10 best swimming aids
Help your kids build their confidence in the water and make the most of summer
Whether you’re dreaming of lazy days by the pool, a dip in the sea or just a few more frequent visits to the local leisure centre, if you have a young person in your charge you’ll want to make sure they are well equipped for the water.
Swimming aids have come a long way from the traditional uncomfortable arm bands or bulky rubber ring, so here we pick some of the more pioneering products that will help your little water baby gain confidence – from their first splashes to their first strokes.
While all of the products have won the approval of our tiny testers, please remember that adult supervision is essential at all times.
Water wing vest: £26, Zoggs
These eye-catching vests make your little one look like a superhero thanks to the inflated chest and arms – but more importantly they’ll feel like one in the water thanks to the unique design that keeps them afloat while tipping them forward into a natural swimming position.
The Water Wing Vest features a neoprene body with sleeves containing foam floats strategically sewn into the arms and shoulders to provide buoyancy and ease of movement.
The fixed buoyancy ensures your child stays above water but keeps their arms and legs free to move around, getting them used to both how the water feels and how their limbs work while submerged.
It’s a great way to boost the confidence of very young swimmers. The back-fastening zip ensured our own little water baby couldn’t remove the vest and that she wasn’t distracted by dangling fastenings at the front.
Another key feature with this product was that it didn’t ride up or bunch around her neck, meaning she didn’t get frustrated so kept it on for longer.
Available in sizes two to three years old (15-18kg) and four to five (18-25kg), and in a range of designs including two new DC superhero patterns.
Sea squad back float: £17, Speedo
Swimming expert Speedo has designed a float that straps to the swimmer’s back to help keep them in the correct horizontal position. It is made of a stack of floats so that layers can be removed as your child becomes more confident.
By strapping the aid to your young one’s back, it helps aid alignment and positioning.
The fun, brightly coloured design features Speedo’s own Sea Squad characters, and is available in two different colours and suitable for ages two to six. It has been manufactured to Australian and European safety standards.
The original Konfidence swim jacket, £24.99
This clever little buoyancy jacket will keep your child afloat without restricting their movement, as it keeps their arms and legs free to practice swimming strokes.
First released in 1998, the unique design is a swim vest that incorporates eight internal float pockets. The floats position the buoyancy around the wearer’s torso and below the water line. This provides the stability required to give the wearer total freedom. As your little swimmer’s confidence and ability improves, pairs of floats can gradually be removed until they are swimming unaided.
The jacket is available in a selection of bright, appealing designs to suit all tastes, all of which feature a high-visibility yellow back to make your little one easy to spot in the water or on a busy beach.
A nice feature of this particular product is the high-grade neoprene, which provides a secure fit and reduces the ability of the jacket to move independently of the (rather wriggly) wearer. As a bonus, the vest is also 100 per cent UV protective. Available from 18 months up to seven years.
Three-in-one jet pack: £25, Zoggs
When it comes to little learners, this three-in-one product offers it all – from nervous first splashes to confident first strokes. This unique learn-to-swim aid features a fun rocket design that will appeal to your child’s playful side, and is a kickboard and backfloat combined.
Extra buoyancy is offered when you insert the kickboard between the two yellow floats during the early stages of learning to swim.
As a standalone backfloat, the jet pack provides buoyancy while helping to hold your little learner in the correct position, and thanks to a double action safety buckle holding it in place, you can be confident it won’t come sliding off no matter how hard they thrash. As your swimmer’s confidence grows, you can remove the green kickboard from the centre to reduce the buoyancy and get them swimming more independently.
Next, you can use the kickboard with the backfloat to help work on their technique. The rocket-style design was a real selling point for our tester, who felt like an astronaut about to take off. Suitable for ages two to six.
Float suit: £24.99, Splash
This incredibly cute suit not only held our fearless toddler above water, but it was impossible for her to take off when she inevitably got a bit bored.
This practical, durable and safe swim aid gives your toddler lots of freedom to move, swim and play without the restrictions of bulky armbands. And we enjoyed watching her run around the beach wearing it.
Floats from the 16-piece adjustable system can be removed as your little swimmer improves in ability and confidence, and the suit (available with or without sleeves) also offers UPF 50-plus sun protection. It was easy to get our tester in and out of the suit and it reduced the risk of losing things as there was just one item to carry rather than a bag of individual accessories.
It does take a bit of getting used to initially so I would highly recommend watching the YouTube instruction video before first using. Suitable from one to six years.
Seal flips: £10, Zoggs
While not strictly speaking a swim aid, these cool little toys by water experts Zoggs are designed to improve confidence in the pool. Just blow on the brightly coloured seals to watch them flip over and reveal a different coloured face on the other side.
As the seals float, they can also be used as a swim-and-retrieve game to help boost confidence. While they’re fun for competent swimmers, they can be used by those still finding their fins to encourage more independence in the water, and can obviously be used in conjunction with other products such as floats and jackets or armbands.
Suitable from three months, they also make a fun bathtime toy – and their bright colours are not just appealing but easy to spot.
Baby float pool school: £7.99, Intex
Aimed at swimmers in their very first stages, this sit-in float is an ideal way to introduce your baby to the water. Encompassing a seat with leg holes, it offers a back rest for support and is made up of four air chambers.
By having somewhere to place your baby while they are in the water, it frees up your hands to support and play with them as they get used to new experiences and sensations. The square shape provides more stability than a traditional ring, and once deflated it is a very portable device.
Intex swimming products follow a three-step pool school programme with different products aimed at different stages of the learning-to-swim journey. This particular product is from the step one category and is suitable for babies up to 15kg (33lb).
Baby wrap: £20, Zoggs
These jazzy little jackets will appeal to your baby’s personality while also keeping them warm in the water. Warmth is particularly important to younger children as they are not able to regulate their body temperature in the same way adults do.
A cold swimmer will quickly become cranky and irritable and will want to get out of the pool, so ensuring they are correctly dressed should improve both their and your experience in the water.
This wrap features hook and loop fasteners on the front, making it easy to put on when your child lies down, and is made from thick, durable neoprene for warmth and comfort. Choose from shark or crab print.
The wrap fits comfortably over trunks or a swim nappy – or all of your clothes, as one of our testers insisted upon finding out. Sizes from three months to two years.
DC armbands: £8, Zoggs
The traditional arm band has been given a superhero makeover courtesy of Zoggs and DC superheroes. Available in Batman or Wonder Woman print, these durable swim aids are suitable for children aged between two and six.
Featuring dual air chambers and trademarked Easy Inflate valves, you can blow them up and deflate them super quickly, and the durable material offers that extra reassurance on this classic aid.
The adjustable buoyancy means that, as the child’s confidence grows, you can reduce the level of buoyancy slightly and encourage them to swim more on their own.
Shark fin float: £31.27, SwimFin
Spot your little one coming as they terrorise the local lido with this clever little aid which adjusts automatically as their ability improves.
With real beginners, the body sits lower in the water causing the SwimFin (which attaches to your child’s back using two Velcro straps) to be more submerged – just imagine trying to hold a beach ball under water – and giving your little one more uplift and support.
But as their confidence grows, their swimming position will adjust, revealing more of the fin above water level and automatically reducing the amount of support on offer.
It also works well when learning to swim on your back, as it holds the swimmer in place without the need for additional support. Best of all, it has the novelty factor of making your child look like a shark, which never gets tired. Suitable from three years up.
The Verdict: Swimming Aids
The Zoggs water wings vest is a novel design that doesn’t impede your water baby’s freedom but ensures they are safely supported and helps them to develop a good swimming position. The bright colours will appear to children and help you pick them out on a crowded beach or pool side. The Splash float suit is also an excellent choice, as you can adjust it while your little learner improves and it cuts down on clutter because it eliminates the need for a separate swimming costume and water aid.
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