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Baby swim lessons: Learning to swim early has its advantages

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FAIRFAX, Va. (WJLA) - For many new parents, a child swimming class is like a rite of passage that can be both fun and also terrifying. But a new study suggests that time in the water could have long-lasting benefits outside of the pool.

For years, pediatricians recommended children begin swim classes around age 4, but that's changed. Now they say the earlier the better. 

At seven months, Molly isn't even walking yet, but she's already floating and going underwater with ease.

“I’ve also noticed some fine motor skills development, holding things between her hands,” says her mother, Megan Fedor.

Bonnie Alcid, of Gaithersburg, got her one-year-old daughter, Lou Lou, involved after her brother was enrolled at the British Swim School in Fairfax.

“They’re quite acclimated to the water,” Alcid says. “They’re not scared. They really have a bonding experience with the parent.”

A new study from Australia's Griffin University found many benefits of introducing infants to the water early. Swimming infants are typically six months ahead in physical development, 10 months ahead in cognitive development, and 15 months ahead in social and emotional development. 

“My parents didn’t take me this,” says Darlene Coons, a swim instructor. “My memory of learning how to swim was much older. Yes, some parents think they need to be older to learn how to swim. We start at three months.”

Beyond learning is also the safety factor. Cara Finnerty says she’s not as worried about her son, Liam.

“I think he has the muscle memory to know that to get to the top, roll over and get to his back,” she says.

Swim classes are available morning and night across the D.C. area.  Some places accept babies as young as three months.

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