Archive for March, 2010

Always Designate a Water Watcher

When children are in or around the water, an adult needs to be supervising all activities. Designate the responsible adult, or Water Watcher, with either a tag on a lanyard, a specific baseball cap, a whistle, etc. Get creative! Just make sure that the water watcher knows that they are officially “on duty” and the kiddos are their top priority. A water watcher can only be relieved of duty by another adult water watcher.

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March 24, 2010 at 10:16 am 1 comment

Ride the Elevator Up!

Elevators are used to teach swimmers about their own buoyancy. Understanding how the body operates in the water is an important milestone in the swim lesson progression. Research tells us that the more comfortable a child is underwater, the more relaxed they are as a swimmer.

Here’s how we do it:

  1. Child is asked to hold their breath. (This is the only time we want them to do this!)
  2. Coach gently submerges swimmer underwater, just beneath the surface.
  3. Coach loosely holds swimmer so they can feel the “lift” from the water.

As a swimmer becomes more and more comfortable with being submerged, the coach slowly loosens his or her grip. When the swimmer is ready, the coach lets go completely. The swimmer holds their breath and waits for the water to lift them back to the surface. The ability to hold your breath, be placed on the bottom of the pool and understand that the water will bring you to the top is how an elevator is mastered. Elevators are tricky. To master this skill, your swimmer has to trust their coach, be confident, and understand buoyancy.

March 15, 2010 at 12:58 pm Leave a comment

Investment Required to Swim Well

Swimming is hard. I should know. I’ve been swimming for more than 30 years, and teaching people of all ages how to swim for more than 20 years. Amazingly though, people often come to me expecting to learn to swim or improve their swimming skills quickly without much of an investment of time, energy or money. How is it possible that people pay hundreds of dollars for golf or tennis lessons that go on for years, but consistently undervalue and underestimate swimming’s technical and physical challenges?

Let me make my case. When I was coaching and teaching at Holmes High School, there were always athletes (and coaches of other sports) dismissing swimming as simple and easy, a non-sport really. It was always great when those students would sign
up for my Lifeguarding class and have to swim 500 yards (20 lengths of the pool) as a prerequisite for course participation on the first day.  The dumbfounded, exhausted look on their faces was so sweetly satisfying. I knew their respect for my swimmers and the sport of swimming had multiplied exponentially right then and there. And those who couldn’t swim the 500 couldn’t take the class. Justice was served.

Regrettably and unjustly, parents of children in my Learn-to-Swim school undervalue and underestimate swimming, too. I have had parents complain about the cost, the time, and the number of lessons necessary to make their child safe in the water, let alone proficient.  Again, I am flabbergasted. What other sport saves peoples lives, is a lifelong activity, and is as conducive to health and fitness? Swimming should be looked at in much the same way reading is: a lifelong activity that gets better the more it is done.

Just as guilty are Adult beginner swimmers as well as runners, cyclists and other athletes. Time and time again I have clients who call me wanting to learn to swim in three weeks, or six weeks for that matter, taking a lesson once a week with no practice in
between. Ridiculous. And what about swimming as a cross-training option for athletes? Is there a better non-impact sport than swimming? It improves strength, endurance and flexibility without the pound of running or the strain of cycling.

So, what’s my point? Be patient. There’s a reason for all those patience clichés: Patience is a virtue; Good things come to those who wait; etc.  Recognize that like everything else in life worth having, swimming well takes time, energy, money and commitment. Find a masters program, hire a coach, participate in a clinic, study books and video tapes and practice, practice, practice. And most importantly, be patient. Your hard work and investment will payoff for a lifetime.

March 5, 2010 at 11:51 am Leave a comment


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