Laurie has always pushed the mantra of “maximum practice time” in his swim school. Over the past 45 years Laurie has operated his swim schools in various locations with a variety of different teaching environments. Swim school owners and operators are constantly chasing that illusive ideal teaching environment. Specifically designed teaching pools naturally lend themselves to maximum practice time and allow for ideal teaching environments especially for teaching babies or timid beginners. However in the absence of that specifically designed environment swim schools certainly can utilise the assistance of pool equipment to assist in the delivery of quality lessons.
Movable teaching benches or platforms have come a long way since Laurie built his own out of marine ply in the 70’s. These benches are ideal for assisting children who are unable to stand up in deep water, or support children as they learn to back float and even create a location where babies can learn to pull themselves up. Teachers will have a variety of uses for these benches, however the swim school must put policies and procedures in place to make sure that this type of equipment is maintained and used safely. Supervision is essential when utilising teaching platforms and children and parents must be educated on safe practice. For example never swimming under or through them and pointing out to parents where the bench is submerged underwater. Regular inspection of the benches to ensure that they are free from wear and tear which may result in injury is essential. These teaching platforms can easily develop sharp edges or rough surfaces over time and result in cuts and abrasions to children, parents and teachers. Kirby Swim produces fantastic quality platforms and we have recently purchased some of these to assist us in teaching swimming in an outdoor 25 metre facility.
Floating mats are another great tool especially in baby and learn to swim classes. For baby classes large rubber floating mats can be used for back floating, balance, crawling, climbing, entry and exit swimming skills. In learn to swim lessons teachers can also generate maximum practice time by using mats to assist with a variety of back floating and kicking skills. Again, these mats should always be used under strict supervision. It is very easy for children of all ages to become trapped under floating mats. Furthermore leaving these mats around on the pool deck can become a major slipping hazard, especially once the mat is wet. For this reason this type of equipment should be securely removed and stored when not in use.
Laurie believes that less is more when it comes to teaching equipment. For baby classes, plastic cups and balls can be more than enough. With learn to swim classes a simple kick board and diving toys can also be sufficient. There is a huge variety out there but the most important thing to remember is that equipment must have a swimming related purpose. Teachers should never use equipment to fill in time. Squeezy toys that hold water are extremely unsuitable for babies as they are prone to holding unhygienic water and babies naturally put objects in their mouth. Toys left floating on the surface of the water can also be a hazard especially to toddlers who are naturally curious and can fall into the water trying to reach them. Swim schools should be educating their families, especially those with home pools, on the importance of storing toys and accessories securely and out of site. Swim schools should have policies and procedures around regular cleaning and disinfecting teaching equipment and disregarding any faulty equipment.