Did you know that if you know how to swim, yourself, and you have a backyard swimming pool, you already have most of what you need in order to teach your child to swim? Now, don’t get us wrong: parents may be at a slight disadvantage when it comes to teaching their own children. But we hope that doesn’t stop you!
You’re already providing your child with the most significant factor when it comes to learning to swim: plenty of opportunity. Now, if your child has a fear or timidity about the water, a huge part of the equation is to get him or her comfortable and relaxed in the water, through a playful attitude and basic swim-ready skills. Once your child has mastered those basics, he or she will be ready to start learning the 4 basic swim strokes, starting with the front crawl.
Second Basic Swim Stroke: Breaststroke
While we’re listing the breaststroke secondly, in actuality strokes may be learned in any order, depending on an individual’s strengths and weaknesses. Since this swim stroke makes breathing easier to time, it may be a good starting point for some students. However, it is the slowest and most inefficient — quite unlike the front crawl. Like the front crawl, though, it begins with the body in a horizontal, stretched out position with the face in the water.
Breaststroke Anatomy: Arm Movement
The arms begin from their extended position in front of the body, with palms facing downward. The arms move in a circular pattern, moving outward and then downward, then inward and forward, finishing together with arms extended and elbows tucked in for a streamlined shape. Each time the arms are pulled back to allow the body to lift, the head naturally rises, allowing for easy breathing in; as the arms extend, it’s time to breath out.
Breaststroke Anatomy: Leg Movement
With this stroke, the leg kick occurs beneath the surface of the water, as the arms extend. The stroke begins with the legs extended and feet positioned close to one another. Simultaneously, the knees are bent to bring the heels closer to the butt, while the feet flex to be turned outward. The outwardly turned feet then move in a curved pathway, with propulsion provided by the exposure of the soles to the water. The feet then snap back together, allowing the legs to finish in a streamlined shape mimicking that of the arms.
If you’re thinking this takes a lot of coordination, you’re right! The pattern of “pull, breathe, kick, then glide” will certainly take time to master — which is precisely what will make it so gratifying to pursue. Like the other 3 basic swim strokes, this one engages all your major muscle groups, including your shoulders, legs, and core. It also specifically emphasizes your quadriceps and glutes, along with your pectoral chest muscles.
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