Swimming basics: Floating on the Back in Shallow Water | Swimcentral

Swimming basics: Floating on the back in shallow water

Stage 1

Floating on the back requires keeping balanced and relaxed at the same time—not always easy for beginners! But it’s an important foundational skill for both the advanced strokes and for safety. Floating on the back in shallow water lets swimmers ease into position at their own pace while keeping control of their body and breathing.

To give it a go, a swimmer should:

  • Have access to very shallow water, such as a beach-entry pool
  • Feel comfortable with water around the head and ears
  • Understand a bit about of how the water will support their body

Relaxing the shoulders and tilting the chin up will help with floating. Folding the body in on itself will make it sink!

Our Guide to Floating on the Back in Shallow Water

  • Sit on the pool floor, legs in front and knees slightly bent
  • Put hands flat on the pool floor on either side of hips
  • Lean back onto elbows and stretch knees out
  • Tilt the head back and chin up until ears are submerged
  • Push the body up to the surface of the water with hands

 


 

Body Position

 

  • Once you’re able to push your body up to the surface…
  • Walk your fingers out a bit wider away from your body
  • Point your toes away from each other
  • Push your tummy button up to the ceiling
  • Let your hands come off of the pool floor

You’re floating!

 


 

Practicing with children?

  • Have a splash around first to get the head wet so it’s not a shock when they lean back the first time.
  • Sit side by side and practice getting into position together.
  • Make it fun: Pretend you’re starfish on the beach or a sunflower opening up to get some sunshine!

 

Mastered Floating on the Back in Shallow Water? Why not try the Star Float on the Front?

Finding this skill tricky? Have a go at Blowing Bubbles

Swimming basics: Blowing bubbles | Swimcentral

Swimming basics: Blowing bubbles

Stage 1

You may think you need to be able to hold your breath for a long time to swim. But the truth is you need to be able to control it. Blowing bubbles is the start of learning breath control! By getting into a pattern of breathing in when your face is out of the water, and blowing out when your face is in the water, oxygen keeps flowing to the muscles while you swim!

To give it a go, a swimmer should:

  • Be comfortable with water on the face
  • Be able to support their head position
  • Understand how to control their breathing

Looking forward while dipping the whole body straight down instead of face-planting into the water can help beginners feel more relaxed and in control.

 

Our Guide to Blowing Bubbles

  • Use the hands to wet the face if not already wet
  • Take a deep breath in through the mouth and hold it
  • Lower the body down until the mouth and nose are submerged
  • Blow the air out into the water
  • Stand back up before you breathe in again

 


More Ideas

If submerging to blow bubbles is a little challenging, start with blowing bubbles from above the water:

  • Put your chin in the water and…
  • Instead of bubbles, try to make ripples across the surface of the water

Or

  • Take a big breath through the mouth, then…
  • Put your mouth on a straw and blow into the water
  • Bubbles!

 


 

Practicing with children?

  • Give them something to aim for with their breath, like an egg flip or a ball.
  • Face each other and blow bubbles back and forth.
  • Make it fun: Face your child and put a ball between you. See if they can catch you by blowing the ball toward you as you back away!

Mastered Blowing Bubbles?  Why not try Blowing Bubbles and Kicking Legs 

 

Swimming basics: Blowing Bubbles and Kicking Legs | Swimcentral

Swimming basics: Blowing bubbles and kicking legs

Stage 1

Blowing bubbles and kicking legs is what makes every swimming stroke go! It coordinates movement and breathing. At the beginning, it’s a bit like trying to pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time. A little practice at the wall will help establish good habits once they start swimming away from it.

To give it a go, a swimmer should already:

  • Feel comfortable with water on the face
  • Be able to hold onto the wall
  • Have tried the kicking movement while sat on poolside

Fast, small kicks with relaxed feet will hold the body up in the water. Blowing bubbles in a pattern will help control breathing.

Our Guide to Blowing Bubbles and Kicking Legs

  • Feet on the floor, facing the wall
  • Stretch arms out straight, and hold onto the wall for support
  • Put your face into the water between your arms start to blow bubbles
  • Walk legs backwards until they float up straight behind you
  • Kick legs straight up and down
  • Keep feet relax and floppy—little splashes!

How to stop

  • Pull yourself towards on the wall

….and at the same time…

  • Tuck your knees up to your chest
  • Lift your head out of the water
  • Feet flat on the floor

You’ve done it!


Practicing with children?

  • Try letting kids hold your hands for support instead of the wall.
  • Or get in position side by side at the wall and practice together.
  • Make it fun: Blow bubbles in a song pattern such as the ABCs or Jingle Bells!

Mastered Blowing Bubbles and Kicking Legs? Why not try the Star Float on the Front?

Finding this skill tricky? Have a go at Floating on the Back in Shallow Water.

Swimming basics: Star float on the front | Swimcentral

Swimming basics: Star float on the front

Stage 1

Learning to float face-down—the star float on the front—is an important foundational skill in swimming. That’s because it helps the swimmer prepare the correct body position for the more advanced strokes they’ll be learning in the later stages!

To give it a go, a swimmer should already be able to:

  • Place their whole face in the water
  • Extend arms and legs away from their bodies
  • Hold a position for a few seconds

Holding arms and legs out wide helps keep balance and buoyancy so the swimmer stays on the top of the water!

Put your face into the water between your arms and let legs float up behind you

Our Guide to Star Float on the Front

  • Feet on the floor, facing the wall
  • Stretch arms out wide and straight, and hold onto the wall for support
  • Put your face into the water between your arms and let legs float up behind you
  • Let go of the wall and float for a few seconds, arms and legs out wide. Relaxing!
  • Alternatively, use a noodle float to get into position instead of the wall

How to stop

  •  Push down on the water with your hands and lift your head

….and at the same time…

  • Bring your knees up to your chest
  • Feet flat on the floor
  • Pat yourself on the back, well done!

Practicing with children?

  • Get in position side by side at the wall to show them how to do it
  • Make it fun: Pretend to be parachutists who have just jumped out of an airplane!
  • Kids might want help coming out of the float position the first few times. Encourage them to tuck their knees to the body while also providing support.

Mastered the Star Float on the Front? Why not try the Push and Glide?

Finding this skill tricky? Have a go at Blowing Bubbles and Kicking Legs

 

What to expect from your first swimming lesson and what you as parents can do to help.

Can you still remember your first swimming lessons?

Good or bad, swimming lessons can leave a lasting impression on a child. Are you planning your child’s first swimming lesson? If so, here are a few ways parents can make sure they have chosen a quality swim school.

Great swimming lessons mean a lifetime of fun in the water

Great swimming lessons can mean a lifetime of fun in the water!

A swimmer’s first lesson should be a fun, enjoyable and active experience. Everyone is apprehensive at the start of a new term and with an excellent teacher, a swimmer will be made of feel comfortable from the very beginning.

So how do you know if your child’s receiving quality teaching?

Here’s an easy way to find out…

You measure success by the happiness of the swimmers in the class.  Look at the other swimmers in the group – are they all quiet and miserable or are they excited, bubbly and enthusiastic? You’ll quickly have your answer.

Children are more alert and focused in fun swimming lessons which engage their enthusiasm and allow them to discover the water during play.


The key skills

The beginners’ lessons are all about these key skills and they are all interlinked:

Mobility – how the swimmers move around in the water, do they cling to the side or paddle boldly into the middle?

Water confidence – Do the swimmers cry out or flinch when they are splashed, can they put their faces in the water?

Buoyancy – Can the swimmers trust the water to support their weight? Do they hold themselves rigid like statues or are they relaxed to the point of falling asleep?

From the first lesson, your teacher begins to build up a series of good experiences around these skills. Each swimmer will feel engaged in the sessions and step-by-step, they learn the techniques necessary for a lifetime of wonderful swimming.

Needs and fears of each swimmer

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Your teacher will understand the needs and fears of each swimmer. They will be able to tell when someone is apprehensive about an activity and they will encourage and reassure them. An excellent teacher will have many activities up their sleeves, so if one approach doesn’t work, they will try something else to engage the swimmer.

This stage is the most rewarding for your teacher – to make that breakthrough and see the swimmers achieve so much, it’s what swimming teaching is all about!


What parents can do

Be prepared…

These beginning stages cannot be rushed. It’s so important that swimmers feel comfortable and confident in the water and that means going at the pace of the swimmer. In some cases, this can take up to a year to achieve. If this process is pushed forward too quickly, it’s very likely the swimmer will lose their nerve and refuse to go. Sometimes it feels like ‘slow progress’ but it’s essential that you persevere as there are so many positive results to be gained from sticking with lessons.

Get wet – have fun…
Fun and games are essential for learning. Much more is gained from swimmers enjoying their time in the water than being fearful of it. New skills can be introduced through games and even the most cautious of swimmers can be caught up in the moment and forget their anxieties while a game is going on.

So don’t just rely on the lessons (however excellent they may be!)
Go swimming with your children, show them how much fun can be had and they will develop confidence and skills quickly with your boundless encouragement and gentle support.