Being able and comfortable going underwater is one of the key skills for swimming. One way to acquire this skill is by playing a retrieval game. The rules are simple: throw something that will sink (dive rings or sticks are perfect) into the water and ask the child to retrieve them.
How to play:
*Throw the rings onto the pool stairs so that the child can retrieve them without going underwater.
*Slowly start moving the rings into deeper water.
*As the child gets more comfortable, ask them to retrieve more than one ring per dive.
*When you first start playing, let the child watch as you throw the rings into the pool. As the child gets more comfortable, have them close their eyes or turn around as you throw the rings into the water.
*Many children are uncomfortable opening their eyes underwater without goggles. Have the child wear swim goggles when they first start to play.
Involve many children in the same game:
*Assign a color to each child and ask them retrieve only their color.
*Have each child retrieve all of the rings as an individual. You can time them with a stop watch so the children can race against each other.
*Be careful sending the group into the water without specific instructions. You don’t want underwater fights for rings.
You can play with anything that will sink:
*Use dive rings or sticks that can be purchased at stores like Target or WalMart.
*Use rocks found around your yard.
*To make the game more difficult use coins. Make it even more difficult by asking older children to bring up a certain amount of money.
*Don’t forget to encourage the child to try again when they come up empty handed.
*Playing this game involves comfort going underwater and holding one’s breath. Both of those skills take time to develop.
*Don’t forget to have fun (perhaps you’ll like playing too)!