Pros and cons of swimming aids | American Lifeguard Association

Summer is in full swing and many are packing their beach bag or suitcase to go to a lake, pool, or the sea as quickly as possible. If your child can’t swim yet, you may have already thought about what kind of support you should take with you on vacation. There are many different swimming aids on the market. From the well-known armbands to the very popular swimming discs to extravagant swimming and lifeguard training belts or shark fins, you can currently find everything in the shops.

We will be happy to tell you what you should look out for when choosing the right swimming aid for you and what advantages and disadvantages the most well-known of them have…

Swimming ring and swimming and Lifeguard trainer

The classic swimming ring is particularly suitable for young children. It is quick and easy to put on and allows a baby, provided it is securely supported, legroom for undisturbed kicking. The well-known swimming ring has been further developed into a swimming and lifeguard trainer. This puts your baby in a well-supported, safe forward position. It enables him to make his first swimming experiences in the breast position. However, the fact that the tire slips into the armpits restricts your baby’s arm movements.

Armbands and swim discs

Your child can move their arms and legs at the same time with the bright red “swimming wings”, which are well-known everywhere. Some children find armbands very uncomfortable because they stick to the skin, especially when they are wet. The big advantage of this swimming aid, however, is that it can be folded up very small and can therefore be stored in any travel bag. This is different from the swimming discs, which are very popular nowadays. Since these are not filled with air, as is the case with the wings, their shape cannot be changed and they require more space. The big advantage of their shape, however, is that they don’t have any sharp edges or sticky surfaces. Because three discs can be combined, you can adjust the buoyancy according to your child’s ability and body weight.

With both variants, a very young child can still be overwhelmed at first, as it first has to get used to the foreign bodies on the upper arms. For example, if it grabs an object, its body will sink and it may end up submerging its mouth.

Life belts, life jackets, and swimsuits

…are often used more for safety purposes, for example on a boat tour.

A life jacket can partially prevent unrestricted movement in the water. If it is not properly seated, it will pull the child to the surface of the water. This can be life-saving but also uncomfortable and disruptive when learning to swim. If the swimming aid is more of a kind of belt that is attached at hip height, this can help to learn to swim. The child is thus challenged to move its arms and legs and to balance its body.

Basically, a swimming aid should not constrict the child or limit its range of motion.

An alternative to water wings and the like would be a buoyancy aid, such as a pool noodle or a swimming board. These variants also bring variety and freedom of movement in the water, but they demand more from the child than a swimming aid, as it has to actively help to keep its body afloat. The downside of this is that mum and dad are also more asked to support their child since as long as it is not familiar with the correct use of the buoyancy aids, it will have difficulty staying afloat on its own. On the other hand, pool noodles and swimming boards are very versatile and can be used for a long time. Even children and adults who can already swim like to move around in the water. In old age, a pool noodle is an important companion when swimming for many.

We wish you a lot of fun splashing around!