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Deafness and swimming..?..

Posted by embob
31/01/21 11:08 PM

Evening all

i was just wandering really About swimming. mY little boy is 15 months old and I'll be keen to get him into swimming lessons as soon as possible once we're allowed. It just hit me that I don't know if he will manage swimming, how we can teach him, will he hear over sounds of the water with no aids in etc? it never cross3d my mind before but suddenly I'm worried about it terribly. I'm not even sure if I could book standard swimming lessons at a centre or if I should be looking into one on one and will all the eater affect his little ears??

I would be so grateful if anyone's advice genuinely 🙏🏻 Thank you xx

Posted by missmoo
03/02/21 01:05 PM

Hi, my children are a bit older but having taken them to the pool ever since they were babies we were keen to get them some lessons before it became part of PE in primary school and they might struggle. I think it depends on the pool size and class group. One of my boys has severe loss so without his aids he really relies on lip reading- this is not easy in a class environment or when in the pool trying to swim. Children are excited so noise comes with this. Splashing and the echoes in the bigger space also contribute. We pay (a small fortune) for private tuition but it means they can have the face to face in a quieter environment. It definitely helps and before lockdown they were doing great.

What I'm trying to say is although it might be a little less straight forward, and take more time (as he might not always hear the instructions) but it definitely can work and your little boy can enjoy swimming the same as everyone else 😀 

Posted by kategrummitt
03/02/21 01:14 PM

Hi - at this age you will be in the water with him so can help him understand visually.  My 6 year old has had to have 121 lessons and her teachers have been very visual or used props to help her.  She is now a very confident swimmer but I will keep her in 121 lessons as she won't be able to make a group lesson work 

Posted by elliot
03/02/21 01:33 PM


I've been worrying about this too. My son is 2 and has been having lessons since he was 9 months. He gets on really well with group lessons at the moment, while we're in the pool with him. Hopefully your little one will too. But 1-2-1 lessons sound like such a good idea for when he doesn't have us in with him. 

Posted by gingerw
03/02/21 01:35 PM


Both my kids were born without a hearing loss but were both prone to glue ear and recurrent ear infections. I did try taking them swimming as babies but in my quest to try and prevent some of the ear infections I stopped taking them. I'll never know if that was the right decision. My oldest went swimming for longer as a baby but has no significant hearing loss. My youngest (now 16) has been left with permanent perforated eardrums both sides and now has moderate hearing loss. The recurrent infections calmed down a bit once they reached primary school age and I discoverd Ear band-its, a neoprene band that goes round their head used with mouldable silicone ear plugs. My son has to wear something to prevent water from entering his ears as he doesn't have the protection of intact ear drums but they both wore those during swimming sessions. We opted for one to one teaching as we thought it would be much easier for my son to concentrate on listening to the instructions with less distraction. He wasn't aided until he was 11. When we met the audiologist we were offered swim moulds, like hearing aid moulds but without any holes bored through for the tubing. He uses these whenever he's in water, even in the shower. They are a perfect fit obviously and prevent water from getting into his ear canal. As you're worried about the water and his ears I'd recommed you discuss that with the audiologist when you need the next set of moulds, assuming your son has moulds? You can use them with Ear band-it bands to be sure they stay in. 

Posted by embob
03/02/21 01:39 PM

Hi everyone 

thank you so much for all replying I'm truly so grateful ... i feel a lot better now than I did in my moment of utter panic late the other night. I think I'll look into 121 sessions whilst he's so young then in the hope I can build him up as suggested for class swimming or group swimming. It's so frightening isn't it all this unknown?  Thank you so very much everyone for the advice and support. 

Posted by jon114
03/02/21 01:47 PM

Good afternoon,

I'm the father of a deaf child, who is now and adult (21) and a very competent and confident swimmer.

I'm also a qualified swimming teacher, and got into this some 12 years ago through being invited by the club my daughter swam with, to train initially as a level one helper, as I was at the poolside each week assisting the teacher to communicate with her.

My daughter has been profoundly deaf from birth, and received bi-lateral cochlear impants, which of course are no help in the water.

From my experience, do not be afraid for your liitle boy. The most important thing is to help him feel confident in the water and ultimately be safe. Teaching swimming at this young age is all about making a child confident, and the teacher and you can give him simple play activities in the water so he will feel good about putting his face into the water, and develop the simple skills and muscle memory that will keep him bouyant and safe. It's great fun for him and for you as you see him progress, which he will do quickly. Learning to swim at all levels is a very visual thing; emulating little demonstrations by the teacher and you. At this early time his deafness will not hold him back, or make him more fearful. The other children will struggle to hear in the water and noisy environment of the pool, so don't worry. You will be there with him and he will be able to see your face smiling at him and giving him encouragment. Develop signing skills in this process, because for anyone, deaf or hearing, a swimming pool environment is a very noisy echoey place to be, and challenging to hear or make your self understood. Basic BSL based signs to aid you communication and for the teacher(s) to take on board as your sons gets older are a real benefit, even if he otherwise manages well with moderate deafness and hearing aids. I know all too well that when teaching older children, which is done almost solely from poolside, that communicating with them can be challenging, because of the distance I need to be from them so they can see me demonstrate, hear my voice, and read my lips to support that. Your son will rapidly grow and progress, and if he continues to swim and joins a club, he may need a degree of support from you poolside, as I used to give my daughter, and the easiest way is to use signing.

At 15 months, nothing will hold him back, and in fact my daughter learnt more quickly as her visual memory was enhanced, and she was able to copy what she saw as good practice far more quickly than others. I'm sure your son will too.

I wouldn't see any reason you would need to opt for one to one teaching. You and he will beneifit from the social side of being in pool together with other children and parents doing the same, and any good teacher should tell you this. The most important thing is to get him into the water having fun as soon as possible.

Of course, when we will be able to do this is another matter!

If your little boy has grommets in his ears I would seek advice about him swimming, but otherwise the water will not be a problem with his ears at all. You will just need to make are they are fairly dry (in safe way) before ear moulds are placed back in else can lead to soreness etc., so no different from him having a bath.

If there are any specific you would like to ask, let me know in this thread.

Good luck


Posted by ahend
03/02/21 04:29 PM


My daughter is 11 months old and has mild hearing loss in one ear and severe in the other. She does have hearing aids but obviously doesn't wear them in the water. She loves swimming! She does have some other difficulties but once she's in the water she enjoys splashing around so much. When not on lockdown we have been attended group sessions which is also nice for her to see other kids as she's a lockdown baby. The majority of the lessons are singing songs, splashing with our hands, holding them in certain positions to get them used to the water.

She does react to noises without her hearing aid but as she's still little I hold her the entire lesson and she looks to me the entire time so it's more of a sensory thing for her I'd say.

I hope this helps and we can all get back to swimming again!

Posted by ns
12/02/21 05:59 PM


My daughter is now 20 and is moderate to severely deaf.

She started her swimming class when she was around 4 years old. She learnt in a group and went on to complete all the stages of swimming.

She went on to do competative swimming and was part of our town swimming club and took part in a number of competitions.

It depends on how helpful the instructor is. She had a very good instructor who literally used to scream to be heard. It also depends on other children in the group who can also help and build the confidence.

Hearing wasn't a problem in the competitions. Once the organisers were told about the hearing problem, they would have a person near the starting block to give her visual cue.

Over the years, my daughter really enjoyed swimming and being part of a competative team.

One thing to take care of is to dry the ears after swimming.

Hope your boy can enjoy and do well in swimming.

Posted by embob
13/02/21 11:16 PM

Hi all

its so lovely to hear of all the children that are doing well and have gone into achieve great things. That's so brilliant. Well done to them all x 

thank you very much everyone for taking the time to reply to me I'm very grateful and look for3ard to starting bab swimming as soon as we're allowed. 

can i ask when you say take care drying their ears, is there something particular I should be doing? 

hope you're all well x 

Posted by mummyj
15/05/21 11:06 PM

My son is 10 months old and is moderaly deaf on both ears. He has just started swimming lessons. I find that it learning the signs to the songs they sing in the classes is helpful. We practice the songs in sign at home and then during his class he recognises the songs from my signing. Not sure if anyone else's children do this but he seems to shout quite loudly without his hearing aids in. he is the loudest one there lol he always seems to enjoy himself though which is great xx

Posted by [email protected]
26/05/21 06:00 PM

When I took my daughter swimming when she was young it improved her lip reading skills immensely but she did struffle having lessons in groups as the instructor didn't always remember to face her when giving out instructions. my Daughter started refusing to go after a short while. We spoke to the swimming baths and they told me they did one on one lessons and the instructor would get in the pool as well.  These lessons were the best she picked up so much so quickly And we're well worth the money. The time and effort put in by the instructor was amazing and was more than we could of asked for. 

Posted by happyc
02/06/21 10:13 PM

My 10 year old moderately deaf daughter started swimming lessons when she was 8. Did great til Covid came along. For the first few sessesions there was an instructer in the pool in addition to on the poolside but after a month she coped by lip reading and actually most - by copying those around her. 

She has a mixed deafness so I do need to keep her ears dry so the hearing loss doesn't become severe. I use the silicon ear plugs from amazon. But now that I've read about ordering extra moulds without holes for the tube I think I will find that easier.

Posted by mike86
15/09/21 09:47 PM

Hi all my little boy wears a hearing aid in one ear and cochl implant in the other he does swimming lessons and absolutely loves it, although we never had the worry about him not being to hear if he was in the water as he was given a sort of rubber sleeve to fit the sound processor in and a waterproof coil, even if your little one doesn't have a cochlear only hearing aids they also do waterproof hearing aids as his mum wears two hearing aids and also has a waterproof one, so maybe something for you to look into