Archive for June 24, 2010

How Long Does It Take to Learn to Swim?

This is an important question I get asked all the time. The answer is: It depends. First you have to answer a few questions yourself. What are your swimming goals for yourself or for your child? What does “swimming” look like to you? In other words, how do you define swimming?

There are lots of different ideas of what swimming is. Some people believe swimming is the ability to jump in the deep end and tread water indefinitely. Other people think being able to swim underwater is swimming. Still more people believe a head-up, Tarzan-type of movement through the water is swimming.

The truth is there are lots of ways to move through the water yet very few of them actually define someone as a swimmer.  Love to Swim and Tumble School; the American Red Cross; the American Swimming Coaches Association; and the United States Swim School Association all agree the ability to swim at least 300 yards (the length of 3 football fields) continuously and masterfully, dramatically lowers the possibility of ever drowning.

Can a person do this with their head up the whole way? Not likely. When your head is up, your feet are down, creating an enormous amount of drag. This quickly leads to exhaustion causing the body to become vertical in the water. This same vertical body position is also known as the drowning position.

How about underwater? Can a person swim 300 yards underwater? Not likely. Swimming underwater requires you to hold your breath for long periods of time. The activity of holding your breath is fatiguing. Swimming a distance and holding your breath at the same time is both dangerous and exhausting.

Forget the 300 yards of swimming. Is treading water your goal? Lots of people believe being able to tread water is a minimum safety goal for swimming. But the truth is vertically treading water is exhausting and hard to sustain. Learning to float on your front or back is a much safer, more efficient method of “resting” or sustaining your position in the water. Few people, other than lifeguards and water polo players, need to learn to tread water in the traditional, vertical position.

Here are some other considerations when defining yourself or your child as a swimmer:

Safety

The first milestone at Love to Swim and Tumble School will be when you or your child has enough swim skills to be considered safer in the water. ALL CHILDREN MUST HAVE TOTAL, VISUAL SUPERVISION BY AN ADULT WHILE IN OR NEAR A BODY OF WATER; no matter how advanced their swim skills are.

Stroke Acquisition
Beyond advancing to the minimal standard to make your child safer in the water, there are different skills and strokes your child should learn in a progressive manner:

  • Rhythmic breathing, timing and freestyle technique
  • Elementary backstroke and introduction to the core foundation for butterfly and breaststroke
  • 30 feet of fundamental freestyle and backstroke
  • Backstroke, breath control for flip turns and a technically sound freestyle with balanced, well-timed side breathing for 60 feet

If they wish to become “expert swimmers”, they can move on to focus on competitive swim skills such as stamina, endurance, backstroke, butterfly, breaststroke, racing starts, and flip turns.

Expert Swimming
To be considered an “Expert Swimmer”, a swimmer must be able to swim 8 lengths of each competitive stroke, butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle, with good technique and without stopping. Couple that with a 15-minute continuous swim, and your child can be considered a masterful expert swimmer! What an awesome accomplishment!

Congratulations, Mom and Dad! You kept your children motivated and consistently swimming, and have given them a gift for life.

June 24, 2010 at 11:32 am Leave a comment


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