The Summer of Swim: Tips to keep your children safe in the pool

Monique's children jumping into their pool

We are well into summer and the season isn’t complete without spending some time at the pool.

Summers of the past for us were spent in camps, travelling, going to amusement parks and enjoying the many cultural events held around Toronto. With COVID-19 still impacting our daily lives, summer this year has meant spending time mostly at the cottage and enjoying more intimate family activities locally, including spending a lot of time at splash pads and the pool.

The girls really fell in love with swimming last year when we spent time at the lake near our cottage and in the pool. I called last summer the Summer of Swim because the pool was definitely their favorite part of the season. Their experience with water up to that point was decent. We first exposed the girls to the pool when we were living in a condo which had a pool. One of the first activities that we got the girls involved in was swimming at the local aquatic center. It was very important to me as someone who wasn’t around pools very often growing up for them to be comfortable and not fear the water at a young age.

I rarely spent time at a pool growing up and because of that, I was intimidated by the water. I had a near drowning experience as a child at an outdoor pool and after that I was afraid of the deep end. I always needed that comfort of being able to touch my feet on the bottom of the pool and as soon as I wasn’t able to, panic set in and I wanted to get out. As time passed, and I went on more vacations as an adult, I really wanted to get over the fear of the deep end of the pool and learn how to swim. I decided to enroll myself into a swimming program for adults so that I can at least be able to do the basics and not be fearful when in the pool. I ended up loving the experience and was able to overcome my fears. I was even able to jump off a diving board which was a huge deal for me!

The girls developed other interests as they got older and unfortunately when we moved out of the city, we stopped the swimming lessons. After the Summer of Swim, we knew we had to get them into lessons again. I contacted a local swim school but was disappointed to find out that because of the COVID-19 pandemic instructors weren’t allowed to help the girls swim. Because they are novice swimmers, the instructors needed to come in close contact. So, we had to be placed on a wait list until it was safer.

With no swimming lessons and us embarking on Summer of Swim Part 2, we need to re-educate ourselves on water safety at the pool. One of my biggest fears is having to deal with a water emergency – I vividly remember my experience as a child, so we take water safety very seriously.

Here are some tips on how to keep your children safe in the pool this summer.

Tip #1: Supervise, Supervise, Supervise!

The Lifesaving Society says the pool is the most common location for children under five to drown.

I can’t stress how important it is to actively supervise children around the water. Younger children should be within arm’s length of an adult when in the pool. This means that you have to be in the pool along with them. Supervising from the pool deck is too far. As your child learns to swim longer distances and can float on their back, you may not necessarily need to be right beside them, but you do have to keep them in sight, no matter what age they are. Avoid being on your phone, laptop, or any other device that will distract you from your children.

The Lifesaving Society recommends a supervision ratio of at least 1 adult for every 2 young children, and 1 adult for every baby.

Tip #2: Wear floatation support

Children under five should wear a lifejacket or a personal floatation device when in the pool, even while being supervised.

Those cute water wings, neck rings, bathing suits with flotation devices in them and other swim toys are not made to be life preservers. Choose a life jacket that meets current national safety standards and is approved by Transport Canada, Canadian Coast Guard or Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Tip #3: Follow Pool Rules

Talk to your children about pool safety and teach them these important swimming pool rules and ensure they follow them at all times:

  • No swimming without an adult.
  • No running or pushing.
  • No food or drinks in the pool.

Tip #4: Swimming Lessons

While swimming skills alone won’t prevent an accident, formal training can help reduce the risk. When looking at a swim program, ask if it teaches both swimming skills and water safety.

Other Safety Tips:

  • For Pool owners: Control and restrict access to water – a latching gate and four-sided fencing can prevent accidents and unintended access to the water.
  • Most backyard pools are too shallow for safe diving so be mindful of children jumping into the pool

For more safety tips, visit the Lifesaving Society’s website at

Disclaimer: This information has been provided for your convenience only and should not be construed as providing legal or insurance advice