Floaties, Arm Bands, and Swim Rings
These floatation devices are not recommended both for safety reasons and for coaching reasons.
Primarily, these devices give parents a false sense of security when it comes to safety. They may appear to keep a child afloat; however, they are easily punctured and can spontaneously deflate in water. They are NOT life saving devices and should not be relied upon to keep a child afloat in the water. There is a warning label on them indicating this.
Secondly, they encourage vertical movement instead of horizontal movement, developing a bicycle kick instead of a flutter kick, and make it difficult to float properly – a critical survival skill. They also hinder arm movement, strokes, and the ability to place one’s head in the water while swimming. In essence, they completely contradict the basics of good swimming. Children that wear these devices during play time often fear going under water and need extra lessons to correct the “bicycle kick” that results from long term use.
Non-Swimmers should wear a Type II or III US Coast Guard Approved vest for flotation. It provides safety while allowing the swimmer to become comfortable enough in the water to learn. It allows for the necessary horizontal arm and leg movements and is safe and reliable. Make sure it is labeled as "approved by the US Coast Guard" -that means it has been impact tested. Neoprene vests are significantly more comfortable than nylon for hours of swimming.