Snorkeling with kids
Just a bit before turning three years old, Vlad went real snorkeling and enjoyed real fish and corals by his own. Of course he was using a proper floating costume, some safety string and was closely supervised. Here are some images and a short video.
I cut short a longer video, here:
After Vlad was born, this question always bothered me. What is the proper age when a young one could start doing some snorkeling? I searched this topic myself in tens of forums. I eventually left confused and decided that I kinda lost my free time. I had to try it by myself to have my own answer. I cannot advise anybody how to do it, I just share how it worked out for me. I’m comfortable in the water myself so I gave it a try, however there are dedicated professionals that are doing it and this is might be the way to go if one has any doubts.
It all started at one month when I decided to soak him a bit, knowing that the little one will block his respiration based on some reflex that, fortunately, will be lost eventually. While many will tell you that the newborns and babies will breath-hold instinctively, not many will be tell you for how long though. I found none to answer this, actually. I decided for 10 seconds top, borrowed a Go Pro from a friend and filled the bathtub with 37 degree Celsius warm water. Under the disapproving gaze of audience and after some incremental tries, I successfully found that 10 seconds is fine.
Later on I found it in a book of free-diving that 40 seconds is maybe the limit. I wouldn’t go or advise for 40 seconds though, I kept it as a lecture. And then I learned that starting to walk will disable the reflex.
The swimming pool came as a decisive factor. A swimming pool for babies, actually. Water temperature here is higher than a standard swimming pool. And also seeing all these kids splashing, diving, jumping comforted my son a lot. I cannot remember the age, it must be around 6 months when we started with the pool. Since he was not yet walking, he was still breath-holding just fine. The only issue at this point was the cold, since the body was still small, after some 40 minutes or so he was starting to shiver. I also found that he was able to feel the level of comfort of the adult teaching the skills. So, do smile:
Playing underwater was another catch. No need for a creative game, we randomly cast some of his toy underwater and he eventually dove to pick them from the bottom.
At his first visit in Indonesia, he was almost two years old. We only used a TRIBORD UBLO WHALES – BLUE.
I highly recommend it for little kids. I tried it with the mask at that time, but his face was too small to fit.
A good floating costume helped a lot. I hate the floating ‘wings’ and inflating vests. After couple of tries I found that the floating suit has to be so well balanced that at the point when he started to use a mask, a cheap Decathlon one, was also able to balance his body at the surface a bit, by himself.
The main issue was not the mask. Well, he hated it a bit because it dragged and pull his hair when I put it on, at the beginning. However using a cap will save the day. The fun was with the snorkel, though. How to make him breath through the tube ?
At first I let him play with the mask and snorkel in the room, while letting the TV running some free-diving movies. At first means many days. By that time he was already fascinated by fish and corals, asking for these films instead of cartoons, sometimes. He eventually started to inhale-exhale through the tube when playing in the room. This was the biggest success I claim myself. Later on I let him in the bath tube to play underwater with some toys. So he learned to breath calmly through the snorkel while doing stuff.
Eventually we had some fun at the pool.
At almost three years old we had the full game. Being in Gili Layar, in Lombok Indonesia, we had the super-snorkeling-fun. Floating costume, mask, snorkel and a safety belt to attach him firmly to me. Only perfect water conditions and when he was in the greats moods, also. I felt always in control, no crazy tries. Stopping immediately if the mood changes or he got cold.
We now wait for the next trip. I don’t know how will that be. I hope he will still like it. Nowadays personality is building up in Vlad and I can see things he liked before are now rejected and the other way around. I keep faith that he had a smooth and good start with water, so I’ll have my diving partner in some years.