Learning to Swim in the Netherlands
Without the dunes, dykes and flood barriers, it is a known fact that 2/3 of Holland would frequently be flooded. Over the years, the Dutch have had no choice but to become masters in the art of water management and with 1/5 of the land being covered in water, it is no wonder Dutch parents are keen to teach their off springs how to swim as soon as they have mastered walking and cycling! Every Dutch child I have encountered has had to attend swimming lessons to obtain at least Diploma A, which does not just consist of a few breast strokes with head above water but rather, in a range of swimming exercises that include jumping in fully clothed and being able to swim and come out water, back stroke, swimming through an underwater hoop, all this without drinking the pool water!
So be prepared to invest in swimming lessons which cost around 50/60 euros per month depending on the swimming pools. There is no one rule as for how long it takes for a child to pass their diploma A but one thing is for sure, when the day comes, it is a family event and everyone is invited to watch and cheer, believe it or not, as early as 07:15 on a Sunday morning! If your child strives on collecting successes and diplomas then there is Diplomas B and C which require more stamina, more technique and by which time your child should dive and crawl better than you… and certainly me! So face it and dive into the deep end, if you have a child aged between 4-7 years old, sign them up for their A diploma (see links below for list of suggested swimming pools). If they are 8 or older, it might be an idea to ask the swimming pool to arrange extra lessons for them so they don’t end up feeling inadequate as most A diploma swimmers tend to be under 6 years old.
By law here children should not swim in a public swimming pool without arm bands if they haven’t obtained their Diploma A…although no one has ever asked any of my children to show evidence of their diploma, they have been put on the spot a few times and asked if they had their A…
There are 6 swimming pools in the area (Hilversum Bussum and Laren)