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Teaching Swimming

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Lesson 1, Topic 4
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Free motion and play

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Learn to move independently.

Supervise closely, even with a life-jacket.

Younger swimmers may not be able to lift their heads out of water.

Use life-jackets to learn movement.

Life-jackets

Get the soft ones that conform to the body and hug the torso. Avoid the neck pinching jackets that bite into the throat.

Get a life jacket and secure straps around body. You’ll want to have a soft full wrapped life jacket instead of the old generic old around the neck only life jackets.

Safety Item:

Closely monitor any swimmers in life jackets until they learn how to turn themselves over from front to back under their own power. We don’t want to have our swimmers drop their heads in the water and be unable to lift them up on their own. If a swimmer gets stuck on their front or back, they won’t be able to recover and save themselves unless they know how to push the water with their hands and rotate around their center of buoyancy.

Life Jacket motion:

Take time to move around in water you can stand in while wearing a life jacket. You have two main goals to attain here:
• Discover how to recover from a face down position and rotate either to the back, or lift the head up out of the water.
• Discover how pushing the water with your hand makes your body move and learn how to propel body forward, backward, and around using kicks and arm motions of any kind.
Engage in any type of game, movement, or action in your life jacket. Play catch, fetch with a ball or toy, play tag, any game you can think of to become familiar with moving through the water. Movement and motion are primary.

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Encourage swimmers to use their arms and hands as paddles to move themselves around the pool and water.

Play games like races, obstacle courses, or physical challenges to build comfort and provide motion.

Can the swimmer go from belly down to belly up while wearing a jacket? Help them out and have them practice in shallow water.

Walk around the shallow end in life-jackets first, then move to deeper water as swimmers get comfortable.


Spend time in the life-jackets and even do the glides and floats with the jackets on. They can provide a great sense of safety and comfort for beginning swimmers.

Take advantage of lowered anxiety and encourage swimmers to use their hands and feet to move themselves around the water.

Play different games and go to different areas of the pool all while wearing the life jackets.

Some key points:

Independent Motion

Encourage swimmers to use their arms and hands as paddles to move themselves around the pool and water.

Play games like races, obstacle courses, or physical challenges to build comfort and provide motion.

Can the swimmer go from belly down to belly up while wearing a jacket?

Help them out and have them practice in shallow water. Walk around the shallow end in life-jackets first, then move to deeper water as swimmers get comfortable.

Find the right fit

Make sure your swimmers wear the appropriate size life-jacket.

If you put a jacket on a swimmer that is too big, it may fall off, the swimmer might fall out, or it could possibly restrict breathing.

A wrong size life-jacket is ineffective and should be avoided.

Make sure that you have a variety of life-jacket sizes to provide to your swimmers.

Too small, and it might not support the swimmer’s weight. Too big, and it might fall off.

Play games and get comfortable

Spend time in the life-jackets and even do the glides and floats with the jackets on.

They can provide a great sense of safety and comfort for beginning swimmers.

Take advantage of lowered anxiety and encourage swimmers to use their hands and feet to move themselves around the water.

Play different games and go to different areas of the pool all while wearing the life jackets.