Monday, December 28, 2009

Help Someone Learn to Swim Freestyle - the Right way



Step 1: Forget your assumptions!
One of the things that becomes clear from both Mairead's learn to swim experience and Peter's learn to swim experience is that if you really want to help someone to learn to swim freestyle or any stroke for that matter, you are going to have to give up the assumption that because you can do something, it is easy for the new swimmer to do it. Nothing can be further from the truth.

You can't afford to forget that once upon a time, even though it may have been when you were very young, nothing came to you as naturally as it does now. You may be a triathletes with a passion for your sport wanting to pass on your experience and joy of swimming to friends and family, but if you assume anything about a person learning to swim your knowledge is useless.

It's one thing to realize that one has to crawl before you can walk (or in the case of swimming float before you can swim), but when it comes to a new swimmer and especially in the case of an new adult swimmer, you have to assume that your student can't even get up on there knees yet let alone crawl.

As a trusted friend or relation you are in a unique position to help someone else - having someone's implicit trust is very important in helping their efforts to learn to swim. But you won't get that trust if you make any assumptions.

Step 2: Get in the water with them!
If you are serious about helping someone learn to swim you have to be there for them. You have to be in the water to provide physical feed back, physical support and a feeling of safety and security. Being out of the water and detached is a wast of your time and that of you beginner swimming student.

Step 3: Let your new swimmer take the time they need to go through the early steps of becoming comfortable in the water. Let your student get used to both the feel of the water and the way they feel in it. I know that this doesn't seem like swimming but it's very important.

Step 4: Take the time to remember how you felt when you were learning.

Step 5: Repeat, repeat, repeat, it's essential! Keep going over and over every aspect of the stroke until your beginner has it right. This to may take several sessions but keep coming back to the basics.

Step 6: Give feedback both physical and verbal. A kickboard above the water so that they can feel when their knees are coming out of the water is more valuable that a description, but sometimes a compleat description is the best thing you can give a beginner.

Step 7: Always be POSITIVE and CONSTRUCTIVE. Your new swimmer may have been trying something. They may have achieved more than before but there is room for improvement. Use a comment like ‘Well done, great effort. Try keeping your eyes down a little more and you'll go even further. Good work!”

Step 8: Try everything you suggest to your beginner swimmer yourself. Again no assumptions, just because you can do something doesn't mean that you know how or why you can do something.

Get in the water and try your own drills and take the time to think about and feel what you are doing and why you are doing it. When you have done something for a long time you forget why and exactly how you do it. When you test your drills on yourself this all changes. you may even find that what you thought works doesn't.

Teaching is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Not only are you helping some one else but you Will learn more about yourself and you own swimming technique than you ever thought possible. When you teach someone to swim expect to become a better swimmer yourself.

Enjoy
Richard

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