Recently I flicked through my documents and found one with the list of recommendations that I made for my former clients’ son when he was about two or three years old and I had swimming classes with him for a while. They planned to go to the beach to swim in the sea and asked me for some advice because their son had only experienced swimming in an indoor pool. After we discussed several general aspects I gave them the following list:
Let him walk in the shallow part of the sea in order to let him get used to the resistance of the sea
- The edge of the sea is the perfect spot for him to learn how to regain a vertical position after falling down. If that should happen, help him stand up the first time and then try to let him do it by himself
- If he panics turn it into a game, encourage him but let’s face it, you are the parents you will know what to do!
- Having learnt how to regain a vertical position try the diving exercise which is ducking your child, moving him under the water towards the beach and then out. Later start him off and then let him do it for himself in order for him to stand up
- Practice picking up toys from the sea floor, walking along with your child on his front and then on his back etc., basically do whatever activity will help your child enjoy the sea!
- Good luck, relax and let it be the enjoyable experience for you as parents and for your child!
There are two reasons why I talked about the above.
In the list of the recommendations, regaining vertical position was mentioned several times. I believe, and it is what I always do when I teach others to swim, that knowing how to regain the vertical position is one of the traits of being confident in water. People are so used to functioning in their vertical position on land, that when they start learning to swim not only is the horizontal position not natural for them, but also not understanding the laws of water when they attempt to stand up, they might start lifting their heads out of the water first. While legs float and arms cannot perform correct movements it will be extremely hard to keep the head out of the water in order to breath and almost impossible to stand up, which is bound to lead to panic. Summing up the above, regaining vertical position should be one of the first drills to be learnt at the beginning of learning to swim.
The second thing I would like to stress is the well–known fact that parents always strive to make their children happy. It is not surprising that they know water can be a great source of enjoyment and development for their children. If parents know the right techniques on how to deal with water, making sure their children are willing to try by exploring the environment and developing their skills, encouraging them and at the same time monitoring the enjoyment of the process.
Children are well-known for speaking their mind; if they are happy they will let you know. As adults, we tend to forget to enjoy the moment. In modern life, we sometimes do not stop for a few minutes to contemplate things. We tend to forget the very basics, whereas children are always in the moment. They don’t understand yesterday or tomorrow.
Whether you are about to start learning to swim, or you have already started and you are on your way to greater fitness and better health, be like a child, stop for a moment to enjoy that perfect sensation of being in water!