The Kiddushin tractate of the Talmud, a compilation of Jewish law and lore, tells us that fathers (as well as mothers and guardians in a more contemporary sense) are obligated to teach their children to swim among the other vital life skills children must acquire, such as learning Torah or a trade. Beyond moral and parental obligations, learning to swim is fun and can be beneficial to our bodies, not to mention possessing the ability to swim can save lives, including our own.
So why do we live in an age where more children are likely to understand how to use a smartphone but not know how to swim? Fear of water, or aquaphobia, is often cited as one of the principal reasons why children and adults cannot swim. The 92Y May Center for Health, Fitness & Sport recognizes the importance of swimming as a life skill, and has partnered with Jeff Krieger of Strategies for Overcoming Aquatic Phobias (SOAP) to deliver a 92Y May Center program called Water Fear Wash Away for adults and children. Water Fear Wash Away’s goal is to help program participants manage their anxieties when around water to make learning to swim an enjoyable experience. As a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics showed, it’s apparently never to early too learn. Moreover, it’s never too late for adults.