5 Year Old Can't Move In Water

My son has been having lessons for the last 2+ years and he is happy putting his face in the water and then moves his arms and legs HOWEVER he does not move in the water and when he pulls his head up he's gasping for air - what is he doing wrong and how can I help him?


Thanks for your question about your sons swimming. You don’t mention how old your son is, but I will make a couple of suggestions based on my experience.

Firstly if your son is very young (3 or 4 years old), the chances are he is doing absolutely nothing wrong. It is very common for children of that age to lack the strength to pull themselves along in the water. Also when it comes to taking a breath they are not always able to pull themselves up enough for their mouth and nose to be clear of the water surface.

As long as they are getting plenty of time in the water to play and have fun, they will develop the strength needed to slowly become more and more independent. As they grow they will also become stronger naturally, which will help to boost their swimming.

Most young children are very happy underwater and can often ‘swim’ for as long as they can hold their breath. This makes them gasp for air at the point when they do actually need to breathe.

Try to encourage him to take a breath before he needs to instead of at the point of exhaustion. He may then find breathing comes easier over time.

If your son is older, then he may not be coordinating the movements of his arms and legs correctly. This means his arms may be counteracting his leg kicks, resulting in him swimming on the spot and going nowhere.

If this is the case you will need to break down his swimming strokes and address each part in turn to correct them and ensure his technique is efficient.

Overall it is important to give some children time to learn to swim. Whilst some learn quickly, much like riding a bicycle, some kids are just not natural swimmers and take longer to get there. They all learn to swim in the end.

As long as they having fun and enjoying their pool time, then along with the right guidance, learning to swim and be safe in the water will come in time.

I hope I have helped in some way. Good luck.

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