Swimming Ideas: Level 4
Distance, Competitive, IM
Download the Level 4 PDF for your own program.
Minimum Ages: 3 years old, though typically 5-13
At this point, in level 4, participants need to be comfortable moving in the water independently. They should be able to swim front crawl with breathing to the side for at least five to ten body lengths without stopping. Generally, it does not have to be a perfect swim, where the face is only aimed down and breath rotating to the side, but it does need to be done well for short distances. Here, in level 4, we begin instruction on longer swims, introduce drills, and begin swimming breaststroke and butterfly.
Some swim teams have lower requirements than others, and it is entirely possible, that after passing level 3, your swimmers would be ready for the swim team. Level 4 should be considered equivalent to a beginner swim team group and treated similarly: high repetition, drills, lane use (between lane lines), and somewhat acceptable for instructors/coaches to be out of the water. Expect graduates of level 4 to be ready for most USA Swimming age group programs.
Quick Test Criteria:
Can the swimmer breathe to the side on front crawl, look down without looking forward, and continue swimming while maintaining long, straight body line.
- Front crawl 20 meters with bilateral breaths.
- Back crawl 20 meters with body in soldier.
- 3 times, streamline with no kick, then do 1x (11, Eat, and 11), then 1x (BR kick in position 11).
- Streamline + 2 strokes Fly w/ breath on #2
- Swim 50 meters Front or Back Crawl
Why are these skills in Level 4?
This is where we learn to swim front crawl, and backstroke well for prolonged periods. Attention is placed on swimming with efficiency, strength, and breathing with ease. At this point we will begin layering in swimming drills usually reserved for swim teams. In level 3, we learned how to breathe to the side and roll back to a face down position on front crawl. This takes significant in water practice and repetition that should not be learned while swimming longer distances. With breathing to the side learned we can now introduce longer swims without the disruption of bad technique.
Secondary to the crawls and increasing distance, we maintain short distance skill work with breaststroke and butterfly. From the previous level we should have produced a legal, or general motion correct breaststroke kick. With the practice we did in level 2 and 3 on “11, Eat, and Reach back to 11” we know all the pieces to swimming breaststroke well. Now we can begin the process of transitioning the motions into swimming.
When in the lane, use the following pattern to do things over and over to provide routine, repetition, and immediate feedback to each participant.
Finally, the last skill to test is swimming front or back crawl for 50 meters. This should be done well, with either excellent backstroke body posture, or high quality breathing to the side on freestyle and immediate looking down after the breath. Body position and posture for both should remain long and straight with the hips rotating. There can be some imperfect, or not high quality moments in the 50, but they should be anomalies, not the norm. Swimming 50 yards without interruption should not have the same high standards that the previous 20 meter requirements are.
Level 4 can be equal to a beginner swim team group. Depending on your space, your enrollment, and the quality of your instructors, you can do a combination of short distance and long distance swimming and drills. Pay significant attention to what your goals are for your swimmers post swim lessons. Do you want to funnel them to your swim team, or do you want to keep them in your lessons? Some programs require levels for people who can swim, or are already on a swim team (like camps, summer daytime lessons, etc). Advanced swimmers should be in Level 4 provided they meet the requirements of all other levels.
Swimming butterfly is physically difficult without proper use of the body and the undulating motion. Swimmers frequently emphasize the arms to provide motion, when the body is of utmost importance. We do short distances (max of 4-6 strokes) to teach swimming fly with good form without the physical exhaustion of prolonged swimming. Spend your effort on quality arm motions and strong kicking. We encourage you to do 25’s of fly kicking where off the wall you do 2 or 4 strokes of fly first, then kick only the rest of the way.