Swimming Game – Monkey Walks

A great swim lesson skill for smaller and younger swimmers is called Monkey Walks.The teach Monkey walks in a learn to swim class follow these steps:

The swimmer essentially walks along the side of the pool using their hands and feet to move along the edge. I’ve included a video demonstrating the action.

This is best used when you are going to the deep end to do jumps or dives, and don’t want to waste the time by carrying the child or getting out and walking around. It is an especially good game / skill to teach to swimmers that don’t know how to swim. Remember, our goal as instructors is to always keep the child learning the entire time they’re in the water with us!!

Doing the Monkey Walk


Steps for the youtube deniers:

*Have swimmer place both hands on the edge or lip of the pool.

*Tell swimmer to place both feet on the wall.

*Using both their hands and feet (like monkey’s) slide or “walk” sideways along the wall to a desired destination.

While in the swimming lesson, do this game to teach how to move in the pool, how to use both hands and feet to move, and to get antiquated with how the body moves through the water.

Better swimming.
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  1. At the pool where I lifeguard, we call this action “gutter grabbing”. Non- swimmers do this to get to the deep end, where they can potentially fall off and struggle to get back. I wouldn’t call this a good skill to learn.

    1. Gutter grabbing or monkey walking isn’t ideal, but I feel it is a good safety skill. Swimmers that use it to launch themselves into the deep end without supervision or an understanding of the dangers is a whole other problem, more specifically “where are the parents?” and “Did the swim instructor not go over why we do this activity?”

      We teach this specifically FOR non-swimmers to go from the deep end into the shallow end.
      If someone finds themselves in deep water, unable to climb out, and unable to swim, what do you suggest as an alternative?

      Learning how to do this skill is just as important as knowing how to exit the pool and enter the pool safely. Just because it has the potential to be abused isn’t a good enough reason not to teach it, in my opinion. Similar to saying Diving isn’t a good skill to teach because some people dive in shallow water and break their necks, even experienced swimmers. Bad decisions are sometimes just that.

      Do you have an alternative?

      I honestly can’t think of another way to get a young person who can’t get themselves out of the water, and can’t swim but is next to the wall, to shallow water or to a ladder or some exit point.