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The United States Swim School Association (USSSA) is the professional organization of swim school owners who share philosophies and techniques. Its members include some of the most respected aquatic professionals in the world. Potomac Swim School is an active, life member.

“What do I do if my child falls in or jumps in without instructor approval?"

The Potomac Swim School ‘5 Second Rule’

If your child falls into the water accidentally or purposefully jumps in, stay calm, do not run out and “jump into the pool.” We do not want to teach our children to go into panic mode. This rarely ever happens, but just in case it does: the PSS instructors have their small class sizes and our distances to children are safe. The PSS instructors are never more than 5 seconds away from your children, unless it is a class that swims the length of the pool. PSS always has the safety of our children first. When a child falls into the water accidentally or jumps into the water purposefully, the PSS coaches or deck assistants pick up your child ASAP which is never more than 5 seconds.

This may seem “unsafe” to you, but too many children get used to their parents catching them when they jump off the side of the pool. This technique of catching them is actually what is unsafe.

Teachable moment

The PSS ‘5 Second Rule’ is an extremely important technique in order for the children, in a safe environment, to learn what would actually happen to them if they fell or jumped into water without any one around or any person aware of the child falling in. By allowing our children up to 5 seconds, it provides them with the opportunity to learn. The instructors then help the children back to the wall and explain to the children to be more careful sitting on the wall. The instructor, for a jumper, may explain to the child that they cannot jump in unless they have been asked.

If the children are allowed a few seconds of learning it goes a long way. PSS instructors are trained to have their eyes on their students. However, we all know this cannot be done every second of every class. Part of what we are teaching your children is to sit on the wall safely.  It is a logical consequence and in no way endangering their lives if they flounder in the water for a few seconds.

A panicked parent might say “Oh my gosh! My child almost drowned.” This is incorrect. Floundering for a few seconds in the water is extremely different than almost drowning. Your children are in a safe environment for 5 seconds, actually learning one of the most valuable lessons which is “what would happen to them if they reach for a toy and fall in without being able to swim to the wall.”

If your child’s particular instructor did not actually see the quick fall or jump in, someone in our pool area did. It is hard not to panic, but give the instructor a true 5 seconds to get to your child; if it is not your child’s instructor, then it would be another. We do not like to see the children fall in accidentally either, but it is a fact of swimming and it will sometimes happen.

This is one of the most valuable lessons PSS teaches because it teaches your children to be careful around water and it teaches them a healthy respect for the water. If they cry after the experience, it is just like learning to walk when they cry after falling down. If your child falls down when he/she is walking and he/she cries, you do not tell them: “Oh, it’s o.k. you do not have to learn how to walk.” It is the same way in swimming. We continue to teach your child to swim. Sometimes in order to develop an awareness and healthy respect of the water and their body, they must fall in and not immediately be caught.

Just a reminder for you, do not panic! Someone in our pool area will see your child slip in, most likely his/her instructor. Your children are learning about “falling in the water” in a safe environment. The instructor counts, picks up your child and explains to them the importance of sitting safely on the wall. Every instructor knows how many children each class has in attendance each day.

Reminder #2: Remember parents that you can see every single thing our PSS instructors do in the water. Our instructors will sometimes make mistakes because none of us are perfect. Our instructors are trained very well and intensely for 40 hours before they get their own classes. However, we will make some mistakes, none that are life threatening to your children though. Most of our returning families are aware of our “5 Second Rule”, it is extremely important that your children learn what can happen if they fall or jump into the water without being asked or accidentally. No worries, we will take care of your children as if they are our own.

First rule: Don’t panic.

Second rule: Let as do our Job in teaching your children.

Third rule: Do not call It a “near drowning.” It is not. It is a learning experience In a safe environment

Thank you for sharing your children with us in a warm, happy, safe environment. PSS will take great care of your children.


PSS Management and Coaches