The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

Breath Control Mistake and Correction

What is our student doing incorrectly in this video clip?

If you guessed she is not exhaling out of her mouth and nose, you are correct. The problem with this, as you can see, is she is basically just holding her breath the entire time which causes her to run out of breath and have to stop. If she performs the air exchange properly, you will see she is capable of continuing the exercise for longer distances.

At Swim Lessons University, we call this exercise “Hopping Frog Bobs” and it is practiced each class in our Swim Strokes 201 class, an entry level strokes class for those who can swim from point a to point b for short distances, but need to learn the formal strokes of freestyle and backstroke. The instructions are “get your air in your mouth, blow out your mouth and your nose.” We also break that down into buzzwords or cues and simply say, “get your air, blow it out.”

Now watch our young student make the correction, after getting some specific, corrective feedback from the instructor:

At Swim Lessons University, instructors are trained to use 6 different forms of feedback in the “Teach Like a Pro” Instructor Training DVD Course.   In this video, you can see our young swimmer make the correction. Notice how she exhales out her mouth and nose each time she submerges, allowing her to easily catch another breath upon coming up for air. This exercise, Hoping Frog Bobs, is a great drill that isolates the breath control skill, which will transfer into learning the air exchange in freestyle (front crawl) with side breathing.

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June 4, 2012 at 12:56 pm Comments (0)

Swim Lesson Questions

Last night one of my instructors got this question/comment from a parent:

“I don’t see why she has to learn to breathe to the side… I think it’s just fine to breathe to front.”

Wow!   That just shows why the majority of our swim lessons participants are “beginners” and not near enough parents know enough, understand enough, or value enough the importance of learning formal strokes like freestyle with SIDE BREATHING!

To me,  when I see a person swimming freestyle with side breathing, I think to myself: “this individual knows how to swim.”   On the other hand, when I see someone swimming like Tarzan (though he was the best of yesteryear), I think: “this person is not a good swimmer.”

Not to get off subject, but an interesting fact.  Johnny Weismuller (Tarzan) was the first human being to swim the 100 yard freestyle in under 1 minute.   A great accomplishment considering the lack of technique and training available back then.  But today, we have countless 12 year olds swimming the 100 freestyle under 1:00!  So we now have skinny little kids who could out race a super human with hands the size of a pizza.   Johnny Weismuller is from Windber, PA, 5 minutes from my hometown.  My grandfather actually shook his hand and told me that story of how large his hands were!

Back to the importance of swimming freestyle with side breathing.   When one breathes to the side instead of the front, a significant amount of energy is conserved and the stroke is much more efficient and minimizes frontal drag.   If you train freestyle, you could swim across most lakes.   Of course learning other strokes such as sidestroke and elementary backstroke are great strokes to conserve energy for long swims as well.

According to Safe Kids World Wide, over 50% of all drownings for children ages 6 -14 occur in open water situations.   Why?  One reason is parents don’t understand the importance of learning formal strokes, such as the parent who questioned my instructor.   So when it appears to many parents that their child “swim like fish” because of how they swim  in a pool, the parents have no idea how the child would respond in an open water situation where your skills need to be much stronger.   If children are given the opportunity to learn “formal swimming skills and strokes,” drowning rates would drastically decline.

And one last note, life jackets save lives too.   Depending on the child’s skills, parents should not just depend on swimming skills in open water situations.   My rule of thumb, if the child (or adult) can’t swim across the lake, he/she should wear a life jacket!

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July 6, 2011 at 2:22 pm Comments (0)