Swimmers of all ages love diving under water during their swimming lessons. Children can have so much fun playing in the swimming pool, diving and retrieving toys from a ledge or the bottom of the pool. As swimmers mature and become more comfortable diving to the bottom they can also use this skill for dolphin dives in learn to swim and stroke development classes, as well as in open water and surf swimming.
There are many smaller aspects to the whole skill “diving for toys”. Many of these steps will be discussed in this article.
BUILD THE SKILL – START WITH ACHIEVABLE ACTIVITIES
Swimmers shouldn’t try to dive directly to the bottom for their first try. Ledges or shallow steps should be used initially to introduce the skill. Once that has been mastered swimmers can graduate to a deeper area of the pool. Skills should be broken up into easily achievable smaller skills and put together once each step is mastered.
ROTATION AND RECOVERY
Swimmers will need to go from a horizontal floating position in the water to a vertical recovery. You can see in this video footage that Laurie shows Harper how to “pull down” where she moves her arms through the water and recovers to a standing position. Once again it’s important to build the skill so that activities are easily mastered and swimmer can continue to learn and develop their skills in the water.
Once swimmers have mastered recovery in shallow water they will eventually move on to the more difficult activity of swimming out horizontally, diving vertically and returning to a horizontal position to swim back to the edge of the pool. Swimming in different depths, recovering in the water, turning around and returning the way they came from are all difficult skills in themselves let alone putting all these skills together in one activity. Teachers and parents should be patient and celebrate every small success along the way.
BREATH CONTROL AND CONFIDENCE
Swimmers will initially need guidance to the bottom of the pool to pick up rings from the deeper area of the pool. There is no point in introducing this skill if swimmers are timid and scared in the water. Swimmers need to be comfortable under water holding their breath and floating. You can see in this footage that Harper is happy to float in the water with help from Laurie to take a breath. She is totally happy and relaxed in the water and is completely ready for help in diving to the bottom of the pool.
SWIMMING TO THE BOTTOM OF THE POOL
Laurie helps Harper to swim to the bottom by guiding between her shoulder blades. It is important to never touch a child on the back of the head. Swimmers will resist and try to move their head up for a breath if teachers or parents touch the back of the head. Even as adults we don’t like the feeling of someone pushing our head under water, as we feel powerless. Young children feel the same – they like to have the freedom and ability to lift their head and take a breath in their own time. You can see Laurie change Harper’s body position in the water so she is swimming down vertically in the water. Laurie doesn’t just push Harper under so her entire body goes to the bottom horizontally as she needs to learn to twist and move her body so that she swims down in a head to toe fashion. Laurie is adjusting Harper’s body so that she can get the feeling of swimming to the bottom. Once she has a hold on the diving rings he then lets her go and she floats up using her body’s buoyancy. Harper is really enjoying this activity as you can tell by her squeals of delight. This is a fun game and she loves this bonding time with her Poppa in the water.
Laurie then introduces the mat as an extended activity. Harper crawls across the mat and then dives to the bottom by putting her face in the water and having the rest of her body follow. This activity can be performed from a ledge, the parent or teacher’s knee, side of the pool or anywhere that can give the swimmer a platform to go from a horizontal position into a vertical position down to the bottom.
Once these skills are all mastered swimmers can jump or push from the wall and change their body position in the water to swim down and retrieve toys from the bottom of the pool. Diving for toys is one of many skills that swimmers enjoy and will use in playtime out of the swimming lesson as well as learning and mastering within their regular class. If taught efficiently swimmers will enjoy every aspect of this skill and become very confident and happy swimmers in all depths of water.