Teaching swimming.

How do swimming coaches and teachers teach? Swimming teachers might swim properly, they might have a swimming background, they might have a clear picture of how a student should execute a drill or a technique, but how well can a teacher explain the techniques and demonstrate movements?

A student might take time to start executing a drill or a technique properly, but what if after some time or perhaps even a long time it isn’t working? Whose fault is it?

Is it the teacher who doesn’t have enough knowledge, patience, or their approach doesn’t work either with a particular student or a whole group?

Or is it the student, due to their shortcomings, is not capable of learning?

I would like to give you examples, I will explain later why it is related to swimming teachers.

My auntie has been working for a government company responsible for the distribution of domestic gas and water for a particular area in a junior position for many years. From her many years at work she has experienced a rotation of senior managers, who have disregarded her advice, suggestions and recommendations because they thought they knew better than her. Eventually, one by one, they all failed to operate the company properly. The point I am trying to make that management should always consider opinions of experienced employees regardless of their position.

Another brief example is my childhood friend who is a manager in another industry is experiencing similar issues with his management is that they are resistant to their way of thinking and not evolving their business techniques.

In parallel, in the swimming industry, it is clear that swimming teachers must not only be adequately trained but also they must be:

  1. Motivated in their desire to do their best,
  2. Open – minded and accepting of new ideas and teaching techniques,
  3. Adaptable to different cultures, abilities, conditions etc. and embrace the challenges,
  4. Always contagiously enthusiastic during classes in order to encourage the clients,
  5. Proud of their profession,
  6. Able to self – analyze their professional performance,
  7. Constant self – developing by attending relevant workshops.

There are other traits that can be added but from my twenty years experience those are the most important.

Although the teacher may have done their best, their student still might not have learnt how to swim properly.

The teacher can feel that they have hit the barrier and the student is not making progress and the big question is perhaps they never will. Should the teacher accept that there are those who just cannot learn for whatever reason? Is enough good enough?

What could the possible reason be? Mental capacity or mental block? The natural phenomenon of no coordination? Or just simple lack of fitness?

Fear of being in water is definitely a reason for a student to either not be able to learn or to make the process slow.

Fear can be irrational. In the case of a person who cannot swim and all of a sudden happens to find themselves in deep water, they immediately panic, their land based survival instinct kicks. They use their arms and legs in the wrong way because they don’t understand the water and how to stay safe.

In some cases even those who have learnt to swim but still have the perception  of not being a non- swimmer. For a example one of my students Olga, who has learnt to swim successfully, can cover the whole length by alternating swimming and treading water in order to reassure herself where she is in the pool and catch her breathe. Although there are some details regarding her strokes that need to be improved but they do not really affect her ability to swim, yet, she believes she cannot swim. In my opinion with perseverance and continuation of lessons she will overcome the niggling fear.

In my first post I indicated that whether I teach people with zero experience or those who can move themselves successfully through the water, my first aim for my students is they feel confident in the water. So I teach how to swim, how to breathe properly but at the same time I teach them how to stay afloat using their legs and sculling arms and if the person is able to perform these movements correctly and in a relaxed and easy way, then they feel safe because nothing jeopardizes their ability to breathe and therefore leads to a better and safer process of learning. In my opinion these movements are fundamental to the safety of the learner, especially in the deep water where there is no contact with the pool bottom.

So, what would be your opinion?

2 Comments

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  1. It makes a difference if someone swims for leisure: easy doing tracks and perhaps chatting the same time, or trying to be quick as in competition. In the latter case one can be at his/her maximal effort (strength, mobility etc) or have technical mistakes. These “bad habits” are not easy to correct and need skill fun teachers, also knowing how motor learning takes place. Recreational swimmers might be satisfied though even not completely water free. In that case I can only agree with checking breathing in order to decrease apprehension and increase swimming efficiency

  2. I strongly agree with you! Am learning alot. Thanks

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