by Mira Sibany

Lifeguard, Swim Instructor and Student

Working with this student has been a great experience for both me and my co-teacher. I have only swam with him twice myself, but I can say I've already learned a lot from him. Our biggest help was asking his mom as many questions as we could, as well as touching base with previous instructors so we could really understand what goals we should create for our student.

He already had some basic swim skill when he arrived to class that first week. We first took some time to get comfortable with each other: the student, my co-worker and I. We played with some diving rings, practiced some jumps and realized he loves getting pushed around on the floaty mats.

Our student could travel around on his own by walking and bobbing but the shallow end can be a bit of a distraction for him so we decided to take him into deeper water to see how he managed. We put a lifejacket on him and off we went. We found out he has an almost perfect whip kick.

We decided we want to focus on only a few specific skills. The first would be getting him comfortable with putting his face in the water. Without this ability, it would be very hard for him to be successful in other swimming skills. Secondly, we want to focus on getting him to swim a few metres independently by some means of kicking, whether it is flutter kick or whip kick. Another skill we are going to try is surface support, floating and treading as we want him to be able to hold himself up safely in deeper water. And finally we are going to try front swim, swimming on his back and other skill set appropriate tasks.

Some tips I found worked for us:

  • If your swimmer starts to "zone out", take a minute or two to take a break from the task at hand and have some fun. It is hard to retain information at these times so don't push them too hard.
  •  Be creative. Utilize your equipment. Change the way you say/teach things. If they aren't getting it the first time, chances are they will not understand what you want from them. (For example, instead of saying "kick your legs", maybe say something like "tap your feet").
  •  Let them discover things on their own. Let them explore their own abilities. Trust them. Also, Trust yourself.
  • And have fun. This is the most important. There is no point getting frustrated with your student or yourself. Your swimmer will see that you are having fun and it will make the experience a much better one for all of you.

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​​Fall 2015

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