Have you ever wondered what the some of the most important skills we expect for our swimmers to gain from being in lessons with us? Having spent over 50 years developing our curriculum, we believe that each little piece is an important piece of the puzzle, but to narrow down a few, here are 4 major things we believe each swimmer should be able to do.
- Safe Water Entry:
Jumping into the pool seems like the best way to get into the water, but it can also be a major safety hazard for you and your swimmers. Safe Water entry is the very first skill we teach in all of our classes, no matter the age or the level. We also require our swimmers to obtain permission from an adult before entering the pool. This teaches little swimmers the important of never getting in the water without parental supervision. The second step we teach is to slide in on their bellies – feet first. This ensures that swimmers never jump or dive in the body of water, sight unseen, accidentally hitting their heads or bottoms in a shallow pool or on some obstruction in the bottom of a body of water. It is very important for your little swimmers to know how to sit down, slide in and enter the pool safely and properly – it’s even more important for them to know that getting out of the pool is just as easy (elbow, elbow, tummy, knee, knee)! We even teach our little Flippers how to monkey crawl along the wall of the pool and hang there until help comes or until they can pull themselves out. Safely entering and exiting the water is a must at Miller!
- Roll Over and Back Float:
Let’s talk about a major safety skill! Back floating is an essential element in water safety. Whether you are an exhausted swimmer, a child that has fallen into the water, or a stranded swimmer waiting for help, back floating can help save a life! We start our swimmers on their backs from the very first lesson. The sensation of getting water in their ears and sometimes eyes, can take some getting used to. But, once they get the hang of it, starting in either Diaper Dolphins or Level 1, they continue to use the skill in various way all the way through Level 8! We want our swimmers to be prepared for every situation they may encounter!
- Breath Control:
Another set of skills we teach right off the bat are water acclimation and breath control. Water acclimation is the process of becoming comfortable in and under the water. Some swimmers are best eased into this process, while others are ready to jump right in! Following water acclimation, we work on breath control – aka – blowing bubbles. Breath control plays a bigger role in swimming than many people realize! Having proper breath control ensures that when swimmers go under water they are blowing air out instead of breathing water in. Sounds simple huh? Research shows that holding the breath helps a child to avoid uncomfortable sensations such as sniffing, inhaling or excessively drinking the water during a submersion. Children as young as 4-6 months can use breath control for a successful submersion. As children progress in their swimming development and begin to learn overarm freestyle, good breath control is again advantageous. They can swim with their faces in the water, which in turn puts less stress on the body and less strain on the neck and spine. Having in in the lungs also aids with floatation and promotes efficient body position (streamline with head down), which in turn makes it easy for the arms to clear the water with a nice, high stroke.
- Treading Water:
Have you ever jumped into a pool and it was deeper than you expected? Or have you been wading in a pool or the ocean and before you knew it you were swept out to deeper water where you could no longer touch? These are both ideal situations for needing to know how to tread water. Little swimmers playing in the shallow end can quickly and easily be swept into deeper waters without warning! If they cannot get into an immediate back float, they should at least be able to tread water long enough to keep their heads above the water until help arrives. Surprisingly, there are various ways to tread water – some more efficient than others. When learning to tread, the most efficient techniques may be the scissor kick, Breaststroke kick, or a Rotary kick. Remember also to practice treading with your clothes on, a skill we introduce during our two safety weeks! If you or your little one were to fall into the water, you may not always be prepared in a swim suit, and treading water fully clothed can be tricky and requires more stamina if you have not practiced for it!