Teaching Young Adults To Swim

Through much research such as online articles, journals, textbooks and teaching young adult swimmers myself, the outcome is unanimous – most young adult swimmers have a specific stroke or skill they want to learn.

The young adult is aged between 18-30 years and is usually highly motivated in learning how to swim. The first time a swim teacher meets their adult student some important questions to ask are

 

Why do you want to learn to swim? and What do you want to learn?

This helps the teacher understand the motivation behind the young adult wanting to learn to swim.

Some reasons I have come across are:

  • Want to be able to swim with their children
  • Medical reason
  • Need to be able to swim for a job they are applying for
  • Fitness and social interaction with peers and the community

 

As a teacher, it’s imperative to keep these goals in mind and explain the learning pathway on how to achieve this realistically. It is a common occurrence for this age group to struggle and become frustrated when they don’t master a skill or stroke straight away. Teachers need to remind the adult learner to relax, not to over analyse and be patient within themselves.

 

While teaching the adult swimmer you may come across some other barriers that effect their learning such as;

  • Language
  • Flexibility
  • Fear – not being able to breathe, failing, injury, environment, feeling out of control

 

By communicating with your adult swimmer and learning about their goals, past experiences and feelings about water, you will be able to design a lesson plan together that will be achievable.In turn, your swimmer will increase their motivation to learn.

Teaching adults can be a rewarding experience for teachers.

Unlike many children, adults attend lessons because THEY want to, not because someone else (parents/guardians etc) want them too.

This makes them more dedicated to learning new skills, keeps them motivated and excited throughout the journey and willing to celebrate successes along the way.

Adult swimmers also have the thought processes to set goals and work towards them slowly but surely.

Teachers will receive great satisfaction from the work and results that their adult swimmers achieve throughout their learn to swim journey.

 

How do you keep your clients returning?  Please share in the comments below.

 

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

Leesa Langdon

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Preparing for the Cooler Months

It’s really important to educate and inform swimmers and their parents about how to prepare for the cooler months ahead. By giving them information on what to do before, during and after this will make a big difference mentally and physically for them to continue swimming.

Preparation for Before Swimming Lesson

If a swimmer is cold prior to the lesson it can be difficult for that swimmer to warm up during the lesson. Inform your swimmers and parents to:

  • Come to your lesson wearing your swimmers under your clothes
  • Stay warm and dressed until a couple of minutes before the lesson starts
  • Prep clothing and have towels out ready for when the lesson is finished

 
During Swimming Lesson

It’s important for the swimmer to keep mobile during the lesson as this circulates the blood in the body to keep warm.

  • Design your lesson plan to keep your students moving throughout the lesson
  • Remember to never express verbally or non-verbally to the swimmers or parents that you are or it’s cold and stay positive and up-beat throughout your shift
  • If you see a student feeling a little cool, give them ideas to keep warm.

For example:
 Wear a singlet, T-shirt under or over their swimming togs
 Wear a swimming cap to keep the head warm
 Wear a swimming suit
 
After Swimming Lesson

    Remind your swimmers and parents to wear warm clothing home after their swimming lesson by wearing:

  • Warm clothes e.g. singlet, long sleeve shirt and tracksuit pants
  • Dry their hair properly before leaving the pool
  • Wear something on their feet to keep them warm

What are some techniques you use to keep your swimmers moving and engaged during lessons? Share in the comments below.

 

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

Kate Lawrence

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5 Tips to Achieve Maximum Practise Time

Swimming instructors know that the key to learning to swim is through lots of practise and repetition.  And while we can encourage our swimmers and their parents to attend multiple lessons per week, it isn’t always possible with children today participating in more activities than ever before.  Swimming lessons are just one activity along with dancing, soccer, netball, tennis – you name it, that need to be scheduled into the week for children in today’s fast paced society.  And we mustn’t forget scheduling the activities of any siblings.  Some parents are superheros the way they manage to fit everything in. Knowing it’s not always possible for children to attend more than one lesson per week, it is so important to make that lesson count.  Make sure that swimmers get the most out of their time spent in the water by keeping them moving, active and learning for the entirety of the lesson.

Here are 5 tips to help you achieve maximum practise time in your classes to ensure swimmers continue to improve.

  1. Plan your lessons

Lesson planning allows you to be organised with equipment and activities.  Knowing what is coming up next in your classes will assist in transitioning quickly from one activity to the next with little or no downtime.   Swimmers won’t be waiting around while you think about what to do next or while you retrieve equipment needed for the next activity or drill.

 

  1. Use parents or carers for assistance

Parents, carers or guardians can be your best friend in classes where swimmers still need someone in the water with them.  Communicate with swimmers’ parents about what is required for each new activity in the class and move around the teaching space to oversee activities and provide feedback.   This technique basically allows swimmers to receive a 1 on 1 lesson and they can be moving for the duration of the class rather than waiting on the side for their turn with the instructor.  Using the parents to discipline, reason with or comfort their child if they are being disruptive or upset also allows you to keep the rest of the class moving and active while they get settled and ready to swim.

 

  1. Assess and group swimmers by ability

Make sure any new swimmers are assessed prior to joining a group class and group swimmers with others of a similar skill level as best you can.  This will limit the amount of 1 on 1 time required by the instructor.  If a timid beginner joins a group of confident swimmers even the most experienced instructors will struggle to keep the class moving.

 

  1. Choose appropriate activities and teaching techniques

Be creative and mindful of the activities you choose to ensure swimmers are kept moving and actively participating for the duration of the class.  Activities that are too advanced for swimmers will make it hard to keep swimmers moving as they may require a lot of assistance.  Activities that are too easy may bore swimmers and cause them to be distracted and want to play around in the lesson.  Effective teaching techniques for keeping swimmers active and moving in class include circling the lane or follow the leader, wave formations, land drill, activity circuits and races.

 

  1. Be enthusiastic

Be enthusiastic and create a fun learning environment where swimmers want to participate and show you how hard they are working and how much they have improved.  Not only will it make swimming more fun for the class, it will make your job as an instructor a rewarding one.

 

 

What are some techniques you use to keep your swimmers moving and engaged during lessons?  Share in the comments below.

 

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

Emma Lawrence

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What is swimming in 2 planes?

Swimming in two planes is an important water safety skill. When teaching swimming in two planes we marry two skills together, the vertical safety turn and the horizontal swim back to safety. This exercise is important for water safety because children learn to turn in deep water in the middle of the pool and swim a short distance back to the safety of the pools edge. You can see how this activity builds on the simple “Humpty Dumpty” down turn around skill where the child turns and climbs up on the parent, ledge or edge of the pool.

Prerequisite for swimming in 2 planes

Before attempting this exercise, swimmers should have good breath control and the ability to perform both the vertical turn and the horizontal swim separately. It’s important that swimming teachers carefully evaluate the individual readiness of each child to determine the suitability of this skill. In a class situation you may have a variety of ability levels with some children ready before others. Don’t try and rush children before they are ready. This exercise can be performed on top of the water with no submersions for those children who are not yet ready. In this instance you can keep the group working together but meet the individual needs of everyone in the class.

Educate parents

It’s important that parents understand the building block approach used to teach this safety skill. If parents understand the steps involved and how to recognise when their child is ready to move to the more advanced skill you will achieve best results. It may be advantageous to line the class up in order from confident swimmers to timid learners. You can start by showcasing the swim in two planes and what everyone is working towards. Then you can then set smaller goals for each subgroup within the class. For example, 2 children may be doing it on top of the water, 2 might be doing an underwater turn but an assisted above water swim, while 2 are performing the full exercise with their parents guidance.

Building skills

When teaching new skills it’s important to follow a progressive building block approach. Initial attempts will be fully assisted by the caregiver. We hold the child under the armpits not by the torso. This will allow us to position the child’s centre of gravity and make them feel secure, not overbalanced in the water. Give a clear verbal cue to the child while you physically move them through the action on top of the water. For example “down, turn and swim to the ledge, Harry ready go”. Then perform a quick vertical turn, use an exaggerated tip into the horizontal plane and swiftly walk the child back to the ledge. Allow the child to climb up and celebrate the success. You can perform this activity in both the left and right hand turning directions.

If you’re holding the child softly and observing their body language you will soon be able to recognise when they are ready to progress. From here you can build to an independent turn with and assisted swim to the side of the pool. It’s very easy for the parent to gently push the child by the bottom back to the side of the pool. Avoid guiding children by the back of the head. Not only can this be frightening but it also results in the child trying to lift their head which in turn interrupts the correct body position in the water.

Finally we can move to an independent drop, turn, swim and pull up. Always ensure that the adult is carefully watching the child and ready assist if necessary. For example if you observe the child blow out bubbles, shake their head or wriggle, they are likely to be running out of breath. In this instance the parent should remain calm but certainly assist them back to the side of the pool. The ability to read body language is extremely important in teaching swimming. If children ever show signs that they aren’t comfortable parents and teachers should revert to an easier skill in order to build the child’s confidence.

As you can see swimming in two planes is a great water safety skill and is easy to adapt for diffident ability levels within a class. When teaching swimming in two planes always remember to build skills and work to the individual readiness of the child. By marrying two skills together we are slowly building the swimmers skill set which results in safer swimmers  with independent capabilities. This confidence in the water does not mean we can become complacent with supervision. Swimming teachers must always communicate to parents the importance of supervision and the need to be able to respond quickly in an emergency.

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

Laurie Lawrence

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The Important Of Teaching Swim Arounds

Swim arounds are an important part of the Learn to Swim process.  Swimmers who are confident in their swim around abilities will have a great foundation in their swimming abilities in the water.

What exactly is the Swim Around skill??  Great question.  Let us explain…

Swim arounds start in a safe place in the water (a ledge, on the side of the pool or somewhere where the swimmer can touch the bottom).   The swimmer then ventures out into the deeper water turns around and returns to safety.  In effect they “swim around” an object/person or in the water and return to that safe place from which they started.

It’s important to note that swim arounds and turns are 2 different skills.

Turning is done in the vertical plane where swimmers rotate on an axis that is straight up and down.  Their head is at the top of the water and there feet are pointed to the bottom of the pool.  They can jump or fall in the water spin (or turn) around and return to safety.

Swim Arounds are done in the horizontal plane.  So a swimmer is laying flat in the water and kicking and paddling out and around to return to safety.   Their head and feet are usually both at the top of the water and they use their propulsive skills to kick and paddle around to safety.

Why Teach Swim Arounds?

  • Educates swimmers the different between deep and shallow water
  • Gives swimmers the opportunity to change direction in the water
  • Allows swimmers to feel safe in one element while getting the courage to explore deeper areas and return to safety
  • As swimmers become more confident with swimming outside of lessons, they may encounter objects within larger bodies of water (creeks/dams/ocean).  They may need to swim around these objects to get to safety.
  • If swimmers fall into the pool away from the wall they may float/glide so far away from the wall that they will need the skills to move through the water in different directions to return to the wall/ledge safe spot for climbing out.
  • Some home pools have higher walls/rock gardens on the side.  If swimmers are unable to hold on/grab these walls they will need to swim to a different area.  Swim arounds prepare them for this situation.

When teaching swim arounds in your classes remember to start slow.  Build the skill slowly so that swimmers can feel comfortable every step of the way.  Start with very short distances.  Once swimmers are comfortable increase the distance for more difficult learning opportunities.

Use toys for very young swimmers.  The toy can show the young swimmer the path to swim and then they can try (with our without parent assistance).  Remember to use toys with a swimming purpose.   Give the swimmer a chance to be rewarded with the toy as they finish their swim but try not to get too distracted by the use of toys in your lesson.

Good luck teaching swim arounds as a water safety and propulsive skill to swimmers of all ages!

 
To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

 

Laurie Lawrence

 

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The Value of Demonstration

“Everybody has heard the old saying that a picture paints a thousand words. Demonstrating a new skill is an important component of teaching.”

Children have different ways of learning which the education experts have roughly grouped  into three basic styles – Auditory, Visual and Kinaesthetic.

It is estimated that 80 percent of what we learn is through our vision.  This statistic tells instructors that it is very important to use demonstration within their lesson for our swimmers to watch and learn.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF DEMONSTRATION?

Demonstrations have two important purposes:

  • To increase student understanding of the concepts demonstrated
  • To increase student enjoyment of class

HOW TO USE DEMONSTRATION EFFECTIVELY

  • Pick your student (ensure you choose a student that does well in that activity)
  • Gather your class so all swimmers can see
  • Use simple instructions when speaking
  • Ask swimmer to show the class and discuss as they demonstrate
  • Show praise when done

Your other students will see this demonstration and have a better understanding of what you want them to do. It also makes them strive to do their best, so that maybe next time they will be the one to be picked for a demonstration.  Children love to feel special and being picked by their instructor and showing their peers a skills or drill that they are doing well will not only praise them but show parents sitting on the side of the pool how well they are doing in your lesson.

Try to use demonstration within your lessons over the next few weeks and watch how your swimmers respond to this.  Ensure that you pick many different swimmers to be your demonstrator as not to show favouritism.  There should be something that everyone in your class is good at – even if it is something easy such as kicking on the ledge.

Good luck using demonstration in your teaching.  It can be a very effective tool in your teaching toolbox when working with swimmers of all ages and abilities.

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

 

Laurie Lawrence

 

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The Importance of Self-Evaluations

As instructors, we constantly think about our swimmers and how we can help to improve their swimming skills.

 

Just as we strive to make our swimmers great, we should aim to do the same for ourselves and look towards continually improving our own teaching skills.  It is important to reflect on our teaching performance and think about ways to improve for the benefit of our students and for our own professional development.

 

Taking time out to reflect won’t take long and performing a self-evaluation or personal performance review is as simple as asking yourself a few key questions.

 

Ask yourself the following when you are creating and delivering your lesson plans for swimmers at any stage of the learn to swim process:

 

Have I created a lesson that is challenging for the class group?

 

Are the drills I have chosen appropriate for the class group?

 

Were swimmers interested, engaged and moving for the duration of the class?

 

Did I provide a happy and safe learning environment?

 

Did I provide corrections and feedback where necessary?

 

Was the lesson enhanced by using techniques to ensure all swimmers understood the task?
(Demonstrations, land drill, manipulation, simple instructions etc.)

 

What was my body language like when delivering the lesson?

 

Was the class positive for all involved?

 

What could I have done to make this class better?

 

By asking yourself these simple questions and reflecting on your teaching performance at the end of each shift, it will help you become the best instructor you can be.

 

Always remember that the key to being a great teacher is being an effective communicator.
Don’t be afraid to communicate with management or other team members at your swim school if there is something you feel you need help with.

 

Don’t be afraid to communicate with parents or caregivers about strategies to help get the best out of their children – it shows that you are willing to go the extra mile to help improve their swimming skills.

 
What are some things you do to help improve your teaching skills?  Share in the comments section below.

 

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

 

Laurie Lawrence

 

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Tumble Turns: A basic guide for Instructors

Tumble turns are an important skill for young swimmers to master – especially as they start to increase distances and perform repetitive sets of 50m or 100m and beyond in their sessions.  This skill will allow swimmers to keep moving without interrupting the flow of the class group by having to touch the wall and go again.

It is a skill that helps achieve maximum practice time within a lesson and assists in improving the speed of young swimmers as they start to work on timed sets.

As always, skills should be broken down and added to as each element is mastered.  By following these simple steps your swimmers will be using tumble turns in no time.

 

  1. Somersault to streamline stand

Line swimmers up all together (double arm width apart) and simply get them to practice a somersault and finish by standing with their arms in the streamline position.  Repeat until mastered.

 

  1. Somersault to streamline feet on wall

Swimmers should start from a position where their hand is almost touching the wall or end of the pool. Tumble and aim for feet to touch the wall.  If swimmers’ feet hit the wall squarely encourage them to push off in a streamlined position.  Allow swimmers to push of on their back in these early stages of learning to tumble turn. Focus on using their feet and legs to push off from the wall with power.  Repeat until mastered.

 

  1. Add a twist, push and streamline kick

Once swimmers hit the wall with their feet consistently and they can push off with power in a streamline position, add a twist so they push off on their side and rotate on the push off to face the bottom of the pool. Repeat until mastered.

 

  1. Swim freestyle from flags, tumble turn with twist, streamline kicks out to flags.

Once swimmers are competent at this skill allow them to practice it as a relay in 2 or 3 lanes if you have pool space. Swimmers can race each other for fun and it will allow them to understand they should approach the wall with speed to help get a powerful push off as they head in the other direction.

 

Many swimmers find this skill difficult at first. Here are some tips you may find useful when teaching tumbles turns.

  • Encourage swimmers to “hummmm” as they practice the somersault. This can help avoid swimmers getting water up their noses.
  • Encourage swimmers to tuck their legs up to their bodies in a tight ball when attempting to somersault in the water.
  • Sometimes holding a kickboard in each hand will assist in learning to tumble.
  • Swimmers occasionally struggle with flipping their legs over – physical manipulation in the water may be required for swimmers to feel how their body should be moving through the water.
  • A pool noodle or lane rope can be an effective teaching tool for helping swimmers to understand the tumble turn. Practice tumbling around the pool noodle or rope to return to the starting position.  This allows swimmers to feel their bodies and legs follow the same path as their head for the full rotation of the somersault.

 

As with any new skill, teaching tumble turns will require lots of patience, practice and repetition.  Each individual step may take several lessons for swimmers to get it right.  Make sure you allow time for learning each step in your lesson plans and practice, practice, practice until it is perfect!

 

The following under water photo sequence shows a competent swimmer practicing turns after swimming from the flags and returning to repeat the process.

tumble-turn-1tumble-turn-2

tumble-turn-3

tumble-turn-4

tumble-turn-5

tumble-turn-6

 

What are some activities you have found helpful when teaching tumble turns? Share in the comments section below.

 

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

 

Laurie Lawrence

 

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Time Management – How Important Is It?

Do you start and finish your lessons on time every time?  Is this a recurring problem in your swim centre?  There are many centres around the world that have issues with their staff starting and finishing their lessons on time.  Let’s discuss time management and what it means to those people in your lesson. 

 

Many parents in today’s society are time poor.  Families have meetings, deadlines, agendas, email, messages and more to get to during the day.  They also have a multitude of sport, cultural and mind enriching experiences to provide for their children on a daily basis.  Their swimming lesson is one tiny aspect of their very busy lives.  It is important that we, as instructors recognise this and plan our lessons and the time we attach to them very carefully.

 

We are unable to know what each and every parent’s daily schedule is.  They may have a Doctors appointment to get to, a meeting at school or kindy, a ballet or painting lesson or a plethora of other appointments on their calendar.  Parents have booked and paid for a specific time slot in their day and as such should receive that time period without exception. 

 

Parents pay a specific amount of money for a specific time of lesson – 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour or whatever that may be.  If that lesson finishes early the spending conscious parent may be disappointed and think that they are not getting their money’s worth.  If a lesson continuously goes overtime they may assume that they are entitled to the longer lesson each and every time. 

 

If an instructor continuously runs late this may then have a trickle on effect to their clients.  If a client notices that their instructor is usually running 5-10 minutes behind each week they may start to arrive late themselves.  In the instance that the instructor runs on time their clients will be disappointed to miss out on their full lesson as they assumed the lesson would run over as usual.

 

If a family of swimmers are all receiving lessons from your centre multiple family members may be affected by an instructor’s inability to run on time.  If a parent has to stay in the water with a sibling or spend time waiting to help a swimmer out of the pool late, this will mean that the swimmer waiting for their turn will miss out on precious swimming time too.  This makes it difficult for that swimmer to participate in warm up and join in the lesson at the correct time.

 

Many times instructors share a teaching space that is utilised by someone else during the next lesson.  If an instructor hasn’t vacated the space at the appropriate time this can be a frustrating experience for their peers.  This may breed disharmony within the instructors and result in a negative working relationship between the 2.  It will also hold up an entire class of swimmers and their families as they wait for the teaching space. 

 

Starting and finishing classes on time should be a priority for every instructor within their shift.  There may be the odd time that this is difficult but an excellent swimming teacher should plan their lessons accordingly and constantly be aware of the time spent throughout the lesson.  If all activities aren’t completed the instructor should take note and spend more time on these at a later date. 

 

In summary time management is a very important factor for a swimming instructor and should be taken very seriously when planning and delivering aquatic experiences within the swim centre.

 

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

 

Laurie Lawrence

 

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Bilateral Breathing

When should swimmers learn bilateral breathing?  It is a question or topic of debate that has been among swimming industry professionals for many years.  At World Wide Swim School (WWSS), we believe that as soon as a swimmer is ready to learn side breathing, they should learn to breathe to both sides.  Learning to breathe to both sides does not necessarily mean bilateral breathing where swimmers alternate which side they breathe to each time they take a breath.  This can easily be done in learn to swim programs so that by the time swimmers are in squad groups, bilateral breathing will be a breeze.

At WWSS we focus on breaking down individual skills and mastering them to a tee so that when the time comes to put it all together it is automatic and there is little effort required to get it right.  Keep reading for some tips and important considerations when teaching breathing to young swimmers.

 

Tips for teaching side breathing:

  • First and foremost, swimmers should only be introduced to side breathing when their kicks are strong enough to hold them in a good streamline body position. If kicks are weak in the early stages of breathing development, poor body position will create resistance and make it harder for swimmers to keep moving efficiently through the water as they turn to breathe.

 

  • Start on a ledge or in shallow water where swimmers are supported when they first learn to turn to the side. This will ensure correct technique and head position is achieved before combining kicking and breathing skills.

 

  • Once kicking and breathing skills are mastered, instructors can introduce arms into the mix building on each individual skill until great freestyle technique achieved.

 

  • Whenever choosing breathing drills for your lesson plan pick a focus point (e.g. grandstand, kiosk, change rooms) and have swimmers breathe to that side at all times. This will mean swimmers will learn to breathe to both sides without having to concentrate too hard on the skill.  When swimming in one direction, students will breathe to the left and then to the right when they come back in the other direction or vice versa.

 

  • If you are instructing a class from the pool deck, ensure swimmers are breathing to the side where you are positioned. This allows you to communicate and give non-verbal feedback queues to swimmers as you pace along beside them.

 

  • By following a building block approach in the initial stages of teaching side breathing, once swimmers are more advanced and are asked to breath on the count of 3, 5, 7 and so on, it will be an easy and natural transition to the traditional bilateral breathing technique used in freestyle.

 

Remember, it is natural that some swimmers may favour a particular side when they breathe in freestyle.  This is often attributed to whether they are left or right handed.  It doesn’t matter which side is more comfortable for a swimmer and it may help them to find a better rhythm in races and competitions.  It is important, however, that swimmers are capable of breathing to both sides as it can aid in seeing where their competitors are for tactical reasons when competing.

When teaching side breathing always focus on mastering pre-requisite skills and following a building block approach to ensure success for both you and your swimmers.

What techniques have helped you teach side breathing?  Share your experience in the comments section below.

 

To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

 

Laurie Lawrence

 

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