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!
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