By Bejay Browne
AQUA babies, an initiative which teaches babies as young as six weeks old to swim, is launching in Paphos today, a year after it was introduced to Cyprus.
Entrance to the event is free and the organisers Laura Costa and Vasilis Eleftheriou will have an underwater photographer for the occasion.
The couple has lived in Cyprus for the last three years and previously attended Aqua babies in the UK with their baby daughter Angelina, who is now four.
“Our daughter loved it and took to the water straight away, but when we moved to Cyprus, we realised there was nothing for her here and so we decided to bring Aqua babies to the island,” said Costa.
The pair have a business and health and fitness background and have secured the franchise, with the programme available in Limassol and Nicosia.
“The biggest child killer in Cyprus for the under-10s is drowning and pool accidents. We can give children the confidence and knowledge to be able to cope with a potentially dangerous situation,” said Costa.
Aqua babies teach from six weeks up to five years and have different levels. Classes are held in indoor pools, so that the weather isn’t an issue. In addition, they don’t use swimming aids such as armbands, as Costa says this can give a false sense of security.
“Parents can get used to the aids, they can get lazy, forget to put them on, and the child can fall in the water and die. We teach them confidence and skills to cope with danger such as how to turn around and get to the side of a pool.”
During the classes, parents are also in the water and are shown the best way to teach their baby to swim. Costa said that some of mothers can get upset if the baby is crying in the and she tells them not too, as their baby will pick up on the fear and edginess of a parent. “The fear comes from you.”
The couple now has six qualified teachers who can teach any baby to swim, although some may take longer as every baby is different.
“I grew up in the UK with fear instilled in me by my mum. She made sure I stayed away from water. I think she was scared and did not know how to swim properly.”
Costa noted that a lot depends on educating the parents, as she learnt from her own experience.
“Babies are born with a reflex that enables them to hold their breath underwater. They lose this ability at around 5-7 months old and we try to turn this into a habit and keep it going.”
Regular classes in Paphos will start on May 15 and courses run at weekends for five weeks with groups of eight.
“This is a great way for bonding with your baby and nurturing them. Its great exercise and teaches important safety skills.”
The open day is free and will be held today at Sentido Cypria Bay hotel in Kato Paphos between 10am-2pm. There will be free demonstrations at 10.30am.
For information call Laura Costa 96479998 or Vasilis Eleftheriou 99816019. www.aquababiescy.com