Swimming lessons become a chore that most parents dread, not to mention one of the most expensive after school activities for kids…

Knowing how to swim is essential for any Aussie kid, but a growing number of parents are becoming frustrated with the process of getting their children to and from regular swimming lessons. Not only that, but many are questioning whether parents are starting the lessons with their children too early, suggesting they are a waste of time.

An Essential Or A Luxury?

One mum took to the Essential Kids forum to ask whether paying for her fourteen month old to attend swimming lessons was a bad idea. “Our fourteen month old attends swimming classes and I’ve now had two negative comments along the lines of ‘why would you pay for your small child to splash about in the water?'” she wrote. “I’m second guessing myself but I thought I was doing a good thing!” Responses to the post were mixed, but many parents echoed the mum’s doubts. “My third child had no swimming lessons until the age of five,” wrote one forum member. “After a few lessons, he was pretty much at the same swimming stage as his brothers were…yet they’d be doing customary swimming lessons from a few months old.”

All Too Hard

Many parents are being put off taking their child to swimming lessons due to the difficulty of getting to the lessons on time, the requirement for parents to remain poolside for the duration of the lesson, and the lack of interest shown by their children in learning how to swim properly. Caitlin Fitzsimmons, from The Sydney Morning Herald, says that starting lessons too early can do more harm than good. “One mistake a lot of families make is they start too young,” she wrote. “Then, fed up with the grind, they pull the children out before they really have the skills.”

We can totally understand why some parents become frustrated with the whole process, but learning to swim is such an important part of growing up in Australia. If you’re concerned about the cost and commitment, we definitely think it’s important to wait until your child has the interest and motivation to get the most out of structured lessons, but the sooner you get them used to being in the water, the better!

Do you think swimming lessons are non-negotiable or a waste of time? Tell us in the comments!


  • We took our son from 1 for a while, I think it was good to see how the teachers get kids used to water and all that, but after you know what to do with them in the pool, you may as well save money and teach them yourself by going regularly!


  • If you can afford them, I think swim lessons are essential. Our kids all learned swimming through school but we had already taught them how to float and to be familiar with water. Drowning statistics are still shockingly high.


  • Yep but for me, only after a certain age due to financial reasons.


  • I think I’ll wait till my son is one. I’ve taken him to the pools so he can get use to the water etc but think it’s too early for lessons


  • I think swimming lessons are important. All my four kids did them (two of them are still doing them) and they ended up loving swimming so much that two of them are in squads and the older one is swimming and competing at state level. She LOVES it.


  • I reckon it’s better when they’re a little bit older and able to orientate themselves a bit more. Or maybe that’s just my kids!


  • We started our daughter at 6 months. As we have a pool it was important to us to teach her basic swimming lessons, especially how to move back to the side of the pool and do monkey’s around the pool to get to the stairs.


  • I had a friend who drowned as a child. So I’ll happily bring my lunch to work, make my own coffees, buy op shop clothes, buy aldi etc to afford to send my 3 kids to swimming lessons. Its REALLY important.
    But its only one part of the equation. Its not enough on its own.
    You have to teach them responsible behaviour, you have to fence your pool, you have to supervise them and you have to learn cpr.
    Adults drown who are strong swimmers we have to look out for each other!


  • Having a pool in our backyard, swimming lessons were not negotiable to miss in our family. I wanted to make sure that if me kids were to fall in the pool, they had the confidence and skills to get them back to the wall and get themselves out. I think they are an essential part of Australian lives given how much time we spend in and around water.


  • I think it is important however as a toddler my daughter wouldn’t warm to the swimming instructor until a few minutes before the lesson was about to finish. I think you should persevere as it is an important skill to have but ultimately it’s up to the parents as to when is the right time for their child.


  • In this day and age with the increase in drownings, I do believe it’s imperative. However, you can teach your child to swim and have swimming confidence by devoting time if you can, or certainly consider swimming lessons. My son had them for years, but I’m not convinced he got enough out of it. There were too many in a 30 minute class which meant he received only a few minutes of personal time. We had more value devoting time to teaching him to swim. I would recommend paying for one-on-one lessons, rather than in a group, for value.


  • I used to see the baby class start as my kids finished- literally being held in water by parents singing rhymes and splashing. Total waste. I get swimming lessons for my boy whose almost 4. He’s not really learning much but at least he’s not screaming. I’ll do it for a couple years for confidence and if no further interest is shown I’ll stop as I did with my daughter.


  • It was so hard getting there and making sure both sides of our family got to spend time with our little one.


  • I started my son at 6 months. He went through a stage where it was a battle to get him doing the lessons but now at 2 and a bit he loves water and I thank myself for sticking with it.


  • My first went to lessons from 6 months. Fast forward many years and my second stated when he was 2.5 years old. There’s a massive difference. I regret not starting the second born earlier.


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