We're thrilled to have had the opportunity to have a conversation with Nirala, founder of BUBBLINGFISH swim program for infants and toddlers, running various centers in Bangalore.  She is also an AUSTSWIM certified swim teacher for infants and toddlers.

When your baby isn’t old enough to walk, it may seem silly to take them to the pool. But there can be so many benefits to splashing around and gliding through the water

A full-blown summer is back and many parents have multiple questions about toddler swimming.  In this article, we will try and answer some of the common questions you may have with the help of Nirala if you're considering introducing your baby to the world of swimming.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, when did you start swimming?

My love for swimming started way back when I was 7 or 8 years old. My mom and her friends would go swimming in the estate pond and I would accompany them. And then I formally learned later in Mangalore. I have never been into competitive swimming, I always pursued this activity for my fitness.  

How long have you been teaching children swimming?

Ever since my firstborn was 5 years, I have been teaching for the last 6 years. I am a mother of two girls who are keen swimmers now. When my daughter was 5 years old, she was forced to jump at the deep end of the pool by her teacher. She refused to get back to the water. Heartbroken, I went to Partha who suggested that I do the AUSTSWIM course and teach my daughter myself.

So I did my AUSTSWIM TSW course and started teaching her. She loves the water now and does pre-competitive swimming.

When it was time to teach my second-born infant, I did the AUSTSWIM Infant course under Ceri's guidance. I started teaching my kids at the Bangalore Club. Club members loved the way I taught the "AUSTSWIM" way of teaching. They wanted me to teach their kids as well. This encouraged me to take up swim teaching as a profession.

Do you teach swimming full-time now?

Now I teach at multiple centers. This gives me immense satisfaction over my IT job of 10 years which I quit. I am also an SSI verified advanced diver and conduct ocean expedition trips to Maldives where I introduce kids to the ocean. I am a keen fitness enthusiast and constantly look for new things to learn.

How long does it take for a toddler with aquaphobia to learn swimming?

Am infant of about 6 months to 3 years wouldn’t have fear of water. It is all about getting to know the new environment, the water environment.
Actual Fear of water comes at a much later age say about 3+ years when their imagination sets in or with some bad experience with water. To overcome this, we need to show the child that being in the water is fun and enjoyable. Once they enjoy the water and are comfortable, swimming comes in easily. I often tell parents not to rush the child into learning techniques but allow them to understand their body in water and learn water safety first.

How many training sessions should a child do each week?


Do junior/child swimmers need a special diet?

Not the age group I teach, but if you are aiming at competitive swimming definitely yes.

Does a child need to be doing strength training in the gym?

Not the kids that I teach. But stretching and strengthing are very important for competitive swimming. I do have a simple warm-up session for my starfish and baby shark batch which include jumps, arm rotations, and flips which eventually help in their movements in the water.

Does swimming regularly give a child a cold or any other respiratory infections? How does one take precautions?

No, swimming helps improve lung capacity and also improves immunity.When we focus on their breathing techniques, and breath control it improves their breathing pattern.

Will swimming in chlorine water affect children's skin?

Harmful suns rays affect the skin condition as much as it does while doing any activity outdoors. We need to use a sun protection lotion while using the outdoor pool just like we use sun protection when we step outdoors.

How do you describe the swimming ability of a ‘swimmer’? For example, when a parent says: ‘my child can swim’, how do a coach gauge that child’s previous experience and ability?

I would rather ask the parent if their child knows how to save themself from drowning. Along with skills, I would encourage all kids to learn water safety. At BUBBLINGFISH we introduce water safety as young as 6 months. To know the level of skill the teacher can gauge the child by observing them in the pool.

How early is early? In your experience, to achieve swimming competency, do children have to start learning swimming early?

BUBBLINGFISH Motto is - “Start young. Have fun. Learn right “

If you start young and learn it the right way then it sits in muscle memory. But if you learn it all wrong then correcting that habit becomes a tough job. If the basics are right then it gets easier from thereon.

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