The ability to use the pool wall for safety and confidence is an important skill for toddlers learning to swim. This is something you should work on as soon as they are able to understand your directions and grasp the pool’s edge securely.
Being able to use the wall is a huge safety skill. A toddler who accidentally falls in, or for any reason finds themselves in the deep end without a nearby adult, needs to learn how to use the wall to return to safety. This safety may be to the nearest ladder or to the shallow end.
Hand Over Hand
Depending on how your child learns best, either put your hands over theirs, or demonstrate this skill while they copy you. Show them how to use a hand-over-hand action to move along the wall. This skill can be practiced in many fun ways after the skill is understood and the child can perform it reliably. Time them, counting out seconds; race from one end to the other using only the hand-over-hand technique; take a trip “around the world” together – navigating the entire circumference of the pool hand-over-hand.
A toddler who can maneuver the periphery of the pool will gain confidence and have less fear in the water. The deep end will not be as threatening as they find that, by using the wall, they can easily reach the shallow end, a ladder, or an adult. Confidence is essential to moving forward in swimming skills.
Reaching the Wall
Of course, in the event of an emergency such as falling into the deep end, the toddler must learn how to get to the wall quickly and efficiently. The best way to do this is to teach them to float on their back, kick hard, and propel themselves toward the nearest wall. Once there, the child can use their wall techniques to move to the nearest ladder or the shallow end.