Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Not all young ‘swimmers’ are safe in deep water

Sam is my grandson and his Fionn Nan is almost 2 years old.

Sam yelled, "Granny, come see our swimmer." It was a happy, 10-minute performance of Fionn’s splashing, kicking water, ducking her face in, blowing bubbles in two inches of water in the bathtub! Sam was pouring rinse water over her head, eyes, nose, ears and whole body.

Fionn’s mom started her out on a lifetime of water fun - and obedience. There was no fussing when Sam wrapped Fionn in a towel and took her off to bed. Already these parents and their "swimmer" have a wonderful relationship with water and with each other. Soon they’ll be teaching her Melone Simmons’ trick: When you see water, hold Mother’s hand. That’s a small child’s way of saving his or her own life!

What skills should swimmers know to swim safely in deep water?

Several years from now, Fionn will ask, "May I swim in deep water where those other kids swim?" Parents of swimmers must be ready to answer.

Deep-water swimmers need to know how to turn over, turn around, stop and go. They need endurance to swim longer distances and patience to rest when tired or floating. They need to be able to jump into deep water, come up and swim in various restful positions. Here are some skills for prospective deep-water swimmers to practice, under the watchful eye of an adult who could help if needed.


Swim and float on your back for three minutes.

● Swim 10 yards on your back then roll over and swim back to the starting place with a front stroke.

● Swim 10 yards with your front stroke then turn over and return with any backstroke.

● Swim around an imaginary post in deep water and return.

● Swim as above, going around the imaginary post in the opposite direction.

● Step off into deep water, level off and swim at least 30 feet without stopping.

Swimmers might need to practice in shallow water before being allowed in the deep. People in charge should alter the requirements to match the safety rules of that facility. Parents or other people enforcing the rules should help the ones who are preparing to take the test - but should not "bend the rules" on test day; the entire test should be passed on the same visit to the swimming facility.

People who can pass Granny’s Deep Water Test will want to improve their balance, breathing, coordination, relaxation and stroke techniques. Some of that will come naturally with practice, but coaching really speeds the progress.

What a person learns about swimming in a pool with trained teachers and a lifeguard watching is not necessarily all that is needed for swimming in a creek, lake or farm pond. Extra caution is needed where there is no life guard.

Fun and fitness were the results of a program after World War II; it was discovered U.S. soldiers were not in very good physical condition. President Franklin Roosevelt asked all health and youth agencies to plan an incentive for improving physical fitness. The American Red Cross proposed the 50-Mile Swim. Individuals and organizations kept records of swims of one-fourth mile or more. We swam at least the quarter mile and recorded also half-mile, three-fourths and mile swims.

Only four swimmers had made it to the 50-mile goal by the time school let out. Three students and I completed the 50-Mile Swim. Other students took proof of their progress to their home pools, but we never knew how many of them were successful.

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