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My little girl is a big fan of going swimming and is pretty much fearless when it comes to the water. She was throwing herself down little waterslides before she could even walk - she would crawl along the pool edge, up the stairs and slide down - and one of her most favourite things of all is jumping (or, more accurately), belly-flopping into the pool. Due to this fearless attitude, the choice of armbands was important to us - she needs the confidence that they give her to continue enjoying the water in her own energetic style, and we need the confidence that they will give her the buoyancy that she needs to stay safe. We actually bought these Speedo Sea Squad armbands as an emergency purchase when we arrived at our local pool and discovered we'd forgotten her normal armbands, but she now much prefers these.
* The Product *
I think most of us remember armbands from our childhood. Mine were bright yellow, very round and restricted my arm movement slightly but I loved them! The Speedo Sea Squad armbands come in hot pink and bright blue (ours, inevitably, are the pink version) and have graphics of fish and squid on them. They are inflated by blowing air into them in the normal way. I find this a bit tricky as you have to pinch hard to open the valve inside the air nozzle but my husband, who clearly has stronger fingers than me, doesn't have any issues with it. Shape-wise, they are slightly less rounded than some other armbands we have tried - they have two inflatable chambers on either side of the arm, but the bit which goes under the inside of the arm remains relatively flat. This seems to allow my daughter more freedom of movement without compromising the safety of the armbands - and is better for helping her to actually swim. They are marketed as being suitable for children between 2 and 6 years old, weighing 15-25kg. To be honest, I'm not convinced that they would fit an average size six year old - my six year old son is tall (but skinny) and I think he'd struggle to wear them comfortably.
* Our Experiences *
We have had these armbands for just over a year. We bought them when my daughter was two and half and they have lasted really well. In that time we have been on two sunshine holidays (Menorca and Turkey), one holiday without any sunshine but with daily trips to an indoor pool (North Yorkshire) and numerous trips to our local pool, so I think you can safely say that they have been well used. In terms of encouraging my little girl's confidence in the water, they have been invaluable. Her big brother lost all confidence in the water at that kind of age and it has been a long, sometimes traumatic, process getting that confidence back. For some reason, he never had the confidence to let his armbands fully support him in the water (lack of natural buoyancy perhaps?) and although he is now learning to swim, he still struggles a bit with water confidence. Fortunately, my daughter has shown no such hesitancy. She is extremely confident in the water when wearing these armbands and is able to swim across the pool without any problems. She can also perform her favourite activity of jumping into the pool, swimming back to the side, climbing out and then jumping in again... over and over again. Due to the slightly more streamlined shape, they also seem to be better for allowing her to attempt proper swimming strokes, inspired by her big brother's efforts. She can now swim with a traditional float or a swimming noodle, but still prefers the armbands as they give her a bit more independence in the pool.
Of course, even with armbands, it is important to remember that you should never leave your child unattended by the water and should, ideally, be within arms reach at all times. We did allow our children a bit more freedom in the shallow pools on holiday (although we were always poolside and watching them) and these do give you a few extra seconds if they do suddenly decide to launch themselves into deeper water.
* Cost *
The RRP for these armbands is £7.00 but they are also available at lower prices from various retailers. For the peace of mind that they give me alone, then this seems like good value for money.
* Final Thoughts *
I would definitely recommend these armbands. Reading other reviews, I think we may have been lucky that they have lasted so long without any issues but, for us, they have been brilliant. My daughter loves the confidence that they give her and we love seeing her so happy in the water. I know that swimming teachers don't always recommend using armbands but, if you're doing a beach / pool style holiday then these are invaluable. However vigilant you are about watching your children by the water, there are always going to be a few moments where you take your eyes of them (another child insisting you watch them perform some trick for example) and these give me the confidence to do that, knowing that she will be swimming about happily next to me in the pool the whole time. And, with on that note, I'm off to brave the local pool with my little girl and her armbands...
When my son became old enough to move out of his inflatable swimming seat we started to buy him arm bands for our regular trips to the swimming pool. We initially had plain orange ones from Zoggs but when it came time to move up a size we allowed him to choose which ones he wanted and he selected these blue sea squad armbands from Speedo.
What are they
The arm bands are made from laminated PVC the version we have is in blue and features a blue fish on each side of the arm band the fish is in black and white with some white splashes of water. You can also buy it in a light pink color too. Each side of the arm band features the safety valves to blow up the arm bands. The arm bands are suitable for children 2 - 6 years and up to 25kg in weight.
As my son choose these we didn't have any problem getting him to accept wearing them on swimming trips and I think he just accepts he needs to wear these at present as he always has worn arm bands of some description.
The blowing up of these is easy to do and all you need to is hold the value pressed open with your fingers to stop it going down and then de press the value into the arm band to stop the top getting knocked. Both sides blow up really quickly with no problems at all. What I generally do is blow them half way up to so there is a enough gap in the arm hole to fit his arm through comfortably then blow it up the remained whilst it is on his arm. These arm bands are designed to be worn till a child is 6 years old but I do wonder how tight they would be on a 6 year old as when fully inflated it is a tight squeeze to get them over my 3 year olds arm and he is not a fat child hence where we always blow them up the final bit once on the arm to stop it rubbing against his skin as we push it down his arm.
In the pool the weight of the air in the arm bands is definitely sufficient to keep his head and shoulders above the water and this gives him the confidence to try to swim and to jump in and out of the pool and have lots of splashing fun.
The arm bands remain in place very well and even with my son jumping into the pool they remain firmly on his arms. However there are never any red marks on his skin when we take them off at the end of swimming to indicate that they have been too tight.
There have been a few problems with the sets we have bought. Each of the two sets we have bought have had quite sharp edges on the tips of the arm bands and the corners have been fairly pointy and sharp. This has resulted on at least three occasions either myself or my husband been starched by the arm bands when we have been holding or moving our son around in the pool. The scratches have been superficial but have still actually cut the skin. As they are on my sons arms he is never been caught by these as yet.
On the first pair we bought after about six months of weekly use we started to notice that the thinner PVC area at the base of the arm band where it would meet with the side of my son's body was starting to tear. This small tear that was by the thin selection at the bottom quickly became a full blow tear meaning that my son had to have a new pair. We did buy the same pair again at his request as he likes his blue fishy arm bands and in the twelve months or so of use so far this problem hasn't reoccurred again. However one arm band did develop a puncture from where I am not sure but it no longer holds the air fortunately I hadn't thrown away the good arm band from the first pair so we have now still 2 working armbands.
Whilst I have mixed experiences with these arm bands I would still recommend them as my son prefers these to the ring type of arm float. He also finds it easier to move his arms around with these to try to do front crawl and doggie paddle arms with compared to the arm floats. I am uncertain if they would actually fit a 6 year old comfortably and if you have an older child I would recommend trying them on if you can before you buy them. In regular use we have found they last between 6 months to a year per pair and at around £5 a pair at Argos they are not a huge expense. I will continue to buy these despite the sharp corners and risk of scratching as they aid my son swimming and he likes the design.