting.

Were we reading the same thing?
I know the Canadian Paediatric Society document is written in a rather flat. technical style, but when I get to "Water intoxication" and "Hepatitis A" all sorts of alarm bells start going off.
The first time I saw an underwater baby picture was in the titles of the BBC's Tomorrow's World programme, half a lifetime ago. I never quite understood why it was relevant to the show, but it was a beautiful and compelling image. It was only much later that it occurred to me that, if the picture was of a puppy or kitten in the same situation, there would have been a public outcry.
These days the Internet is flooded with pictures of underwater babies and the people who organize these activities often have a resident photographer, so every Mum gets a souvenir of her child's performance. They have a certain charm, the babies look quite relaxed. But the Canadian doctors state very clearly "There is no evidence that swimming lessons prevent drowning or near drowning in this age group."
I was one of those kids that you couldn't keep out of water and as an old man, I am still in love with it and swim every week. But I understand your feelings and would never force anyone to to swim against their will - or prod them with a pole! So I think it makes sense to wait until a child asks (or demands) to be taken into the water. It is much too easy for pushy parents to put a child off for life.
It is not quite clear how baby swimming works. A lot is said about the "mammalian dive reflex" but that doesn't happen unless the water temperature is below 21°C - far too cold for a baby. So it is an interesting trick, with no practical use, that carries a risk of endangering a baby's health. The only thing that can be said for certain is that people are making money out of it.

Found it. Barnett.

Don't shoot the messenger!

I don't know, that link doesn't actually say much or, should I say, substantiate much. To look at the other side of the coin I have sort of, recalled the name: Dr Harvey Barnett or Burnett. Funny how these things come to you.

I know there are a lot of people don't agree with him either - I think he's in the US - but apparently it has saved lives. It's a long time since I saw it...

I was one of those that was considered to be a swimmer after 25m. Right waste of time. I'm no swimmer.

I think you need to learn to enjoy being in the water before you can learn to swim properly and I had a bully of a swimming teacher who used to prod people in with a long pole.

My sister, though it pains me to say it, swims like a fish!

Don't just take my word for it -

Hmm. I've read where other people are of that opinion. But then I've read where kids who were taught, didn't drown when others would.

Obviously I think pools are dangerous things - even fish ponds - but if it buys them a little extra time in case of an accident, then isn't that a good thing?

I don't think anyone is advocating teaching a 6 month old to swim and then wandering off, Mike.

Desperately dangerous. No child should be allowed near a pool without without constant adult supervision. It only takes three minutes to drown, or suffer permanent brain damage from a near-drowning incident. Cheap inflatable pools can be bought here from supermarkets. You can set them up without any safety enclosure. I think they are death traps.
Others may disagree, but I think the time to teach children to swim is when they ask to be taken into the water. "Baby Swimming" is of doubtful value and may give a sense of unjustified confidence to parents.

I know there is a Dr in the US who promotes teaching children to swim at around 6 months of age. Harvey ? is his name. I think it's actually been proven to have saved quite a few kids due to many families in the US having a pool in the 'yard.'

You are very welcome and yes, he does need some Kevlar clothing. Maybe Santa will bring him something :)

Just as I was getting used to kissing people all the time, I was horrified to find that it happens in doctors' waiting rooms as well. If Ebola ever comes to France we are all doomed, I tell ye, DOOMED!

Hence the old saying " Never kiss a gift horse in the mouth"

I understand they don't bother with mouth to mouth any more, but go straight for pumping the heart. But it must have saved a good few lives in its time.
In Germany, you have to pass a first aid course before they give you a driving license. That makes a lot of sense.

I found the whole business quite terrifying. Having completed the course, I could have no excuse for not getting involved in a real life emergency. But, so far, the only time I had to use my new knowledge was in a "reach" situation and because it worked, it seemed like a big non-event. No medals for that!
But it is usually best to leave things to the local experts. In Newquay, they dash out through the surf on jet skis, grab the victim by one arm and with a slick turn, roll them onto the inflatable raft that they tow behind. Within seconds they have them on the beach and breathing oxygen. Very impressive.

We were taught to approach the subject from behind so they didn't grab our arms, catch them by the chin & tow them. All very easy, in theory! In the pool, getting the 'victim' out of the pool & into the recovery position by myself when he was a foot taller & several stone heavier than I was, was what I found hardest.

As I've never had to do it for real, I don't know just how much someone would really struggle - we were also told that if someone endangered us by struggling we should swim out of reach & try again when they stopped being hysterical & if need be leave them to it while signalling for more back-up if available, rather than have them drown us as well as themselves.

It was put a bit more tactfully & officially than that, I'm paraphrasing at an interval of over 30 years ;-) and times have doubtless changed. There was a fair amount of work with ladders & ropes etc as well, which fits in with reach throw wade row.

I once took a lifesaving course.The most useful thing I learned was to chant the mantra "Reach, throw, wade, row." which implied that a swimming rescue was only to be attempted when all else failed. It must have been because of my small size, that our lady instructor picked on me to demonstrate the "releases." But I knew a few wrestler's tricks and try as she might, she was unable to escape. It was quite clear that none of us would stand much chance against a terrified rugby forward.
Fred Lanoue (inventor of Drownproofing) had a better answer. He advised approaching the subject from behind. If he turns to face you, he isn't drowning - yet! By keeping your distance, you can turn his panicky attempts to grab hold of you into useful strokes towards the shore. You won't get any applause from the onlookers, but you will have saved two lives and proved to the "drowning" man that he can swim after all. If he doesn't turn to face you, then you have a good chance of towing him ashore without any resistance.

I did the turning pyjamas into a buoyancy aid thing as part of my life-saving certificates at school, so I could supervise swimming on a Sunday afternoon. We did all the pool stuff & also sea stuff - that said the pyjamas would have been a fat lot of use when they chucked us in the sea from a small boat off St Andrews to go & get a big bloke in a wetsuit & drag him back to said boat...

My Great-grandmother was born in 1904 & grew up in Indochina where she was the first woman to drive her own car etc etc and very sporty for the period & place, lots of riding & tennis & her favourite bridge & other gambling. She didn't set foot in Europe until she was about 20. I think she just assumed there were parachutes on 'planes because otherwise you'd go splat. She used to use the flying boat service (as well as the liners) which sounded completely fabulous, I must say.

She was used to the S. China sea & the Med, & presumably the chap-who-fell-off-the-liner did so in the Indian Ocean or somewhere else warm & was a good thing for him it was calm at the time. My GG just said he was lucky a shark didn't get him (she seemed to think it was also v amusing, must be Viêt humour). She died 18 years ago after a long and pretty remarkable life.

Floating on back can work in relatively calm water, especially with added buoyancy from salt water and air trapped in clothing. But you can get into trouble in rough conditions when waves break over your face. That is when Drownproofing works better, because you can turn your back to the weather and breathe inside the "wind shadow" in front of your face.
They also used to teach people how to turn their trousers (pants in America) into a life-jacket, by tying the legs and filling them with air. Can be done if you are uninjured and reasonably confident in water.
But, lucky man. There is always the chance that something will turn up and while there is life, there is hope.
Didn't Great-Granny know you only get a life-jacket on commercial flights?