Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Learn To Swim: I Taught Myself

A Personal history and critique of modern learn to swim teaching technique



I taught myself to swim at the beach.

Yep! I’m a swimming instructor that taught himself to swim.

When I was a child the methodology for teaching swimming was... well lets be kind and say, very poor. Biomechanics was non-existent, there were few, if any trying to study how people best learn to swim and the idea of systematic teaching was so much in its infancy as be be almost embryonic. There truly were many people who believed that the best and quickest way to teach someone to learn to swim was to “throw them in the deep end and see what they did”. Fortunately most people didn’t act on it.

Once I saw a physical education teacher of a school (not a swim school), trying to teach a student to swim by pulling him along in the pool with a towel.

I remember my father had decided that my self education wasn't enough and he started taking me to lessons. During that few months I spent most of the time picking up tips form other swimmers. The teaching was really very poor.

Even when I first got my teaching license there were some instructors that were of the opinion that you should do all of your teaching out of the water. It didn't take me long to realize how stupid that idea was. I insisted in getting in the water. Clearly my stance on this has been the opinion of swimming instructors world wide as all instructors that I know of, get in the pool to teach for all but the semi-advanced to advanced levels.

boy swimming under water: Learn to Swim
Swim teaching methods
have come a long way
Learn to swim teaching methods have come a long way since I learned and I’ve watch them develop over the years as a teacher but there is still no consistent researching into what is the best way to teach. The fields are narrowing with the advent of internet and video and teaching methods are becoming more and more similar. Yet still almost every swim school has its own philosophies that differ ever so slightly from each other.

I dream that one day, a school will come along that will do proper research. For example: say they have four classes. One will be the control teaching to the standard lesson plan and techniques. The three classes will all teach exactly the same lesson plan and teaching techniques in every way except one. At the end of each term the results would be compared to see what, if any affect it had on the improvement of the students abilities. Using this method any improvements discovered would be adopted into all the classes and the research could start work on a different skill or technique.

May be this would be too radical for most schools but I am convinced that any school that did adopt this method would soon be a recognized, world leader in swim teaching. And how good would that be for business?

I dream of this being done because it would be great to consistently have 4 or 5 year old learn to swim so well that they could swimming laps without ever thinking it unusual.

Enjoy
   Richard

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