The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

How to Teach the Sidestroke Arms

When we first introduce the sidestroke arm pull, I still like to use this old analogy:  “Pick an apple off the tree, put it in the other hand, drop it in the basket.”  Once the student gets the general idea, you want them to be more efficient with the stroke or to refine the stroke.   To refine the sidestroke arms, we like these cues:  “Pull and Slide, Push & Glide” as seen in this video below:.

 

For our complete certification course on teaching Sidestroke, Elementary Backstroke and Treading, check out our Lifesaving Strokes 400 level Video Course on the Swim Lessons University website.

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 was the first American to win the award in 10 years.

If you would like to learn more about the Swim Lessons University certification program and curriculum, make sure to visit us at www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com 

We have training and certification programs designed for both private instructors as well as organizations like YMCAs, Recreation Departments, Athletic Clubs, and more.

Swim Lessons University is currently being utilized by recreation departments, YMCAs, America Camp Association swim lessons programs, as well as by private swimming instructors in 45 states and over 30 countries!

You can also call us toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
March 20, 2017 at 2:32 am Comments (0)

How To Teach the Butterfly Breath Timing

Your student has the butterfly kick. Your student understands the recovery action of the butterfly arms. Your student’s body action and undulation is even looking good! So what is often holding your student’s butterfly skill mastery back? THE BREATH TIMING!

One of the most frustrating parts of teaching butterfly is getting our students to put it all the parts together and perform the butterfly the way it really should look. The majority of the time it is improper breath timing that is the culprit. The head position throughout the stroke is paramount, whether it’s during the entry, the pull, or the recovery of the arms.

In this short video clip, I’d like to share with you a drill that I like to use and have found it to be very helpful to my students when it comes to understanding the timing of the breath. Because the butterfly is complex skill, it still requires a lot of trial and error. In other words, it’s not a magical drill. However, at the very least, this drill will help your students understand what they are striving for each and every time you review it before your students attempt to practice it.

Would you be interested in a complete, detailed course on HOW TO TEACH THE BUTTERFLY?  Check out Swim Lessons University’s Butterfly video course.

 

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 was the first American to win the award in 10 years.

If you would like to learn more about the Swim Lessons University certification program and curriculum, make sure to visit us at www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com 

We have training and certification programs designed for both private instructors as well as organizations like YMCAs, Recreation Departments, Athletic Clubs, and more.

Swim Lessons University is currently being utilized by recreation departments, YMCAs, America Camp Association swim lessons programs, as well as by private swimming instructors in 45 states and over 30 countries!

You can also call us toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

 

, , , , , , , , , ,
March 12, 2017 at 4:37 pm Comments (0)

How to use Demonstrations in Swimming Lessons

If you are teaching a new skill and want to communicate to your students how this skill should be performed, what is the most likely way you would communicate this information? A Demonstration! When demonstrations are used in conjunction with verbal descriptions, they provide the learner with invaluable sources of information, therefore improving the efficiency and effectiveness of skill acquisition.

There are SIX factors that we need to consider before giving demonstrations:

    1. Status of the model (Landers and Landers, 1973)
    2. When the model should begin demonstrating  (Gentile, 1972 & Landers, 1975)
    3. Correctness of the demonstration (Landers and Landers, 1973)
    4. Observing incorrect demonstrations (Weir & Leavitt, 1990)
    5. Frequency of demonstrations (Hand & Sidaway , 1992)
    6. Demonstrations that include both visual and auditory modeling (Doody, Bird, & Ross, 1985)

Status of the model (Landers and Landers, 1973)

One of the first things to consider when deciding about demonstrating a skill is, who should do the demonstration. It may be surprising to find that the status of who demonstrates the skill can be influential in establishing the effectiveness of the demonstration.   For example, consider the experiment by Landers and Landers in which they compared skilled and unskilled models that were either the teacher or student peers. Results indicated that the teacher was a more effective model when skilled at performing the task. I agree. However, there are times when student demonstrations are also very effective.   If the student is capable of demonstrating accurately, especially in swimming, the instructor can keep the students attention focused on the important aspects of the skill or performance.

When the model should begin demonstrating (Gentile, 1972 & Landers, 1975)

Another decision that must be made about the use of a model is when the model should begin demonstrating a skill to best facilitate learning.   This decision concerns whether to begin demonstrating the skill before practice begins or after some practice has occurred. One argument promotes demonstrating before practice begins so that the students have the idea of what the skill looks like when it is performed.   This approach would be in keeping with Gentile’s (1972) proposal that the goal of the first stage of learning is to “get the idea of the movement.”

An alternative to this approach is to allow students to first try the skill on their own after being provided with information about the goal of the movement and some basic verbal instructions about how to perform the skill (Landers, 1975).   This approach emphasizes initial trial-and-error practice and may help the student to develop some initial coordination, as well as learn some movement characteristics that won’t work. So after some initial exploration, the model could then be introduced.

These results suggest that introducing a model before practice begins is an appropriate technique. However, it is advisable to provide an opportunity for students to observe the model at other times during practice, in addition to this initial opportunity. These results also suggest that there are situations in which allowing students the opportunity to initially explore how the skill can be done before introducing the model can be beneficial.   Personally, I use both of these demonstration techniques in my swimming lessons.

Frequency of demonstrations (Hand and Sidaway, 1992)

Although it is recommended that a skill be demonstrated before practicing a skill, it would also be beneficial to demonstrate the skill at various times during practice.   The question that arises is, if the skill should be demonstrated during practice, how frequently?

A more recent student by Hand and Sidaway (1992) suggests that more frequency may be better than less frequency. This study has its flaws when it comes to learning to swim because the experiment had to do with hitting golf balls into a target.   What’s interesting is that the group that observed a skilled model before every shot vs. another group observed before every 5th shot and another before every 10th shot.   The results showed the group who saw the learner model before every shot did better than the other groups.

I would argue that while this approach may be absolutely true for hitting a golf ball, it would not work for swimming.   My conclusion is predicated on the significantly decreased practice time, which is the best of instructors.   Watching a golf swing takes seconds. Whereas watching a swimming demonstration could take minutes, severely reducing the invaluable practice time.

Correctness of the demonstration (Landers and Landers, 1973; Gould and Roberts, 1982) & Observing incorrect demonstrations (Weir & Leavitt, 1990)

A common conclusion about a model’s performance of the skill is that the skill should be performed correctly.   The studies by Landers and Landers (1973) showed that a skilled teacher as a model led to better student performances than the unskilled teacher. Gould and Roberts (1982) stated that “High-status” models must accurately and skillfully portray the skill.

Why would the more accurate demonstrations lead to better learning?   The most likely reason is that the student is asked to try the skill after having seen a demonstration of it, the student typically tries to imitate as closely as possible what the skilled model did.

Lastly, we cannot forget how the learner can benefit from a “compare and contrast” approach. I have found this method extremely useful. When the learner can see the difference, the “compare and contrast” approach to demonstrations has proven over and over to get better results.

Allow me to share with you a video example of this approach during one of my classes:

Demonstrations that include both visual and auditory modeling (Doody, Bird, & Ross, 1985)

For a student to get the most from a demonstration, the teacher must guide their observations. The critical aspects of the skill should be highlighted verbally and, if possible, visually through freezing the action at critical points (as we do in teaching Breaststroke Arms while using the Traffic Light model) or verbally overemphasizing important aspects of the skill.

Some also remember the visual cues and verbal cues of a skill better if they are provided with information regarding why a skill is performed in a certain way.

Lastly, before teachers have students practicing a skill, swimming instructors should check the students’ understanding of what they have observed. This can be done by asking questions after an observation or by asking students to demonstrate what they are trying to do. It can also be done by asking students to look for particularly important points during the observation and checking for understanding afterward.

Allow me to share with you another video example of this approach during one of my swim lessons:

If you can implement these proven pedagogy practices and motor learning principles in your swim lessons, you will take your teaching to a whole new level and your students will flourish under your guidance!  I hope you found this blog helpful. Thank you for visiting The Swim Professor Blog!  .

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.

If you would like to learn more about the Swim Lessons University certification program and curriculum, make sure to visit us at www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com 

We have training and certification programs designed for both private instructors as well as organizations like YMCAs, Recreation Departments, Athletic Clubs, and more.

Swim Lessons University is currently being utilized by recreation departments, YMCAs, America Camp Association swim lessons programs, as well as by private swimming instructors in 45 states and over 30 countries!

You can also call us toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
February 2, 2017 at 1:24 am Comments (0)

How the Stages of Learning Should Influence the Swim Instructor’s Approach

When learners begin to acquire a new skill, they are generally confronted with some very specific, cognitively oriented problems (Magill, 1993). While learners of all ages go through this, observing an adult learn to swim may illustrate this the best. If you have ever worked with adults who are beginners, what really stands out? In my experience, the answer is their QUESTIONS!  How do I pitch my hand? Where exactly does it enter the water? Should I hold my breath or exhale under water? What pattern does my arm make? Should my legs be bent or straight? Sound familiar? Each of these examples indicate the basic and cognitive level at which the new learner is operating in the early part of learning a new skill. Learners of all ages display these characteristics, however, I believe the adult beginner magnifies the characteristics which is why I used them in my example.

One characteristic of motor skill learning is that it is possible to identify distinct states or phases that all learners seem to experience as they learn skills through practice. While there have a been a few proposals to identify the stages of learning, I find the model by Paul Fitts and Michael Posner that was developed in 1967 to be most useful for swimming instructors. The Fitts and Posner Three-State Model is also traditionally accepted as the classic stage of learning model.

STAGES OF LEARNING, CHARACTERISTICS & TEACHING IMPLICATIONS

COGNITIVE STAGE OF LEARNING

The first stage of learning is considered the COGNITIVE STAGE OF LEARNING. Students in the cognitive stage display the following common characteristics when they perform:

  • They make a large number of errors
  • The nature of the errors committed tend to be gross
  • Their performance is highly variable

TEACHING IMPLICATIONS

  • Patience. Be understanding and keep encouraging.
  • Give cues and buzzwords to teach the gross idea or general idea of the skill.
  • Beginners may know they are doing something wrong, but they aren’t aware of exactly what to do differently to improve. Give specific, corrective feedback.

ASSOCIATIVE STAGE OF LEARNING

The second stage of learning is considered the ASSOCIATIVE STAGE OF LEARNING. The nature of the cognitive activity that is characterized in the cognitive stage changes during the associative stage:

  • Basic fundamentals have been learned. Errors are fewer and less gross in nature.
  • Variability of performance from one attempt to another also begins to decrease.
  • Learners have developed the ability to identify some of their own errors.

TEACHING IMPLICATIONS

  • Start refining the skill. Give more detailed feedback.
  • Have learner focus on different parts and incorporate more advanced drills.
  • Don’t give feedback after every repeat. Research shows when you give feedback more than 50% of the time– learning is hindered.

AUTONOMOUS STAGE OF LEARNING

After much practice and experience with the skill, the learner moves into the final stage of learning, the autonomous stage. Here the skill is almost automatic or habitual. In learn-to-swim, we really rarely see a learner in this stage. Why? Because as soon as our students become proficient enough at the skill where they have the general idea, we graduate the student to the next level.   When we graduate them to the next level, what stage does the student return to? If we are teaching them a new skill, they go back into the Cognitive Stage of Learning where they have to attend to the entire production of the skill again.   Whereas students in the autonomous stage of learning can perform most of the skill without thinking at all.

Fitts and Posner state that “there is a good deal of similarity between highly practiced skills and reflexes.” This doesn’t mean that learning stops or the individual ceases to make errors but rather that there is no longer a need for conscious attention to the motor act itself.   Think about a competitive swimmer participating in a big meet. The swimmer isn’t thinking about the pattern of the stroke as he races to the finish.   The swimmer is on automatic.

I hope you found today’s blog useful!

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.

If you would like to learn more about the Swim Lessons University certification program and curriculum, make sure to visit us at www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com  We have training and certification programs designed for both private instructors as well as organizations like YMCAs, Recreation Departments, Athletic Clubs, and more.

Swim Lessons University is currently being utilized by recreation departments, YMCAs, America Camp Association swim lessons programs, as well as by private swimming instructors in 45 states and over 30 countries!

You can also call us toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
January 20, 2017 at 3:46 am Comments (0)

How to Use Specific, Corrective Feedback in Swimming Lessons

In my previous blog, ‘How to Use Positive Feedback in Swimming Lessons,” we discussed the importance of using general positive feedback in swimming lessons. Praising your students, whether it be for an actual improvement in performance or for the student’s effort is paramount when it comes to teaching children. Nonetheless, while swimming instructors must be positive and encouraging, we can’t expect our young students to improve without letting the learner know what he or she must do differently in order to improve.

The use of Specific, Corrective Feedback has been the subject of research in motor learning and in teaching. Theoretically, specific information should be more valuable to the learner. Specific feedback has the potential to contribute to student learning a great deal more than general feedback. Specific feedback also serves a major role in maintaining student attention to the task and in developing accountability for task. (Rink, 1993).

What’s important to understand about Specific, Corrective Feedback is that when learners are in the beginning stages (See Cognitive Stage of Learning in my 1/8/17 blog), they cannot use detailed information, which makes it absolutely critical for swimming instructors to give feedback that tends to the “general idea” of the skill. At Swim Lessons University, we have buzzwords and cues for every skill on every lesson plan. We train SLU instructors to give their specific, corrective feedback based on those cues because they have been tested, tried and proven over the past 30+ years. In other words, these cues are not only practical and easy to understand, but they will help the young student learn and master the new skill.

With that said, Specific, Corrective Feedback can also come with a cost if it is overused. Research by The Positive Coaching Alliance shows the magic formula is 5:1! Five positives for every correction.   One technique I like to use is the “Sandwich Technique” when giving corrections: Complement, correct, complement. For example, “Maggie, you have such beautiful strokes. Now if you can just keep your head nice and still, your backstroke is going to look even more fabulous!” While this may be a 2:1 ratio, you just make sure to praise your student on a few more things that your student is doing well before giving another correction. Hope you found this blog helpful!

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.

If you would like to learn more about the Swim Lessons University certification program and curriculum, make sure to visit us at www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com  We have training and certification programs designed for both private instructors as well as organizations like YMCAs, Recreation Departments, Athletic Clubs, and more.

Swim Lessons University is currently being utilized by recreation departments, YMCAs, America Camp Association swim lessons programs, as well as by private swimming instructors in 45 states and over 30 countries!

You can also call us toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
January 12, 2017 at 5:11 am Comments (0)

Swim Lessons University to hold Swim Instructor Training at ASCA World Clinic in New Orleans

The American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) has partnered up with Swim Lessons University to offer a post conference workshop at their Annual World Clinic in New Orleans this fall! Swim Instructors, Aquatic Directors, and Learn-to-swim coaches can now take advantage of the event. This affordable conference will feature four information-packed, entertaining talks featuring BRAND NEW VIDEO FOOTAGE throughout the Swim Professor’s power point presentations. The topics covered in those presentations are as follows:

Talk #1: NO MORE TEARS! Secrets to Teaching Parent & Tot Lessons using a Progressive, Child-Centered Approach.

Talk #2: PRE-SCHOOLERS CAN SWIM! An Innovative, Child-Centered Approach that Creates a Lifelong Love of the Water.

Talk #3: TIPS & TRICKS FOR TEACHING ADVANCED STROKES.

Talk #4: THE BUSINESS SIDE: Using Social Media, Marketing, Scheduling & More!

Look what these instructors had to say:

“Thanks for the great workshop. You are a terrific teacher. You are very thorough and insightful. You clearly have a desire and an ability to connect with everyone, regardless of or perhaps with an extra appreciation for our respective backgrounds. We are all teachers and our time (my time for sure) with you added to our tool box so we can be better, more effective teachers. Thanks Jim. Keep sharing your insights and passion for safety, teaching and aquatics.”
– Allan Kopel – USA Swimming Coach
Haverhill, Massachusetts

“Today I have been blessed. I am here at Jim’s Orlando Conference. I have already learned so much. Anyone who follows Jim on his website and through facebook gets to see great clips and I have always appreciated that, but to meet with him in a class you get to see that the love for kids and swim he speaks about is very sincere. Thanks Jim for the inspiration and confidence to be the “BEST” instructors. You have made me a better instructor and for that I will forever be grateful. What an awesome day at the conference! Thank you so much Jim for offering a “wealth” of information.”
– Michelle Smith, Instructor Swim School Owner

The conference will be held on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 at the New Orleans Marriot on 555 Canal Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130. The Swim Lessons University workshop led by Jim Reiser will be held from 10:00AM – 5:00PM. If you don’t want to attend the entire ASCA event, you can simply book the SLU workshop for just $95.00. Call ASCA today at 1-800-356-2722 to secure your spot. You can book your hotel for just $115 per night with ASCA rate!

“We are honored that ASCA has made our workshop an official post-conference event for this year’s World Clinic,” says Jim Reiser, Executive Director of Swim Lessons University. “While you can simply pay for and attend our workshop at ASCA through ASCA, you will find attending ASCA to be an awesome opportunity. I would strongly encourage you to consider attending both our workshop as well as other ASCA talks and events.”
For more information, email Jim Reiser at jreiser@swimprofessor.com To enroll, go to the ASCA Website and enroll today for just $95.00!

, , , , , , , , , ,
June 24, 2013 at 6:32 pm Comments (0)

American Camp Association Swim Lessons Provider

The American Camp Association has added Swim Lessons University as one of the ACA’s nationally recognized Learn-to-Swim providers. Says Rhonda Mickelson, ACA Director of Standards, “we are pleased to announce Swim Lessons University is now an officially recognized provider for ACA swim lessons programs and swim instructor certification.”

Swim Lessons University makes training swimming instructors more convenient and affordable. Through video-based instructor training and online certification testing, many organizations are looking to Swim Lessons University for their services. Barb Limbo, Aquatics Specialist and Supervisor for Rapid City Recreation in South Dakota says, “The ease of training staff is great. The videos not only show the instructors how to interact with the children, they show real classes and real teachers using the actual skill progressions. Executive director Jim Reiser is wonderful and has been great to work with on the switch at our facility–making our transition much easier.“ Teri Gotro, Recreation Director in El Dorado Hills, California, posted her thoughts and video samples of her instructors using the SLU curriculum on her YouTube page.

If you would like to learn how to become a Swim Lessons University Certified Swimming Instructor, or how to implement the SLU curriculum at your facility–visit the SLU website or call the SLU National Office toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

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 was the first American to win the award in 10 years.

If you would like to learn more about the Swim Lessons University certification program and curriculum, make sure to visit us at www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com 

We have training and certification programs designed for both private instructors as well as organizations like YMCAs, Recreation Departments, Athletic Clubs, and more.

Swim Lessons University is currently being utilized by recreation departments, YMCAs, America Camp Association swim lessons programs, as well as by private swimming instructors in 45 states and over 30 countries!

You can also call us toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

, , , , , , , , , , , ,
January 30, 2013 at 11:03 pm Comment (1)

Swim Instructor Certification Alternatives

As the American Red Cross raises it’s fees for swim lesson programs and it’s Water Safety Instructor certification, the interest in an alternative swim instructor certification is on the rise.   One of those alternatives is the Swim Lessons University Swimming Instructor training program.

Barb Limbo, Aquatic Director for the Rapid City Aquatics Recreation Department in South Dakota comments, “We have adapted the Swim Lesson University program. The ease of training staff is great. The videos show the instructors how to interact with children, not just show the progressions of the strokes.   Swim Lessons University is wonderful and has been great to work with on the switch at our facility–making our transition much easier.”

There are several real advantages, in addition to it being more cost effective solution for recreation departments, YMCA’s, and swim schools.   To name a few, all training can be done in-house.  SLU training features video-based courses so swim instructor candidates get to learn from watching real learn-to-swim classes and expert instructors vs. the traditional textbook approach.  Swim Lessons University training is also very convenient as swim teachers do all their testing online.

Former USA Olympian, 1988 Silver Medalist, and swim school owner Beth Barr speaks of Jim Reiser and Swim Lessons University:

“Your appreciation and knowledge of the sport, your business sense and your understanding of children and how they learn is revolutionizing the swim lesson industry.   Your efforts have not only given me the confidence to start BARRacuda Swim Works, they have also reminded me of the critical importance of our profession. Your passion is apparent and catching – it is important to teach children and their parents how to enjoy the water, safely, and to help them develop a skill they can enjoy their entire life.”

 

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.

If you would like to learn more about the Swim Lessons University Online Swim Instructor Certification  and curriculum, make sure to visit us at www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com

Swim Lessons University is currently being utilized by recreation departments, YMCAs, America Camp Association swim lessons programs, as well as by private swimming instructors in 45 states and over 30 countries!

You can also call us toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

, , , , , , , , ,
October 26, 2011 at 3:17 pm Comments (0)

Swim Instructor Online Training

Swim Lessons University training videos, testing, and swim instructor certifications are now available online!

  • Have you ever had trouble getting your entire staff of swim teachers together for training?  In other words, you would have 2 or 3 instructors not show up, resulting in YOU having to teach the entire training session over just for those few that were absent?

OR

  • Would you like your current Red Cross Water Safety Instructors, Lifeguards, SwimAmerica coaches, YMCA Swim Instructors, etc. to further their background, add to their credentials, and improve the quality of your learn to swim classes?

Swim Lessons University can help and we now feature online videos and online testing in addition to the actual DVDs.   Not to mention, you can pick which SLU courses you want your swim instructors to take!  Pick one, two, three, or all seven–that’s up to you!  You’re the boss!

Up until March 1, 2011, we were basically able to offer the DVD course to purchase, and then after showing it to your staff, you would send them to the Swim Lessons University website to take the online tests for just an additional $10.

But now you have a CHOICE!  For smaller swim schools, you may still find the previously mentioned method of training and testing the most feasible.  However, if you have a large school or you simply like the convenience, you can have your swim instructors purchase the online video and test for $35.00.

Check it out today!  Here’s a link that will show you the options for ordering the TEACH LIKE A PRO Instructor’s Course, for an example.

Questions!  Email me for a FREE phone appointment at jreiser@swimprofessor.com

, , , , , , ,
March 3, 2011 at 12:32 am Comments (3)

Swim Lesson Myth: Children should close their mouth while in the water.

“Close your mouth!” Many parents (and even swim teachers) remind their children when taking swimming lessons.  I assume they are afraid that their child will choke on the water, or worse . . ..  But truth be told, while you may not want your child swallowing the pool water to reduce the risk of a water born illness (see Noteworthy at the end of the article), getting water in one’s mouth comes with the territory of swimming.

Take a look at the underwater photo of my 19-month-old Jeb and me on the Swim Lessons University homepage. We’re both smiling, and our mouths are actually open.  Neither Jeb nor I am choking on the water!  Amazing?!?!  Not at all . . . We can all have water in our mouths, and without even thinking about it, not allow it to enter the throat/pharynx.  So when your child has his/her mouth open above or underwater, it’s simply a sign that he or she is relaxed, and instinctively, he/she will likely not choke on or swallow the water.

What if you or a child does swallow a little water?  Is he/she at risk of drowning?  Of course not!   It’s no different than taking a drink.  As the water enters the throat/pharynx, the epiglottis closes and prevents the water from entering the respiratory pathways and the lungs, and it enters the stomach instead.  Here is a  good video clip to illustrate how it works.

So if your child or student has their mouth open, he is simply at ease and very relaxed. He is not going to “consciously” breathe the water into the throat, which may cause him to cough.  This usually occurs because a little panic sets, but usually the younger the child, the less common this occurs. The older the child, or the more aware the child is of what is going on, the more common it is for a child to panic and cough a little on the water.  This is why by age three, Swim Lessons University Swim Instructor Training teaches instructors to make sure children are choosing to go underwater at their own will, and to never force an involuntary submersion on a child.  They will go under happily when they are ready!

When you or a child coughs or chokes on a little bit of water, while it may be a little scary, it is not dangerous.   If you ever see a swim instructor “laugh it off” instead of coddle and bring more attention to it, the swim teacher is not being insensitive.  Rather, the swim instructor is redirecting the student’s attention vs. bringing more unnecessary attention to it.   This is also the reason why parents and teachers shouldn’t point out to a child that his mouth is open and instruct him to close it as if he is in serious danger.  Why scare him and make him nervous over something that’s not worth being nervous over? You would be literally un-teaching what you want to teach.  Of course the purpose of this article is to give you a better understanding of the facts, so that you can help your young swimmers have  happy swim lesson experiences!

Noteworthy: Experts do agree that you should avoid swallowing pool water.  Chlorine does kill waterborne germs, but chlorine levels fluctuate in pools, especially busy, crowded pools.  And germs are not equally susceptible to chlorine–some germs take longer to destroy than others.

, , , , , , ,
January 26, 2011 at 9:50 pm Comments (2)

« Older Posts