The first step to swimming.
Perhaps the most terrifying yet crucial skill in swimming is putting your face underwater.
Our challenge is to make this scary prospect safe, fun, and entertaining.
Swimmer puts their whole face in the water without assistance.
This should be done repeatedly and not one time in the course of a lesson, or with the instructor.
Kiss the water
Demonstrate first. Kiss the water with an audible smack.
Encourage your swimmers to kiss the surface of the water and progressively get more and more of their lips underwater.
Younger swimmers are familiar with a “kiss” and by doing this action it removes anxiety with going underwater and the discomfort it sometimes brings.
Walk around the benches.
When the swimmer crosses from one bench to the next, kiss the water.
Reach for the Wall
Position a bench so that it faces the wall about 1 body length away.
Swimmers take turns with support leaning forward and grabbing the edge with both hands.
Encourage swimmers to kiss the water as they reach and fall forward.
Put two hands on the wall, and two feet and monkey walk sideways. At the end of the bench, reach back and return to the rotation.
Supported Front Floats
Hold the child by the chest or hips.
Encourage swimmer to reach for the instructor’s shoulders.
Keep the body in the water as much as possible allowing their weight to be supported by motion and the water as much as can be.
Encourage swimmer to kiss the water, or put whole face in the water and kick.
Bake a Cake
One of the best dynamic games filled with opportunities to go underwater.
Variants include, “make a pizza,” “make a taco,” “bake muffins (with rings)”
-Get a hoola hoop, or a circular object and make that your “cake”
-Have swimmers circle around the hoola hoop and hold the sides.
-Take turns asking each swimmer what they would like in their cake. Exp: “Susie, what would you like in your cake?” “CHOCOLATE!” “Ok, lets put some chocolate in the cake!”
Take turns splashing water into the hoola hoop and repeat “Put some chocolate into our cake!”
-After each swimmer has put their own ingredient into the cake, have each swimmer grab the edge of the hoola hoop and push it down to their feet to “put the cake in the oven.” Encourage each swimmer to put their nose, mouth or face in the water while doing so.
-Do another short activity while the cake “bakes.”
-Have a swimmer, or swimmers check the cake by putting their face, lips, or nose in the water. Ask, “Is the cake done? Is it ready to eat?”
-Have swimmers reach down to the sunken hoola hoop to their shoulders, or noses if they can, and slowly, heavily, lift the “cake” to the surface.
-Have swimmers blow bubbles on the cake (inside the hoola hoop) to cool it off so you can eat it.
-Eat the cake by either smashing faces into the water inside the cake (voluntarily!), or getting a bucket and dumping onto their faces or heads. Make sure everyone participates! either dump water on their shoulders, on the back of their head, or on their face. If scooping water, make sure they do something to be a part of the fantasy.
-Be enthusiastic, and exclaim how delicious it is!
Jumps from the side
“Do you want to go underwater?”
Make certain that you ask before doing the jump. Adhere to the swimmer’s choice. If they don’t want to go under, make certain that you keep their face above water during the jump.
Hold the swimmer’s hands like the picture to make it easier to keep them above water. They can pull on your hands and you can control their jump better than if you “catch” them.
As you do more and more jumps in this fashion your swimmers will get more and more comfortable with it and eventually say “yes” to going underwater.
When a swimmer does go underwater celebrate the event with laughter, smiles, and high fives.
Challenges are like games but with less moving parts and quicker.
Get 5 toes on the same foot above the water while keeping shoulders underwater.
Bonus: Get 10 toes above water while holding onto the bench or side.
Float on your back with only two fingers supporting the neck.
Spin around one complete time with your head above water without touching the bottom of the pool, or bench.
Pick up a ring with….
1. Your foot.
2. One hand, but keeping face above water (with or w/o INS help).
3. Your hand and putting nose in the water
4. You hand and putting whole head underwater too.
5. Your mouth!
Give your swimmer multiple opportunities to go underwater. If they do so enthusiastically, often, and enjoyably, then they are likely ready to move on to level 2.