First of all, if your student is under the age of six, I strongly suggest that you first teach a child to swim with the hands at the sides, using a “pop-up breath.” Why? It’s pretty simple. At these younger ages, while children CAN and SHOULD learn the front crawl/freestyle, it takes LONGER to learn because of the where a child is at from a motor skill development standpoint. Secondly, we know that over 50% of all drownings for children under the of six occur in residential pools (SafeKids World Wide). If a child can master swimming with the hands at the sides with a strong flutter kick and a pop-up breath quicker than he can learn freestyle, then I think we need to teach them the basic swimming skill (kicking with a pop-up breath) as early as possible. If the child is six years of age or older, we approach the skills progression differently. Why? Because by age six, the motor skills are much more developed. Our experience is that if a six year old can hold his breath for 4-5 seconds, then he will pick up the freestyle (front crawl) quite quickly because his motor skills are better. Children at this age have fairly good coordination, so teaching freestyle to the beginner is much more age appropriate. Secondly, we know that between the ages of six and 14 years of age, more than 50% of all drowning are in open water situations. Since freestyle is going to be much more effective skill in a more challenging situation such as in open water, it makes more sense to start teaching freestyle to beginners age six and over).
The secret when teaching beginners to swim freestyle (front crawl) is to utilize the progression principal combined with clear, precise instructions or cues that tend to the “whole idea” of the swimming skill. In this video, you will see my young Swim Strokes 201 student make some nice improvements in just a matter of a few repeats. This same progression can be used with a Swim 102 (6-9 year old beginner) or Swim 103 (10-12 years). Rather than asking her to swim all the way across the pool, you can see the progression principle being utilized, making each improvement achievable. You will also see the use of specific corrective and evaluative feedback. Take a look:
For more video on “How to Teach the Freestyle and Backstroke,” check us out at Swim Lessons University. All of these teaching concepts are discussed and shown in detail in Swim 102, Swim Strokes 201/202/203, and” Teach Like a Pro!”
The International Swimming Hall of Fame has named Jim Reiser the recipient of the 2015 Virginia Hunt Newman Award for his curriculum and approach in teaching infants, toddlers, and children to swim. Jim is the first American to win the award in 10 years.
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July 31, 2012 at 1:06 pm Comments (0)