There are certainly obstacles to teaching your own child to swim, but — like so many obstacles in life — their presence does not mean you can’t succeed in this endeavor! If you have a backyard swimming pool already, you’ve already overcome a significant obstacle: frequent opportunities to experiment with swimming skills. However, as with other tasks you may try to teach your child, your child will probably be more likely to refuse your requests than he or she would that of a different teacher. They key is to make sure each opportunity to swim is presented in a fun and playful way.
Introducing Basic Swim Strokes
Once you’ve assembled proper equipment, started with the basics, and progressed to swimming underwater, your child will be ready to start learning the 4 basic swim strokes: the front crawl, the breaststroke, the backstroke, and the butterfly.
Wait — what about the doggie paddle? While it’s not considered an official swimming stroke, it can be a beginner technique that young children can use as a building block to learning how to swim. Because young children have limited strength and coordination, they often begin in a prone position, alternating kicks with reaching and pulling movements with their hands and arms. Commonly referred to as the “doggie paddle,” this kind of movement isn’t a bad place to start. But it’s just that: a start.
Starting at age 5 or 6, many children can begin to learn the 4 basic swimming strokes.
First Basic Swim Stroke: Front Crawl
Because of the smooth, efficient way that this stroke enables a person’s body to cut through the water, it’s the fastest of the four. Once mastered, it allows a person to glide elegantly and smoothly through the water. To start, the body must be in a horizontal position, with the face completely submerged in the water. The eyes should be looking downward but slightly forward. The continuous kicking of the legs should originate at the hips and continuous movement. The knees should be slightly bent, ankles relaxed, and toes pointed. As the feet kick near the surface of the water, they should make a small splash.
With the fingertips leading the entry of the hands into the water, the hands should catch the water, palm down, accelerating through an S-shaped pathway, going from a point in front of the head, between the shoulder and the center of the body, down to near the hip area. As the arm is taken back over the water while remaining close to the body, the head should remain near the water’s surface. As the arm pulls through and the head naturally rolls to the side, a breath should be taken in quickly, just as the arm recovers over the water’s surface, allowing the face to roll back into the water just as the hand re-enters the water.
Continue reading with our next post in this series.
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