Classes in the water are of great benefit: it gives you a sense of well-being, gives you gentle massage of the whole body and a lot of pleasure. However, not everyone can fully appreciate all the benefits of training in water, especially if you cannot swim. Every year a lot of new students come to me to learn how to swim. Mostly their reasons are:

1. I live by the sea or a pool opened nearby, but I do not know how to swim, although I would like to;

2. I want to feel confident in the open water, so as not to worry about myself and the children;

3. I suffer from pains in the back and joints and the doctor recommends swimming;

4. I want to do some kind of sports, but I don’t like running, fitness, gym or yoga, but I have always loved the water since a childhood.

First of all I will say: there are two types of swimming: swimming for sport and for health and fitness. Competitive sports – about high achievements, medals and the Olympics. This is a gruelling workout, most often twice a day. Recreational – about the physical form and prevention of diseases of the back, joints and heart.

If you do not plan to train hard to win the next Olympic Games, then swimming is perfect for you. You decided to learn how to swim, and now you have a question: to teach yourself or to hire a trainer?

It’s cheaper to teach yourself: you can find a lot of material on the Internet. Professional swimmers and coaches post videos on YouTube and release books and manuals, promising early results. All this can really be used for training. But who will control the process and point out errors? The wrong technique will not only bring benefits, but can also harm you: new health problems will appear or old ones will make themselves known. You alone yourself, alas, cannot master the right technique.

Also, a professional trainer is the one who:

• selects a program based on your state of health, physical fitness, etc.;

• starts teaching you with simple and easy-to-learn exercises;

• assesses whether tasks are being carried out correctly, patiently monitors their implementation and corrects errors that are inevitable at the beginning;

• will provide enough time for the development of learning. Later you will be able to combine everything in a holistic and the correct way to swim;

• will be a great motivator.

Russian institutes of physical education produce sports swimming trainers, one of which I graduated from. Having graduated from one, I did not want to work in my specialty of teaching competitive swimming. The first fitness clubs began to open, and I began to teach swimming for health and fitness in one of the clubs in Moscow. I observed a lot of other trainers, read books about different approaches to swimming and eventually developed my own methodology.

Twenty years of teaching children and adults, first in Russia, and the last seven years in Qatar, convinced me that my methodology is effective and works every time and I strongly believe that it will work anywhere in the world. Recreational swimming helps me, not only to stay in good shape, but also to everyone who wants to make swimming their preferred type of physical activity.

How to choose a professional swimming trainer and distinguish efficient from inefficient ones?

The most important difference is in their teaching abilities. It is not always the case that a professional swimmer is a good teacher. For years, athletes train to compete in sports and not to teach. A good swimming trainer understands the student’s goals and explains at a level that suits them. During the first lesson, the student can realize whether or not to continue with this trainer. If this is the case, I strongly suggest that you try different trainers until you find one you are satisfied with and also talk to other students for their recommendations. Don’t give up! 

An inefficient trainer will not constantly monitor students, help, prompt and cheer them on. Once I taught a ten-year-old girl, and her mother attended the first lesson. At the end of the lesson, her mother said that she liked everything I did during the class, since I was not distracted by the phone, or anything else, and concentrated purely on the student. The coach should give all their attention to the students and not leave them for a minute.

A good trainer understands how students feel before entering the water. They will not pat the shoulders of a student with the fear of water in a friendly manner and convince them that there is nothing to fear and everything will be fine. A good trainer is always tactful and empathetic.

A good trainer knows the laws and principles of water. The student does not need to know them, but it is very important to understand them. At the beginning, the trainer will help the student to “make friends” with water: he will tell and show how to take a very deep breath, how to float on the water and relax, so that the water will “push” the student to the surface and to teach the student to trust themselves and the water. A trainer with limited experience is unlikely to start with this: most likely he will give you a kick board to hold on to and tell you to kick.

Kick boards, flippers, Noodles, etc. – are special equipment. A good trainer does not need it for training. These and some other equipment are used by sports trainers for physical training of swimmers and improving results. In the early classes of the beginner, the main goal is being comfortable in water, the conscious control of your body, breathing and competent movements in the water.

A good trainer will first teach you how to breathe and control your body. Proper breathing technique is rhythmic: a deep, fast inhalation and a slow, long exhalation when the face is in the water. In everyday life, you do not even notice how to breathe because it is done naturally, but in the water, you must first learn to breathe correctly. You will have to practice the skill until it becomes second nature. A competent trainer will surely teach you, not only to float in a relaxed way with your face in the water, but also will teach you to easily and safely return to the vertical position.

Often inexperienced trainers start their training with leg kicks and a board to hold on to but in three of the four types of swimming stokes, the arms play a major role. This means learning to use one’s arms as early as possible. Even if you manage to swim a certain distance with a board, it will not teach you to swim on your own and will not give you the confidence required to progress quickly. A good trainer will teach the arm movements from the beginning, which helps the student to stay on the surface of the water and with the head above the water while there is no solid support under your feet. At a very advanced level, synchronized swimmers perform breathtaking choreography due to the extensive movements of their arms.

Imagine what would happen if a student “loses” a board somewhere in the middle of a pool. Without learning the proper techniques and self-confidence, the consequences can be dire, and after this harrowing experience, one would not feel like returning to the water. In rare cases, equipment can be useful, but it is important to learn to rely on yourself, and not on equipment.

In summary:

What you need to pay attention when choosing a coach:

– certification: preferably specialized;

– behaviour: the coach pays maximum attention to the student, they are tactful and are looking for an individual approach according to the student

– technique: the first thing the trainer teaches is – confidence in water and proper breathing;

– equipment: minimum at the initial stage.

To swim properly is to be one with water, so do not panic if you cannot feel the pool or sea floor beneath your feet. This is an opportunity to get fit and strengthen the musculoskeletal, respiratory and cardiovascular systems without overloading, if you swim with the right techniques while enjoying the experience in water. To achieve this, it is essential to be trained by the right trainer.

I wish you find your right trainer!