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learn to
swim
ROB & KATHY MCKAY
learn to
swim
Step-by-step water confidence and safety
skills for babies and young children
DK PUBLISHING, INC.
LONDON, NEW YORK, MUNICH, MELBOURNE, DELHI
Senior editor Salima Hirani
Senior US editor Jennifer Williams
Senior art editor Hannah Moore
Project editor Claire Wedderburn-Maxwell
Project art editor Tracy Timson
DTP designer Julian Dams
Production controller Shwe Zin Win
Managing editor Liz Coghill
Managing art editors Glenda Fisher, Emma Forge
Photographic art director Tracy Timson
Art director Carole Ash
Publishing manager Anna Davidson
Publishing director Corinne Roberts
First American Edition 2005
05 06 07 08 09 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Published in the United States in 2005 by
DK Publishing, Inc., 375 Hudson Street
New York, New York 10014
Copyright © 2005 Dorling Kindersley Limited, London
Text copyright © 2005 Rob and Kathy McKay
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright
Conventions. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in
a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic,
mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior
written permission of the copyright owners.
Neither the authors nor the publisher can be held responsible for any
damage or injury resulting from baby swimming.
Catologing-in-publication data is available from the Library of Congress
ISBN 0-7566-0955-O
Reproduced by Colourscan, Singapore
Printed and bound by Star Standard, Singapore
See our complete product line at www.dk.com
CONTENTS
6
8
10
The Breath-holding Cue
96
62
Face-to-Face Dip
98
Jump, Dip, and Swim
INTRODUCING
BABY
SWIMMING
63
Jump from the Wall
100
Turning Around Underwater
INTRODUCTION
60
Guided Swim to the Wall
64
First Held Underwater Swim
66
First Unaided Underwater
The Benefits of Baby
68
Balance
Swimming
69
Time to Go
70
BEGINNERS: STAGE TWO
71
Stage Two Lesson Plan
106
Unaided Turn Underwater
72
Kicking Drills
108
The Safety Sequence
73
Blowing Bubbles
74
Reaching for and Grabbing
110
INTERMEDIATES: STAGE THREE
12
Positive Teaching Methods
18
How Children Develop
20
Signs to Stop
22
Choosing a Suitable Pool
24
Safety
26
What You Need—The Basics
28
Toys and Learning Aids
30
Questions and Answers
Swim
102
INTERMEDIATES: STAGE TWO
103
Stage Two Lesson Plan
104
Intermediate Swim to the
Wall
105
Jump, Swim, and Turn Back
to the Wall
111
Stage Three Lesson Plan
112
Coming Up for Air—
114
Coming Up for Air—
FOUR-YEAR-OLD BEGINNERS
116
Front and Back Floating
the Wall
76
Learning to Wait
77
Monkey Walk
Assisted
Equipment
WATER
CONFIDENCE
78
79
Adapted Lesson Plan
118
Swimming on the Back
36
Teaching Beginners
80
Facial Submersions
120
180º Roll During a Swim
38
Bathtime Fun
82
First Short Swim
122
Diving for Rings
40
First Trip to the Pool
84
Standing Step Jump
44
Water Adjustment
85
Alligator Walk
124
Resources
46
Water Pouring Station
126
Index
48
Games and Songs
128
Acknowledgements
52
The Activity Circuit
54
BEGINNERS: STAGE ONE
55
Stage One Lesson Plan
56
34
86
ADAPTATIONS FOR THREE- TO
SWIMMING
UNAIDED
88
Teaching Intermediates
Kicking
90
INTERMEDIATES: STAGE ONE
57
Above-water Pass
91
Stage One Lesson Plan
58
Cheek Dip
92
Rob’s Tai Chi Pass
59
Cheek Roll
94
Fin Fun
INTRODUCTION
Learning to swim can be one of the most rewarding experiences of childhood. It is a
celebration, a rite of passage, and a gift of freedom. Reintroducing your baby to the water
at a young age makes perfect sense—after all, your little swimmer was surrounded by
water in the womb for nine months.
People around the world use water for relaxation, play, therapy, ritual, health, nourishment,
invigoration, and exercise. Water is an integral part of our human heritage, physical make-up,
and planet. In water we are weightless, free, caressed, and cleansed. Babies can enter this unique
natural element and its altered gravity in a non-stressful, harmonious manner. Your baby can
learn to swim months before he can walk, and it will be easier for him to propel himself to you
in the water, rather than learn to pull himself up, fight gravity, and walk toward you. None of us
remember learning to walk, and in much the same way a baby who learns to swim at an early
age, as part of a gradual, child-centered approach, won’t remember a time when he couldn’t
swim and claim water citizenship.
Who better to teach your baby to swim than the people he trusts the most? We believe
parents are a baby’s best teachers, on land and in the water, and have therefore adapted our
established swim-school program specifically for this book, so that we can pass on the wealth
of knowledge we have gained from our nurturing and stimulating child-friendly classes. Learn to
Swim is designed to help parents establish an optimal learning environment for children aged
six months to four years. Utilizing our combined 50 years of experience in teaching thousands
of babies and children to swim, we will guide you to successfully create a watery classroom
full of positive reinforcement, color, music, stimulation, laughter, and motivation.
Our commonsense approach places your child at the center of the learning. He will learn and
develop swimming skills through games, songs, humor, praise, and developmentally appropriate
skill activities. You will follow a child-paced, step-by-step learning progression especially designed
for very young swimmers. And although this book is for parents who are teaching their own
children to swim, we hope swimming teachers will also find it useful and integrate our gentle
approach to baby swimming into their programs.
Learning is a process, not a product—it should occur at the child’s pace, when he is open,
receptive, relaxed, and ready. We teach swimming—not thrashing—and that takes patience,
practice, and a great deal of time, and when you give your child that time and patience, you lay
a foundation of mutual respect and trust that you can build on in other areas of your lives.
Teaching your child to swim in this supportive and caring way is not just about helping him to
learn water confidence and safety skills. It is also about developing a teaching style in relation
to the way your child learns, encouraging and supporting him rather than being demanding
and demeaning, and replacing the pressure to learn with the desire to learn.
Celebrate each small step along the way, and remember that there is no need to rush or
force your child to perform as there will be periods of skill assimilation and learning plateaus.
Read your baby’s body language and assess his level of readiness to determine the course of
each lesson. We want your child to enjoy this experience from his very first trip to the pool, in
the hope that he will continue to enjoy swimming for a lifetime. As you play with your baby
in the pool, you are not only teaching movement through the water, but fostering exploration,
curiosity, trust, joy, wonder, risk-taking, confidence, grace, and endurance.
In the first chapter of the book, we introduce all the essential basics: the philosophy of our
teaching; the many benefits of baby swimming, what you need to take to the pool, positive
child-friendly teaching methods, and comprehensive water-safety strategies. The second chapter,
Water Confidence, is divided into stages that are based on age. In this chapter, we take you
through the initial phases of water adjustment, how to teach your child to hold his breath for
submersion, then onward toward the exciting moment when your baby takes his first swim
between two people. Once your baby can comfortably perform all the age-appropriate skills in
this section, you will move on to the intermediate swimming skills, such as turning around
underwater, floating, and diving for rings, as shown in the third chapter, Swimming Unaided.
We hope this family experience is a remarkable one for both you and your child. Delight in the
giggles and splashes, the time you have to bond in the pool, and the excitement and pride your
child shows as he develops new skills. So grab your swimsuits and let’s go to the pool...
introducing
ba b y
swimming
Water, babies, laughter, and learning to swim… it’s an unbeatable
combination. When approached in a nurturing, child-friendly way,
baby swimming offers your child numerous benefits, including boundless
joy and increased self-esteem and confidence. It enhances your baby’s
physical and personal development, resulting in a happy, healthy, and
well-adjusted child. Our journey begins with an important first step—an
informed parent. The goal of this chapter is to help you become a
confident, active, and trusted learning partner for your child.
10
IN
ND
G BABY SWIMMING
RU
NTNRI O
ND
G UHCEI A
THE BENEFITS OF BABY SWIMMING
There is a wide range of benefits available to babies and children who are taught
to swim in a gentle, gradual, child-paced way. Researchers have documented some
of the measurable positive effects of baby swimming, and parents around the world
have witnessed first-hand the many enhancements to mental, physical, emotional,
developmental, and social well-being that result from teaching their children to swim.
EMOTIONAL BENEFITS
Swimming allows babies to move independently
much sooner than they are able to on dry land.
STUDIES ON
BABY SWIMMING
Imagine the boost of confidence and self-esteem that
movement through the water brings your child as
achievement on the way to mastering a skill, you
A study conducted by Professor Liselott Diem
from 1974 to 1976 at the German Sports
College in Cologne, Germany, found that
children who learned to swim at an early age
demonstrated advanced development in:
build her self-esteem. Babies’ faces glow after they
motor skills
successfully accomplish a task—they look for approval
reaction time (reflexes)
and validation, and parental acknowledgement of their
power of concentration (focus)
she explores her new, watery environment. Every time
you catch your child after a jump or a short swim,
she learns trust. When you praise her for each small
efforts fosters their personal self-acceptance and pride.
Swimming can be very empowering for babies, since it
intelligence
offers them a new sense of freedom.
social behavior
social interaction
Parent-child bonding
Where else but in the water can you commune faceto-face, skin-to-skin with your baby for extended
periods of time in a warm and inviting natural element?
Teaching your baby to swim increases your bond with
her as you play together and move in unison, and as
you exercise patience, encouragement, and kindness
toward her. You will learn about her growing
personality, sense of humor, and how she approaches
new situations. As you teach her, you will become
aware of her learning style and her changing needs
and abilities. This knowledge will not only aid successful
baby swimming but will also help you establish positive
parenting methods that you can use outside the pool.
self-confidence
independence
coping with new and unfamiliar situations.
Overall, children were found to be more
well-adjusted than their peers who had not
participated in early swimming programs, and the
increase in both self-esteem and independence
due to baby swimming were cited as contributory
factors.The study also concluded that children
who swam from an early age benefitted from
positive interaction and bonding with their parent.
THE BENEFITS OF BABY SWIMMING
11
SOCIAL BENEFITS
to their growing repertoire of land-based skills. Because
If you can gather a group of like-minded parents and
both sides of the body are involved, and therefore both
teach your children together, they will reap the social
lobes of the brain, swimming increases coordination,
benefits—they learn from their peers by observing and
motor development, and balance. Parents also see better
mimicking them, and also enjoy their company. Children
sleep patterns after swimming.
begin to look forward to interacting with each other,
learning to take turns, to share, and to try new skills.
PERSONAL SAFETY
With time, practice, and developmental capability,
PHYSICAL BENEFITS
children can acquire the necessary swimming safety
All the fitness benefits that swimming brings adults
skills to aid them in the event of a water emergency.
—an increase in strength, muscle tone, endurance, and
A calm child who feels at home in the water and who
lung capacity—are also enjoyed by children. For young
has regularly practiced safety skills with her parent will
babies, movement through the water liberates them
not panic, but will rather proactively implement the
from a comparatively static life, and allows them to
techniques she has learned. Note, however, that no child
exercise muscles that would otherwise not yet be used.
should ever be considered “drownproof,” and you should
For older babies, swimming is the natural complement
always be vigilant when your child is in the water.
12
I N T RO D U C I N G B A B Y S W I M M I N G
POSITIVE TEACHING METHODS
Being a proactive, positive parent directly helps to nurture a well-adjusted, happy child.
When teaching your baby at such a young age, you have the opportunity to build trust,
share joy, communicate by touch and words, and bond with your child as he experiences
new and varied stimuli. The impact you have on your child at this young age cannot be
overestimated, and baby swimming is a unique opportunity to develop and put good
teaching practices into action.
THE CHILD-CENTERED APPROACH
PROGRESS AT YOUR CHILD’S PACE
We live in an era that has benefitted from research into
Just as children learn to walk, talk, and read at different
the capabilities of babies. No longer seen simply as little
ages, they also learn to swim at different rates. As a
lumps, babies regularly astound scientists with their
parent, it is critical that you do not place any
innate abilities. We now know how even a very young
accelerated expectations ahead of your child’s actual
baby can discern faces, language, and emotion, and how
readiness to learn a skill. All children learn to kick when
activities and experiences affect his mental development.
they swim—but some do it on the first day, while
Although babies develop many skills from an early
age, parents should not attempt to create a “super
others do it only after a great deal of time, motivation,
and practice. Kicking on the first day doesn’t make one
baby.” Children should not be pressured or pushed
child better, smarter, or stronger than another child
to perform, but guided to develop their skills
who learns later—it simply means they are different
at a rate they are comfortable with.
and unique individuals.
POSITIVE TEACHING METHODS
THE IMPORTANCE OF
BODY LANGUAGE
Even before your baby can speak, he is a very
capable interpreter of your body language, and
will pick up on the slightest nuances.Your facial
expressions, muscle tension, tone of voice, and
reactions will all convey clues to your child about
his environment and how he should act. It is
therefore vital that you are relaxed and confident
with him in the water, as he will pick up on your
cues, whether positive or negative.
A relaxed, gentle touch and upbeat, playful, or
calm tone conveys a sense of ease to your child.
Don’t worry about how quickly your child learns a new
technique—just focus on helping him acquire a skill a
little bit at a time. Make the most of the process and
the time you are spending together doing an activity
you both enjoy, and remember the most important
thing is to make your lessons fun and playful.
Comfort in the pool
Both children and parents bring with them a host of
previous water experiences—some positive and some
negative. Some babies have been in the bath or shower
with water pouring over their face from just a few days
old, others have seen their older brother or sister swim
underwater, and still others are fearful of the water
because of a water scare or a previous bad experience
with an aggressive swimming program. Some children are
shy and want to assess a new situation from a distance;
others show an inherent aversion to having water on
their faces, but some will bolt immediately into a new
environment without a care.
Remember also, if you are the gregarious parent of
a reserved and cautious child, you will need to respect
the fact that you have your own individual differences,
and learn from your child what makes him secure,
comfortable, and happy in the pool.
Use positive signals such as smiles, hugs, highfives, applause, laughter, or a kiss to reassure your
child and reinforce a positive atmosphere.
Don’t send mixed signals—for example, don’t
force your child to carry out a maneuver and then
give him a hug or a kiss. Use encouragement
rather than coercion.
You should carefully watch and interpret your
child’s body language—especially if he is too
young to speak.This will help you assess his
comfort level and whether he is happy with the
skills or games that you are practicing.
A relaxed, happy, smiling child is enjoying the
experience. Note that his muscles will feel soft, not
tight or tense.
If your child is clinging to you, it means that he
is not ready and needs more time to adjust to the
new situation. Don’t rush him or pull him away
from you—give him the security he is seeking.
Crying is your baby’s way of telling you that
something is wrong and signals a need to stop
what you are doing. Redirect your child’s attention
with a toy or by playing a different game, and
assess what caused the crying.
13
14
I N T RO D U C I N G B A B Y S W I M M I N G
FEAR VERSUS LOVE
the pool, mimicking what she saw earlier. Use these “off”
Some parents and swimming programs see water as the
days to focus on the skills that your child enjoys, relax
enemy—a lethal danger to be feared, and a threat to be
the pace of your lesson, and sing and play together.
dealt with. These “drownproofing” or “survival” swimming
programs often rely on aggressive methods, such as
YOUR ROLE IN THE POOL
forced back floating. Skills are goal-oriented and must be
Being in the water with your child is vital as it creates an
acquired rapidly by the baby in order for her to save
immediate sense of security. A parent provides familiarity
herself if she enters the water unexpectedly. A parent is
and can progress through the lesson at the child’s pace.
generally not present in the water during the lessons in
Is your child relaxed and ready to try something new,
case the child relies on her parent to help her.
or is she tense, stressed, or frightened and in need
These aggressive methods are in complete opposition
of more time to adjust? The parent’s role is one of
to the child-centered approach, which is based on love
conscious and aware observer as well as instructor.
of the child, love of water, and love of learning. We
How you present new material and skills to your child
believe that this positive focus, and the fun it fosters,
will be as important as the skills themselves. As this is
leads to much more successful learning than a fearful
a child-centered approach, always go at her pace, and
environment can produce. Water is seen as a wonderful
remember that your tone of voice, mood, and muscle
medium for growth and development, and the parent is
tension send strong messages (see box, p13).
always in the water, bonding with his or her child,
facilitating learning, and assisting with the gradual
acquisition of skills. This means that the parent knows
exactly what their child can and cannot do in the water,
COMPARING
TEACHING METHODS
how long she can hold her breath, and how competent
a swimmer she is. The parent also recognizes their own
responsibility to safeguard their baby and to implement
a comprehensive water safety strategy (see pp24–25).
Aggressive swimming programs use pressure
and coercion to achieve rigid goals.The childcentered approach is very different, and
progresses at the child’s pace.
COPING WITH CRANKINESS
GOAL-DOMINATED
CHILD-CENTERED
Everybody is allowed a bad day occasionally, and
PROGRAM
PROGRAM
skill comes first
child comes first
time-frame is rigid,
and there is pressure
to perform
time-frame is flexible
and depends on
child’s readiness
force and coercion
are used to teach
survival skills
gentle guiding and
encouragement help a
child accomplish goals
feel better. If you are swimming with other children,
teacher is dominant
progress at child’s pace
your child will benefit from observing everyone else
no-nonsense format
fun, playful learning
sometimes children will have a bad five minutes or
an entirely bad week. Often this crankiness may be
unrelated to swimming—teething is a common problem,
as is a missed or interrupted nap, hunger, or a change
in schedule (for example if one parent is away). It is
important for you to be sensitive to the physical energy
levels and mood of your child and to not push her.
Hopefully, just being in the water will help your child
swimming. Observation time for a child may mean she
will try a skill later in the bath or on her next trip to
POSITIVE TEACHING METHODS
15
16
I N T RO D U C I N G B A B Y S W I M M I N G
FOCUS ON THE MOMENT
Being patient
Because your child’s swimming lessons may be his first
Make sure that you are relaxed and having fun during
educational outing, they should be positive experiences
your swimming lessons, enjoying the giggles and splashes
that lead to many other educational successes as he
that naturally accompany learning. Be patient with your
grows up. It’s up to you to get into your child’s frame
child if he hates jumping off the wall or putting his face
of mind: focus on the game, the adventure, the color,
in the water—he is bound to surprise you in the end.
the fun, and the laughter. Remember that your child
Don’t let your tone of voice or your words betray you
will be much more focused on the moment—on the
and indicate to your child your disappointment or
simple delights and novel experiences—and shouldn’t
frustration. Instead, try another tactic or switch to
be rushed. Try to recall how thrilling your first trip
another skill. Often, simply time and exposure are
to a swimming pool was and what your child must be
required before a new skill seems less intimidating,
excited by: the feel of water on his skin, the bright
and begins to look like fun and worth trying.
toys, the sight of water all around him, and the other
people in the pool.
Using humor
Somehow, silliness has become the universal unspoken
MAKING SWIMMING LESSONS FUN
language that all children understand. Whether you’re
Crying is not a prerequisite for learning to swim, so
playing peekaboo with a baby or creating an elaborate
never let an ill-informed relative or teacher tell you that
pirate fantasy with a four-year-old, these children know
this is the case. Add skills slowly when your child is ready,
we’re doing something fun and want to be a part of it.
never pushing him beyond his abilities, and remember
Use play and toys to your advantage—they are great
that forcing skills on children is contrary to every sound
learning aids as well as good distractions after a child
learning theory. Your own swimming program should
does something they are not sure of, like a first
resemble all the best land-based programs for the relevant
submersion. The more involved your child is in the
age group and contain those elements that best suit early
game, the less likely he is to realize that he is trying
education—games, toys, fun, and laughter.
something new that might be daunting.
KEYS TO AN OPTIMAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
To ensure that your child has the best possible
environment in which to learn to swim, follow
these guidelines:
The parent should always be in the water.This
provides instant security and familiarity and promotes
trust and bonding
Have frequent lessons. Repetition and practice
encourage smooth, consistent learning that closely
resembles a baby’s natural learning pattern
Warm, clear water is essential for baby swimming.
Babies do not have a fully developed thermal
regulatory system so the water needs to be warm.
Good water quality also ensures health and safety.
(See Choosing a Suitable Pool, pp22–23)
Develop a positive learning environment. Create an
atmosphere that appeals to the senses by using water
play activities, games, songs, and colorful toys (see Toys
and Learning Aids, pp28–29).
POSITIVE TEACHING METHODS
17
Encouraging toddlers
water’s not going to hurt you.” Always appeal to a
Once your baby begins evolving into a toddler, signs
child’s sense of fun and humor—for example, dripping
of emerging independence may challenge your
water on the face can be called a “fishy kiss.” Remember
parenting skills and require more patience both in the
to always praise every achievement, however small.
pool and at home. During this developmental stage the
If you want to stop your child from doing
operative word is “no,” and “no” may truly mean “no” or
something, then don’t just say “no,” but use
it may mean “yes” or even “maybe.” It is important at
another tactic. For example, if he is
this stage not to make the pool a battleground, as
jumping before you finish the
pushing a child who is pushing you usually backfires.
count, ask him to count aloud
Instead, increase the amount of play and slapstick in
with you, then jump.
your routine, and use games, distractions, and rapidly
changing, entertaining lessons to keep this age group
motivated and interested.
Communicating with your child
Think about how you phrase
things, and always talk
about what you are going
to do in a positive
rather than a negative
way. For example, ask
your child to “Jump
and splash me and get
me all wet,” rather than
saying, “Jump to me—the
Imaginary play Encourage
older children to try new skills
through imaginary play. For
example, diving for a pirate’s
hidden treasure trove sounds
far more exciting than simply
diving for rings.
18
I N T RO D U C I N G B A B Y S W I M M I N G
HOW CHILDREN DEVELOP
Every child develops at her own pace, but there are common developmental stages that
all children pass through. The exercises in this book are set out according to these stages,
so your child will never be learning water skills that she is not yet ready to acquire.
Whether your child is a six-month-old baby who loves
one. In general, parents of younger babies tend to be
the water and swims like a dolphin, or a three-year-old
nervous, when taking their child swimming, but don’t
whose mood changes daily about whether she likes the
worry—you will find that your baby is very durable,
water or not, you need to be aware of what your child
and that both of you are very capable.
is physically capable of and the best way to teach her.
Within this age group lies the golden opportunity
to quite easily become at home on, in, and under
BABIES FROM 6 TO 12 MONTHS
the water. The young baby is still close to the fluid
The majority of babies in this age group love the
environment she left in the womb—she has no fears,
water—they enjoy their bath and happily make
and is not yet claiming independence. Once babies are
the transition from tub to pool. They are content
comfortably swimming at this young age, they will never
with water poured in small amounts over their heads
know a time when they didn’t know how to swim. They
and faces, which makes the water adjustment phase
will not be afraid of the water and can learn safety skills
easier and briefer than for older babies.
sooner than children who start at an older age.
What to expect in the pool
TODDLERS FROM ONE TO THREE YEARS
Babies up to nine months love to splash and wriggle in
Sturdy legs, an evolving kick, increased coordination,
the water, and show the rapid whole body undulation
and a sense of humor typifies this age group of
of the dolphin- or froglike reflex kick. Between six and
swimmers. This broad age span includes beginning
12 months the reflex kick fades away and is replaced by
walkers to running toddlers, non-verbal babblers to
gliding for a while, until a learned kick is acquired later.
competent speakers, and easygoing one-year-olds to
Babies may stare a great deal, but as their age
increases you begin to see a more alert and focused
independence-testing three-year-olds.
Because of their interest in manipulating toys and
child. Learning the Breath-holding Cue (see pp60–61)
objects, as well as the fact that they can understand
also shows parents the difference between a reflex
games and observe actions and consequences, children
reaction and a skill that the child actually learns.
of this age are prime participants for learning through
Younger babies also tend to be more sensitive to
interactive games and songs.
water temperature. They can become chilly faster, tire
more quickly, and sleep much longer after swimming.
What to expect in the pool
Because the age range is so large, so is temperament.
The benefits of swimming
Starting swimming at 13 to 18 months means you’ll still
For nearly all babies in this age group, swimming will
be in a primary period of receptivity to water, making
be the first educational experience out of the home
it easier to learn how to swim—there will be less fear,
environment, and it is important to make it a positive
more cooperation, and a love of water. From 19 months
HOW CHILDREN DEVELOP
19
to three years, growing independence, stubbornness,
can show off her vigorous splashes, while another might
and fear may necessitate clever game playing, humor, and
be a great bubble blower, and yet a third may happily
additional time for your child to learn new skills.
put her face in the water.
As most children in this age range are becoming
Children begin to focus more, follow simple
mobile, the early reflex kick is now replaced by a
directions, and link several skills together. Imaginative
learned and voluntary kick.
play also distinguishes this age group and helps a
frightened, hesitant child, as well as a boisterous one.
The benefits of swimming
Try using a circus, pirate, or spaceship theme in your
Children of this age begin to be more aware of each
lesson—whatever motivates and encourages your child.
other and will copy other children, so for beginner and
Children in this age group also like to work for
intermediate swimmers this is a good time to start
rewards. A simple high-five may do. Or let her collect
swimming with other children. Through playing games
a pile of toys earned one at a time as a reward. Little
and using toys together in the pool, children develop
steps, reinforced and repeated again and again, begin to
social skills such as sharing and communication.
instill a pattern of a desired behavior.
CHILDREN FROM THREE TO FOUR YEARS
The benefits of swimming
These children are real characters and make swimming
Part of gaining trust involves respecting a child who
lessons lively with their burgeoning personalities, highly
tells you that she doesn’t want to put her face in the
verbal commentary, and vivid imaginations. They are fun
water. Where you as a parent can help her transcend
to interact with, and have their own particular likes and
that fear is by using play, games, and humor to help
dislikes as well as varying experiences with water.
her accomplish a submersion in small, nonthreatening stages. You may encounter
What to expect in the pool
stalling techniques, but be
With physical sturdiness and growing coordination this
patient. Once they have
age group is very capable of swimming well. They can
gone past the largest
produce a strong voluntary kick, and sit, climb, or stand
hurdles, this age group
with little or no assistance. However, if they are just
demonstrates great
starting to learn to swim at these ages, a good
competency.
percentage of children will have fears. Some of
these fears may be pronounced and almost
paralyzing, others slight and easily calmed.
Watching a peer who already swims can
bolster confidence, and children like to
show their peers and siblings what they
can do. Peer learning is extremely
appealing at these ages, and if you can
gather a group of friends and their
parents then you will see the benefits as
the children copy and encourage each
other. If one child kicks well she
20
I N T RO D U C I N G B A B Y S W I M M I N G
SIGNS TO STOP
Responding to your baby’s needs, health, security, and comfort have been part of your
job description since the day he was born. Now you need to take your keen nurturing
and observational skills to the pool where your parental instincts will help you gauge the
flow of instruction and, most importantly, when to slow down or stop.
A TEAR-FREE ZONE
Make your swimming lessons a “tear-free zone.” Often
people who have witnessed aggressive swimming lessons
are astonished at the laughter, water confidence, and
lack of tears at our school.
There are several ways to keep the mood lighthearted
and the learning stress-free, including stopping, going
more slowly, or more accurately matching your child’s
pace. You cannot do everything at once in baby
swimming, and trying to do so will only stress your
child and overwhelm him. Always speak calmly and
softly, and move gently—a rough tug, hard push, or
gruff, impatient tone will only lead to tears.
Remember the following points:
do not introduce any new skills until a child is ready
If you see signs of resistance or discomfort because
you’ve jumped ahead of your child’s readiness, stop. Go
back to the previous skill or portion of the skill and do
not move on until your child is ready.
Don’t do everything all at once. Instead, do a little
bit each lesson and gradually the skills will develop.
If you are stressed or frustrated, stop. Step back and
take a deep breath before starting afresh.
If your baby is uncomfortably cold, shivering, has
blue lips, or is tired or upset, stop immediately and exit
the pool.
Lessons should be happy, playful times together. There
is no one rushing or timing you, so go at your child’s
pace and relax. If things aren’t going smoothly, just play,
enjoy the water for the rest of the lesson, and start
again at the next session.
S I G N S TO S TO P
SIGNS NOT TO GO IN
There are some days when it is important to stop
before you even begin. If your child is physically ill, for
example has a bad cold, heavy congestion, a stomach
virus with vomiting or diarrhea, a fever, an ear infection,
conjunctivitis, or anything contagious or infectious, stay
at home and rest until he is better. Not only are you
potentially exposing others to illness if you swim, but in
some of these cases your child’s muscle strength, lung
capacity, and mood will be compromised by exercise
such as swimming. In other cases, your doctor will call a
temporary halt to lessons until a subsequent visit clears
your baby to resume activities. Otherwise, use your
good judgement and do not take your child swimming
until he returns to his normal activity levels and health.
WHEN NOT TO SUBMERGE YOUR CHILD
When first learning the cue for submersions (see
pp60–61), some babies may sputter, cough, or be a bit
surprised. Usually, their attention can be redirected with
a toy or different activity. However, if after a couple of
times your child is uncomfortable or begins resisting the
cue and submersion by arching his back, stop. Go back
to playing at the Water Pouring Station (see pp46–47)
and practicing the Cheek Dip (see p58). Once the Cheek
Dip has been slowly and successfully re-introduced, you
can try the Cheek Roll (see p59). After a couple of
weeks, as comfort returns, you can re-attempt the
forward motion of the Breath-holding Cue (pp60–61).
How often to submerge your child
Excessive water swallowing, choking, and gagging are
not part of this program, so limit the number of times
that you submerge your child each lesson and gradually
introduce submersions so that breath holding is learned
over a period of lessons. If you feel your baby has
swallowed a bit too much water, stop. Slow down and
return to the Water Pouring Station (see pp46–47)
before gradually re-attempting submersions. Remember,
never force your child to go underwater.
THE “TERRIBLE TOOS”
Often when parents are having problems
teaching their baby to swim it can be traced
back to an adult’s “Terrible Toos”: expecting
too much, too soon, too far, and too often.
Too much
Babies can easily become overwhelmed, for
example by having too much water poured over
the top of their heads, or when too much new
material is presented to a hesitant child.
Too soon
You should always be alert and aware of signs of
readiness in your baby before you attempt new
skills. His comfort, competence, and relaxed
confidence will indicate he is ready to try the next
step. Attempting skills that are not age-appropriate
will stress babies and result in a lack of trust, an
unwillingness to attempt previous skills, frustration,
and tears. Progress sequentially through the book,
waiting to build up the skills as your child grows
and develops both physically and mentally.
Too far
When swimming your child underwater, don’t stand
too far from your partner so your child does not
have to swim a long way to reach him. Keep your
child’s trust by lifting him out of the water while he
has air in his lungs and is comfortably holding his
breath. Lung capacity is gained slowly, not in leaps,
and swallowing excess water will hurt your child.
Too often
Repetition is the key to reinforcing a new skill,
but know when to stop. Putting a new beginner
underwater too often when he is just learning
the Breath-holding Cue (see pp60–61) may mean
he tires and begins swallowing water. Asking an
apprehensive three-year-old to put his face in too
often starts eroding trust. Practice skills, but move
on to a new task before overdoing any one skill.
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22
I N T RO D U C I N G B A B Y S W I M M I N G
CHOOSING A SUITABLE POOL
Think of the care that you put into looking after your baby, and make sure that this
extends to choosing a suitable public pool in which to teach your child to swim. Take
your time and carefully check out the pools near where you live. The pool and changing
facilities must be clean, and the water clean, clear, and warm.
POINTS TO CONSIDER
Size of pool
There are a number of important points you should
Pools come in all shapes and sizes, but with a little
bear in mind (see also Questions and Answers, pp32–33)
creativity you can carve out your own niche and
before you select a pool in which to teach your child:
adapt your lesson to any pool. If it is just you and your
the pool water should be warm and clean
the deck, locker room, and shower areas should be
well-maintained and safe
stroller access should be available with adequate
space on decking areas
decking should have good drainage so that it
is not slippery
the pool should be a comfortable depth for
your lessons (see opposite)
the pool water should be crystal clear
disinfectant levels, for example of chlorine,
must be sufficient to eliminate the risk of
infection but should not irritate your child
indoor pools should be adequately
ventilated so there are no overpowering
chemical smells
outdoor pools should have some shade
the lifeguards should be trained in
CPR and First Aid and should be helpful,
friendly, and informative
an emergency telephone should be close by
As well as the above, make sure that the
pool opening times are convenient, and that
there is safe parking and access to the pool.
baby, then you will need a minimum area of
8 x 8 feet (2.4 x 2.4 m); for a small group you need at
least 15 x 15 feet (4.6 x 4.6 m).
C H O O S I N G A S U I TA B L E P O O L
Checking the depth
thermometer is an inexpensive and invaluable
You will feel most comfortable holding your baby in
investment. In a public pool, other swimmers will
waist- to chest-deep water, the height of which will
generally require lower temperatures so you will need
vary between people, but is usually around
31/2–4
feet
(1–1.2 m) deep.
It is best to use an area of the pool with an even
to compromise. If the water is less than 85°F (29.5°C),
you may need to shorten the length of your lesson.
If your child begins to shiver, has blue lips, is unhappy,
depth or a very gradual slope. When working with a
or is less cooperative than usual, get out of the pool,
slope, just be aware of where—and how rapidly—
dry off, and warm up. Remember that babies have
the drop-off occurs, and try not to teach near any
immature thermal regulatory systems and chill easily.
dramatic drop-off so that you don’t suddenly enter
deep water and lose your footing.
23
Outdoor hot tubs and Jacuzzis are also not
recommended for use by babies since temperatures in
these small pools often soar to 103°F (39.5°C), which
Ladder or step access
is dangerous as it far exceeds a baby’s normal body
Pool steps can be useful for a number of activities.
temperature of 98.6°F (37°C).
For example, they are the ideal place for helping older
children learn to put their faces in the water (see
Air temperature
pp80–81). Also the Alligator Walk (see p85) is practiced
Take note of the air temperature. Remember that the
on pool steps. Older babies love the independence of
amazing thing about an indoor pool is that you might
standing on the steps, kneeling on their hands and
be swimming in a warm, heated pool while there is snow
knees, or putting their face into a shallow area of water.
on the ground outdoors. Even though the water is
If there is only ladder entry at your chosen pool,
heated, you’ll want the surrounding indoor air to keep
then you can still accomplish everything noted above
you from feeling chilled. The air temperature indoors
through other activities.
should be at least 75°F (24°C), which will be a
comfortable temperature for you in a dry bathing suit
Water cleanliness
before you enter the pool. Locker or changing rooms
The pool water should be clear enough so that you can
should be kept at a comfortable temperature, too.
easily see the bottom of the pool. Your public facility
If you are swimming outdoors then it is best to swim
must adhere to the water quality standards set by your
when the air is at least 75°F (24°C), with sunny skies
local government health officials. Acceptable Ph levels are
and little or no wind, so there is no wind chill.
between 7.2 and 7.8, with 7.4–7.6 as ideal. The levels of
disinfectant must be high enough to ensure that the
THE POOL AS A CLASSROOM
pool water is impeccably clean, but not so strong that
When your baby sees your pool classroom, she should
they cause visual or respiratory problems. If, when you
get the impression that it is a fun place to learn. Like
place your face in the water, the water hurts your eyes
any conscientious and organized teacher, you should
then we recommend not swimming in it with your child.
plan a layout of your space and equip your classroom
before you begin. First walk the pool you plan to use
Water temperature
without your baby. Check for water clarity, appropriate
Ideally, the water temperature in the pool should be
temperature, ease of entry, depths, and slope. Imagine
very warm for babies, and 90–93°F (32–34°C) is
where you’ll play the games you’ve planned (see Games
optimal. If you have your own pool, then a pool
and Songs, pp48–51).
24
I N T RO D U C I N G B A B Y S W I M M I N G
SAFETY
Small children lack the cognitive ability to discern danger, and since water holds endless
fascination for children of all ages you must take every precaution to prevent your
child from entering the pool without you. It is your responsibility to implement safe
procedures and prevent impulsive explorers from entering the water unsupervised.
CONSTANT SUPERVISION
Before you start your lessons, prepare an action plan so
It is vital that you never leave a child unattended
that you know what to do in case of an emergency. This
either in or around water. This applies whether you
will help you to react quickly, calmly, and effectively if
are at a public pool, a friend’s house, at home, or on
something untoward happens to your child.
vacation. Remember:
Whether in a public or private pool, always check
never leave a child unattended in the bath
first that the pool is safe, that no area is overly slippery
always know where your children are, especially when
and could cause a child to fall into the pool, and that
you are near a body of water
the water is clean and clear.
never assume someone else is watching your child
At a public pool:
make sure that other caregivers understand the
check that the locker rooms, shower areas, and deck
importance of constant supervision
are safe and well-maintained
maintain constant eye supervision with your child
ensure you know where the lifeguards and
when around water
emergency telephone are, as well as the rescue poles
teach your child never to go in or near the water
or ring buoys
without a parent or caregiver
check that the lifeguards are trained in CPR and
if your child begins to walk or run toward the pool
First Aid.
without you, emphatically call to her to wait for you,
then calmly but quickly walk over to her and take her
hand in yours
if your child is missing, always check the pool or
other bodies of water first
do not drink alcohol when supervising children
keep contact with your baby when in the water.
At a home pool:
have a pole and ring buoy by the pool
put toys and other appealing objects out of the pool
and pool area when not in use
keep a telephone by the pool, and make sure that
emergency numbers are stored in the phone’s memory.
LEARNING SWIMMING SAFETY SKILLS
BE PREPARED
No method of baby swimming can guarantee that your
Familiarize yourself with all nationally recognized pool
child will not drown, but by learning to swim, she will
safety standards and teach your children all the pool
increase her chance of getting to safety if she finds
and water safety rules. Good safety habits, acquired
herself in the water in an unsupervised situation. The
early on, will last a lifetime. Remember that prevention is
following safety skills should only be taught at the
always the best cure, and that no child should ever be
appropriate age and only when your child is ready. To
considered “drownproof.”
maintain the efficiency of the safety skills, you should
SAFETY
reinforce them at least twice a week as part of a
30-minute lesson. Start by teaching your child the
first skill, and build up a foundation for the next skill.
With proper prerequisites and training:
At eight months a baby can begin to learn to hold
her breath and propel herself through the water with
confidence. This gives parents a few valuable seconds
if their child enters the water.
At 19 months a capable swimmer can begin to learn to
return to the side of the pool. By 24 months, this skill
may be executed with ease.
At three years a competent swimmer can begin to learn
to lift her head out of the water and take a breath.
BARRIERS AROUND A
HOME POOL
The abilities of infants and toddlers change
from day to day, so make sure that you have
layers of protection to prevent your child from
accidentally entering the pool area. Remember
that a young child can drown in just a few inches
of water, so if you are visiting a pool without
child-proof barriers, always make sure that you
can see where your child is. If your child is
missing, always check the pool or other bodies
of water first.
At three-and-a-half an experienced swimmer can begin
Close and lock all entrances from the house
to learn to back float and roll from her front to her
to the pool, spa, or other body of water.
back and then her back to her front.
Install an extra lock at the top of any doors
leading to the pool.This should be well above the
CPR AND FIRST AID
We strongly recommend that parents and caregivers are
certified in Infant/Child CPR, First Aid, and Water
Safety. Courses in these skills are run by nationally
recognized organizations (see Resources, p124).
reach of children.
Completely surround the pool with a meshtype fence.This must be impenetrable by children
from all sides. It should have a high degree of
transparency and a child-resistant latch. Always
keep the gate closed and latched when the pool
is not in use. If you use a different kind of fence,
make sure that children will not be able to get a
foothold and climb over it.
Install a pool alarm. Some of these detect
motion; others detect a mass in the water.
Use a safety pool cover.This will totally isolate
the pool. Remove the cover completely when the
pool is in use.
If you have an above-ground swimming pool,
secure, lock, or remove any steps when the pool
is not in use.
Install a perimeter fence or wall around your
garden or yard to stop unauthorized access from
Having a sturdy, high fence around your yard and a
good mesh-type pool fence that children cannot climb over
are essential safety requirements if you have a home pool.
the outside.
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26
I N T RO D U C I N G B A B Y S W I M M I N G
WHAT YOU NEED—THE BASICS
We suggest that you pack a swimming bag (like a diaper bag) for your baby, and restock
it after each lesson. As well as a swimsuit, towel, and swimming diapers, don’t forget to
take sunblock, ear drops, a change of clothes, and a snack for your child.
SWIMSUIT
Your child’s swimsuit should fit comfortably and have
OPTIONAL EXTRAS
snug elastic around the legs for girls, and waist and legs
SWIMMING DIAPERS
As your lessons progress, you may want to
add some extra items to your swimming bag
(see Resources, pp124–25).
Non-toilet-trained babies should always wear a swim
A silicone swim cap.This slips easily on and off
diaper, and in some countries this must be worn with a
a baby’s head without tugging at her hair.
swimsuit. You can use either a re-useable, washable nylon
A neoprene wetsuit for cold weather.
swim diaper, or a specially designed disposable swim
Mesh and rubber pool shoes for use with
diaper. For older children, you could use a swimsuit with
flexible rubber fins.
a built-in diaper or liner. Unlike regular disposable
Goggles. Buy anti-fog, anti-leak goggles that fit
for boys. Rinse and dry the suit after swimming.
diapers, which aren’t suitable for swimming, disposable
snugly on your child’s face.
swim diapers will not break apart in the pool, nor will
they absorb pool water and weigh your baby down.
The two layers of protection—the swim diaper and the
In some public pools
your child will have to wear
a swim diaper and swimsuit—
although some diapers and
swimsuits are made to be
worn on their own.
swimsuit—should contain any accident and give you
time to get your child out of the pool to change him.
It is a good idea to take a spare diaper to the pool.
SUNBLOCK
If swimming outdoors, you will need to apply a highSPF waterproof child’s sunblock. To maximize protection,
apply to exposed areas half an hour before entering the
pool. This allows time for the sunblock to be thoroughly
absorbed into the skin and it will be less likely to run
into your child’s eyes. Since sunblock stings and irritates
the eyes, be very careful how you apply it.
WHAT PARENTS NEED
You will require a serviceable, baby-proof swimsuit that
won’t fall off when your child tugs it, waterproof
sunblock, a towel, and a change of clean, dry clothes.
W H AT YO U N E E D — T H E B A S I C S
You may want to
purchase a sun-protective
suit (see Resources,
pp124–25) for your
child to use for outdoor
swimming in sunny
climates, or for fairskinned children. It should
be made of fabric that has
ultraviolet protection.
These suits not only stop
the sun’s rays, but also
help to block the wind
27
Apply sunblock 30 minutes before you
enter the pool so that it soaks into the
skin. Remember to reapply it regularly
Pack everything you
need in a mesh
swimming bag. Make
sure you have a large,
dry towel, sunblock,
ear drops, and a snack
for your child
Goggles help protect against the effects of
pool chemicals, and can greatly benefit
hesitant children. Children over the age of
three are most likely to keep googles on
Fins are used to improve
kicking and help young
swimmers get the feel of the
water.They also help to
correctly position the feet
near the surface of the water
Swimmer’s ear drops will evaporate
any water left in the ear after swimming.
Put two to three drops in each ear after
swimming (see also p33).
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I N T RO D U C I N G B A B Y S W I M M I N G
TOYS AND LEARNING AIDS
Visit any good early education center and you will see that toys, songs, and games are used
to create a stimulating environment. A watery classroom should be no different—so use
these suggestions for toys and aids to help your child learn to swim. Don’t worry if you
don’t have everything, since you can improvise with other toys and household equipment.
Toys are a vital component of this swimming program
TOYS FOR BEGINNERS
(see Resources, pp124–25). They can be used to
Floating toys and balls can be used to encourage your
encourage a child to do an activity, as a reward, or as a
child to swim toward you and, along with buckets and
distraction after trying a new technique. Depending on
a floating baby pool, are used in a number of games.
the pool you are using and your mode of
Noodles are good for balancing on, while dive rings are
transportation, you can either accessorize your classes
fun to duck underwater for.
with everything shown below, or take just a few things
with you in a bag when you go to the pool, such as
AIDS FOR INTERMEDIATES
your child’s favorite floating toys and balls, a bucket, a
Barbells, hoops, goggles, fins, and kickboards are best
colander or small watering can, and some dive rings.
used by intermediate and older swimmers who have
already mastered the basic skills.
basketball hoop
mesh bag and towel
buckets
noodles
dive rings and toys
TOY S A N D L E A R N I N G A I D S
29
Use a variety of toys every lesson, either as an
Wearing fins (top) not only lets your child swim
enticement to swim toward, a reward, or a distraction
farther, but helps to tone, and condition the leg muscles.
for your child after he has attempted a new skill.
Swimming through a hoop (above) provides a focus
for your child and encourages proper body alignment.
barbell
kickboard
goggles
fins
floating pool
floating balls
hoops
30
I N T RO D U C I N G B A B Y S W I M M I N G
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
PARENTAL CONCERNS
I can’t swim, and I’m afraid of the water. Can I still teach
my baby to swim?
As long as you can comfortably stand in waist- to chestdeep water, you’ll have no problem.You don’t need to go
underwater or be able to swim in order to teach your
child. Just act confidently and happily so you don’t transfer
any anxieties you may have to your child. Often, nonswimming parents who witness the joy of baby swimming
become relaxed enough to give swimming another chance.
I am nervous about teaching my baby on my own.
What can I do?
How about asking a group of like-minded friends, relatives,
or neighbors and their babies to join you? Not only will
you feel happier with the support of other adults in the
water, but the group energy is contagious and puts
everyone in a happy, playful, encouraging mood. Babies are
taught in group classes at our swim school as we find
children learn best when swimming with other children.
Who can substitute for me in the water if I can’t get in
the pool with my baby?
Your child will succeed best when she has a trusted, familiar
caregiver with her in the pool—for example, a grandparent,
uncle, or babysitter. Just make sure that your substitute fully
understands the gentle nature of this child-centered
approach and follows the teaching instructions carefully.
I’m pregnant. Can I still teach my baby to swim?
At any one time, nearly a quarter of the mothers in our
swim school are pregnant. As long as you get clearance
from your physician, there is no reason why you shouldn’t
give your child swimming lessons.
I want to take my baby to swim classes as well as
teaching her myself, but how do I choose a good one?
There are a number of highly recommended classes with
a strong local or national reputation, but you should still
make sure the class meets your criteria for your child.
We recommend group classes as children benefit from
watching and playing with their peers. Make sure that there
is a positive atmosphere with songs, games, and happy
babies, and that there is a good rapport between the
teacher, children, and parents.The teacher should be
patient, enthusiastic, and focused on their class, knowing
when and how to introduce skills gradually and sequentially
in the curriculum and at the child’s level of readiness.
AGE-RELATED QUERIES
Do I really have to wait for my baby to be six months old
before I start teaching her to swim?
In our experience, starting formal instruction when your
child is at least six months old is sensible. She has a medical
history by six months, her head and neck strength have
improved, and her level of alertness has increased. Plus, you
have gained a comfort level in caring for your child.There’s
also a lot you can do prior to six months to prepare her
for her first swimming lessons (see Bathtime Fun, pp38–39).
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
My daughter is nearly four. Am I too late to start
teaching her to swim?
It is never too late to learn how to swim! We like to start
babies before 19 months as younger babies usually love the
water and aren’t testing their limits (or their parents’) as
toddlers often are. For older children, fear may be more of
a factor due to the child’s increased understanding of her
physical world, her actions, and the concept of danger.
However, it is a thrill to teach beginner three- and fouryear-olds.They may require more patience, more play, and
more trust building, but their imaginations are developing,
they are more verbal, their sense of humor can be tapped,
and their pride once they learn something as momentous
as swimming is incredible to watch. It may take your older
baby longer to adjust to the water and learn the initial
skills, but once she gains her confidence, her more mature
physical abilities, coordination, and ability to comprehend
and follow directions will allow her to move more rapidly
through the program than a younger baby would.
My three-year-old is so stubborn. How will I ever
teach her to swim?
Start by simply playing. Use toys, songs, and games to
demonstrate what fun the two of you will have in the
water (see Games and Songs, pp48–51). Don’t make
the pool a battlefield—make it fun with lots of toys, balls,
cups, and colanders she can play with and manipulate.
Concentrate at first on things she finds interesting, then
once you establish a learning rapport, you can slowly
incorporate new skills into your play.
THE BEST WAY TO LEARN
How often should we take our baby swimming?
“A little bit on a lot of days” is best.The more frequently
you swim with your baby, the more natural the learning will
be. Watch how your baby practices crawling at home, and
note how she learns a little bit every day and tries again
and again, improving as time progresses. Because a baby
can’t swim in the pool by herself, you need to build her
consistent, frequent lessons into your schedule. We have
found that in baby swimming, particularly at the start,
optimal learning consists of practicing four times per week,
for 30 minutes each session, over a course of weeks and
31
months, gradually adding and refining skills. For frightened
children or those who have had a bad water experience,
four lessons per week is essential for overcoming
apprehension and slowly building trust and comfort.
What happens if I can’t take my child swimming as often
as you suggest I should?
Many busy family schedules do not permit four days of
practice per week, but if you can visit the pool at least
twice a week the learning will progress smoothly over a
more extended and gradual time-frame. As you will be
spending less time in the pool practicing skills, you should
try to have additional bathtime sessions during the week to
reinforce the pool lessons through songs and water play.
When is the best time to practice?
Babies learn best when they are comfortable, rested, alert,
and fed. Choose a time midway between sleep or nap
times, for example during the morning or early evening.
Nap times vary and they often change for individuals
during the course of learning to swim.This is normal and
can be due to age, developmental growth, change of
schedule, or even the seasons, so adjust your swimming
lessons accordingly.Try not to have to wake a sleeping
baby for a swimming lesson, as your child is likely to be
cranky and uncooperative.You can feed your baby before
your lesson, but make sure you don’t start swimming with
her for at least half-an-hour after you have fed her.
32
I N T RO D U C I N G B A B Y S W I M M I N G
Can I use toys, songs, and games in my lessons, or will
they distract my child?
We use toys to our benefit—as motivation, a reward, and a
distraction to redirect attention. By using toys your child will
learn about manipulating his environment—while playing at
the Water Pouring Station (see pp46–47), he will discover
which objects float, which sink, and how liquid conforms to
the container it fills. Songs provide a needed diversionary
break or rest following busier, more active exercise. Songs
and games also enhance child development on many levels,
including helping the development of motor skills and tactile
stimulation. (See also Toys and Learning Aids, pp28–29, and
Games and Songs, pp48–51.)
Can I vary how often I teach my child?
Once a beginner has established his foundation skills, ideally
by having four lessons a week, switching to the twice-aweek format for intermediate and advanced skills is often
easier to sustain for busy families. By this point, your child
will be familiar with the structure of the lesson and all its
elements. However, remember that if you go to the pool
less often, you will need to adjust your teaching methods
and introduce new skills more slowly.You may also find that
only going twice a week is not providing enough water
time, exposure, or practice for your child, and if this is the
case, then increase the number of times you go. In addition,
if your child is very clingy or apprehensive, going swimming
more often will result in a better, more relaxed, natural
atmosphere for him.
Can I use inflatable water wings, buoyancy trainer
swimsuits, or flotation devices?
Various swim aids are acceptable if used solely as a
supplement to your lessons, but several problems exist with
their use. First, if you put your child in a flotation device
(water wings, tube, buoyancy swimsuit, or similar), you must
remain within hand’s reach of him.These items are not
lifesaving devices, and a child may get in trouble if not
carefully watched. Second, all of these devices are ultimately
designed to keep your child’s head out of the water. Since
we are trying to teach a flat, horizontal position with your
child’s face in the water, this awkward position with the
head out of the water can establish technique problems or
bad habits that must then be overcome. On the plus side,
when used as supplements to your lessons, these devices
can provide an alternative way for your child to play in the
pool, and may encourage kicking and water adjustment.
SAFETY CONCERNS
How can I choose a good pool to take my baby to?
Make sure that the pool and changing facilities are wellmaintained, clean, and safe, and that the water is clear and
warm (90–93°F/32–34°C is best).The water should be
disinfected so that it is clear, not cloudy, but there shouldn’t
be an overwhelming smell of chemicals. Check if or where
the pool slopes into the deep end, and make sure you
know where the lifeguards are located. (See also Choosing
a Suitable Pool, pp22–23.)
How soon can I teach my baby water safety rules?
Because young babies comprehend language before they
can actually speak, you can start shaping safety practices
and setting pool rules very early on. In this book, you will
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
see that children are taught not to jump until the count of
“three.” Waiting for the count of “three” is critical as it
reinforces the fact that pool entry requires adult permission
and does not just happen when the child wants it to. Once
your baby starts to walk, begin establishing a simple routine.
Never let your child walk toward the pool without you, but
take his hand in yours and walk together.This early
repetition will often result in your child actually seeking out
your hand prior to approaching the pool. (See also Safety,
pp24–25, and Learning to Wait, p76.)
There is so much concrete in and around pools, how can
I protect my baby from bumps and scrapes?
Hard surfaces can spell potential accidents. When on the
deck, practice walking, rather than running, with your child
toward the pool.Verbally point out the fact that, “We walk,
not run, when going to the pool.” Avoid obviously slick or
wet surfaces if you are carrying your child. Once in the
pool, practice unaided swims in open areas away from
walls. When practicing swims for which you approach the
wall, move more slowly and deliberately.Your adult walking
pace toward the wall will allow your child to swim at the
actual speed he kicks in the water and will avoid
accelerating him toward concrete surfaces.
HEALTH-RELATED CONCERNS
Should my baby be inoculated before swimming classes or
prior to entering a public pool?
Just as you would do for any other physical activity, your
child should be cleared by your pediatrician before enrolling
in swimming classes, or before you begin teaching him at
home. By the age of six months, most babies have received
preliminary shots. Before you go swimming, also make sure
that you and your child are free of contagious diseases, and
neither of you has open cuts or sores.
My baby has a cough and runny nose—can we still go
swimming together?
It is not normally advisable to go swimming if your baby has
a cold, as he will have a harder time holding his breath and
exercising, and he may not feel like going in the water at all.
Just rest at home until he feels better. On your return to
the water, take it easy; his skills may be a little rusty.
33
Can premature and physically or mentally challenged
babies learn to swim?
The forgiving buoyancy of water and the gentleness of this
program, coupled with the focus on parental bonding, is
outstanding therapy. We have taught premature infants,
babies who are developmentally delayed or have autism or
Down Syndrome, and babies with physical limitations or
muscular weaknesses—all have thrived in the water. Just
check with your pediatrician before you start lessons.
If my child has asthma or allergies can I take him
swimming, or will it make his condition worse?
As always, you must clear all pre-existing medical conditions
with your pediatrician before starting swimming lessons.
Some research has found that swimming may be less likely
to produce symptoms in children with asthma than other
forms of exercise.This is thought to be because the humid
air in the pool area doesn’t irritate the respiratory system
as much as dry air does. Generally, very few allergies are
triggered by swimming, although there are a few children
who are sensitive to chlorine.
Is my child likely to develop an ear infection as a
result of swimming?
If you take preventative measures—using ear drops after
each swim—your child is unlikely to get a swimmer’s ear
infection. As a baby can’t unclog a water-blocked ear, it will
be your measures that will make sure trapped water
doesn’t turn into a bacterial ear infection. Buy ready-made
ear drops at your drugstore, and put two or three drops in
each ear after swimming.
How can I tell if my baby has an ear infection?
If your child tugs at his ear or tries to put his finger in
his ear and is irritable, he may have swimmer’s ear (otitis
externa) and you should take him to see your pediatrician.
If treatment is required then do not take your child
swimming until the problem has cleared up.The other
common ear infections are middle ear infections (otitis
media), which seem to be unrelated to swimming and
result from colds, congestion, allergies etc.Your physician
will advise you whether your child can swim. If frequent ear
infections have necessitated “tubes” being placed in his ears,
consult your physician about the measures you should take.
Baby being held, coming up from a submersion, happy
happy.Slade
wat e r
conf i d ence
Come on in… the water’s waiting! Whether your baby is just six months or
nearly four years old, this chapter shows you enticing learn-through-play
strategies to teach him essential foundation skills. From early fun and play
in the bathtub, to safely entering the pool, holding your child in the water,
and using toys, games, and songs, this chapter prepares you for your first
lessons. The initial step is water adjustment, in which your baby learns to be
comfortable in the pool. Then, based on his readiness, you’ll teach him to
hold his breath when submerging on cue. With time, practice, and
proficiency, you’ll let go of him for a solo swim. Finally, you will witness the
event that is the goal of this chapter—your baby swimming freely between
his parents for five seconds—a wonderful achievement.
36
WAT E R C O N F I D E N C E
TEACHING BEGINNERS
Parents of all beginners, whether six months or four years old, should start here. Some of
you may have never taken your child to a pool, some may have played with your baby in
the water or even submerged your child. Whatever level you are at, start at the beginning
of the program and gradually, with practice, your child will gain confidence in the water.
BATHTIME FUN
USING THE LESSON PLANS
Even before your first trip to the pool, get your child
Lesson plans are given at the start of each stage of the
accustomed to water during her bath (see pp38–39). If
skills for beginners. These are suggestions for fast-paced
she loves the water, we want to keep it that way; if she
30-minute lessons, allowing you to practice the skills
doesn’t care for it, we want to improve the situation.
you teach your child in fun, inviting ways. By following
Remember the key approaches of the program—gradual,
the plans, your child will practice a wide range of skills
long-term, child-centered, playful, developmentally and
without you losing her attention. The structure of the
age-appropriate—and put these into practice in the tub.
plans, and the focus on the routine of the Activity
Circuit, also bring familiarity and consistency to your
WATER ADJUSTMENT
swimming sessions, so your child will come to look
Getting your child used to the water, and helping her
forward to each successive part of the lesson.
to learn to love it, is a key part of this program. The
When you start teaching your child to swim, simply
first stage of water adjustment happens in the bath.
play with her in the water. Then, once you feel she is
Once your child is happy playing in the bath, you can
ready, introduce the exercises in Stage One (see pp54–69)
transfer your bathtime games and songs to the pool.
one at a time, as listed in the lesson plan. Remember that
In the pool, introduce water on your own face or on
a doll or puppet, then try a little on your child’s face.
Play at the Water Pouring Station (see pp46–47), which
is a fun way to get her accustomed to the water. Always
make sure your child is happy in the pool. If she becomes
distressed and cannot be distracted by a toy or game,
stop. Back off and simply play games or pour water on
less threatening parts of the body than the face and head.
Play is a great way for your child to become
comfortable with having water poured or splashed onto
her. Games and songs (pp48–51) are therefore ideal tools
for water adjustment as well as for learning new skills.
Attention spans are short at these ages, so to keep your
child happy in the pool make sure your lessons flow
well. By following the format of the Activity Circuit (see
pp52–53) your child will practice different skills as she
moves at her own pace from one activity to another.
your child will only be able to practice a few of the skills,
so spend plenty of time playing games or at the Water
TEACHING BEGINNERS
37
Pouring Station during your lessons. Over time, she will
BEGINNERS AGE 12 TO 35 MONTHS
master all the skills in Stage One, and you will be able to
If your child is aged between one year and 35 months
complete the entire lesson plan for that stage, and can
then start with Beginners: Stage One. Once she can
move on to the next. Amend the lesson plans slightly at
perform all the skills given in that section, move on
each session to suit your child’s mood on the day.
to Beginners: Stage Two to help her build on the
foundation skills learned in Stage One. Once your
BEGINNERS: WHERE TO START
child has acquired all the foundation skills in Stages
All beginners should start the program at Beginners:
One and Two and is at least 14 months old, move on
Stage One (pp54–69), regardless of their age, because
to the Intermediates chapter.
the general foundation skills that all young swimmers
need are introduced here. Start off slowly, spending time
BEGINNERS AGE THREE TO FOUR YEARS
getting your child adjusted to the water using games,
If your child is aged between three and four years,
songs, and play, keeping your lessons as fun as possible.
you should first refer to the section showing Adaptations
Work through the exercises sequentially at your child’s
for Three- to Four-year-old Beginners (pp78–85). This
pace, practicing the skills by following the Stage One
section has its own lesson plan that uses many of the
lesson plan (p55).
techniques shown in Beginners: Stage One, but—
importantly—it substitutes Stage One submersion skills
BEGINNERS AGE SIX TO 11 MONTHS
(pp59–62) with self-submersions (pp80–81), which are
If your child is between six and 11 months old, start with
more age-appropriate. Also, the swims in Stage One
Beginners: Stage One (pp54–69). Once she has mastered
(pp64–67) are replaced by the techniques on pp82–83.
all the skills given in this section, and turns one year
Once your child has successfully mastered all the
old, you can move on to teach her the new skills given
self-submersions and swims specifically adapted for
in Beginners: Stage Two (pp70–77). When she has learned
three- to four-year-olds and has learned other Stage
the skills in Stage Two and is at least 14 months old,
One foundation skills (kicking, jumping, and balance),
move on to the Intermediates chapter (pp86–123).
she can move on to Beginners: Stage Two.
38
WAT E R C O N F I D E N C E
BATHTIME FUN
If your baby enjoys his bathtime, we want to maintain and transfer his love of water
to the pool where play is broader, splashes are bigger, and water is everywhere on
the horizon. For a baby less enchanted by the bath and having water on his face,
going to the pool will get him used to water in a different environment. By using your
baby’s daily bath routine to bring in play that complements swimming, you elevate a
simple daily ritual into an essential learning tool.
As your baby’s view expands beyond the confines of
his bath and you both develop new ways to interact
with water, baths become easier and more pleasurable.
Months of preparation in the bath before beginning
baby swimming will help you and your child move
smoothly from the bathtub to the pool.
First baths—sponge bathing
A baby’s first baths are generally not done in the
bathtub, but by sponge bathing. Early bathtimes should
be loving moments spent interacting with your baby.
A soft tone of voice, gentle singing, and warm water
squeezed from a washcloth or sponge, or poured from
your hands lets your baby know how special your time
with him and the water is. To get your child used to
the water, before using soap, trickle water all over him.
Lay your child back very slightly from vertical, and
with a cupped hand, cradle his head at the neck. With
your other hand, use a wet sponge or washcloth to
gently squeeze water over the top of his scalp so it flows
over his face. If he is startled, reassure him with your
voice and stroke his arms, cheek, and hair to comfort
him. Apply a little water several times each bathtime.
Tub baths—parent and child
Initially, when your baby moves from sponge baths to
the bathtub you should join him. Before you get in,
always test the temperature with your elbow to check
B AT H T I M E F U N
39
that it is comfortably warm. Cradle your child securely
SHOWERS
against you and hold him with one hand. With your
other hand, use a washcloth or sponge to drizzle water
over his head and face. Slowly move him around in the
water, supporting his chin and neck with your hands if
he is on his stomach, or supporting his neck and head
if he is on his back.
Once your baby is older and has head and neck
strength, sitting positions will be more interesting for
him. It is a good idea to add a selection of colorful
floating toys to the bathtub that he can play with.
At this point, you can also start using songs to
encourage water adjustment. First, sing simple songs with
verses that encourage hand and feet movements, such as
“The People on the Bus” and “If You’re Happy and You
Know It.” Clap, splash, and kick with your baby to the
various verses. Then, before using soap or shampoo, sing
bath-related rhymes such as “This is the Way We Wash
our Clothes” (from “Here We Go Round the Mulberry
Bush”, but substituting body parts for clothes), and
dripping small amounts of water over the different parts
The convenience of showers and the feel of
constantly running water on the skin makes
them popular with adults, but what about with
babies? Showers offer water in a playful way that
both you and your child can enjoy. However, they
don’t allow for time to play with toys the way a
bath does, so make sure you build some fun
time in. Use a removable shower head to tickle
the toes, tummy, and fingers, or to drench a
puppet or toy.
SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
Turn on the shower before entering and
carefully check the water temperature before
exposing your baby to it.
Adjust the flow from the shower head to a
much more gentle pressure for your baby than
you would use as an adult.
Watch that you don’t over-expose your child’s
ears, nose, and mouth to rushing water.
of your baby. Finish by dripping water over the top of
his head, then divert your child’s attention with a toy.
From the age of about three, more elaborate fantasy
Tub baths—older children
play is possible in the water. Toys should reflect this
Older, stronger babies can sit up on their own in
change, so try adding a mermaid doll and a school of
the bathtub, but never leave a child unattended in the
toy fish; a port with boats and cargo; or a troupe
bath, even if he is in only a few inches of water. Sit
of puppets to the bath. As you play with your child,
next to the tub so you can watch and interact with
develop different scenarios, and make sure you pour
your child. This is a good time to introduce a variety
water over the toys and your child as you play. Use
of toys with different uses, such as cups for pouring,
the puppets to show your child a new trick of blowing
a waterproof doll you can pour water over, a strainer
bubbles, or dip the mermaid’s face into the water and
or colander you can pour water through, and a spray
encourage your child to copy her. Children will perform
bottle you can mist water from. Your baby will be
actions for toys and puppets that they would never
interested in the movement of water from container
easily attempt for their parents.
to container, and should be encouraged to pour water
Once your child is at least six months old, enjoys
from the containers onto a doll and himself. This type
his time in the bath, and is happy with water trickling
of play in the bathtub is a good precursor to the
over his head and face, you can take him for his first
Water Pouring Station (see pp46–47).
trip to the pool.
40
WAT E R C O N F I D E N C E
FIRST TRIP TO THE POOL
Before your first trip to the pool, get your child used to the water while in the bath
(see Bathtime Fun, pp38–39). Then, when your child is at least six months old and enjoys
playing in the bath, it’s time to transfer your games to the pool.
This is the start of a very exciting journey for both of
the pool—not one when she is likely to be tired or
you, so try to make your child’s first experience at the
hungry—and don’t rush while you establish a new
pool a happy one that she’ll want to repeat and will
routine. For your first few lessons, just think of the
begin looking forward to. Choose an
optimal time of day to go to
pool as a “big bathtub,” and let her simply play in
the pool and get used to the seemingly vast expanses
of water around her.
On your first trip to the pool, allow your child
plenty of time to get accustomed to the sights, sounds,
and smells of this new and strange environment.
Remember that she is experiencing a novel and very
different location, situation, and routine. Observation
helps to acclimatize a child, so talk her through the
different areas of the pool. Show her the water, toys, and
locker room. Tell her what a good time you and she are
going to have, and how you’re going to play together in
the pool just like you do in the bath.
Don’t pour or trickle any water on your child’s face
during this initial trip. This is purely a chance for your
baby to gain familiarity with the pool and to enjoy the
water. This is a great day for observing your baby and
bonding with her, and it is therefore vital that you take
it slowly and calmly so that she leaves on a positive
note and does not have any worries about her next
trip to the pool.
During your first few sessions in the pool do not
try teaching your child any of the techniques shown
further on in this chapter. Practice instead a safe entry
into the pool so that you are both happy getting into
and out of the water (see pp41–42) and try out a few
of the safe holds (see p43). Allow your baby time to
get used to the water and the new environment of the
pool, practice familiar bathtime activities, some songs
and games (see pp48–51), and let her play and relax.
F I R S T T R I P TO T H E P O O L
41
SAFE POOL ENTRY
Getting into and out of the pool may seem to be a
straightforward maneuver, but with a baby in your arms
and wet, slippery surfaces to negotiate, you need a plan
that guarantees safety for both you and your child.
Each pool is designed in a different way, but assessing
the safest access from the deck into the water and back
out again will make for pleasurable first and final
moments of your child’s swimming lessons. There are a
number of different ways you can enter the pool with
a baby or young toddler, depending on the access
available, your child’s age, and whether you are on your
own or accompanied by another adult. If you are alone,
do not be afraid to ask for help.
Simple pool entry with two adults
If you are at the pool with a partner, then pool entry is
simplified.While you stay on the deck with your baby,
steadying her in a sitting position at the pool’s edge, your
partner can safely get into the pool. Once he is standing
on the pool floor facing your child, you can ease your
baby into his arms with either a sitting jump or a lift,
before safely entering the pool yourself. Reverse this
procedure to carry out a safe exit from the pool.
Simple pool entry with one adult
If you are on your own with a young baby of manageable
weight, a safe entry can easily be accomplished down a
set of concrete pool steps.With one arm, hold your baby
so that he is straddling your hip at the waist.With your
free hand, firmly grasp the handrail and slowly walk down
the pool steps. If there is no handrail, use your free hand
to help you keep your balance if necessary.
42
WAT E R C O N F I D E N C E
Alternate pool entry
Stand with your child next to you by
the edge of the pool, with her on your
dominant side (your right side if you are
right-handed). Carefully lower yourself
to a sitting position, with your knees
bent and your feet in the water. Help
your child to sit next to you in the same
position.Tell her to stay seated while
you get in the pool, and to wait until you
tell her she can jump in.
To enter the pool, place your hands
on the pool edge on either side of your
hips, with your palms facing down and
your fingers facing the water. Push down
on your hands, lock your elbows, lift your
buttocks, and gently glide into the water
so you land standing on the pool floor.
Turn so you are standing in front of your
child. Place your hands under her armpits
so she can jump into your arms.
If you are teaching your child in a pool with no
concrete steps, or if you are alone without the benefit
of a helping hand, practice the alternate pool entry (see
ENTERING
THE POOL SAFELY
above). Use this only at the shallow end of the pool
and with older children who can steadily sit and
Never jump or slide into a pool with a child in
independently move from a sitting to a standing
your arms.
position and back again.
If unassisted, try to avoid climbing down a ladder
Throughout this entry, talk to your child so that
she knows what you are doing at each point—that you
will enter the water first, and that it will then be her
turn to get into the swimming pool. This should stop
her from trying to get into the water before you are
ready to catch her.
Do not attempt the alternate pool entry if your
when holding a child.
Always use a handrail when one is available.
Move slowly and securely as you enter and exit
the pool; there is no rush.
If you are alone or worried, ask pool personnel to
help you to enter the water safely.
physical abilities are compromised in any way, for
For the alternate pool entry, choose a depth
example by pregnancy, back problems, or wrist, arm,
marked between 3 and 4 feet (90 and 120 cm).
or shoulder weakness.
F I R S T T R I P TO T H E P O O L
43
SAFE HOLDS
The following holds offer you comfortable and safe
options for moving with your child. With all these
holds, make sure your hands are secure but relaxed
(and not clenched), as this will indicate your confidence.
Also talk to your child throughout to reassure her.
The Waltz Hold
This hold provides the most security for your child,
and should be used if he is unsure or clinging to you. It
is the ideal hold for the first few trips to the pool. Move
a child from the Waltz Hold to the Face-to-face Hold
only when you feel him relax in your arms. Hold your
baby up in your arms, slightly to one side of your torso,
so that he is straddling you around the waist to chest
area and is only slightly immersed in the water.
The Face-to-face Hold
You will find that the Face-to-face Hold
provides a great opportunity to
communicate with your baby as you will
have direct eye contact.With your child
facing you, place your hands under her
armpits, with your thumbs facing up.Walk
slowly backward in the water so that her
body floats up and stretches out behind
her.Watch her mouth to ensure that she is
not licking or swallowing any water. If her
mouth is too close to the water, tilt your
wrists upward slightly so that her face
moves away from the surface of the water.
The Pass Hold
This is the most common way to hold a relaxed child,
and you will use this functional hold to perform most
techniques, including kicking drills, passes, and swims.
Hold your baby on your dominant side (your right side if
you are right-handed), so that she is in a near-horizontal
position with her face a few inches above the water.
Your dominant hand should be placed under her far
armpit, with your thumb facing up.Your non-dominant
hand should be under the armpit nearest to you with
your thumb, again, facing up.
44
WAT E R C O N F I D E N C E
WATER ADJUSTMENT
For the first few lessons, simply play in the pool with your child while he becomes
accustomed to the water. This is a very important part of the progam—if your child is
comfortable with water streaming down his face, and happy in the pool, he will be able
to easily move on to being submerged under the water in later lessons.
doll or puppet, and then over himself. With a more
confident baby, place the sponge over your own head
and let the water drip over your face, reacting gleefully.
Then sponge the water over your baby, or let him do it.
If your child is not comfortable with water being
poured over his face, begin with pouring games (see
pp46–47) until he is more relaxed in the water, then
progress to pouring water on his face.
Using songs
Singing a familiar bathtime song helps make the
transition from tub to pool a smooth one. Try using
“This is the Way We Wash our Clothes” (see p39).
Beginning at the toes, move up the body with the next
verses, pouring the water over the body part relevant to
Slowly conditioning your child to feel water on his
the verse you are singing. At the verse for the face, take
eyes, ears, nose, and mouth helps him to gradually
1/4–1/3
adapt to—and later enjoy—the sensation of water
“1, 2, 3,” then pour the water on to the top of the
on his face when he goes underwater. The best way
scalp. Immediately re-direct your child’s attention with a
to do this is through play.
toy or a different activity.
Using games
HELPING FRIGHTENED CHILDREN
A good way to encourage a child—especially a
For a clinging, fearful baby, the pool can seem like a
frightened older child—to accept the idea of water
daunting place, but you can change his perception by
flowing over his face is to turn it into a game. Use
building up his trust and confidence in you. Think
an absorbent foam ball or sponge to playfully stream
about how your child might perceive this unfamiliar
water over your child’s head, or over another object
situation and what he may be worried about. Then think
or person. To start with, use only small amounts of
of ways to gently help your baby to overcome his fears.
water, then increase the amount over the weeks.
Never pull a clinging child off you, but slowly ease him
For a young baby, pour a trickle of water from a
of a cup of water, sing, but before pouring, count
toward a new level of comfort through play. Some
sponge over a doll or puppet, then over your child.
children are so anxious they won’t get into the pool for
Encourage an older baby to sponge water over the
several lessons, but by going slowly you can help.
WAT E R A D J U S T M E N T
Start on the steps
Seated, kneeling, or on his stomach, a child in the lowwater level of the steps is reminded of the comforting
bathtub. Don’t feel like you’re missing out on “the big
pool”—your baby’s face can be submerged from the
edge of the steps, he can kick on them, jump from
them, and slowly ease himself into the bigger spaces.
Basketball fun
The best way to calm a frightened child is to redirect
his attention by playing a game—a basketball and
floating hoop near the steps are good for this purpose.
With both of you standing by the edge of the pool, let
your child shoot a hoop and cheer him on. Then move
down on to the top step and take alternate turns—you
USING DISTRACTION
TECHNIQUES
When you want to help your child to overcome
any apprehensions or worries, try using these
distraction techniques:
throw a ball and ask your child to chase after it
as you take him through the water toward it. Use
whichever hold he is most comfortable with
if there are two of you teaching your child, while
you hold him either play a game of catch with a
floating ball or encourage him to chase after your
partner, who should reward him with a toy when he
reaches him (see also p56)
shoot one then he shoots one. Move gradually down
blow bubbles from a jar of toy bubble soap
the steps when he is ready, continuing to take turns
give him plenty of toys to play with, such as those
shooting hoops and encouraging him all the time.
used in the Water Pouring Station (see pp46–47).
45
46
WAT E R C O N F I D E N C E
WATER POURING STATION
Encouraging your child to play with water is a great way to get her used to it, whether
she is uncertain about having water on her face, or a is beginner swimmer who needs
encouragement to go under the water. The Water Pouring Station is great fun, and can
be set up with any pouring items you have available—children’s watering cans, toy
waterwheels, cups, kitchen colanders, small buckets, plastic dolls, and spray misters
are all ideal. Move with your child from one item to the next, both of you
pouring water with the objects, into the objects, and over each other.
Help your child to
pour water over a
doll or puppet—
this encourages
her to pour water
over herself, too
Water Play
Choose objects that
carry different amounts
of water, and from which
water can be emptied in
different ways, so that your
child has plenty of variety
to keep her interested.
Colanders create a
satisfyingly large shower
or waterfall of water
WAT E R P O U R I N G S TAT I O N
WATER ADJUSTMENT
THROUGH PLAY
The Water Pouring Station should be used every
lesson, whatever your child’s abilities, as it has
many benefits:
pouring from one vessel to another can help
to refine motor skills and coordination
47
Cups can be used to
pour a sheet of water
over the scalp and
front of the face
Children love watching
the water moving as it
powers the waterwheel
it allows children of different abilities to
explore at their own rate in this self-paced activity
it creates a welcome break from skills that
might be more intimidating or challenging
it allows you to assess when your child is ready
to learn facial submersion. Once a child is
comfortable with water streaming over her face,
a parent can begin introducing facial submersions
and the Breath-holding Cue (see pp60–61).
Watering cans provide a light
shower of water, and can be
used to pour water over your
child, yourself, or a doll
Bright, colorful toys and balls
are always appealing to
children, and are reminiscent
of bathtime fun
Plastic cups are easy and fun for your child to use.
Encourage him to pour water from one cup to another.
48
WAT E R C O N F I D E N C E
GAMES AND SONGS
Treat your first few trips to the pool simply as extra play sessions, allowing your child
to become accustomed to the new environment and encouraging a love of water by
making the time fun using games and songs. Once you feel your child is ready to start
learning the water-confidence techniques (see pp54–85), games and songs will become
part of her lessons, keeping her stimulated and happy as she progresses, and creating
a positive and fun atmosphere that encourages learning.
Just as children love playing at home and at school, so
GAMES TO PLAY WITH YOUR CHILD
they will love singing and playing games in the water.
By fully integrating games and songs into your lessons,
Games and songs also support learning on a variety of
you will be able to introduce new skills to your baby
fronts as they involve skills such as coordination, logic,
in entertaining ways. You can also use them to provide
and memory. As such, they are invaluable learning aids
fun breaks for your child after she has tried new or
when you are teaching your child to swim.
challenging skills. Repeat the same games and songs
Children’s songs from around the world lend
in the bathtub and the pool so that your child is
themselves well to adaptation in the pool. Two of our
familiar with them. This will also reinforce the games
favorites are “The People on the Bus” and “If You’re
and accompanying movements and encourage water
Happy and You Know It,” but use any song that is
confidence in both the pool and the bath. Play the
suitable for the actions involved in water play.
games suggested below with your child, but adapt
them to suit her and the pool that you are in.
Motor Boat, Motor Boat
Hold your child under her armpits so that she is in
the Pass Hold (see p43). Spin yourself and your child
around quickly in a circle so that a slight wave is made
by your actions. You can just do the spin, telling your
child that you are going to go fast like a motor boat
does, or even better, you can sing a little song as you
play it, first going slowly, then fast, then running out of
gas and stopping. The song goes:
Motor boat, motor boat go so slow
Motor boat, motor boat go so fast
Motor boat, motor boat, run out of gas!
Children love to be spun round in the water,
making Motor Boat, Motor Boat a very popular game,
even with frightened children.
GAMES AND SONGS
49
Where Did They Go?
If your child is unsure of being in the water or has
been startled when practicing one of the waterconfidence techniques, show her this “magic trick”
to divert her attention.
You will need to fill a bucket with a variety of
colorful floating balls and toys. It is easiest to do this
trick if you have both hands free, so ideally have a
partner in the water to hold your baby.
Show your child the filled bucket, saying, “we’re going
to play a magic trick,” then quickly tip the bucket
upside down into the water trapping all the balls inside
the submerged bucket. Ask your child, “where did they
go?” Then count to three, and tip the bucket right side
up under the water. All the balls will pop to the surface,
and as they do you should shout, “There they are!”
Ask your child to pick up the toys and help her to
put them back in the bucket so you can play again.
TIPS FOR PLAYING GAMES
SUCCESSFULLY
Enjoy the look of delight on your child’s face as the
balls pop up out of the water when playing Where Did
They Go? Then encourage her to fill up the bucket again.
The Pick-a-ball Game
Play the same games—or sing the same songs—at
This key game is played every lesson during the Activity
home (whether in the garden or the bathtub). If your
Circuit (see pp52–53) and encourages your child to dip,
child is familiar with them already, she is likely to be
kick, or swim underwater, depending on her ability—in
confident playing them in the pool.
fact, these skills are introduced as part of this game.
Choose songs that match movement with lyrics,
Fill a small inflated baby pool with floating balls and
as these help to stimulate several brain functions at
toys and secure it at the edge of the pool. You will also
once, helping with the development of gross and fine
need a bucket on the side of the pool. Ask your child
motor skills, coordination, and rhythm.
to select a toy. Holding your child, stand opposite your
Interact with your baby while you are playing the
partner, 2–3 feet (60–90 cm) apart. Ask your child to
games. It will keep her alert and interested and she
throw the toy to your partner, then pass her to your
will follow the concept of what is going on through
partner and the chosen toy. (As your child’s comfort in
your running commentary.
the water increases, submerge or swim her toward your
If there is a group of you, circle up for singing.
partner using the skills shown on pp58–61 and pp64–67.)
It’s fun to watch faces across from you doing the
As she reaches your partner, he should give her the toy
motions and may encourage an attempt at a
(a good distraction if she is startled at being submerged)
previously untried skill.
and direct her to kick to the pool wall and place the
toy inside the bucket. Repeat with the rest of the toys.
50
WAT E R C O N F I D E N C E
GROUP GAMES
While playing group games you will see how much your
child benefits from watching his peers, demonstrating
The Pick-a-ball Game is a favorite with children
of all ages, and is played several times every lesson as a
key part of the Activity Circuit (see pp52–53).
what he can do, or copying them. Group games are a
great way for children to learn both water and social
that they encircle a parent-child pair, then raised up
skills while having so much fun they won’t want to stop.
again when the main verse is sung. One of the noodle
holders may gently pour water from a watering can
London Bridge Is Falling Down
You will need two people to hold two foam noodles in
an arch over the water. In a line, parents walk in a large
circle, carrying or swimming their child under the
noodle bridge while singing “London Bridge Is Falling
Down.” If your child is a beginner, carry him above
the water in the Pass Hold (see p43). If your child is
comfortable in the water, you can swim him under the
bridge either above or under the water, depending on
his abilities. On the verse, “Take the key and lock her
up,” the noodles should be dropped to water level so
A very stimulating game, “London Bridge Is Falling
Down” is always exciting for young children, who love the
combination of the words and actions.
over the children as they pass under the noodle bridge.
GAMES AND SONGS
51
Run and Jump
armpit. While the child runs down the mat have the
If you are able to use a large floating mat, which are
group chant, “run, run, run.” When he reaches the end
often available in public pools, then Run and Jump is a
of the mat, the spotter should lift him off the mat,
good activity for boosting your child’s confidence and
giving him the Breath-holding Cue (see pp60–61) and
helping him to learn how to balance on a moving
place him in the water for a dip or swim to the parent.
surface. However, as your child will perform a standing
More experienced swimmers will jump in unassisted.
jump with a held breath it is only suitable for children
who are at the intermediate level (pp86–123).
Working in a group, the parents should line up along
Big Ball Splash
For this game, three or more parents should stand in a
one of the long sides of the mat with their children
circle, holding their children under their armpits so that
and hold on to the mat with a free hand to stabilize it.
they are in a vertical position in front of them and
On the opposite side, someone with two free hands
facing away from them. Toss a large floating ball into the
should “spot” the child on the mat.
circle and tell the children to push the ball to their
The first parent should lift their child onto the mat,
friends. The aim is to get the children to extend their
then walk to the end of the mat to wait for their child.
arms, reach forward, and push the ball to another child.
The “spotter” should hold the child until the parent is
When everyone has had a few turns with their hands,
in the catch position, then the spotter should walk or
ask the children to put their feet up and kick or splash
run the child down the mat with one hand under each
the ball to each other instead.
Everyone has a great time during Big
Ball Splash—so much so that they will
forget that they are being splashed.
52
WAT E R C O N F I D E N C E
THE ACTIVITY CIRCUIT
Make the Activity Circuit a key part of each lesson—it provides a fun and interactive
structure for your child to practice the swimming skills he is learning. The circuit is very
flexible and can be adapted to the pool, situation, age, and skill level of your child,
allowing him to practice different skills at the stations that make up the circuit.
We recommend that you use the Activity Circuit
during every lesson. In it, your child moves around the
circuit from one activity to the next, playing different
games and practicing a wide variety of skills. Its
interactive format and use of toys and learning aids
provides a lively and fun environment and promotes
cognitive, perceptual, and sensory-motor development.
The different stations of the Activity Circuit provide a
set routine for you and your child to follow while
practicing skills. To benefit most from the circuit, you
should devote between 10 and 15 minutes to it in total at
each lesson, spending just a few minutes at each station.
This means that, depending on your child, you should go
around the circuit between three and five times.
Monkey Walk (see p77) Chasing a
parent while monkey walking teaches
children to move along the pool wall
to a safe exit point.
Water Pouring Station (see pp46–47) Here children
can get used to water by pouring it over dolls, toys, their
parents, and themselves.
THE ACTIVITY CIRCUIT
53
During the Activity Circuit your child practices key skills
You can adapt the circuit to suit your child’s age and
such as above- and underwater swims and the Breath-
skill level, as well as the pool and the equipment you
holding Cue (all as part of the Pick-a-ball Game),
have. An eight-month-old beginner would play all the
bringing in new skills as he becomes developmentally
games above the water, while an experienced swimmer of
ready (see the lesson plans on the following pages). The
three might swim the majority of the course, do standing
Water Pouring Station (see pp46–47) and Pick-a-ball
jumps, and dive to find sunken rings.
Game (see p49) are key elements of the Activity Circuit.
Each lesson plan outlines the best activities to include
in the Activity Circuit for your child’s age and ability,
although you may need to adapt this plan to suit the
pool you are in.
Pick-a-ball Game (see p49) This game incorporates
passes and swims in a fun way, with children moving
between their parents to retrieve a favorite toy, then
dunking it in a bucket.
Basketball (see p45) is a popular game with children
of all ages—from frightened beginners to experienced
swimmers—they all love shooting hoops in the pool.
Alligator Walk (see p85) Older children can
practice the Alligator Walk, moving along the
steps in a way that encourages the correct
body alignment for swimming.
( M i n i m u m ag e s i x m o n t h s )
b e g i n n e r s : S TAG E O N E
S TA G E O N E L E S S O N P L A N
55
STAGE ONE LESSON PLAN
LESSON PLAN
REQUIREMENTS FOR STAGE ONE
Minimum Age: Your child should be at least
six months old.
Skill Level:
Your child is a beginner.You should
have played at home in the bath
so she is accustomed to the feel
of the water (see Bathtime Fun,
pp38–39), and visited and played in
the pool to help her adjust to the
new environment (see First Trip to
the Pool, pp40–43).
WARM UP 3–5 minutes
Practise different holds and kicking.
SONG BREAK 3–5 minutes
Sing “The Wheels on the Bus” or a bathtime song.
ACTIVITY CIRCUIT 10–12 minutes total
p39
pp52–53
Structure the circuit as shown below. Go around 3–5 times,
spending a few minutes at each “station” before moving on
to the next.
a) Water Pouring Station
All new swimmers should start with this section, whether
pp43; 56
pp46–47
b) Jump from the Wall (once per round)
p63
c) Pick-a-ball Game (at appropriate level–see below)
p49
a water-loving six-month-old baby, a boisterous toddler,
This game involves passing your child from one parent
or a nervous three-year-old. (Note that there are certain
to the other. A series of submersion skills are introduced using
adaptations for three- to four-year-old beginners—see
this pass. Over time, as your child adjusts to one submersion
pp78–85.) Once your child is accustomed to playing in
skill, move on to the next in the order given below. Note
the bath, and you have introduced her in an unhurried,
that some submersions should be practised a maximum of
non-stressful way to the pool, you can begin using the
1–3 times per lesson. As you will be going around the
lesson plan here to structure your 30-minute lessons.
circuit 3–5 times, use the Above-water Pass instead in
These will consist of water-adjustment games as well as
some circuits so your child isn’t submerged too often.
the foundation swimming skills given in this section.
i) Above-water Pass
p57
Introduce new skills in the order in which they appear
ii) Cheek Dip 3–5 times max
p58
in this section. Over the days, weeks and months, move
iii) Cheek Roll 1–3 times max
on to the next skill or skill level only when your child
iv) The Breath-holding Cue 1–3 times max
pp60–61
masters comfortably the skill she has previously learned.
v) First Held Underwater Swim 1–3 times max
pp64–65
At the end of this stage, your child should be able to
vi) First Unaided Underwater Swim 3–5 times max pp66–67
complete the lesson plan at the highest skill level listed.
Although the lesson plan is your guideline, always base
p59
SONG or GAME BREAK 2–4 minutes
Sing or play one or two songs or games.
pp48–51
your lessons on your child’s learning ability, mood and
comfort levels. Remember that this programme takes a
JUMPS FROM THE WALL 5 minutes total
gentle, child-centred approach. Follow your child’s lead—
Jump from the Wall (first or second level depending
if she doesn’t want to do one of the techniques one
on ability) 3–4 times max
p63
BALANCE 3–5 minutes
p68
TIME TO GO 1 minute
p69
day, don’t push her, simply try another that she is
familiar with, play a game or spend extra time at the
Water Pouring Station (see pp46–47).
56
B E G I N N E R S : S TA G E O N E
KICKING
TEACHING TIPS
Babies are born with a natural dolphin- or froglike kicking reflex
that usually disappears between six and 12 months and is replaced
by a rudimentary learned kick with a small up-and-down
movement (a “flutter”). Between the end of the reflex kick and
the start of the learned kick there may be no kick at all, and your
child will just glide. At this point, if you want to encourage
When you witness someone else
kicking in the pool, point it out to
your child, saying “kick, kick.”
Praise and reinforce any attempt at
kicking, but do not move your
baby’s legs to simulate a kick.
Lightly tickling a baby on the arch
of the foot may prompt a kick.
your child to kick, these games are a good way to motivate him.
FIRST OPTION
SECOND OPTION
Stand in waist- to chest-deep water with your child
If your child isn’t eager to chase a toy, he is likely to
in the Pass Hold (see p43). Throw a floating rubber toy
love this baby version of tag. Hold your child as for the
or ball 3–4 feet (90–120 cm) ahead of you. Holding
first option, while your partner stands just ahead of you
your child above the water, encourage him to go and
and encourages your child to “kick your feet and get
get the toy and move him slowly toward it, praising any
me.” Your partner should keep walking slightly ahead of
attempts he makes to kick. Once he catches the toy,
you and your child until your child is allowed to catch
praise him again.
him and get a hug as a reward.
A B O V E - WAT E R PA S S
ABOVE-WATER PASS
57
OBJECTIVES AND TIPS
The simple action of passing your child to your partner above
water builds trust and familiarity. This basic pass will be used and
To slowly introduce different pass
positions in a non-threatening,
above-water situation.
To get your child used to
being passed from one adult
to another.
adapted throughout this chapter, and eventually leads to your
child accomplishing an unaided swim between his parents (see
pp66–67). Establishing a common repeatable pattern helps your
child assimilate new skills as he will recognize and be reassured by
Practice this new skill during the
Pick-a-ball Game (see p49) as you
pass your child to your partner.
the familiar action of the above-water pass.
1
Play the Pick-a-ball Game (see
p49) as part of the Activity
Circuit (see pp52–53) and ask your
child to select a favorite toy or ball.
Stand in waist- to chest-deep water
opposite the receiving partner,
2–3 feet (60–90 cm) apart.
Hold your baby in the Pass Hold
(see p43), and toss the toy across
to the receiver. Encourage your
child to get the toy, then move him
forward toward the receiver. Your
baby may kick or he may simply
glide with his head above the water.
2
The receiving partner should have his hands
outstretched as your child approaches him,
ready to catch and reward your child with the toy.
After picking your child up and praising him, he
should turn toward the bucket on the pool wall,
encouraging your child to kick toward it and to
put the toy in the bucket.
58
B E G I N N E R S : S TA G E O N E
CHEEK DIP
TEACHING TIPS
Gently brushing your child’s cheek against the surface of the
water is a great way to expose him to the sensation of water
sheeting across his face. After getting him used to the feeling of
water on his head in the bathtub (see Bathtime Fun, pp38–39),
you will now bring your child’s face into close proximity with the
Once your child is happy with
the Above-water Pass (see p57)
as part of the Pick-a-ball Game,
replace it with the Cheek Dip.
If you feel your child resisting in
any way, stop, and try again after
a few more lessons.
pool water in preparation for his first submersion (see opposite).
1
Stand in waist- to chest-deep water and hold your
child in the Pass Hold (see p43). Lift him up 8–10
inches (20–25 cm) so he is in an upright position with
just his legs in the water. Start to bring him slowly across
the front of your body.
2
As you bring him across your body, rotate your
brush along the water’s surface. Then lift him and repeat
wrists so he is turned onto one side, and bring
the action the other way, gently brushing his opposite
him down to the water. Gently lay the back of his head,
ear and cheek along the surface. Once he is comfortable
ear, and the edge of his cheek on the water. Continue
with water on his cheek, brush the corner of his mouth
your arm movement across your body and let his face
along the water (to prepare for breath-holding skills).
C H E E K RO L L
CHEEK ROLL
Once your child is relaxed and comfortable practicing the
Cheek Dip (see opposite), he will be ready for his first true
submersion, where his face is briefly placed under the water.
If your baby becomes at all tense or frightened while doing this
action, go back to the Water Pouring Station (see pp46–47) for
59
TEACHING TIPS
Once your child is comfortable
with the Cheek Dip (see p58)
as part of the Pick-a-ball Game,
replace it with the Cheek Roll.
If your child is three or older,
practice Facial Submersions (see
pp80–81) instead of this skill.
more water adjustment.
1
Stand in waist- to chest-deep water opposite
a receiving partner, 3–4 feet (90–120 cm)
apart. Hold your baby in the Pass Hold (see
p43), then lift him up 8–10 inches (20–25 cm)
so that he is in an upright position with just his
legs in the water. Turn your wrists and move
him gently across your front, bringing him down
toward the water so his cheek is in the water.
(To help keep the motion for steps one and two
smooth, say it aloud: “lift, brush, roll, up.”)
2
As he moves across your
front, roll your wrists so that
his face turns to the surface of the
water and his mouth and eyes
briefly enter the water, then lift
him up and out of the water into
the receiver’s hands. The receiver
should re-direct your baby’s
attention with a toy or new activity,
praise him, and check quickly for
any discomfort or coughing.
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B E G I N N E R S : S TA G E O N E
THE BREATHHOLDING CUE
TEACHING TIPS
Once your baby enjoys having water poured over her head and
face and is happy carrying out the Cheek Roll (see p59), it’s time
to teach her a new way to go under the water. The Breath-holding
Cue is an important technique to learn, but should only be
Once your child is happy with the
Cheek Roll (see p59) as part of
the Pick-a-ball Game, replace it
with The Breath-holding Cue. At
first, practice just half-second dips.
If your child is three or older,
practice Facial Submersions
(see pp80–81) instead of this skill.
attempted when your instincts assure you that your child is ready.
1
Stand facing your partner in waist-deep water,
cues should have signalled to her that she will be going
3–4 feet (90–120 cm) apart. The receiving parent
underwater, but check that she is ready—her eyes
should hold a toy in her hands above the water. Hold
should be closed but her mouth may be open. Carry
your child in the Pass Hold (see p43), then take two
on gently lowering her so she goes underwater. Note
steps forward while counting aloud “1, 2, 3.” On “3,” lift
that as your child becomes more competent, over the
her 8–10 inches (20–25 cm) up from the water, then
weeks, months, and years, you can gradually decrease
lower her toward the water. The lifting and counting
the height of the lift to 4 inches (10 cm).
T H E B R E AT H - H O L D I N G C U E
2
61
Move your child forward toward
your partner, with her face just
below the surface of the water, taking
another step if necessary.
3
After half a second, bring your
child up above the surface of the
water into the hands of the receiver. The
receiver should check your child for any
coughing, but more importantly, praise
her and divert her attention. Don’t worry
if she looks surprised, but if she cries,
move on to a different activity. Repeat
a maximum of three times during each
lesson in different rounds of the
Activity Circuit (see pp52–53).
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B E G I N N E R S : S TA G E O N E
FACE-TO-FACE DIP
TEACHING TIPS
In this alternative method of submersion, you dip your child
underwater while she is facing toward you, so she will see your
happy, approving face as she comes out of the dip, and is
reassured if this technique startles her. Use the count and lift of
the Breath-holding Cue (see pp60–61) to get your child ready to
go underwater, submerging her for between half a second and
Standing in chest-deep water
will help you to comfortably
hold your child’s weight, even
though your arms are extended.
Walk backward at an even and
smooth pace throughout.
Check that your baby’s body is
stretching out behind her with her
feet up near the surface.
three seconds depending on her ability and level of comfort.
1
Stand in chest-deep water with your child in the
Face-to-face Hold (see p43). Extend your arms out,
with your elbows slightly bent, to make a space between
you and your child. Walk slowly backward, and count
“1, 2, 3.” On “3,” lift your child 4–10 inches (10–30 cm)
above the water. Her eyes should close in response to
the lift cue.
2
Continue slowly walking backward as you bring
again after half to one second, then distract her with
your child down from the lift and submerge her
a toy. As you practice over time, you can gradually
face just under the surface of the water. Bring her up
increase the time submerged to three seconds.
J U M P F RO M T H E WA L L
JUMP FROM THE WALL
63
OBJECTIVES AND TIPS
Learning a safe way to jump from the pool wall into the water
ensures that your child clears the hard concrete surfaces of the
wall and lands safely in the water or in your arms. At first, she
To teach a touch cue with a verbal
cue to initiate the chest-forward
lean and jump.
To establish a counting protocol so
your child does not leave the wall
before your count of “3.”
will be fully guided by you to jump. Then, as time progresses,
she will begin initiating her own lean toward you after you have
given her a touch cue (moving your hands under her armpits),
and will jump on her own after you have verbally cued her.
Provide balance for an unsteady
baby by keeping your hands on
her at all times.
FIRST LEVEL
1
Stand in waist- to chest-deep water, and place
your child in a sitting position on the pool wall
with your hands under her armpits. While you
steady her, count aloud “1, 2, 3.” On “3,” gently move
your hands forward in a rubbing motion under your
child’s armpits to cue her to jump. Keep your hands
under her armpits as she jumps to you, but do not
pull her hands or wrists to force a jump.
2
As she bends at the waist, allow her to
come forward in a jump so that her
bottom leaves the wall last. Catch her before
her head goes under the water.
SECOND LEVEL
Once your child is comfortable at the first
level, cue her as before, but when she leans
forward, keep your hands slightly away from
her body and catch her in your open hands
as her face splashes the surface of the water.
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B E G I N N E R S : S TA G E O N E
FIRST HELD
UNDERWATER SWIM
Once your child is comfortable with brief frontal submersions, is
competent at practicing the Breath-holding Cue (see pp60–61),
and comes out of her dip happy and consistently holding her
breath, you are ready to try the First Held Underwater Swim. This
stage will build up your child’s endurance, transforming a brief
half-second dip into first a one-, then a two-, and finally a threesecond held submersion with successful breath holding.
FIRST LEVEL
1
Stand in waist- to chest-deep water holding your baby
in the Pass Hold (see p43). You should be facing your
partner, about 4–5 feet (1.2–1.5 m) apart. Give your child
the Breath-holding Cue (see pp60–61), then move your
baby down toward the water.
TEACHING TIPS
Once your child is comfortable
with the Breath-holding Cue (see
pp60–61) as part of the Pick-a-ball
Game, replace it with the First
Held Underwater Swim.
If your child is three or older,
practice this swim but adapt it so
that your child self-submerges after
being given a verbal cue (see p82),
then move on to the First Short
Swim (see pp82–83).
F I R S T H E L D U N D E RWAT E R S W I M
2
As your child’s face is submerged, both you and
SECOND LEVEL
the receiver should slowly count “1, 2,” as you walk
Once your child comfortably accomplishes the first
65
slowly forward, keeping your baby’s face just below the
level, you can gradually increase the time she is held
water’s surface. On “2,” lift her out of the water to
and guided underwater by an additional second. Follow
the receiver, who should quickly check that she hasn’t
as for the first level, but slowly count “1, 2, 3” aloud
swallowed any water, before praising her and redirecting
before you lift her out to the receiver. Practice this
her attention with a toy. Repeat three times per lesson,
three times per lesson, again spread out at intervals
spread out at intervals during the lesson, in different
in different rounds of the Activity Circuit.
rounds of the Activity Circuit (see pp52–53), for at
least four lessons before moving on to the second level.
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B E G I N N E R S : S TA G E O N E
FIRST UNAIDED
UNDERWATER SWIM
Weeks of play, practice, and patience are about to culminate in an
amazing event—a brief, unaided swim. For the first time, a child
TEACHING TIPS
Once your child is comfortable with
the First Held Underwater Swim
(see pp64–65) as part of the Picka-ball Game, replace it with the First
Unaided Underwater Swim.
experiencing the joy and freedom of movement. This new, flowing
If your child is three or older,
practice the First Short Swim
(see pp82–83) instead of this skill.
motion stimulates growth on many levels—lung capacity will
Ensure you are calm but upbeat.
will feel weightless in the water as he swims between his parents,
gradually increase, as will motor skills and spatial awareness.
1
Stand facing your partner in waist- to chest-deep
water, 4 feet (1.2 m) apart. Hold your child in the
Pass Hold (see p43), then give him the Breath-holding
Cue (see pp60–61). Check that he is holding his breath,
then slowly move forward, submerging him so his face
is underwater. Release him below the surface, gently
pushing him slightly forward.
2
With the receiver, slowly count aloud “1, 2,” from
the moment of submersion. Always make sure that
the amount of time your child is submerged never
exceeds his current readiness. Your child should be in
a horizontal position, and may be kicking or gliding.
F I R S T U N A I D E D U N D E RWAT E R S W I M
3
On the count of “2,” the receiver
should gently place his hands under
your child’s armpits and lift him out
above the water. The receiver should make
sure your child is comfortable, then praise
him and redirect his attention with a toy
or new activity. This first swim will be just
two seconds long, and you should limit
the number of swims per lesson to
between three and five. Increase the length
of this swim by one second every three
to 10 lessons depending on your child’s
readiness and comfort, until your child
can swim unaided for five seconds.
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B E G I N N E R S : S TA G E O N E
BALANCE
SAFETY TIPS
Finding balance in the water is an unique experience, which
complements learning to balance on land. For a baby in the
water, the dense liquid environment with its altered gravity
envelops him, supports him, and buoys him as he learns to find
and maintain his center of gravity. “Riding” a noodle is a good
way to teach your child to balance as he will repeatedly need to
adjust to a bobbing surface beneath him, when moving forward,
Babies are quick movers, so be
ready to steady rapid movements
that may cause a loss of balance.
When your baby is sitting on or in
a floating object, always keep your
hands on him or stay within hand’s
reach of him.
Remember that floating pool toys
are not lifesaving devices, so never
leave your child alone in the pool.
changing direction, or going around in circles.
1
Place your child on the middle of a noodle, so that
he is straddling it and riding it like a horse. You can
2
Sing a horse-related song, such as “She’ll be Comin’
Round the Mountain.” For the first verse walk
either hold him from the side or sit behind him and
your child around in a circle to the left; for the second
hold him around his waist.
verse switch and circle to the right. Follow by slowly
spinning your child around 360° twice to the left, then
twice to the right. End with three big jumps in place.
T I M E TO G O
TIME TO GO
69
TEACHING TIPS
Even if your child is tired, she may not want to leave the pool,
especially if she’s had a fun lesson. An exit ritual signals that it’s
time to go, which can make the transition smoother. For our exit
ritual we sing “Ring Around the Rosie.” For several weeks, merely
sprinkle water over your child’s head during the last verse. Weeks
later, when your child has fully mastered the Breath-holding Cue
(see pp60–61) and can perform an unaided swim (see pp66–67),
Lift your baby smoothly up, lower
her smoothly down, and lift her
smoothly back up again as if in one
long connected movement.
If your child is happy being
submerged, and you would like
to submerge with her, hold her so
that she is facing you, lift her, then
audibly take a breath and briefly
submerge together.
she can vertically go under the water at the end of the song.
1
In waist- to chest-deep water,
hold your child under her
2
As you sing “...down,” lower
her smoothly under the water,
3
After the brief dip, smoothly
lift her up above the surface
armpits, facing away from you.
covering her head for about half to
of the water, then turn her around
Sing the nursery rhyme “Ring
one second. (For several weeks, when
to face you and praise her for
Around the Rosie” and walk
your child is just a beginner, simply
doing so well in the lesson. She
around in a circle to the left. When
drizzle water over her head rather
will soon come to realize that this
you sing “We all fall...” stand still,
than submerging her.)
exit ritual signifies the end of the
then lift your child up vertically
lesson, and that it is now time to
10–12 inches (25–30 cm).
leave the pool.
( M I N I M U M AG E O N E Y E A R)
b e g i n n e r s : S TAG E T WO
S TA G E T W O L E S S O N P L A N
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STAGE TWO LESSON PLAN
LESSON PLAN
REQUIREMENTS FOR STAGE TWO
Minimum Age: Your child should be at least
one year old.
Skill Level:
Your child has successfully
completed all the techniques in
stage one (pp54–69). He has
acquired water-adjustment skills,
has learned the Breath-holding
Cue, can jump from the wall into
your arms, and can move through
the water in a brief, unaided swim.
WARM UP 3–5 minutes
Practice kicking and chasing a toy or kicking drills.
pp56; 72
SONG BREAK 3–5 minutes
Sing “The People on the Bus” or a bathtime song.
Incorporate bubble blowing into the song.
pp39; 73
ACTIVITY CIRCUIT 10–12 minutes total
pp52–53
Structure the circuit as shown below. Go around the
circuit 3–5 times per lesson, spending a short time at
each station before moving on to the next.
a) Water Pouring Station
pp46–47
As your child develops from a baby into a toddler,
b) Monkey Walk
p77
he becomes more active and playful in the pool.
c) Jump from the Wall (once per round)
p63
During this part of the program he strengthens all the
d) Pick-a-ball Game
p49
foundation skills he has acquired in stage one, but now
By this stage your child should have gradually and
you can add new activities such as Kicking Drills (see
sequentially learned the submersion skills for stage one.
p72) and Monkey Walk (see p77), which will suit his
Continue to submerge your child during the game using the
increased abilities.
technique for the First Unaided Underwater Swim (see
As before, work through the exercises in this section
in the order in which they appear, and introduce the
skills based on your child’s readiness and comfort.
Children who are relaxed, receptive, and happy in the
water may progress very quickly through the skills,
while hesitant or cautious children will need to spend
pp66–67), but do not repeat this more than 3–5 times
per lesson. Use the Above-water Pass (see p57) instead
to give your child a rest from being submerged.
e) Basketball
p45
SONG OR GAME BREAK 2–4 minutes
Sing or play one or two songs or games.
pp48–51
more time during each lesson simply playing and at the
Water Pouring Station (see pp46–47). Don’t rush and
WALL APPROACHES AND JUMPS 5 minutes total
you will find that over the weeks and months your child
Pool Wall Approaches
learns new skills at his own pace.
Reaching for and Grabbing the Wall (first or second
For toddlers expressing their independence, do not
level depending on ability) 3–4 times max
p74
make the pool or the lesson a battleground. Allowing
Jumps from the Wall
choice at the Water Pouring Station and during the
Jumps from the Wall (first or second level depending
Pick-a-ball Game (see p49) gives your child some
on ability) 3–4 times max
p63
BALANCE 3–5 minutes
p68
TIME TO GO 1 minute
p69
control over his environment. The playful structure of the
lesson plan also keeps your child engaged in the pool.
As always, adapt the plan to suit the pool you are in.
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KICKING DRILLS
As your child develops and starts to walk and even run, he
will bring increased coordination to bear on his kick—and the
splashes will get bigger, too. Although some new beginners may
not kick and will simply glide for a while, children in this age
group generally exhibit a more pronounced learned kick.
Eventually, with practice, a steady up-and-down kick (a “flutter”)
can be achieved, so try these kicking drills with him.
OPTION FOR YOUNGER CHILDREN
In chest-deep water, stand with your child held facing
away from you and directly in front of you in a
simulated sitting position in the water. Your partner
should kick vigorously in front of both of you. Say the
words “kick, kick” and point to your partner’s splashing
feet. Then encourage your child to repeat what they
have seen: “Make big splashes and get us all wet!”
OPTION FOR OLDER CHILDREN
Sit side-by-side on the pool wall, with your feet in
the water. If your child is nervous, he can start off
sitting on your lap. Demonstrate a kick for your child,
repeating the words “kick, kick, kick” as you perform
the movement, then ask your child to kick with you.
TEACHING TIPS
Encourage your child to watch
and then imitate other children
and adults as they kick in the
water—he will be motivated by
the resulting splashes.
Teach your child to associate the
verbal command “kick, kick” with
a specific physical activity to be
performed by him.
BLOWING BUBBLES
BLOWING BUBBLES
73
TEACHING TIPS
Bubble blowing before the age of five helps children get used
to touching the surface of the water with their lips. It is not
required for submersion and swimming, but it does help with
learning breath control and breath holding. This is a good age
to introduce bubble blowing since older babies and toddlers are
increasingly aware of your mouth movements and will attempt
Make sure your child’s face is close
enough to the water so she can
bend forward and reach it, but
never push her lips toward the
water to make her try.
A little coughing or sputtering may
occur at first.This will stop once
your child can produce a steady
outward flow of air.
to mimic the sounds you make.
FIRST OPTION
Hold your child in the Face-to-face or Pass Hold (see
above the water, then put your mouth in the water and
p43). She should be close enough to the water so she
blow bubbles. Let her watch you so she can copy you,
can tip her face forward and touch it. First, blow air
then encourage her to blow bubbles with you.
SECOND OPTION
If your child is worried about blowing bubbles
directly into the pool water, either blow bubbles in
your cupped hand filled with water or use a shallow
plastic bowl. Again, let your child watch you blowing
bubbles, then encourage her to copy you.
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B E G I N N E R S : S TA G E T W O
REACHING FOR AND
GRABBING THE WALL
OBJECTIVES
To learn to reach out ahead and
grab the pool wall with the head
above the water.
Learning to reach for and grab the stability of the pool wall sets
an early desirable framework for safety skills learned later in the
program. The skills of reaching and grabbing acquired in these
two exercises will ultimately develop into the more sophisticated
skills of turning around and grabbing the wall for safety, as well
To accomplish a sturdy grip on the
wall while being held.
To successfully hold the wall
unaided for five seconds.
To reach for and grab the wall
after a cued, held submersion.
as shimmying along the wall or climbing the wall to exit the pool.
FIRST LEVEL
Place a toy on the pool wall or in the gutter. With
your child in the Pass Hold (see p43), stand back
5–6 feet (1.5–1.8 m) from the wall. Slowly approach
the wall, encouraging your child to kick.When you
are 10–12 inches (25–30 cm) from the wall, stop. Ask
your child to reach out and grab the wall.
1
Continue holding your child under the armpits
and reward him with the toy when he grabs the
wall. Gradually, after several practices, when your
child is holding the wall firmly, begin slipping first
one hand then the other away until your child is
holding the wall by himself for five seconds.
2
R E AC H I N G F O R A N D G R A B B I N G T H E WA L L
SECOND LEVEL
Once your child can complete the first level
successfully, and can confidently carry out the
Breath-holding Cue (see pp60–61) and First
Unaided Underwater Swim (see pp66–67), you
can submerge her as you approach the wall.
Place a toy on the wall. With your child in
the Pass Hold (see p43), stand 5–6 feet
(1.5–1.8 m) from the wall. Give her the Breathholding Cue and check that she is ready to
go underwater. Submerge her briefly and propel
her toward the wall, then return her to the
surface 1 foot (30 cm) before the wall.
1
Keeping your hands under your child’s
armpits, ask her to grab the wall. Approach
the wall slowly so that she will not bump her
head on the concrete. Praise her and give her
the toy when she grabs the wall.
2
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B E G I N N E R S : S TA G E T W O
LEARNING TO WAIT
Teaching your child to wait for a cue from an adult before
entering a body of water is a vital safety skill. Along with the
safe pool entries (see pp41–42) and sitting jumps from the wall
(see p63), learning to wait is an important skill for your child
OBJECTIVES AND TIPS
To establish important safety rules
from an early age and teach your
child to enter the pool only with
your permission.
Use this technique every time you
practice jumping from the wall.
to learn, both in and out of the pool.
FIRST OPTION
Standing in waist-deep water, place your child on the
wall so he is ready for a jump. If he begins to lean or
jump prematurely, put your right hand flat on his chest
and your left hand under his right armpit. Tell him to
“wait until I have counted to 3.” Count to cue the
jump, keeping your hands in the same position while
you count “1, 2.” As you reach “3,” move your right
hand to under his left armpit, cueing him to jump.
Catch him as per the instructions for jumping from
the wall (see p63).
SECOND OPTION
Once a child is walking and running on her own,
enforcing safety rules will keep her away from
immediate danger. Before entering the pool area
with your child, hold her hand and tell her to
walk with you. If she begins to run toward the
pool by herself, firmly call to her to “wait.”
Walk up to her quickly, hold her hand, and tell
her, “Do not go in unless I am with you.” Do
not discipline your child, but firmly tell her she
must not go in on her own.
M O N K E Y WA L K
MONKEY WALK
77
TEACHING TIPS
Rob imagined a small monkey edging along a branch when he
named this hand-by-hand shimmy. This drill is a vital part of early
safety skills since it teaches a child to move safely in the pool
alone, even if he can’t swim. Once a child can grab the wall, he
Place a toy 4 feet (1.2 m) away
from your child in the gutter.
Reward him with the toy once
he has reached it by himself.
Practice as part of the Activity
Circuit (see pp52–53).
can shimmy over to the nearest ladder or steps and exit the pool.
FIRST LEVEL
Position your child so that he is firmly gripping the
pool gutter or wall, and place a toy in the gutter or
on the wall 4 feet (1.2 m) away from you. Stand behind
him with your hands on top of his. Slide his right hand
along the gutter, then slide his left hand toward his
right hand so they meet. As you move his hands say
aloud, “slide… together.” Repeat this action as you
move along the wall until your child reaches the toy.
SECOND LEVEL
Once your child has learned how to monkey walk with
in front of her, with both of you gripping the gutter.
your hands guiding hers, she can try it on her own.
Encourage her to chase you as you monkey walk ahead
Stand alongside your child, about 1–2 feet (30–60 cm)
of her. Once she catches you, give her a big hug.
T H R E E - to f o u r - Y E A R - o l d b e g i n n e r s
a da p tat i o n s f o r
ADAPTED LESSON PLAN
79
ADAPTED LESSON PLAN
LESSON PLAN
REQUIREMENTS FOR STAGE THREE
Minimum Age: Your child should be at least
three years old.
Skill Level:
Your child is a beginner.You should
already have played at home in the
bath so he is accustomed to the
feel of water (see Bathtime Fun,
pp38–39), and visited and played
in the pool to help him adjust to
the new environment (see First
Trip to the Pool, pp40–43).
WARM UP 3 minutes
Practice kicking and chasing a toy or kicking drills.
pp56; 72
SONG BREAK 3–5 minutes
Sing “The Wheels on the Bus” or a bathtime song.
ACTIVITY CIRCUIT 10–12 minutes total
p39
pp52–53
Structure the circuit as shown below. Go around 3–5 times.
a) Water Pouring Station
pp46–47
b) Monkey Walk
p77
c) Pick-a-ball Game (at appropriate level–see below)
p49
This game involves passing your child between parents while
This section is specifically adapted for beginners over the
introducing submersion skills. As your child adjusts to one skill,
age of three. Unlike younger counterparts, they should be
move on to the next in the order given. Use the Above-water
full participants in the “when” and “how” of submersions,
Pass for some circuits so your child isn’t submerged too often.
practising self-submersions rather than being submerged
Only practice the swims once your child happily self-submerges.
by their parent. To address the needs of the eager, as well
i) Above-water Pass
p57
as the frightened, beginner, we have included a number of
ii) Cheek Dip 3–5 times max
p58
games that allow your child to practise self-submersion,
iii) Facial self-submersion (adapted for open water)see left
so he learns to put his face in the water willingly.
iv) First Held Underwater Swim with self-submersion
Follow the lesson plan here to guide you through the
techniques in Stage One and this section, which substitutes
(see p82) 2–4 times max
pp64–65
v) First Short Swim 3–4 times max
pp82–83
self-initiated submersions for parent-initiated ones. Note
d) Basketball
that you should only practise the First Held Underwater
e) Facial Submersions 2–4 times max
p45
Swim (see pp64–65) or First Short Swim (see pp82–83)
f) Alligator Walk
once your child can self-submerge confidently at the pool
g) Standing Step Jump or Jump from the Wall
pp84; 63
steps (see pp80–81), then when held in the open water. To
SONG or GAME BREAK 2–4 minutes
pp48–51
pp80–81
p85
adapt pp80–81 for open water (for a facial self-submersion
during the pass in Pick-a-ball Game) the sending parent
WALL APPROACHES AND JUMPS 5 minutes total
holds the child opposite the receiving parent, 30–46cm
a) Reaching for and Grabbing the Wall (first level, or
(12–18 inches) away. Use techniques from level 1, 3 or 4,
second level with self-submersion, depending on ability)
encouraging your child to briefly dip his own face in the
3 times max
water, then transfer him to the receiving parent who
praises him and re-directs his attention to finish the game.
Once your child has mastered the skills in this stage,
move on to Stage Two, again substituting self-initiated
submersions for parent-initiated ones.
p74
b) Jump from the Wall (first or second level depending
on ability) 3–4 times max
p63
BALANCE 3–5 minutes
p68
TIME TO GO 1 minute
p69
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A DA P TAT I O N S F O R T H R E E - TO F O U R - Y E A R - O L D B E G I N N E R S
FACIAL SUBMERSIONS
You need to approach the technique of facial submersion for
three- to four-year-olds in a different way than for younger
children. At these ages, children become full participants in the
“when” and “how” of submerging their faces in the water. By
using playful games, your child will initiate this defining moment
and submerge her face herself. Her face will beam with pride and
TEACHING TIPS
Never force your child’s head
under the water.
Self-initiated submersion may
come excitedly the first day or it
may take weeks of practice—your
child may also put her face in the
water one day and not want to
the next. Don’t worry about these
hiccups—go at your child’s pace.
a sense of accomplishment in conquering the unknown.
FIRST LEVEL
SECOND LEVEL
With your child sitting on a shallow pool step if she is
Stand in chest-deep water with your hands gripping
nervous, hold her in the Face-to-face Hold (see p43)
the pool wall. Ask your child to hold on to the wall
with your arms outstretched and your elbows slightly
next to you. Tell her that you are going to play a game
bent. Play a game of “quick draw”—see who can dip
of peekaboo Pop your head under the water, then come
their face in and out of the water fastest. Start by
up and quickly say, “Peekaboo. Your turn!” You may need
dipping your eyes, nose, and mouth in and out of the
to go up and down two or three times before she
water, then ask her to copy you and see if she can do
copies you, and at first she may just dip her chin in
it as quickly as you.
the water and not her whole face.
FACIAL SUBMERSIONS
81
THIRD LEVEL
Sit facing your child on a shallow pool step.
Take your finger and pretend to “paint” the
colors of the rainbow one at a time on your
child’s forehead. Ask her to tell you which
color comes next. Now ask her to “wash
off” the imaginary paint, and encourage her
to lean forward and dip all or part of her
face into the water. Repeat a few times.
FOURTH LEVEL
Hide some colorful “treasure” on a shallow pool step,
such as plastic weighted toys, coins, costume jewelry,
or diving rings. With both you and your child wearing
goggles, put your face in the water first to look at the
sunken objects. Then encourage your child to come and
dip her face in and look at the treasure with you.
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A DA P TAT I O N S F O R T H R E E - TO F O U R - Y E A R - O L D B E G I N N E R S
FIRST SHORT SWIM
Your child’s first unaided swim is the culmination of months
of practice—this is one of life’s big moments! Before you try
this technique, ensure your child confidently self-submerges as
shown on pp80–81. Next, practice both levels of the First Held
Underwater Swim (see pp64–65), but with your child choosing
OBJECTIVES
To provide a secure, trustworthy
base from which—and toward
which—your child can swim.
To maintain and increase your
child’s confidence in the water. His
self-esteem will grow as he realizes
he doesn’t need you to give him a
cue for submersion.
to submerge his own face in the water by allowing you to count
him in instead of being given a lift cue. This means that, before he
learns the First Short Swim, he will be able to hold his breath and
To help your child to hold his
breath, self-submerge, and swim
unaided for two seconds.
go underwater without needing you to initiate the submersion.
1
Standing in chest-deep water and facing your partner, about 2–3 feet
(60–90 cm) apart, hold your child in the Pass Hold (see p43). Ask
your child to stretch out his hands toward your partner, with his palms
facing downward. Tell him, “When you put your face in, I’m going to send
you over to [the receiver]. Keep your face in until you touch her hands,
then come up and say ‘hello!’” Reach your child toward the receiver’s
outstretched hands (her palms should be facing upward) and let him touch
them to show him how close her hands are.
F I R S T S H O RT S W I M
2
83
Ask your child if he is ready
to go underwater, then as he
holds his breath and submerges,
push him slightly forward and release
your hands from under his armpits.
As he is submerged, count “1, 2.” The
receiver lets your child reach out
and touch her hands, then catches
your child’s hands in hers. Your child
should either lift his own head up
and say “hello” to the receiver after
this 2-second swim, or be lifted up.
Praise your child.
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A DA P TAT I O N S F O R T H R E E - TO F O U R - Y E A R - O L D B E G I N N E R S
STANDING STEP JUMP
There is often a wonderful exuberance when children jump into
the water, and they love to repeat this activity again and again.
Where you get your child to perform this jump is important. If
you position her in waist- to chest-deep water, her face is already
close to the surface and she needs only to lean forward to reach
you. While some children will quickly turn this small jump into a
leap, others will need time before they even lean toward you.
TEACHING TIPS
Stay very close to your child at
first, as she may perceive the space
between you to be enormous.
The closer you stand in front of
your child, the better the lean, and
the better the body position for
your child’s jump.
Never force your child to jump—
wait until she is ready.
2
Now, help her to get up to the
top step. Guide her to stand
on the bottom step, or the middle
step if the bottom step is too deep.
Position her so she is facing away
from you and toward the steps.
Ask her to put her arms out and,
1
Help your child stand on a pool step so that she is in waist- to chest-
on your count of “1, 2, 3,” lean
deep water. Stand directly in front of her on the pool floor. Ask her to
toward the top step and reach for
stand on the edge of the step and curl her toes over the edge. Brushing
it with her hands. Once she has
your hands under her armpits, count “1, 2, 3,” then encourage her to bend
her hands firmly on the top step,
her knees, lean over, push herself off the step, and jump forward toward
she can climb up the steps. Stand
you. Keep your hands close to her as she jumps toward you, and catch her
behind her so that you can help
while her face is still above the water.
her if she needs it.
A L L I G ATO R WA L K
ALLIGATOR WALK
85
OBJECTIVES AND TIPS
This fun exercise was inspired by alligators stretching out flat
while sunning themselves in shallow water. In this game, you ask
your child to lie on the shallow steps of the pool and act like an
alligator. The position allows him to experience the correct
horizontal body alignment for swimming, and to extend his legs.
Plus, he will become used to having his face near the water, which
To help promote a good, flat,
elongated body position and an
up-and-down kick.
If you want to get your child used
to having his face in the water, ask
him to blow bubbles as well.
Practice as part of the Activity
Circuit (see pp52–53).
helps him to become even more accustomed to submersions.
FIRST LEVEL
SECOND LEVEL
Help your child lie flat on his stomach at one
Once your child is comfortable with the first level, you
end of the shallow pool step. Stand at the other end
can ask him to blow bubbles or make alligator-like
of the step and ask him to crawl toward you on his
grunts and growls as he kicks and moves along the
stomach, using his arms to pull himself forward.
pool step. All of these activities will help him to get
Now ask him to also kick his feet. The step should
used to the feel of water on his face, and will make this
stop his knees from bending fully, which will help to
exercise seem more like a fun game. Eventually, he will
promote a more efficient kick.
be happy to put his entire face in the water.
SW I M M I NG
U NA I D E D
Congratulations! Your child can now successfully submerge on cue,
comfortably swim for five seconds while holding her breath, steadily kick,
confidently propel herself forward, and happily emerge from her swim
without having swallowed any water. As a learning team, you and your child
are now ready to add new, more complex skills to your repertoire, such as
turning around underwater, floating, and diving for rings. As always, our
goal in this chapter is a relaxed, happy child who is enjoying the process of
learning to swim. Progressing at your child’s pace and making each lesson
playful and fun will result in a child who is truly at home in the water.
88
SWIMMING UNAIDED
TEACHING INTERMEDIATES
This chapter is designed for parents and children who have achieved the basic water
confidence skills, and are ready for more complex techniques. It should only be started
once your child can competently perform the skills in the Water Confidence chapter.
There is no big jump from beginners to intermediates.
Lesson plan
Instead, it is part of a gradual process that builds on all
Use the suggested lesson plans given at the start of
the skills that your child has learned in the previous
each intermediates stage as the basis of your 30-minute
chapter, so that he is not only able to swim, but truly
lessons, but amend them to suit your child’s readiness,
loves the water. This chapter is divided into three stages,
experience, abilities, and skill level. The basic structure of
each with a minimum age requirement. Make sure you
the lesson should remain relatively similar, but as your
don’t teach a child any skills that are meant for older
child learns more skills, they can be absorbed into the
children. Instead, stick to the skills for your child’s age
regular structure of your lessons. Try and have at least
group so you introduce them at the optimal time, when
two, and ideally four, lessons per week, as this
age, ability, and readiness all intersect.
continuity will help your child learn quickly and retain
Remember that you should progress only when your
child is comfortable, practice consistently in enjoyable
skills—long breaks may require periods of re-learning.
Your child may pick up certain skills very quickly,
lessons, and avoid frustration by only practicing
while others may take weeks or months of practice.
complex activities for short intervals and at times when
Go at your child’s pace and don’t push him to learn.
your child’s energy levels are highest.
Water Pouring Station and Activity Circuit
As for beginners, the Water Pouring Station (see
pp46–47) and Activity Circuit (see pp52–53) are still
key parts of the learning process. But whereas with
beginners most of the Activity Circuit was carried
out in their parent’s arms or on top of the water, now
your child may carry out some of the exercises with
his face in the water, and with less assistance.
Games and songs
These still play a very important role in teaching your
child at the intermediate levels, and group games
become more valuable as your child learns to copy
and imitate his peers. This helps him to overcome his
fears as he will watch other children performing the
actions he is nervous about. He will also learn to share
toys or your attention with others.
T E A C H I N G I N T E R M E D I AT E S
89
To keep your child interested in the lesson and to
Now that your child has reached a period of increased
practice all the skills he has learned, limit the time spent
coordination in his physical and mental development,
on any one activity to seven minutes or less. Make sure
and can comfortably swim for seven seconds with a
you enjoy the lesson and do not rush, but remember
strong, steady kick, as well as hold his breath and
that a young child’s attention span may be best suited
enjoy it, he can add an important safety sequence to
to changing intervals of play.
his swimming abilities. Although The Safety Sequence
(see pp108–09) does not make your child “drownproof,”
INTERMEDIATES: STAGE ONE (pp90–101)
it will enable him to swim to safety if he ever falls
You can start Intermediates: Stage One if your child
into a pool.
is at least 14 months old and has mastered all the
age-appropriate skills in the Water Confidence chapter.
INTERMEDIATES: STAGE THREE (pp110–23)
Let feedback from your child guide you as you
When your child has mastered all the age-appropriate
introduce new skills, modify old ones, and help him
skills in the Water Confidence chapter, has completed
increase his proficiency in the water.
Intermediates: Stages One and Two, and is at least three
years old, progress to Intermediates: Stage Three.
INTERMEDIATES: STAGE TWO (pp102–09)
Experienced swimmers of this age are strong and
Once your child is at least 19 months old, has
capable and maneuver farther and faster in the pool than
completed all the age-appropriate skills in the Water
younger children. They can swim a distance of 20 feet
Confidence chapter, and can competently carry out
(6 m), and are truly at home in the water. During this
all the skills in Intermediates: Stage One, move on to
stage an important step is conquered when your child
Intermediates: Stage Two.
learns to surface for a breath (see pp112–15) independently.
( M i n i m u m ag e 1 4 m o n t h s )
i n t e r m e d i at e s : S TAG E O N E
S TA G E O N E L E S S O N P L A N
91
STAGE ONE LESSON PLAN
LESSON PLAN
REQUIREMENTS FOR STAGE ONE
WARM UP 3–5 minutes
Minimum Age: Your child should be at least
14 months old.
Practice kicking and chasing a toy or
Skill Level:
kicking drills.
Your child has successfully
completed Beginners: Stages One
and Two, as well as the Adaptations
for Three- to Four-year-old
Beginners if she started learning to
swim over the age of 36 months.
She can comfortably propel herself
with a steady kick, face submerged,
holding her breath for five seconds
without taking in water.
pp56; 72
SONG BREAK 3–5 minutes
Sing “The People on the Bus” or a bathtime song.
p39
WARM-UP DIPS 1–2 minutes
Short, cued dips using the techniques for
a First Held Underwater Swim.
pp64–65
ACTIVITY CIRCUIT 10–12 minutes total
pp52–53
Structure the circuit as shown below. Go around the
circuit 3–5 times per lesson, spending a short time at
For the first of the intermediate stages, the lesson
each station before moving on to the next.
plan is now adapted slightly to allow for the addition
a) Water Pouring Station
pp46–47
of more complex skills. These include Rob’s Tai Chi Pass
b) Monkey Walk or Basketball
pp77; 45
(see pp92–93), which encourages an efficient swimming
c) Jump from the Wall (second level)
p63
posture and kick, as well as Turning Around Underwater
d) Pick-a-ball Game
p49
(see pp100–101), which begins to introduce the individual
For the pass between parents, introduce the skills
skills needed to later accomplish The Safety Sequence
below gradually, and in the order given.
(see pp108–109).
i) Rob’s Tai Chi Pass 3–5 times max
pp92–93
ii) Fin Fun 3–5 times max
pp94–95
Because the lesson plan for intermediates is simply
an extension of those for beginners, your sessions
will feel very familiar to your child. This helps create a
smooth transition from the foundation skills to these
APPROACHING THE WALL 3–5 minutes total
Guided Swim to the Wall (first or second level
depending on ability) 3 times max
pp96–97
more complex skills. You will also find that your child’s
endurance and proficiency will be increasing.
As before, use the lesson plan as a guideline only, and
plan your lessons according to your child’s readiness,
comfort, and current abilities.
Note that younger children will still need to be
given the Breath-holding Cue (see pp60–61) before
JUMP OFF THE WALL 3–5 minutes total
Jump, Dip, and Swim (first or second level
depending on ability) 3 times max
BALANCE or RUN AND JUMP
3–5 minutes
being submerged underwater by their parent. However,
TIME TO GO 1 minute
children over the age of three can simply be given a
Turning Around Underwater (first or second
verbal cue rather than the lift cue involved in the
level depending on ability) 1–2 times max
Breath-holding Cue.
pp98–99
pp68; 51
p69
pp100–101
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I N T E R M E D I AT E S : S TA G E O N E
ROB’S TAI CHI PASS
TEACHING TIPS
To provide a boost to swimmers who are ready to increase the
distance and duration of their swim, Rob devised a special Tai
Chi–like pass for parents to use. This pass not only provides
forward momentum toward a receiving parent, it also balances,
aligns, and positions the body in an efficient, prone, horizontal
The forward movement is
generated at the shin or foot
area, not at the head.You should
merely guide the head with your
fingertips and not push forward.
Lightly flick the foot at the end of
the sequence to stimulate the kick.
position and stimulates your child to kick.
2
Once your fingers touch his neck, slip your nondominant hand out from under your child’s other
armpit and brush it down along the side of his body.
At this point your dominant hand should still be in
contact with your child’s head, guiding it forward, while
your non-dominant hand should be in contact with his
torso (as your child becomes more proficient you can
let go with this hand). Balance him if he needs it.
1
Stand in waist- to chest-deep water opposite your
partner, 4–5 feet (1.2–1.5 m) apart. Hold your child in
the Pass Hold (see p43) and cue him to go underwater.
As his face enters the water, push forward under both
his armpits. The receiver should count the number of
seconds your child is submerged for, ensuring that it
does not exceed his current ability. Reposition your
dominant hand (your right hand if you are righthanded) at the base of his head by slipping your hand
out from under his armpit, lifting your elbow, and
rotating your wrist so you place your fingertips at the
base of his neck. Use your fingers to guide (but not
push) the head forward as he kicks.
RO B ’ S TA I C H I PA S S
3
Continue running your non-dominant hand along
the side of your child’s body until you reach
4
Both your hands should now be clear of your
child, and he should be propelling himself forward
either his shin, ankle, or foot, depending on where the
toward the receiver, who should catch him, lift him up
swing of his kick is. Lightly flick the foot upward and
out of the water, and praise him.
forward so you slightly push your child forward,
stimulating a kick. At the moment of thrust, release
your hands from your child’s head and foot.
93
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I N T E R M E D I AT E S : S TA G E O N E
FIN FUN
This is an ideal stage to introduce fins to your child’s lessons.
They are good learning aids since they lift the foot to the top of
the water, producing an efficient kick, plus they build, tone, and
condition the leg muscles. However, ensure you practice without
fins at times so you and your child are familiar with her natural
abilities. Swimming at the surface through a hoop provides focus
and motivation and encourages a streamlined body position.
OBJECTIVES AND TIPS
To improve kicking, body alignment,
and lung capability.
Allow your child time to adjust to
the fins during kicking exercises.
If your child is unsure about the fins,
practice wearing them in the bathtub.
Fins should be made of flexible
rubber or soft plastic.
FIN FUN
1
You will need three adults to practice hoop swims.
The sender places fins on the child while she is
2
95
The sender should cue your child to go
underwater, then use Rob’s Tai Chi Pass (see
sitting on the pool wall. Two adults stand opposite each
pp92–93) to guide her forward through the hoop
other in waist- to chest-deep water, 4–6 feet (1.2–1.8 m)
to the receiver. The child may grab the dive ring from
apart. The receiver should hold a dive ring or toy under
the receiver. The sender should check that the number
the water to direct the child’s eyes and head downward.
of seconds the child spends underwater does not
The third adult stands midway between the sender and
exceed her current ability. The receiver should catch
receiver, holding a hoop in the water. The sender should
the child and lift her out of the water. Increase the
hold the child in the Pass Hold (see p43), encouraging
length of the swim gradually in one-second increments
her to “swim through the hoop to get the ring.”
over the weeks and months.
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I N T E R M E D I AT E S : S TA G E O N E
GUIDED SWIM TO
THE WALL
OBJECTIVES
To encourage independent
swimming toward the wall.
Your child has experienced the liberating sensation of an unaided
swim between her parents. Swimming unaided to the wall occurs
in very distinct stages, and to ensure your child has the correct
body alignment and isn’t alarmed by swimming toward a looming
concrete wall, you need to guide her, first by holding her under
To maintain body alignment by
providing hands-on guidance.
To link swimming to the wall with
grabbing the wall.
To keep your child from being
alarmed by the looming sight of the
pool wall when she opens her eyes.
the armpits, then with a reassuring touch at the back of the head.
FIRST LEVEL
SECOND LEVEL
Place a toy on the wall as a target. With your child in
the Pass Hold (see p43), stand 5–6 feet (1.5–1.8 m)
1
from the wall. Your count will be “1, 2, lift, down, 1, 2, 3,
level, but stand 6 feet (1.8 m) from the wall. Your new
grab the wall.” Cue your child to go underwater and
count will be “1, 2, lift, down, high elbow, kick, kick,
submerge her (1, 2, lift, down). With both hands under
grab the wall.” Cue your child to go underwater and
her armpits walk slowly toward the wall as you count
submerge her. As her face submerges, slip your
“1, 2, 3.” Once you reach the wall, if your child does not
dominant hand (your right hand if you are right-
automatically grab it and lift her head, lift her and tell
handed) out from under her armpit, raise your elbow
her to ”grab the wall.” Reward her with the toy. You can
and rotate your wrist so that your fingertips move from
gradually increase the length of time underwater to
her armpit, over her back, and end up behind her head
match that of her unaided swim.
at the base of her neck, guiding her toward the wall.
Once your child is comfortable at the first level, you
can move on to the second level. Follow the first
G U I D E D S W I M TO T H E WA L L
2
97
Continue guiding your child toward the wall for
if she doesn’t, use your non-dominant hand to lift her
a count of two (“kick, kick”) with your non-
under her armpit and raise her to the surface asking
dominant hand firmly under your child’s armpit. When
her to “grab the wall.” When she has grabbed the wall
she reaches the wall, she may reach out and grab it, but
praise and reward her with the toy.
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I N T E R M E D I AT E S : S TA G E O N E
JUMP, DIP, AND SWIM
Your child has already learned how to carry out a safe,
leaning jump from the wall (see p63), and now you can
transform this skill into a jump, submersion, and swim. At
first, allow her to only briefly submerge while you guide her
toward you under the water. Then, with time and practice, she
will be able to accomplish a jump, dip, and unaided swim
underwater toward you.
FIRST LEVEL
Stand in waist- to chest-deep water and place your child in a sitting
position on the pool wall, with your hands under her armpits. Count
“1, 2, 3,” and gently rub your hands under her armpits to cue her to
jump, then move your hands 2–3 inches (5–7.5 cm) under the water.
When she jumps, catch her under her armpits as she submerges. Walk
two steps backward, gently guiding her with you for a brief swim, then
lift her back to the surface. Over the weeks, increase the number of
seconds your child remains submerged to two, then three seconds.
OBJECTIVES AND TIPS
To maintain the correct forwardlean position when jumping.
If your child hesitates when
jumping, move closer to her and
keep your hands on or very near
her armpits while she jumps.
Don’t move on to the next level
before your child is comfortable
with the current one.
J U M P, D I P, A N D S W I M
99
SECOND LEVEL
Once you have practiced the first level for a
few weeks, move on to the second level. This
is similar to the first level, but this time your
child will swim unaided. Ask her to jump
from a sitting position on the pool wall, but
instead of catching her immediately as she
jumps, hold your hands close to your body
under the water and take two steps backward
to encourage her to swim toward you. Then
catch her and bring her to the surface.
THIRD LEVEL
Once your child is proficient at the second level, repeat the
technique but hold a toy under the water for your child to
retrieve. This simple gesture adds focus and an additional
element of fun, and encourages a good, horizontal, streamlined
position underwater, as she will aim her eyes and face downward
toward the toy rather than simply toward her parent.
100
I N T E R M E D I AT E S : S TA G E O N E
TURNING AROUND
UNDERWATER
Now that your child has increased his breath-holding abilities
and comfort underwater, he is ready to turn 180° underwater.
This ability to turn will become one of the lynchpins of the
important Safety Sequence (see pp108–09), which involves turning
around to face the wall, grabbing the wall, and climbing out.
FIRST LEVEL
Follow the sequence for the well-practiced Time to Go exit
ritual of “Ring Around the Rosie” (see p69). At the “We all fall
down” verse, lift your child up for a breath, submerge him, but
instead of immediately raising him to the surface, allow him to remain
underwater holding his breath for a slow count of “1, 2.” Then raise him
up out of the water and praise him. Practice once per lesson.
OBJECTIVES AND TIPS
To build on the foundation skills
learned in the Time to Go ritual of
“Ring around the Rosie” (see p69).
To execute an assisted 180° turn
in a vertical position.
If you feel an older beginner is
starting to turn, encourage this by
guiding his turn.
T U R N I N G A RO U N D U N D E RWAT E R
101
SECOND LEVEL
Once you have practiced the first level for several weeks,
to slowly turn him 180°—either clockwise or counter-
and your child comfortably holds his breath for two
clockwise depending on which way he naturally turns—
seconds, you can try turning him. Follow the steps for
so that he ends up facing your stomach. Raise him up
the first level, but once he is underwater, use your hands
and exclaim, “Peekaboo!”
( m i n i m u m ag e 1 9 m o n t h s )
i n t e r m e d i at e s : s tag e t w 0
S TA G E T W O L E S S O N P L A N
103
STAGE TWO LESSON PLAN
LESSON PLAN
REQUIREMENTS FOR STAGE TWO
Minimum Age: Your child should be at least
19 months old.
Skill Level:
Your child has successfully
completed Beginners: Stages One
and Two and Intermediates: Stage
One, as well as the Adaptations
for Three- to Four-Year- Old
Beginners if she started learning to
swim over the age of 36 months.
She can comfortably propel herself
with a steady kick, face submerged,
holding her breath for up to seven
seconds without taking in water.
By this stage your child will have a good level of
endurance and both physical and mental coordination.
Since she will be able to swim underwater for up to
seven seconds with a strong, steady, and effective kick,
you can now add the important Safety Sequence
WARM UP 3–5 minutes
Practice kicking and chasing a toy or kicking drills.
SONG BREAK 3–5 minutes
Sing “The People on the Bus” or a bathtime song.
WARM-UP DIPS 1–2 minutes
Short, cued dips using the technique for
a First Held Underwater Swim.
and consistently practicing safety skills can help
your child to make her way back to the edge of—
and then out of—the pool in the event of an
accidental water entry.
The Safety Sequence is a technique for experienced
swimmers. Include it in the lesson plan only once the
following techniques have been comfortably mastered
by your child: Intermediate Swim to the Wall (see p104),
Jump, Swim, and Turn Back to the Wall (see p105), and
Unaided Turn Underwater (see pp106–07). To maintain
p39
pp64–65
ACTIVITY CIRCUIT 10–12 minutes total
pp52–53
Structure the circuit as shown below. Go round 3–5 times.
a) Water Pouring Station
pp46–47
b) Monkey Walk or Basketball
pp77; 45
c) Jump, Dip and Swim
pp98–99
d) Pick-a-ball Game
p49
For the pass between parents use Rob’s Tai Chi Pass with
your child wearing fins 5 times max
pp92–93
To begin with, practice the skills under 1 (below, left). Once your
child has mastered these exercises, replace with 2 (below, right).
1. INTERMEDIATE
SWIM TO THE WALL
2.THE SAFETY
SEQUENCE
2–3 minutes,
3 times max
2–4 minutes total
a) Unaided Turn
Underwater (fourth
level) 3 times max p107
b) The Safety Sequence
(first, second, third or
fourth level depending
on ability) 2 times max
pp108–09
p104
(see pp108–09) to her repertoire. Although no child
should ever be considered “drownproof,” learning
pp56; 72
JUMP OFF THE WALL
2–3 minutes
Jump, Swim and Turn
Back to the Wall (first or
second level depending on
ability) 3 times max
p105
VERTICAL
SUBMERSIONS AND
TURNS 3 minutes
Unaided Turn Underwater
(first, second or third level
depending on ability)
3 times max
pp106–07
your child’s focus and energy, once you are ready to
practice the Safety Sequence eliminate the above three
drills from the lesson plan and concentrate on the
Safety Sequence instead.
BALANCE or RUN AND JUMP 3–5 minutes
pp68; 51
TIME TO GO 1 minute
Unaided Turn Underwater 2 times max
p69
p106–07
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I N T E R M E D I AT E S : S TA G E T W O
INTERMEDIATE SWIM
TO THE WALL
OBJECTIVES
To create an increasingly more
independent swim toward the wall
while maintaining contact.
Your child’s ever-increasing comfort and confidence, his expanding
lung capacity, and his lengthening strong swim all indicate that he
is ready to further develop his swimming capabilities. For this swim,
he will be much more independent since you will not maneuver or
To encourage a horizontal body
position and a steady kick.
To build on the skills gained in the
Guided Swim to the Wall (see
pp96–97).
push him but merely guide him toward the wall with your fingertips.
1
Place a toy on the pool wall. With your child in
the Pass Hold (see p43), stand 6 feet (1.8 m) away
2
Gently slip your non-dominant hand out from
under his other armpit, and rest your hand by
from the wall. Cue your child to go underwater and
your side. Walk forward, guiding him slowly toward the
submerge him. As his face enters the water, slip your
wall with your dominant hand. Allow him to swim to
dominant hand (your right hand if you are right-
the wall, grab it, raise his head out of the water, and
handed) out from under his armpit, move it over
pick up the toy as a reward. Make sure that the time
his back, and place your fingertips at the base of his
submerged does not exceed your child’s current breath-
head at the neck.
holding ability.
J U M P, S W I M , A N D T U R N B A C K T O T H E W A L L
JUMP, SWIM, AND TURN
BACK TO THE WALL
You can now channel your child’s sturdy, reliable, cued jump with
a submersion into a jump with a short swim out to you, and
then a jump with a short swim, above-water turn, and a swim
back to the wall. This confident jump needs to be safe, so ensure
105
OBJECTIVES
To encourage a jump from the
wall that includes the increased
breath holding of a swim.
To teach your child to transfer
from a vertical lean to a swim.
To link the different skills of a jump
off the wall with a swim, followed
by a swim back to the wall.
that your child waits for your count before leaving the wall.
FIRST LEVEL
SECOND LEVEL
Sit your child on the pool wall. Stand in chest-deep
Once your child is confident at the first level, you
water 3–6 feet (90–180 cm) away from the wall and
can combine the jump off the wall and swim with an
face your child. Hold your hands out and instruct him
immediate swim back to the wall. Follow as for the
to jump out to you after your count. Count “1, 2, 3” to
first level, but once your child swims to you, catch
cue the jump. Allow your child to swim out to you,
him, lift him briefly for a breath, turn him around 180°,
then reward him with a toy.
and let him swim back to the wall (see opposite).
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I N T E R M E D I AT E S : S TA G E T W O
UNAIDED TURN
UNDERWATER
For this new skill, you and your child will link several sequences
in a specific order. She can already submerge vertically holding
her breath for several seconds, and you’ve helped her to turn 180°
underwater—now you are going to teach her to do this turn
independently, first to you, then to the wall.
FIRST LEVEL
Play “peekaboo.” Stand in waist- to chest-deep water
facing your partner, 2 feet (60 cm) apart. Hold your child
vertically facing toward you, so the receiver is hidden from
your child’s view. The receiver should call out, “Where am
I?” Your child should turn her chin over one shoulder to
look for the receiver, thus initiating a body rotation. If she
does not twist round, turn her 180° to face the receiver.
Exclaim, “Peekaboo!” Repeat several times per lesson for at
least two lessons.
TEACHING TIPS
Keep your hands close to your
child while she is learning these
skills.You may need to help to turn
her or lift her for air.
Note which side your child naturally
turns toward—which shoulder is
she looking over? Help her turn in
this direction if necessary.
U N A I D E D T U R N U N D E RWAT E R
107
SECOND LEVEL
THIRD LEVEL
Once your child is confident at the first level, you can
Once your child turns every time at the second level,
move on to the second. Stand holding your child as
you can move on to the third. Hide a toy on the pool
you did for the first level, but this time the receiver
wall. Stand with your child facing you 10–12 inches
places a dive ring between her thumb and index finger.
(25–30 cm) from the wall. Turn her so she can see the
Turn your child toward the receiver, who should show
ring, then turn her back to face you, and ask her to
her the ring, placing it underwater in line with her
find the ring then grab the wall. Staying above water, she
stomach. Then turn your child back around to face
should look over her shoulder, rotating her body and
you. Tell her to “Get the ring!” Give her a cue to go
grab the wall. Practice two to three times per lesson.
underwater, submerge her, and release her. She should
turn, grab the ring, and then be lifted by the receiver.
FOURTH LEVEL
Once your child successfully accomplishes the third
level, you can move on to the fourth. Stand as for the
third level, then give her the cue to go underwater,
submerge her, and gently release her. She should turn
underwater to grab the wall and find the toy. Practice
two to three times per lesson for several weeks.
108
I N T E R M E D I AT E S : S TA G E T W O
THE SAFETY SEQUENCE
OBJECTIVES
This vital safety sequence should be used in addition to the
To link multiple skills together in
sequence to ensure water safety.
safety plan on pp24–25. It will teach your child to safely jump
off the wall, turn around by herself in the water, swim back to
the wall, grab the wall, and exit the pool. This means that if your
child ever faces an accidental water entry, this sequence will
enable her to swim confidently and wall to the wall and climb
To rehearse water entry by
simulating a fall into water in a
non-threatening fashion.
To encourage a repeatable,
rehearsable sequence that is
automatically implemented in the
event of an accidental water entry.
out of the pool.
FIRST LEVEL
1
Sit your child on the pool wall. Tell her that her job
is to jump in, turn around underwater, and come
2
Once she has jumped, raise the elbow of your
extended arm and use your fingertips to scoop
back to the wall (you can put a toy on the wall to
and turn her around at the base of the head, guiding
encourage her). Place your hip firmly against the wall
her back to the wall. Your other hand should now
on the side of your child toward which she usually
splash near the wall, creating a visible and audible
turns (see pp100–101). Place your hand that’s nearest to
target. Once she has reached the wall, boost one of
her under her armpit, and stretch out your other arm
her knees up, and help her to climb out.
so your hand is about 3–4 feet (90–120 cm) from
the wall. With this hand, splash the water as a marker
SECOND LEVEL
of how far you want her to jump. Cue the jump by
Once your child can perform this sequence with less
counting “1, 2, 3,” then keep your nearest hand lightly
guidance, practice without spotting her or guiding her
under her armpit so you can spot her jump and make
back to the wall, but continue to splash near the wall
sure she leaves the wall correctly.
to create a target. Help her out of the pool.
THE SAFETY SEQUENCE
109
THIRD LEVEL
Once your child is competent at the second level
and has practiced for several weeks, ask your partner
to sit next to your child on the edge of the pool
with their toes in the water. Tell your child to
“Jump in, turn around, look for [your partner’s]
toes, grab the walls and climb out and sit next to
her.” Follow the sequence for the second level, but
do not splash the water near the wall as your child
should aim for your partner’s toes. At the end, your
child should climb out and sit next to your partner.
FOURTH LEVEL
Once your child has competently practiced the
third level for a number of weeks, you can progress
to the fourth level. Use the same technique as for
the third level, but for this level your partner
should sit in a chair on the deck. This time, after
performing the sequence under your watchful eye
while you are in the water, your child should climb
out of the pool to hug your partner, thus taking
him far away from the pool’s edge.
( m i n i m u m ag e t h r e e y e a r s )
i n t e r m e d i at e s : s tag e t h r e e
S TA G E T H R E E L E S S O N P L A N
111
STAGE THREE LESSON PLAN
REQUIREMENTS FOR STAGE THREE
LESSON PLAN
WARM UP 3–5 minutes
Minimum Age: Your child should be at least
three years old.
Practice kicking and chasing a toy or kicking drills.
Skill Level:
SONG BREAK 3 minutes
Your child has successfully
completed Beginners: Stages One
and Two and Intermediates: Stages
One and Two, as well as the
Adaptations for Three- to FourYear Old Beginners if she started
learning to swim over the age of
36 months. She can propel herself
forward with a strong, steady kick,
face submerged, holding her
breath for nine seconds, and has
mastered the Safety Sequence.
pp56; 72
Incorporate vertical submersions, bubble blowing, and
swimming around the parent.
pp39; 106–07; 73
WARM-UP DIPS 1–2 minutes
Short dips using the technique for a held swim.
pp64–65
ACTIVITY CIRCUIT 10–12 minutes total
pp52–53
Structure the circuit as shown below. Go around 3–5 times.
a) Water Pouring Station
pp46–47
b) Monkey Walk or Basketball
pp77; 45
c) Jump, Swim, and Turn Back to the Wall
Children in this age group are great characters with
(once per round)
p105
d) Pick-a-ball Game
p49
boundless energy and vivid imaginations. They love to
For the pass between parents use Rob’s Tai Chi Pass with
chat, sing, and play games, and also like to work for
your child wearing fins 5 times max
pp92–93
rewards—motivation and encouragement are key to
LEARNING TO COME UP FOR AIR 3 minutes total
their learning. They will progress well when learning in a
a) Coming Up for Air—Assisted 3–5 times max pp112–13
group environment since they love mimicking their
b) Coming Up for Air—Equipment 3–5 times max
peers and demonstrating their skills to their friends.
pp114–15
You will find that by now your child is a good
swimmer, can link together skills in a sequence, and her
FRONT FLOATING 1–2 minutes
coordination has greatly improved due to her physical
Front Floating 1–3 times max
development. As she can now kick well and spend a
BACK FLOATING AND SWIMMING 1–2 minutes
significant amount of time underwater, she can progress
Start with i), below, then progress to ii), then finally to iii).
to more complicated skills such as floating.
i) Back Floating 1–2 times max
Skills such as Coming Up for Air (see pp112–13) and
p116
p117
ii) Swimming on the Back 2–3 times max
pp118–19
iii) 180º Roll During a Swim 3–5 times max
pp120–21
skills, and gradually introduce back floating based on
DIVING FOR RINGS 2 minutes
pp122–23
your child’s ever-increasing levels of relaxation, trust, and
THE SAFETY SEQUENCE 2 minutes
pp108–09
Back Floating (see p117) take time and patience to
successfully master. Never force breathing or floating
readiness. It may take months to accomplish these skills,
but once acquired, they offer your child increased
mobility and safety in the water.
BALANCE or RUN AND JUMP 3–5 minutes pp68; 51
TIME TO GO 1 minute
p69
112
I N T E R M E D I AT E S : S TA G E T H R E E
COMING UP FOR
AIR—ASSISTED
TEACHING TIPS
Once a child learns to come up for a breath, he will be able to
swim for longer, resurfacing again and again as he explores the
pool. Surfacing for a breath takes several months to fully achieve,
but with time and practice, and your instructions in the correct
Starting this skill at too young an
age results in your child swimming
vertically in the water, which is
frustrating for him and exhausting.
Supporting your child at the waist
or hips creates a fulcrum that
prompts him to move his arms and
hands forward and raise his head.
technique, he will gain a new freedom in the water.
FIRST LEVEL
Stand in chest-deep water, with your partner 15 feet
him up for a breath. Facing your child, the receiver
(4.5 m) ahead of you. Hold your child in the Pass Hold
should take an audible gulp of air and then close his
(see p43) and cue him to go underwater. As his face
mouth while you say, “Take a breath.” Listen to check
enters the water, release him and walk along beside him.
that your child has taken a breath, then continue to
At the end of his usual breath holding (by now up to
swim him underwater to the receiver, who should pick
10 seconds), slip your hands under his armpits and lift
him up and praise him. Practice for at least six lessons.
COMING UP FOR AIR—ASSISTED
113
SECOND LEVEL
Once your child takes a breath every time you
lift him in the first level, let him try to lift his
own head out of the water. Follow the first
level, but at his usual breath-taking point, place
your hands at his waist. Your child can lean his
torso onto your hands to give him leverage,
paddle his hands, arch his back, lift his chin up
out of the water, and take a breath. He can
then submerge his head again, and continue his
swim. Initially, you may need to tilt your wrists
upward to help him come up for a breath.
Practice for at least six lessons.
THIRD LEVEL
FOURTH LEVEL
Once your child is competent at the second level, move
Once your child is confident at the third level, move
your hands down from his waist to his hips. This alters
your hands to your child’s thighs so that you are
the amount of leverage he has, making him push harder
providing even less leverage and he needs to push
on the water with his hands to raise his head for air.
even harder to come up for air. Practice for at least
Practice for at least six lessons.
the next six lessons.
114
I N T E R M E D I AT E S : S TA G E T H R E E
COMING UP FOR
AIR—EQUIPMENT
Mastering the skill of surfacing for air takes months of practice,
but if you wish, you can use equipment and toys to improve
technique and body position and motivate your child. Hoops and
noodles provide a focus, while fins and barbells allow your child
to experience a new skill before he perfects it.
FIRST OPTION
Stand facing your child in waist-deep water, with a barbell
between you. Ask your child to hold the barbell with both
hands and straight arms. Tell him to take a breath, then
gently place his face in the water. Walk backward as
your child swims the barbell toward you. Tap the
crown of his head and take a deep breath to
encourage him to mimic you and breathe in,
then tell him, “put your eyes in and splash with
your feet.” At the start, you may need to tow
the barbell or add fins for greater propulsion,
and to assist with the head lift.
TEACHING TIPS
If you are practicing alone, you can
adapt the third option by using the
wall to support one end of the
noodle. If you are in a group, you
can make things easier by holding
equipment for each other.
Prompt your child with the phrase:
“Take a breath, eyes in, big kicks!”
COMING UP FOR AIR—EQUIPMENT
115
SECOND OPTION
Stand in waist- to chest-deep water opposite your partner,
10–12 feet (3–3.6 m) apart. Your partner should have a
puppet. Tell your child, “When the puppet is up, you are
up; when it is down, you are down.” With your child in
the Pass Hold (see p43) cue him to go underwater and,
as your partner places the puppet underwater, swim your
child to your partner. Follow your child—after a few
seconds your partner should raise the puppet out of the
water and your child should lift his head. Repeat until
your child reaches your partner.
THIRD OPTION
Make a bridge by holding two noodles on top of the
water, so they are 5–6 feet (1.5–1.8 m) apart. (Or make a
hoop tunnel with two hoops partially submerged held
5–6 feet/1.5–1.8 m apart.) Instruct your child to swim
under the first bridge, come up to take a breath in the
middle, then go under the second bridge. Initially, your
partner may need to help him to come up by using the
different leverage supports shown on pages 112–13.
116
I N T E R M E D I AT E S : S TA G E T H R E E
FRONT AND BACK
FLOATING
TEACHING TIPS
Let your child hold a toy, recite the
alphabet, or count to occupy and
relax her while she is floating.
Floating, which should be done with free will, not imposed,
requires experience and trust. We have always introduced floating
to our most experienced swimmers who are totally relaxed and in
harmony with the water, rather than to younger, less competent
Technique is not as important as
the fact your child is relaxed.
By watching someone else float—a
parent, sibling, or peer—your child
is more likely to try this skill.
swimmers who may be alarmed by these new positions.
FLOATING ON THE FRONT
1
While you hold your child, ask your partner to
demonstrate a front float. Point out to your child
how the knees are bent, the arms are held out with the
elbows bent, the head is looking down, and the body is
relaxed and not wiggling.
2
Stand in the Face-to-face Hold (see p43) and tell
your child that it is now her turn to front float
and that you will help her. Ask her to “take a big
breath and put your eyes in.” You can initiate this by
audibly and visibly taking a breath. Gently release your
hands from under her armpits and dangle them under
her as she floats and holds your outstretched arms.
F RO N T A N D B A C K F L O AT I N G
117
FLOATING ON THE BACK
1
As with floating on the front, show your child how
your partner floats on his back and point out what
each part of his body is doing. Alternatively, lie your
child on his back on a large foam mat and point out
what all his body parts are doing when floating.
2
Tell your child it is her turn (or time to try it in
the water if she has been floating on the mat), and
hold her facing away from you, with the sun behind
you so there is no glare. Place her cheek next to yours
and lightly touch your palm to her other cheek. Rest
her head on your shoulder while she leans back from
a vertical position. Slowly lower your shoulder to the
water so the back of her head touches the water (this
way she won’t feel like she is falling). Place your free
hand in the small of her back for support. Point out
how key body parts should be positioned: “Look back
at me, head back, chin to the sky, tummy up, palms up
catching sun, arms and legs relaxed, no wiggling.”
Practice 2–3 times per lesson.
118
I N T E R M E D I AT E S : S TA G E T H R E E
SWIMMING ON
THE BACK
OBJECTIVES
To instill the correct body
alignment for later back swimming.
Being able to swim on his back means that your child will always
be able to breathe—a very important safety skill. Children who
are relaxed and ready for this new skill find this novel position,
with their mouth and eyes out of the water, a fun new way to
To refine the kick movement—it
becomes more hip-generated in
this position, with straighter legs
and the feet just below the surface.
To establish the foundation for
backstroke and freestyle drills.
move in the pool, so expect lots of giggling.
FIRST LEVEL
Play a game of “Tugboat and Ocean Liner,” where
your child is the tugboat and you the liner. Stand
behind your child and position him on his back,
holding a barbell at his waist so he can hold it and
touch it to his belly button. His head should touch
your chest. Instruct your child to push you with his
head, saying, “Be a strong tugboat and push me into
port.” Walk backward slowly as he kicks and maintains
contact with your chest, pushing against you. Tell him
to look you in the eyes as he kicks, giving him
frequent prompts: “Head back, tummy up, push me,
little kicks.” Praise him for being a strong tugboat.
SWIMMING ON THE BACK
119
SECOND LEVEL
1
Once your child is happy playing
“Tugboat,” try playing the game
of “Food Delivery.” Stand 3–4 feet
(90–120 cm) opposite your partner.
Ask your child to name her favorite
snack, then position her so she is
floating on her back, and place the
imaginary snack on her stomach.
Tell her, “deliver the snack [to the
receiver], but keep your tummy up
so it doesn’t get soggy.”
2
Gently launch your child on her back to the
and enjoy it. For variety, you can also have your child
receiver using a slight push forward—one hand
push off the wall with her feet and gently glide on her
should gently push under her back and the other
back toward you with her tummy up. She can then
hand should push her feet. Prompt her: “Tummy up!
share the imaginary snack with you.
Kick! Keep the snack dry!” When she gets to the
receiver, they can share the snack, pretending to munch
120
I N T E R M E D I AT E S : S TA G E T H R E E
180º ROLL DURING
A SWIM
OBJECTIVES AND TIPS
To teach a 180° rolling technique
from prone to supine and supine
to prone.
Changing orientation during a swim creates a new way to take
a breath. For an experienced back swimmer, this is another
important safety skill. To make this technique fun for your child
to learn, pretend he is a hot dog, pouring imaginary mustard and
ketchup all over him, then saying “hot dog!” when you want your
To encourage taking a breath
before rolling into the water.
To associate a command (“hot
dog!”) with the action of rolling.
If your child is on your left-hand
side, simply reverse the directions.
child to roll and wash it all off.
FIRST LEVEL
1
Tell your child, “We’re going to roll you over and
put ketchup and mustard on you like a hot dog.”
2
Now that he is on his back, you and the receiver
should “squirt” your child with the imaginary
Standing in chest-deep water, 8 feet (2.4 m) opposite
sauces, then tell him that you’re going to wash it all off.
your partner, place your child in the Pass Hold
Hold your child on his back on your right-hand side
(see p43) on your right-hand side. Cue him to go
with your left arm under his back and your left hand
underwater and, as he swims, walk along with him,
holding his far armpit. Your right hand should hold
keeping your hands on him. When he almost reaches
him under his nearest armpit. Begin a held swim and
the receiver, say “hot dog!” and roll him toward you
then say, “hot dog!” To turn him, pull your left hand
with your right hand, pushing him gently away from
toward you and push your right hand away from you,
you with your left hand. He will roll 180°, bringing his
rolling your child so his face is in the water, then rolling
face to the surface.
him back up again after a few seconds.
1 8 0 º RO L L D U R I N G A S W I M
121
SECOND LEVEL
1
Once your child is confident with the assisted
rolls in the first level, you can let him try rolling
2
Repeat step one, but with your child swimming on
his front. Cue your child to go underwater and
himself. Stand in chest-deep water opposite your
launch him for an unaided swim. Just before he reaches
partner, 8 feet (2.4 m) apart, holding your child so
the receiver say “hot dog!” which should cue him to roll
that he is floating on his back. Gently launch your
onto his back.
child to the receiver using a slight push forward. Just
Once your child is confident performing unaided
before he reaches the reciever, say “hot dog!” This
single rolls, he can start doing a roll-and-return cycle,
should cue him to roll over into a prone position
first rolling one way from his front to his back, then
on his front and finish swimming to the receiver.
taking a breath and rolling back the same way onto his
front before reaching the receiver.
122
I N T E R M E D I AT E S : S TA G E T H R E E
DIVING FOR RINGS
OBJECTIVES AND TIPS
One of the most thrilling rites of passage for a young swimmer is
To teach your child to perform a
dive and swim at a diagonal angle.
gaining the ability to perform a surface dive and retrieve a ring
or toy off the bottom of the pool. Not only does this skill
promote the ability to navigate underwater—thus increasing
On the deck, get your child to
practice a forward bend at the waist
and learn the phrase “Swim, bow,
splash the sky, kick for the ring.”
comfort and safety in the water—it also fosters self-esteem.
FIRST LEVEL
1
Tell your child to “kick hard” to the bottom, grab
the ring, and “kick hard” to come up. Drop a dive
ring at a depth of
3–31/2
feet (90–105 cm), then stand
2
Your child should swim down toward the pool
floor, grab the ring when it is within her reach,
push off the pool floor and look upward toward the
back at a diagonal angle to it. Holding your child in
surface, angling her body for the ascent. She will
the Pass Hold (see p43), cue her to go underwater.
return upward either by floating up or by kicking.
Submerge her by giving her a slight push diagonally
She may try both tactics and then develop a preference
and down, then release her.
for using one of them.
DIVING FOR RINGS
3
123
As your child returns to the surface, catch her
SECOND LEVEL
and praise her for a job well done. Practice this
Once your child is confident at the first level, withdraw
sequence several times per lesson.
your assistance gradually by decreasing the strength
of your push and encouraging your child to “put your
head down and kick,” initiating a jackknife or pike
position. She may eventually propel herself using both
arms to bring her down. You can also sink multiple
rings to lengthen the time spent maneuvering
underwater and thus increase her lung capacity.
124
RESOURCES
RESOURCES
ORGANIZATIONS
American Red Cross and Canadian Red Cross
Run courses teaching water safety, health, and first aid.
www.redcross.org and www.redcross.ca
International Swimming Hall of Fame
Aquatic museum, library, and bookstore.
Promotes water safety initiatives.
www.ishof.org
Lifestyle Swim School
Founded by Rob and Kathy McKay, organizes swim
lessons, parent workshops, teacher training and
workshops, and teacher referrals. Creators and suppliers
of “Diaper Dolphins” video series for parents.
www.babyswimming.com
email: [email protected]
National Spa and Pool Institute (NSPI)
Furthers pool safety, health, and education.
www.nspi.org
Swimming Cananda
Provides links to provincial swimming organizations.
www.swimming.ca
United States Swim School Association
Promotes aquatic safety, health, and fun.
www.usswimschools.org
World Aquatic Babies Congress
Founded by Virginia Hunt Newman, focuses on aquatic
programs for babies, toddlers, and young children.
www.waterbabies.org email: [email protected]
YMCA US and YMCA Canada
Provides information on swimming
programs and safety..
www.ymca.net and www.ymca.ca
RESOURCES
SUPPLIERS OF EQUIPMENT, CLOTHES, AND TOYS
For fins, goggles, noodles, swim
Paragon Aquatics
Sprint Aquatics
and UV suits, water toys, and
www.paragonaquatics.com
www.sprintaquatics.com
email: [email protected]
other equipment, try the
following websites:
Baby Swim Store
Pooltoy.com
www.pooltoy.com
The-Swim-Store.com
email: [email protected]
www.the-swim-store.com
Recreonics
Water Gear
www.recreonics.com
www.watergear.com
www.babyswimstore.com
Kiefer Swim Shop
www.kiefer.com
email: [email protected]
125
126
INDEX
INDEX
A
C
GHI
Above-water Pass, 57
Activity Circuit, 52–3, 88
adapted lesson plan, 79
air, coming up for, 112–15
air temperature, 23
allergies, 33
Alligator Walk, 53, 85
alternate pool entry, 42
armbands, inflatable, 32
asthma, 33
Cheek Dip, 58
Cheek Roll, 59
child-centered teaching, 12–17
classes, 30
climbing out
exit rituals, 69
Safety Sequence, 108–9
colds, 21, 33
Coming Up for Air, 112–15
crying, 20
B
DEF
babies
bathtime, 38–9
development, 18
starting swimming, 30, 31, 37
back
floating on, 117
swimming on, 118–19
Balance, 68
barbells, 28–9
Coming Up for Air, 114
Swimming on the Back, 118
barriers, child-proof, 25
basketball, 45, 53
bathtime, 36, 38–9
beginners, water confidence,
36–53
benefits of swimming, 10–11
Big Ball Splash, 51
Blowing Bubbles, 73
body language, 13
bonding, parent-child, 10, 33
breathing
Breath-holding Cue, 60
bubble blowing, 73
Coming Up for Air, 112–15
introducing submersions, 21
Swimming on the Back, 118
Turning Around Under Water,
100–1
bubble blowing, 73
buoyancy swimsuits, 32
developmental stages, 18–19
diapers, 26
disinfectants, 23, 32
distraction techniques, 45
Diving for Rings, 122–3
“drownproofing”
programs, 14
ear drops, 27, 33
ear infections, 33
exit rituals, 69
face
Cheek Dip, 58
Cheek Roll, 59
Facial Submersions, 80–1
pouring water on, 36
water adjustment, 44
Face-to-face Dip, 62
Face-to-face Hold, 43
fears, 19, 44–5
fins, 27, 29, 94–5
first aid, 25
First Held Underwater Swim,
64–5
First Short Swim, 82–3
First Unaided Underwater Swim,
66–7
floating, 116–17
flotation devices, 32
Food Delivery game, 119
frightened children, 19, 44–5
Front Floating, 116
games, 32
for beginners, 48–51
group games, 50–1
for intermediates, 88
water adjustment, 44, 45
goggles, 27
group games, 50–1
Guided Swim to the Wall,
96–7
holds, 43
hoops, 28–9
Coming Up for Air, 115
hoop swims, 94–5
hot tubs, 23
hygiene, 23
illness, 21, 33
imaginative play, 19
inoculations, 33
Intermediate Swim to the
Wall, 104
intermediates, 88–123
JKL
Jacuzzis, 23
jumping in
Jump, Dip, and Swim, 98–9
Jump from the Wall, 63
Jump, Swim, and Turn Back
to the Wall, 105
Learning to Wait, 76
Safety Sequence, 108–9
Standing Step Jump, 84
Kicking, 56
Kicking Drills, 72
ladders, 23
learning aids, 28–9
lesson plans
for beginners, 36–7, 55, 71,
79
for intermediates, 88–9, 91,
103, 111
London Bridge Is Falling
Down, 50
INDEX
127
MNO
S
TU
Monkey Walk, 52, 77
Motor Boat, Motor Boat, 48
non-swimming parents, 30
noodles, 28
Coming Up for Air, 115
learning balance, 68
otitis externa, 33
otitis media, 33
safety, 11, 24–5
holds, 43
pool barriers, 25
pool entry, 32–3, 41–2, 76
reaching for pool wall, 74–5
Safety Sequence, 108–9
in showers, 39
showers, 39
songs, 32
bathtime, 39
for beginners, 48
for intermediates, 88
water adjustment, 44
sponge bathing, 38
steps, 23
pool entry, 41
Standing Step Jump, 84
water adjustment, 45
submersion
Breath-holding Cue, 60
Cheek Roll, 59
Coming Up for Air, 112–15
Diving for Rings, 122–3
Face-to-face Dip, 62
Facial Submersions, 80–1
First Held Underwater Swim,
64–5
First Unaided Underwater
Swim, 66–7
Guided Swim to the Wall, 96–7
hoop swims, 94–5
introducing, 21
Jump, Dip, and Swim, 98–9
Turning Around Under Water,
100–1
Unaided Turn Under Water,
106–7
when not to, 21
sunblock, 26, 27
surfacing, 112–15
swimmer’s ear, 33
swimming aids, 32
swimsuits, 26
Tai Chi Pass, 92–3
teaching methods, 12–17
“tear-free zone”, 20
temperature, 23
Time to Go, 69
toddlers, 18–19, 37
toys, 28–9, 32, 39
Tugboat and Ocean Liner, 118
turns
Safety Sequence, 108–9
Turning Around Under Water,
100–1
Unaided Turn Under Water,
106–7
unaided swimming, 87–9
Diving for Rings, 122–3
First Short Swim, 82–3
First Unaided Underwater
Swim, 66–7
Guided Swim to the Wall, 96–7
hoop swims, 94–5
Intermediate Swim to the Wall,
104
Jump, Dip, and Swim, 98–9
Jump, Swim, and Turn Back to
the Wall, 105
180º Roll during a Swim, 121
Unaided Turn Under Water,
106–7
underwater swimming see
submersion
PR
passes
Above-water Pass, 57
Pass Hold, 43
Rob’s Tai Chi Pass, 92–3
Pick-a-ball Game, 49, 53
pool wall
Guided Swim to the Wall,
96–7
Intermediate Swim to the
Wall, 104
Jump from the Wall, 63
Monkey Walk, 52, 77
reaching for and grabbing,
74–5
safety, 33
pools
choosing, 22–3, 32
exit rituals, 69
first trip to, 40–3
pool entry, 41–2
see also jumping in
pregnancy, 30
premature babies, 33
problems, 20–1
puppets, coming up for air, 115
Reaching for and Grabbing the
Wall, 74–5
reflexes, 18, 56
rewards, 19
rings, diving for, 122–3
Rob’s Tai Chi Pass, 92–3
rolls, 180º, 120–1
Run and Jump, 51
W
waiting, learning to, 76
wall see pool wall
Waltz Hold, 43
water
adjustment to, 36, 44–5
temperature, 23
water quality standards, 23, 32
Water Pouring Station, 46–7, 52,
88
Where Did They Go?, 49
128
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
AUTHORS’ ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
PUBLISHER’S ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Our heartfelt thanks go to: our parents, John and Bobbie
McKay and Bill and Irene Kement, for always loving us,
supporting our efforts, and setting an outstanding example
of good parenting; our brothers, Scott McKay and Michael
Kement, for sharing with us happy, active, and playful
childhoods and lasting bonds of friendship; our daughters,
Heather and Brianne McKay, who taught us firsthand the
joys of being a parent, continue to enrich our lives with their
beautiful spirits, and who encouraged us to write this book.
Our sincere thanks also go to the “mother” of infant
swimming, Virginia Hunt Newman, a pioneering advocate of
the gentle, positive approach to teaching babies to swim, for
her friendship, inspiration, insight, ethics, and vision; Chuck
Gaspari, our friend and attorney, whose counsel, motivation,
and foresight helped us throughout the writing, publishing, and
marketing process; the entire DK team whose dedicated efforts
and skill brought this book into being; Steve Graves, founder
of the National Swim School Association and executive
director of the World Aquatic Baby Congress for his vast
knowledge of swimming, his always wise and insightful
comments, and for his support and enthusiasm over the years;
longtime friends John Spannuth, founder of the United States
Water Fitness Association, Buck Dawson, founding director of
the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and Bob Duenkel,
curator of the ISHOF, for their steadfast encouragement;
Florida Atlantic University for the use of their pool during
our photo shoot; Art and Irena Scroggie for the use of their
home pool during our photo shoot; Vinnie Gordon of
Gordon Homes for her help in scouting locations; Lauren
Glaun of Sunstoppers for so promptly coming to our rescue
with beautiful UV suits for the photo shoot.
Finally, we would like to thank the thousands of parents and
babies we have had the privilege to teach over the years who have
enriched our lives and our life’s work; and the babies and the
parents featured in this book for helping to convey to the world
the boundless joy and freedom of movement experienced when
learning to swim with a gentle, child-paced approach.
Dorling Kindersley would like to thank all the families who
gave their time to model for this book: Eddie and Lauren
Ames with David and AJ; Melissa Babey with Brandon and
Hunter; Melissa Biggs with Tiffany; Scott Bradley with Skyann;
Mickey and Nati Charney; Manu and Lisa Chauhan with Kai;
Robin DeStefano with Jenna; Colette Duenkel with Teagan;
Esther Fix with Benjamin; Kristen Gaspari with Jonas and
James; Cindy Giaquinto with Jenna; Fran Janicki with Ethan;
Karen Kahane with Brianna; Keith and Stacey Kern with
Elisabeth; Leimomi Lane with Kaui; Gillian Lopez with Fox;
Heather McKay; Victoria Neil with Tyler; Luis and JB Perdomo
with Sofia; Cherly Price with Danny; Candace Pritchard with
Carson; Hervé and Sylvia Rivere with Lily; Becky Schmidt with
Slade; Irena Scroggie with Nicole and Sophia; Karen and Jim
Shields with Joshua; Danté Sigona; Joshua and Kinga Snowhorn
with Alma and Luca; Regina and Charles Stabile with Adrianna;
Terri Stetz with Jacklyn Lipp; Stephanie Welch with Gavin.
AUTHORS’ BIOGRAPHY
Rob and Kathy McKay have been practising
their child-centred approach to teaching
young children to swim for over 23 years. Their
Lifestyle Swim School in Florida has international
acclaim, and they have trained teachers from around the
world in how to use their innovative methods. Rob serves on
the board of the World Aquatic Baby Congress, and has won
numerous awards for his contribution to baby swimming.
Dorling Kindersley would also like to thank photographer Zena
Holloway, her assistant Vanessa Sherry, and make-up artist Kim
Allegra; the Great Little Trading Company for the loan of props;
Florida Atlantic University and Art and Irena Scroggie for the use
of their pools; and Lavish Locations. Finally, the publisher would
like to thank John Searcy (proofreader); Hilary Bird (indexer);
Adam Powley (jacket copywriter); Carrie Love (jacket editor);
and Tony Chung (jacket designer).
Picture credit
p38: Getty images/P T Santana.
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