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How Flea Learned to Swim

France 003

Swimming was one of the very first activities I took Flea to – she went to her first Little Dippers class at six weeks old, with her Nanny and later with me. We swam regularly until she was about 18 months old, at which time she was beginning to swim independently, with the help of a Zoggs back-float.

Unfortunately, when we left Brighton we couldn't find another suitable swimming class, and Flea's been on the waiting list for the local swimming pool's lessons since we moved here – three years ago. 

This summer, I decided enough was enough, and I was going to teach Flea to swim myself. 

We've spent a month or so practicing then last week, on holiday in France, Flea took her very first strokes in the water without a float of any kind. Look at her go! (warning: proud Mum moment)

Some of the products we’ve used in the swimming pool have really helped, and I thought I’d share my top recommendations:

Zoggs back-float: Flea has been using a back float since she was about 12 months old and they were introduced in our swimming classes. The idea is they encourage children to adopt a more natural swimming position, while leaving their arms free to do strokes. They also allow children to swim independently at quite a young age, by keeping them afloat as long as they’re kicking and paddling. As children get stronger, you remove one float at a time, until they no longer need a float. Flea’s friends used these consistently and were all swimming by their third birthdays – it’s taken Flea a lot longer, but it’s still been absolutely invaluable.  

Kickboard: Flea loves to play with her kickboard, but it’s also really useful when kids are learning to swim and need to practice kicking – like most youngsters, Flea had a tendency to let her legs drop too low in the water, and a kickboard encourages children to raise their legs and work them a bit harder so they start moving!

Sea Squad goggles: I can’t tell you how many pairs of goggles we have tried, and ditched (or lost) but these adjustible goggles are brilliant. Rather than having a traditional fastening at the back that’s impossible to adjust without pulling your child’s hair, they have a button that you push in, that lets you easily loosen and tighten the straps to get a comfortable fit. I love them. And because they don’t hurt, so does Flea.

Seal Dive Sticks: Flea has had a set of these seals for ages and loved to play with them in shallow water but now she’s swimming they’ve really come into their own. On holiday, I suggested trying the seal in the swimming pool and hey presto – she can dive! (Yes, it's another proud Mum moment. Sorry.) 

Vosene After-Sun Hair and Body Wash: We were sent some of this wash to try just before our hols and I thought it was brilliant. Flea has eczema, so swimming every day on holiday is punishing on her skin, but ordinarily we can’t use any soaps or perfumes on her skin. This wash really took away the smell of sea and chlorine, but without the use of soaps, SLAs, parabens or any other chemicals that could dry out Flea’s skin. I would still use a separate hair conditioner, though, because Flea’s hair is really long and does get very tangled when she swims.

These are certainly all products we’ve used over the past couple of years, and would recommend for children learning to swim – do you have any top tips or recommendations?

Disclosure: Zoggs provided us with a junior swimming kit earlier this year, including several of the products mentioned in this post. 



Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She's also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world's coolest ten year old.

About The Author


Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She's also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world's coolest ten year old.


  1. PippaD @ A Mothers Ramblings

    They are some great products, and they really do help kids have confidence. BB and I will be going to the swimming pool every week when TE goes back to school. I can’t wait to see what he learns with me at the pool!

  2. Steve Earl

    My near-seven-year-old Saskia learned last summer, finally. Problem was lack of available lessons locally plus only getting time to give parental help on holidays (because of two other kids to look after) and so learning was in fits and starts. Not great for confidence.
    But anyway – Zoggs backthings: yes. Zoggs roll-on armbands: big no.

  3. Susan Mann

    Aww how cool. It’s great when they get their confidence. x

  4. Sally Whittle

    Swimming has always, always been one of our favourite things to do together. It’s great when they start to get more confident, too.

  5. Sally Whittle

    We had exactly the same thing with fits and starts and no lessons – frustrating.
    I also really remember how much I hated armbands as a kid, stupid things. Much prefer the backfloats although I think they’re quite unusual – we used to get asked what it was all the time when Flea was younger.

  6. Sally Whittle

    Thanks, I’m so excited for her, it’s a bit sad, really!

  7. Kate Takes 5

    I was so desperate to get my 7 year old daughter swimming that I pushed her too hard and I’ve ended up making her even worse. I’ve just ordered the float and the goggles as bribes…fingers crossed and thanks for the tips.

  8. Sally Whittle

    I think I did the same – I was so frustrated that Flea lost her confidence after we moved and suddenly wouldn’t do things she was doing at 2, even when she was 4 or 5. I probably did push a bit too hard and made her even more nervous of the whole thing.
    But actually just taking the pressure off her, putting a couple of floats back onto her back float and letting her just have fun again seems to have done the trick – best of luck with your daughter though, it’s a hard balance to get right, isn’t it?

  9. Mens Clothing

    She’s so cute when swimming, that’s a big achievement for you Mam.

  10. @Speegetti

    Great post, really helpful… I have bookmarked the backfloat and kickboard on amazon so I can get them for my 3 year old… You have spurred me on to get on and teach her to swim – thanks!

  11. Sally Whittle

    Good luck, I hope you both have fun!


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