Mum Quits Career To Teach Babies Life-Saving Swimming Skills

Published on 6 Apr 2017 2:22:56 PM

According to the Statistics Department, an average of 596 people drowned each year from 2009 to 2013. Nearly half of them were children and teenagers. Most cases occurred in rivers, but also beaches, lakes and mines. In 2014, drowning was classified as one of the top causes of death among kids aged one to four.

Carmen Tan quit her marketing job at Valiram Group in 2016 because she realised that, "If I were to continue down that line, I would never see my son grow up,” she says. “I wanted to venture into something more educational for children, so that I can play with Theodore, grow with him, and at the same time help other kids grow with their parents.”

That led her to become a certified baby swim instructor. Now she's helping other kids, aside from her own, to learn how to be safe in the water. While learning to swim at a young age will never drown-proof a child, Tan says it adds another layer of protection. “It is important for babies to learn how to swim and how to save themselves first, and then enjoy the pool,” Tan says.

Her classes are centred on fun learning. Babies as young as six months learn to listen to instructions at the pool and how to react if they fall into the water. They also learn how to flip over and float, latch on to safety, and how to climb out of a pool. “The more classes they do, the more confident the child will be,” Tan says.

Studies have found that baby swimming lessons could reduce the drowning rates of kids under the age of four. A study by US-based Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development also found that swimming lessons do not increase the risk of drowning in one- to four-year-olds.

Aside from the kids learning how to be safe, the classes provide an opportunity for parents to bond with them. “After going through this, I understand more on how to handle kids and their emotions,” Tan says. “Most importantly, let them have fun first. After that, everything will go as you want.”

Carmen Tan is a certified AUSTSWIM instructor. She can be reached at