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Why Swimming Should Be The First Sport


Swimming should be the first sport your children learn. Here’s why. It’s more than just a recreational activity—it’s a crucial life skill that every child should acquire early on. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowning remains the leading cause of death for children ages 1- 4, making the need for active awareness and advocacy that much more urgent.

This is where the #FirstSport Campaign steps in. It sheds light on the critical need for swim lessons from an early age and highlights the use of 5 Layers of Protection to enhance safety in and around water.

A Child’s Introduction to Their First Sport

As you plan your child’s extracurricular activities and which sport/activity to introduce first—be it soccer, football, yoga, or dance—consider swimming the number one priority. It’s not just about exercise, teamwork, or developing a hobby; it’s a crucial survival skill that carries the weight of safety along with its physical benefits.

Let the first sport your child learns

be the one that could save their life.

For young children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends starting swimming lessons as early as one year old. At this crucial age, they can begin to learn essential skills suited to their level of mobility, including how to enter and exit the water safely, basic water movement techniques like blowing bubbles, kicking, and floating, and how to find and reach the edge of the pool. These early lessons are designed to build water comfort and basic skills that are critical for reducing the risk of drowning and promoting a lifelong enjoyment of water activities.


Swim Lessons Save Lives

At NDPA, we promote swimming lessons (water competency) as a critical layer of protection, part of our 5 Layers of Protection strategy to prevent drowning. These layers include:

  • Barriers and Alarms: To prevent unsupervised access to water areas.
  • Supervision: Close, constant, and capable adult supervision.
  • Water Competency: Essential skills and knowledge to handle water safely.
  • Life Jackets: Use of U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets in and around natural bodies of water.
  • Emergency Preparedness: Skills in CPR and emergency response readiness.

Together, these layers form a comprehensive approach to drowning prevention, vital for not just children but individuals of all ages.

It is never too late to learn how to swim either. Many facilities and programs also offer adult learn-to-swim lessons so that you and your children can enjoy the water to the fullest!


First Sport, First Priority: Watch and Share The ‘First Sport’ PSA

Our ‘First Sport’ campaign features engaging and unconventional spokespeople—talking babies—to effectively communicate the importance of water safety. This shareable PSA is designed to capture attention and engage a wide audience on social media. It’s not just adorable; it’s a powerful way to spread a life-saving message far and wide. 

By engaging with and sharing this content, you’re pulling more people into the vital conversation about water safety.

Access our shareable PSA here and become a Water Safety Champion in your community!

Water safety is a collective effort. It involves not just parents and caregivers but also community leaders, educators, and local advocates. The broader the conversation, the stronger the safety net we weave around our children. 

While no one is ever drown-proof, learning to swim at a young age and using the 5 Layers of Protection can help keep you, your family, and your community safer. To learn more about the 5 Layers of Protection and to share the First Sport Campaign, click here

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