Push and float off a ledge

This month we are sharing with you some footage of Evie at 10 months and Harper at 11 months of age. These two sisters are 3 and a half years apart but you can see that their achievements are quite similar. Both girls have mastered the independent push and float off the ledge. The big difference in their learning is the pool design that they have been exposed to as they learn to swim. Evie was fortunate to learn with a wide teaching ledge while Harper only has access to a narrow ledge.

 Shallow Water Exploration

Ledges are ideal for shallow water exploration. Do not underestimate the importance of this shallow water play. Playing in shallow water actually teaches children their capabilities and the difference between deep and shallow water. This understanding of deep and water eventually leads to the children learning a respect for the water which makes them less likely to wander into dangerous situations. Active supervision is still mandatory with all shallow water exploration because it is very easy for babies to overbalance and struggle to recover.

You’ll notice in the video we are instilling the cue “ready go” as the girls push and float off the shallow water ledge. During the early stages this cue “ready go” is used to teach baby breath control on command to ensure our underwater work is performed safely. As the baby grows with age however this cue is used as an invitation to swim which is an important water safety concept. By making the baby wait and swim on the parents cue we are trying to teach them to only strike out if mum or dad say that it’s safe to do so.

Baby is Floating Back to the Ledge

In the video you will also observe an activity where the baby is floating back to the ledge by being pushed by the feet. In this activity the baby is actually crouching in the parent’s hands and the parent leans over and directs them with a push to the ledge. This activity is designed to teach baby how to push while putting them in the horizontal swimming position. During the early learning stages of learning to push and float off the ledge, you may find that your baby will perform a more vertical drop with bottom first. This crouching float described above is very useful to help baby learn how to push off the ledge.

Breath Control

Parents can also extend floating skills for the count of 5 with babies of this age, providing they have good breath control. Parents should do lots of conditioning cups where the water is simply poured over the face for the count of 5, before attempting this skill. Remember if baby resists in any way back off and play. Learning to swim must be a positive experience for parent and child. These assisted floats can be broken up with shallow water exploration under adult supervision.


Check out the video of Evie and Harper at the following YouTube clip

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


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  • Tanya

    Love the ledge!! Unfortunately the pool I teach from doesn’t have a shallow ledge to promote independent exploration /play. I do get the parents to recline in the 5he water,making a platform for the child to swim to. But I would love to be able to purchase a portable ledge that is easy to install on the side of the pool. Anybody have any ideas. Tanya ☺

    • Anne-marie Mulligan

      Hey Tanya, no platforms?? If there is, I often get that out and put sinker toys on the mirror and hold it just under the water. There’s also a facebook group called Swim Teachers Network which is really helpful.