Pros: ultra-durable inner tube, no-leak valve, full-body suit for added safety
Cons: one size will not fit all!
Having newly acquired a home with a backyard pool, our daughter could barely contain her desire to go for a "swim". As soon as we moved into the house, had unpacked everything (almost) and could find most everything we needed, Daughter of Mine was stripping down and putting on her swimsuit, all ready for a dip in the pool.
It was at this point she had her first hard lesson about her new pool . . . the water is frozen on cold days in December.
Tracking Down the Proper Gear for a Kid Whose Experience Is Limited to a Wading Pool
As warm weather approached, we began to gather pool gear. We had a wading pool in our excuse for a yard for the past two years and Daughter's only necessary pre-pool prep was to don a swim diaper and sometimes a swimsuit. I knew what I wanted to purchase for her first time in a 4-foot deep pool: the Aqua Leisure Deluxe Tot Trainer.
Why the Aqua Leisure Deluxe Tot Trainer?
Neighbors in our former hometown had two of these and I watched 3 of their kids in action while wearing them over a span of two swim seasons. They could have fun in the water, enjoy a reasonable amount of independence, and keep their faces above-water the whole time. Also, these kids used the pool daily and for hours at a time. The suits held up (I inquired whether or not they had to be replaced at any point -- they didn't.), and most importantly, kept the kids up! Heads above water, that is.
The main reason for my purchase of the Aqua Leisure Deluxe Tot Trainer? The flotation device (inner tube) is built into the suit and cannot be removed separately from the suit. Unlike flotation devices that slip onto the upper arm and can slide off and/or be removed with a bit of effort by the child, the Aqua Leisure Deluxe Tot Trainer inner tube stays around the child unless the entire swimsuit is purposely removed.
Back to the Future
The Aqua Leisure Deluxe Tot Trainer (Level 2 of a 3-level "Learn to Swim 1*2*3" system) looks a lot like one of those tank suits men used to wear decades ago, and comes in yellow with green trim. This works as a good unisex design and on a toddler/small child, is CUTE! I've seen boys wearing it as well as girls and never thought, "Oh, the poor little guy . . . " The bright, yellow color is easily seen both from above and under the water, allowing other swimmers to see the child easily and take proper precautions around him.
The Aqua Leisure Deluxe Tot Trainer is made of a strong, stretchy nylon and is one-piece, completely encompassing the heavy-duty inner tube that's around the mid-section of the suit. That inner tube isn't coming off, out, or undone on its own. A person would have to cut away the nylon fabric to see/remove the inner tube.
The tube is heavy-duty, as described on the box. It is made of rubber and is not remotely related to "pool toy" variety inner tubes. This is made to last, as the manufacturer states, "for years of use". The inner tube offers a no-leak air valve with a screw-on cap. You will need a bicycle pump to inflate it. The manufacturer warns against using a high-pressure pump on this product.
Once wearing the Aqua Leisure Deluxe Tot Trainer, as long as the tube is inflated, your child is wearing a water safety apparatus which will allow him to enjoy water play and develop some swimming skills (kicking, paddling). Any activity near or in the water should be under the direct supervision of an adult with competent swimming ability.
The Aqua Leisure Deluxe Tot Trainer IS NOT A LIFE-SAVING DEVICE! The Aqua Leisure Deluxe Tot Trainer should be used ONLY when a child is under the direct supervision of an adult with competent swimming skills.
Water, Water EVERYWHERE!
Daughter had no fear of water, enjoying baths, wading pools and talk of bigger and better bodies of water in which to "pwactice swimming." However, she is not one to jump into new situations quickly. We wanted to keep her from developing a fear in this new experience. Her feet would not be able to touch bottom with her head out of the water. We knew that. She didn't. She could SEE the bottom, therefore, in her mind, she could touch it.
I carried her into the pool for the first time without the Aqua Leisure Deluxe Tot Trainer just to give her a feel for the water and to experiment somewhat with the properties of it. Once she entered the water with me, I could feel that she sensed a "bottomlessness" to the pool (again, a 4-foot depth) and clung to me like a little monkey. We had a bit of fear to overcome, which I suspected would occur.
Later, I put the Aqua Leisure Deluxe Tot Trainer on her and helped her climb back down the ladder and guided her around the pool while she held onto my arm. She could feel the difference in being supported by a flotation device that allows for free-floating and requires some skill to maneuver in the water. Though she did cling to me with white knuckles for the first several minutes, she loosened her grip little by little until she was ready to try a solo float.
Being in the water while wearing the Aqua Leisure Deluxe Tot Trainer allows our daughter to float on her own, and requires her to do some kicking, paddling and maneuvering to get where she wants to go.
The Best of Both Worlds
With the Aqua Leisure Deluxe Tot Trainer, our daughter can "swim" even though she can't technically swim yet.
The Aqua Leisure Deluxe Tot Trainer gives her the buoyancy she needs, plus the freedom to explore a bit without having to hang onto someone or something, thus enabling her to use her hands and arms to direct and propel herself.
What Are Your Size Requirements?
The Aqua Leisure Deluxe Tot Trainer fits my daughter well, with a bit of room for growth, but not much. She is a tall kid (41 inches) at age 3-3/4, but skinny as a bean pole (42 pounds spread out over the 41") and can just shimmy through the center of the tube to put on and remove the suit. The approximate diameter of the tube opening is 7.5" and it is flexible, but not extremely so.
The ages listed on the box of the Aqua Leisure Deluxe Tot Trainer are 2 - 7 years. I doubt Daughter will be able to fit through the tube next summer, but by then, we'll be looking to start swimming lessons and moving on from this product.
"I Want to Wear My TUBE SUIT!"
Daughter of Mine LOVES having a pool at her disposal. Not a day goes by that she doesn't announce, "I want to swim!" and when we do she doesn't want to wear anything but her "tube suit" -- the Aqua Leisure Deluxe Tot Trainer.
The manufacturer's claim is that this Level 2 flotation device "builds water confidence" and "Allows child to enjoy the water with the family". In our experience, both of these claims have proven true. We couldn't ask for anything more from this product.
The Bottom Line
Wearing the Aqua Leisure Deluxe Tot Trainer allows a child (approximately ages 2 - 7 years, but size of the child matters most) to enjoy the water under direct adult supervision (with the adult being a competent swimmer) while developing some of the skills necessary in learning to swim independently.
No child should be in or near a pool or other body of water without proper adult supervision. Wearing this product, properly inflated, provides support ONLY, not guaranteed safety.