Swim Please!

November 21, 2012


Filed under: beginning, swim, swimming — Tags: , , , , , — maybe an idealist @ 5:14 am

Leaving the wall is a huge skill for beginning swimmers. It is a literal leap of faith into the unknown. It is also a challenge of coordination and balance. Below is the top and side view of a young swimmer pushing off from the wall. The swimmer starts with two hands and two feet on the wall, goes up, across the water chest first, submerges, frequently pauses to give a “just-in-case” tug to the swimsuit, then gets arms forwards, head down, and remembers to tighten the body into a streamline.


In contrast, here is the top and side view of a swimmer going from standing to streamline. Note the consistent hand position.



October 24, 2012

Flippers for new swimmers

Filed under: class management, kids swim lessons, swimming — Tags: , , , — maybe an idealist @ 2:54 am

Flippers can be a valuable learning tool, provided there IS learning. Flippers all the time for swim class and for play can end badly with a false sense of confidence. I gave one of my tiny swimmers flippers so she could keep up with swimmers twice her size. She is at a similar technical level, but less than half the weight of the majority of the class. The amount of effort for her to swim the same distances at the same speeds will result in exhaustion before she makes it through class. If she gets flippers 400 yards into the day, she is then the swimmer setting the pace and the one everyone else is trying to catch.
Flippers frequently provide the extra time and boost to beginning swimmers. At some points I prefer them to other ifds because they don’t get in the way of arms or mess up the sense of balance
I tried flippers with a nervous adult. She can swim at least twenty feet on her front, or twenty yards in her back. She agreed to experiment with flippers again, and she was presently surprised by how much they helped. Flippers had previously been unnerving due to the sense of her feet being pulled upwards. Yes, the flippers float, but float barely. I wanted her to experiment with flippers to get a feel for effortless swimming. She isn’t going to easily swim until she can stop fighting the water. The issue, is that she won’t trust the water until she can swim, but needs to trust the water in order to swim.
We started with training fins, shorter bladed fins meant for a fast tempo kick, frequently used by experienced swimmers. The fins are sometimes less intimidating for the swimmers that feel very wary of being pulled off balance. These shorter fins also get used to step down from swimming with flippers to swimming without flippers.

After she started to feel balanced, we upgraded to longer bladed flippers. The dramatic boost to the flutter kick worked wonders for treading water. Flippers don’t help develop a good kick for treading, but they are useful for practicing the idea of treading water (kick, move hands, keep breathing, stay vertical, don’t panic) and give swimmers a chance to figure out their hands.

An interesting exercise we did after treading was attempting to hold the flippers and use them for buoyancy. The exercise is a good transition out of flippers to end class without an instructional flotation device.
Flippers are one of the swim “toys” that is usable across a wide range of ages and abilities. They are in the top 5 tools we use in a swim class to challenge all swimmers.

December 24, 2010

Babies Not Crying

Filed under: kids swim lessons, my ducklings, swimming — Tags: , , — maybe an idealist @ 2:45 am

The little ducks made it through an entire half hour lesson without tears and deafening screams today! There were a few iffy moments, but generally progress. I dropped Mark today. No, don’t envision a baby slowly sinking to the bottom of the pool after a huge splash. It wasn’t close to that dramatic, and babies float surprisingly well. It was much faster and barely noticeable. I had Mark under one arm and Johnny under the other. Johnny had wrapped fingers around the strap of my swimsuit and doing an awkward, one handed, sideways paddle. Mark was already on his belly and kicking his legs. Almost to the wall, he reached a bit further, and I didn’t quite have a leg to catch him, and in went his face. I went for the snatch and congratulate strategy. I scooped him up, immediately started talking, “Oh! Good going underwater! That was so good! Was it a a little scary?” balanced him on a hip, and started soothing. Within a minute, he was calmed. (more…)

December 21, 2010

Teeny, tiny itsy bitsy swimmers

Filed under: my ducklings, swimming — Tags: , , — maybe an idealist @ 1:09 am

The longest term lesson I teach is also one of the youngest. The goal for the swimmers is dog paddle in 2012. Five of the kids are between 18 and 24 months; one is between 24 and 36 months. It will be a good lesson when no one cries. We stay sitting on the edge of the pool and one or two kids swim with me at a time. (more…)

Goggles, Submersion

Filed under: kids swim lessons, swimming — Tags: , , — maybe an idealist @ 1:08 am

I had long forgotten the amazing vision goggles provide; it was a fact of life. I have to thank Julia for reminding me. Julia is a wild child, full of life and curiosity. She rarely sits still. She is best motivated by the reward of either jumping or flying into the water. She was in a class of less physically active children, much to her distress. I put goggles on everyone. The others, not memorable on this day, knew the uses of goggles. Everyone else knew they would be able to see. Everyone else knew we would be saying hi, counting, and waving underwater.
I captured Julia from her attempt to gain deeper waters. She didn’t protest my new idea of goggles. She obediently held the goggles over her eyes with both hands while I pulled the strap over her head. (more…)

Initial Submersion

Filed under: kids swim lessons, swimming — Tags: , , — maybe an idealist @ 1:06 am

Regina was first a student about eight months ago, she has since gained ability to swim multiple lengths of the pool. She hadn’t really gone swimming previously. Her father was definitely not comfortable in the water, even if he wasn’t quite a white knuckled watcher. Regina wasn’t fearful, but did have some sense. She never truly attempted a death defying leap. She’s fun to watch learn. I’ve learned a lot about how to teach while teaching her classes. She had one of the most memorable initial underwater experiences. It was the third class of an eight week session. (more…)

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