Turning the tides on child drowning
Rebecca Wear Robinson
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Toy or Teaching Tool?

by Rebecca Wear Robinson on March 15, 2011

We need more innovative thinkers and more creative solutions if children are going to stop drowning.

Take a look at SwimFin – invented by Kevin Moseley in the UK. Doesn’t it look like fun? Definitely like something a kid would want to wear. Which led me to wonder if it might just be a great tool to teach younger children to self-regulate their behavior.

Kids love to pretend, and what’s more fun than pretending to be a dolphin or a shark in the water? And if they love wearing their SwimFin, maybe, just maybe, they are more likely stop before heading for the water solo: just long enough to alert an adult AND wear a buoyancy device.

Let me state clearly that I am opposed to inflatable arm bands (and any other inflatable device) for a young child. They are just too easy to deflate or slip off and they give false confidence. Kids need to understand the cause-and-effect of water – you go in, you sink. Relying on buoyancy devices before they are truly competent swimmers is an accident waiting to happen.

A Coast Guard certified life jacket is the safest thing to strap your child into when they are in the water, but they limit a child’s mobility. Kid’s can’t practice their swimming skills or play comfortably in them so they are more likely to fight wearing it for normal swim time (always a proper life jacket on a boat though!). And, of course, they aren’t learning how to move properly in the water. The SwimFin leaves arms and legs free so that kids can practice their swimming skills, or play, while providing a layer of protection because they keep a child buoyant.

My kids and I did pool trials of the SwimFin this weekend and it has earned a permanent place in our swim bag. It helped them to develop their strokes and correct their form for flip-turns. Is it a substitute for swim lessons? Never. In an ideal world every child has a patient and caring teacher for the years it takes to develop true competency in the water. Is it a substitute for constant supervision? Emphatically NO! Should you use it all the time? I wouldn’t – again, a child needs to understand cause-and-effect with a parent’s help. Will it help a child improve their technique and build their confidence while being safer in the water AND having fun? Definitely yes.

Is SwimFin the only answer? No, but it’s another innovative tool that combines fun and safety. A tool that might teach our kids to regulate their own behavior – to think before they go into the water. And isn’t teaching what great parenting is all about?

More resources:

And here are some videos for more information on how it can be used with children:



To buy: SwimFin sells in 70 countries. I bought mine in the U.S. through Kiefer – here’s the link.

Interested in some of the technical data?

Tested to EN13138 in the UE, which is classified as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). It is “suitable” up to 30kg (66 pounds) and can be used “for orientation purposes only” for children ages 3 to 6 years.
It is also the only product in the world to also hold international standard EN71 which applies to the safety of toys.
Manufactured to highest quality with new patented materials which make SwimFin incredibly light, comfortable to wear, and durable.
SwimFin is NOT a lifejacket because it will not turn a child face-up.

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