"But she can swim unaided!"

May 14, 2016

 

I had an interesting conversation with a parent following my post a couple of days ago (Little submarines need technique too). Her lovely son is three and learned to swim in a traditional, submersion-heavy baby swimming swim school (who don't provide lessons for children aged 3 and above). He is brilliant at going under the water and will happily swim backwards and forwards fully submerged, but his body is scrunched up in a ball, his ankles and legs are stiff, and he isn't able to swim on his front or back on top of the water. 

 

I spent a lesson working with him on his stroke, but this little boy was insistent - he didn't need a woggle, or floats, or arm discs! As far as he was concerned he had learnt to swim, and he didn't need a swimming teacher to come along and tell him otherwise.

 

I had a chat with his mum, and explained to her the difference between my approach and what the swim school had taught him to do. As a swimmer myself, I knew that her son wouldn't progress from his current under water laps until he corrected both his kick and his body position - we needed to get him stretched out, streamlined and moving efficiently through the water. To do that, we needed to step back a stage in her son's eyes and introduce some floatation aids to practise correct technique.

 

She had a chat with her little boy and took him to watch the older swimmers so he could get an idea of what he's aiming for in the long term and he is now starting to make good progress.

 

There is no denying that these little submarines are enthusiastic and often they have tons of water confidence - one of the foundations of good swimming! But because they haven't been taught good technique at the early stages, they need to be willing to take a little step backwards in order to make progress going forwards when they graduate from baby swimming classes. It is interesting that a lot of baby swim schools don't provide classes for children aged over three - and it can be difficult for us as swimming teachers to explain what needs to happen next to correct bad habits and turn all of that wonderful confidence into good swimming.

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