Tag Archives: swimming

How to swim freestyle: Part one


Notice how the swimmer in this video rolls her head to the side instead of lifting the head up.

Level: Intermediate

For many, freestyle is the easiest stroke to learn. However, one of the most challenging techniques of freestyle is getting the breathing down. Therefore, before we get into arm movement and kicking, I will write a post specifically for breathing during freestyle.

How to swim freestyle: Part one

The first step to learning to breathe correctly when swimming freestyle is to choose your rhythm. Some people breathe every three strokes while others breathe every four strokes, or every two strokes, etc.

One of the main mistakes students make when they are first learning this skill is lifting the head and looking straight in front of them while taking a breath. Instead of lifting the head, the students should turn their head to the side and peek behind their shoulder.

For some practice…

Before you begin working on the arm and leg movements for freestyle with your students, make sure they know to breathe to the side instead of lifting their head up to breathe. Have them practice breathing to the side, with their eyes peeking over their shoulder, and taking a huge breath.

COMING SOON: How to swim freestyle: Part two 

How to dive from a standing position

Level: Intermediate

Last week, I wrote about diving from a kneeling position. This week, we’re upping the ante to a

Notice how this girl bends her waist and lifts her leg at the same time while diving into the water.

Notice how this girl simultaneously bends her waist and lifts her leg while diving into the water.

standing dive. Again, you should practice this skill in an in-ground pool that is at least 12 feet deep. The standing dive doesn’t require an immense amount of skill and can actually be a lot of fun once students get the hang of it.

How to dive from a standing position:

1.) Instruct your students to stand by the side of the pool. The students’ toes should be curled over the edge of the deck of the pool, not the gutter. (See photo to the right.)

2.) Tell your students to go into streamline position.

3.) Your students should tuck their chin next – if it helps, tell them to keep their eyes on their bully button.

4.) While keeping the arms squeezed tightly against the ears, the students should bend at the waist while simultaneously lifting one of their legs back. The students should then dive fingertips-first into the water.

EXERCISE IDEA:

After the students enter the water via a kneeling or standing dive, tell them to try swimming the front crawl or backstroke all the way to the other side of the pool. If they need to stop and take a rest, encourage them to either tread or go into a front or back float.

TIP: When teaching swim lessons, instructors should ALWAYS remain in the water with their students, no matter how talented the students are when it comes to swimming. Not only is this safer, but this also allows you to get a closer look at their technique.

Instructors should always stay in the water with their students, no matter what.

Instructors should always stay in the water with their students, no matter what.

COMING SOON: How to swim freestyle

How to dive from a kneeling position

Instructors should make sure water is at least 12 feet deep before allowing their students to practice diving.

Instructors should make sure water is at least 12 feet deep before allowing students to practice diving.

Level: Intermediate

Many different techniques exist out there when it comes to diving. (I hope the USA Diving Team proves this point enough!) For now, I will tell you how to teach the basic kneeling dive with your students. Once they master the kneeling dive, they can move on to the more advanced leaning dive and racing dive, which I will cover in future posts.

Diving is a fun skill to learn, so long as you practice safely, in deep water. Your students should practice this skill in an in-ground pool that is at least 12 feet deep. And never, ever, ever practice this skill with your students in lakes, rivers, ponds or oceans; the water is not always clear in these bodies of water.

How to dive from a kneeling position:

1.) Tell your student to stand next to the side of the pool. Next, the student should kneel down on one knee and place the front foot in the pool gutter. The toes of the foot should be curled over the edge. The other knee should stay on the pool deck. Be sure the student is not sitting on his or her back foot.

2.) Instruct the student to go into a streamline position, with the fingertips pointing up toward the ceiling or sky. Remember, the arms should squeeze the ears tightly.

3.) Remaining in streamline position, the student should bend his or her waist slightly so that the fingertips are now pointing toward the water. Be sure the student’s chin is tucked – if it helps, tell the student to keep the eyes glued to the belly-button.

4.) Keeping the waist bent, the chin tucked and the arms in streamline position, the student should use the front leg to gently push off and dive fingertips-first into the water. The student should then swim back to the surface and front-crawl to the pool wall.

Notice how this swimmer remains in streamline position as she dives into the water.

Notice how this swimmer remains in streamline position as she dives into the water.

Keys to success:

In order to dive properly, students should remember to:

1.) Always keep their eyes on their belly-button. This prevents them from lifting up their chins,

To prevent belly-flopping, students keep their chins tucked and their arms squeezed in streamline position.

To prevent belly-flopping, students should keep their chins tucked and their arms squeezed in streamline position.

which would subsequently cause them to belly-flop into the water. (Ouch!)

2.) Stay in streamline position. Many students who are new to diving forget to keep squeezing their ears as they lean in toward the water. If they don’t remain in streamline position, the students could, again, belly-flop into the water. (Double-ouch!)

3.) Dive down, not out. Diving is not jumping.

Tip:

Students hardly get diving right the first time. For the first few tries, you the instructor can stay in the water using a swimming noodle or other floatation device for support and assist the student by holding onto his or her fingertips as he or she dives into the water. This would ensure the student learned to a) stay in streamline position and b) dive down, not out.

COMING SOON: How to dive from a standing position

How to jump into deep water

Level: Intermediate

Be sure to stress to students that nothing bad will happen if they jump into deep water. Tell them deep water is just the same as shallow water and that the only difference is that their feet can't touch the bottom. Also, it's important to reassure students you'll always remain by their side when swimming in deep water.

Be sure to stress to students that nothing bad will happen to them if they jump into deep water. Tell them deep water is just the same as shallow water and that the only difference is that their feet can’t touch the bottom. Also, it’s important to reassure students you’ll remain by their side at all times when they practice this skill.

Many learning swim students are extremely afraid of jumping into deep water, especially if they’ve had a terrifying experience with water before. Be patient when working on this skill with a hesitant swimmer, and remember to practice, practice, practice.

How to jump into deep water (when practicing in a pool that contains a gutter):

1.) Tread in water that is at least six feet deep. Instructors may want to sit on a swim noodle or other floatation device when practicing this skill with students.

2.) Tell the student to stand in the gutter of the pool. Legs should remain at about shoulder-width apart with the knees bent slightly. The toes should be curled over the edge of the gutter – this helps the student remain stable.

3.) Instruct the student to jump away from the wall and into the water after the count of three. The feet should be first to enter the water. The student should then swim the front crawl back to the side of the pool.

Students should not run and then jump into the pool - they could slip and fall if they do this. Instead, they should start by standing in the gutter of the pool with their toes curled over the edge.

Students should not run and then jump into the pool – they could easily slip and fall. Instead, they should start by standing in the gutter of the pool with their toes curled over the edge.

Note: Depending on the skill and comfort level of the student, you may want to catch the student for the first few tries. When I taught students who said they felt too afraid to jump into deep water, I usually held one or both of their hands in the beginning and tried to progress with them from there. Once the students seemed OK jumping in while holding my hand, I would try to convince them to jump in on their own with me remaining fairly close to the wall (perhaps two or three feet away). As students became more and more confident, I would move just a little farther away from the wall until they could easily jump into the pool and swim safely back to the gutter. This may take a lot of practice and patience, but your students will get there!

A note on jumping into ponds, lakes or rivers: I personally do not advise instructors to practice this skill in these bodies of water for safety reasons; water in ponds, lakes and rivers is typically murky, and it can be difficult to tell where the bottom is, whether or not the bottom is covered with sharp rocks or sticks or if something dangerous – a piece of a log, for example – is floating nearby.

Because water in lakes, ponds and rivers isn't usually clear, I do not recommend practicing this skill in these bodies of water.

Because water in lakes, ponds and rivers isn’t usually clear, I do not recommend practicing this skill in these bodies of water.

COMING SOON: Diving

How to tread


Notice how the young woman in this video is constantly moving her arms and legs while still staying relaxed in the water.

Level: Intermediate

Treading water is pretty easy once you get the hang of it. However, in order to master this skill, one must a) keep the fingers glued tightly together at all times and b) learn to relax in the water.

How to tread:

1.) In the beginning, students should practice this skill in water that hits at about their shoulders or neck when standing. Tell students to try to keep their feet off the bottom. (Once students become more comfortable with treading, you can practice this skill with them in deeper water.)

2.) Students should immediately start moving their arms and legs once their feet lift up from the bottom of the body of water.

Arm movement:

Keeping the head above water while treading can be a challenge for new swimmers. If they keep at least their faces out of the water, they're doing a great job.

Keeping the head above water while treading can be a challenge for new swimmers. If they keep at least their faces out of the water, they’re doing a great job.

Students should start with their palms open and facing each other at about shoulder-width apart. The elbows should stay bent. Students should slowly bring the palms together in the water and, when there’s about an inch-wide space between the palms, flip the hands over so that the pinkies are up and the thumbs are down. The students should then keep this position as they push their hands back out to about shoulder-width apart. Once their hands reach shoulder-length apart, the student should then flip hands over so that the palms are facing each other once again. Slowly bring the palms back toward each other until they’re about one-inch apart. Repeat this process in a smooth, rhythmic motion. The arms should never stop moving.

Leg movement:
For now, instruct your student to flutter kick while treading. Many swimmers typically tread while doing egg-beater or breastroke kick (AKA “frog kick”), but I won’t write about these techniques until later. For now, flutter kick will suffice.

Remember:
– The arms and legs should never quit moving while treading, but this doesn’t mean the

Bodies should stay vertical while treading.

Bodies should stay vertical while treading.

movements have to be fast. Treading should be smooth and rhythmic – the whole idea is to conserve energy.
-Be sure students keep their bodies in a vertical position. They shouldn’t be leaning forward or back when practicing this skill. (Doing so causes them to move forward.) If treading correctly, students should remain in one spot, with their heads above water.
– Practicing the arm movement out-of-water first might help students gain a better understanding of the technique.
– Make sure your students are moving their arms side to side, not up and down.
– Be sure the student keeps breathing. The key to treading water is relaxing.

COMING SOON: Jumping into deep water