The Hamptons summer season is about to start. Soon it will be time for everyone to unpack the lawn furniture, ready the barbecue and open the pools. Parents are starting to plan their activities for the summer, and grandparents are planning to host the grandchildren.
With all the hustle and bustle of summer planning for families comes a few big questions: Can my baby become more water-safe this summer? Do my children/grandchildren swim well enough to save themselves if they fall in my pool? Are my children/grandchildren safe enough in the water for me to schedule them for camps and water activities, like surfing and kayaking? Does my nanny know how to swim well enough to supervise the children at the pool? Can she rescue them if she needs to? Does everyone in the household know CPR/first aid? Do we need to hire a lifeguard for that summer party we are planning to insure the safety of all of our guests? Does my child need to brush up on his/her strokes before trying out for the swim team in the fall?
No matter how many of these questions you are asking yourself in preparation for the summer, Art of Swimming has an answer. Art of Swimming, “the school that comes to your pool,” began in 1981 with a few ads in the local papers, including Dan’s Papers. The owner, Vicki Bonaguro, started with the American Red Cross program in her private, backyard lessons. At the time, the Red Cross did not advocate for infant and toddler swim lessons. Vicki taught mostly two–three-year-olds in the Hamptons with great success. Gradually, she developed her own gentle method that is still being used 37 years later by the instructors at Art of Swimming. Vicki was joined by her daughter Kim in 2003 and together they further train their instructors beyond what the Red Cross teaches. Because of her techniques, young children learn much faster and swim better in a shorter amount of time, than with traditional methods.
Art of Swimming recommends mommy and me classes, or parent and me classes, from birth to about one year. They believe the best way for a baby to begin swimming is to spend time in the water with their caregiver. It is very important for the caregivers to understand what to do and what not to do with a child in the water, to prevent difficulty and fear later on in the child’s life. These lessons can be as few as two or three times during the summer, or as many as once a week, to give the caregiver a solid background to springboard from. Babies from 14–16 months up to age two and a half can begin private lessons.
Children may require a caregiver in the water for the first few sessions as the fear of strangers generally increases at this age. Art of Swimming works mostly on pool safety and increasing the comfort and breath-holding capabilities of babies and toddlers.
Once a child enjoys the water enough to get their face wet, they will begin learning to swim. The average three-year-old at Art of Swimming can swim most of the width of their pool, often with a breath, by the end of the summer. The average four-year-old knows three to four strokes, and a five-year-old that started at two, is ready for swim team tryouts!
Students become strong swimmers at an early age and are ready to begin the enjoyment of other water sports usually by age six. Art of Swimming makes lessons fun and exciting, using various methods of positive reinforcement to encourage children to do their best while having the most fun. Older students improve their strokes and get stronger and safer with every lesson. Swim coaches introduce basic rescue, ocean skills, snorkeling, synchronized swimming moves, headsets with music and rewards to keep the older students motivated to increase their swim fitness and perfect their strokes.
Art of swimming does not just teach children. They also specialize in terrified adults. They can take a grown man, woman or their nanny that has never had lessons and get them comfortable in the water, swimming basic strokes by the end of the summer. If they can already swim and would rather improve their stroke and breathing or get ready for the next triathlon, coaches are ready to help in those areas too.
Art of Swimming also works with students that would like to try out for the swim team in the fall. One previous student made it onto the Royal Brussels Poseidon swim team in Brussels, another student made various swim teams in Manhattan and a third ultimately went on to the Junior Olympics.
Having a party? Need someone to lifeguard the pool or watch your trampoline? How about someone to tie-dye shirts with the children? Do you need a babysitter to keep an eye on the little ones while you and your friends are catching up? Art of Swimming can handle all of this and more. Their lifeguards are Red Cross certified and have insurance. CPR instruction is available for your family or your company from September to May.