Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Top Tip Tuesday - Get Them Swimming!

I'm cheating a little bit with today's Top Tip and giving you one that you probably all do anyway, and one that isn't Hong Kong specific. We watched a documentary recently on some great work being down across Asia and the Pacific by Surf Life Saving Australia. In Australia last year over 30 children drowned. Across the Asia-Pacific region - every year - 300,000 + children drown every year; a shocking and completely avoidable tragedy.

In Australia kids are taught to swim from a very young age. Enrolling them in swimming lessons is just something you do. Here in HK a number of international schools offer swimming programmes as part of the curriculum but I'm amazed, given the fact that we live on islands, how few children can swim by the time they get to primary school. I've watched 8 and 9 year-olds struggling to do the basics with kickboards, floaties and an adult holding their bellies.

So, if you're like me and you don't live in an area or a complex where there's a nice resident's club with a pool and instructors on your doorstep, you may have been procrastinating a little. After I watched this show, and discovered my son's absolute absence of fear around water, I decided it was time to get him proper lessons. We're going for an intensive summer programme, but most of the local providers also run classes all year. My research wasn't exhaustive I'm afraid, so please let me know if you have found other options, especially here on South Lantau. Here are the swimming lesson providers I have found so far (complete with links):

Harry Wright International, claims to be HK's leading swim specialists. They do classes for kids from 4 months of age, and they have a few locations around the place, but they do fill up fast.

Multi Sport, have a great range of classes for kids from 6 months. They have fewer locations but are a bit cheaper than HWI.

ESF Educational Services, another provider with lots of locations and services, but I wasn't impressed with the lack of infant classes over the summer (i.e. none at all), and those they had during term time were held quite late in the day (not convenient if you have to travel for an hour to get there and back, like we do).

Hong Kong YMCA although they also offer a few great programmes, in Chinese and English, I wasn't able to find out from the website where the classes are held...

Asia Swimming Sports Center, a local organisation that holds classes for children from 4 years to adults. Classes are really affordable but they're only held in Kowloon and Tung Chung, and there's nothing for babies.

Platypus Aquatics, based at the Australian International School in Kowloon, they offer programmes from infants to adults, and all their classes are based on Aussie standards and practices. Their website is also quite tricky to navigate, so if you're really keen to know what they offer you might have to call or email them.

OWLS in Mui Wo offer swimming classes for kids right here on South Lantau, but like those in Tung Chung, they don't offer anything for kids under 4 years.

As I said, it's not an exhaustive list but it should give you a good idea of where to start. Please do let me know if you have anything to add (preferably before I send off enrolment forms for J...). It's absolutely one class you won't ever regret sending your child too. Unlike ballet or cello lessons, swimming lessons may save their lives one day.


  1. Really good idea. I, too, want my children to learn to swim. I did send them for lessons for a about 2 months. Unfortunately we had to stop for certain reasons. Now I've moved house and have yet to find an instructor for them. It is so difficult to find affordable lessons and facilities when you don't live in a condo with a pool or are a member of a club.

  2. We have been swimming at HWI for well over a year now (since my baby was 6 months old) and the classes are fantastic. She loves the classes and swimming and can swim for several meters on her own. Highly recommend them, they are worth the money. The classes fill up fast, but once you have enrolled once you get priority for future classes so it is not an ongoing problem.