Many of us take it for granted. Some of us claim we were born knowing how to do it.
We feel as if we’ve been able to do it our whole lives.
But the reality is, at one point we all had to learn how to swim.
It starts with splashing
It started with kicking around in the shallow end of the pool. Or perhaps it was a large tub or plastic wading pool in the backyard.
But we learned first how to splash. That our hands and feet could propel water from one place to another. We saw the joy in our parents faces, and we learned to play with friends.
We felt the joy of weightlessness under water.
And, when we were ready, we even learned to put our heads under water. Then we gained the confidence to open our eyes.
Many of us were fortunate enough to be able to spend days or seemingly entire summers at the community pool or – luckier still – our own family swimming pool. These are terrific memories: cannonballs, dives, floating on inflated sunchairs, throwing a ball, making a game out of picking things up from the pool floor.
Learning the right way
This all comes from learning the right way. Not from being thrown in the deep end of the pool and told to swim.
Here’s how you learned, most likely, and how you can best teach someone else.
- Expose them to the water slowly and safely. Choose a shallow spot where you can always be with them in case they lose confidence or lose their footing.
- Help them float on their belly or back while they practice kicking and moving their arms. This is where they learn how to propel themselves through the water on their own.
- Begin taking away the support for a brief period, allowing them to swim unaided to the edge of the pool, or back and forth between two trusted swimmers.
- Help them practice closing their eyes and putting their heads under water for a short period. Then help them extend that time. Help them learn to trust themselves to breathe at the right time and to hold their breath when needed. This builds their confidence.
- Slowly expand their independent space. Allow them to go into the shallow end without you being with them (but always with a trusted adult actively monitoring them.)
- Then, when the time is right, allow them freedom in the deep end.
Slowly expanding a child’s skill set while providing protection and support helps them gain the confidence to operate independently.
It also prepares them to be ready for a day at the Aqua Adventures waterpark!