Helping Any Age Learn How to Swim

learning-to-swimMaybe you want to learn how to finally do more than the dog paddle, or perhaps you’re teaching your little ones how to become strong swimmers.

People of all ages can enjoy the process of learning how to swim. And you can help them!

Get the Right Equipment

For adults who are learning to swim, certain types of equipment can make the experience easier. Consider purchasing swim fins, which help propel you through the water quickly and more efficiently. As a bonus, wearing fins also helps strengthen your ankles.

swim-goggles-from-intheswim-istkSnorkels are a great way to keep you focused on holding your body correctly in the water and how you are rotating your arms and kicking your legs. And both adults and kids should wear goggles when learning to swim – not only do they enable you to see underwater, but they’ll keep chlorine out of your eyes, too.

kid-learning-to-swim-with-pool-noodle-istkOther swim training aids can include a simple pool noodle or kickboard, or the AquaJogger Jr. Learn to Swim belt. Avoid using water wings, which can interfere with proper swim movements.

Keep It Short and Sweet

While adults might be able to get through longer swimming lessons, young kids do best with shorter, fun lessons. For children under 5 years old, 20 minutes is about the right amount of time, 1-2x per week. On some days you may be able to extend it to 30 minutes.

For the very young, start with water acclimation training. See if your child is able to put her face in the water. Carry her into the pool, and dip down until the water comes up to your chins.

blowing-bubbles-underwater Then progress to blowing bubbles in the water, which helps kids get more comfortable with getting their faces wet. Full success is when you can both dip under water, smile at each other calmly, and then come up again for air.

Before long, they will be jumping off the edge of the pool, into your waiting arms. Young kids become more comfortable in the water over time; because when you’re very small, a swimming pool seems very large!

Ready, Set, Swim

Once kids are comfortable in the water, show them how to do some fun swim drills. For example, the push-and-glide approach involves the child holding onto the side of the pool and then pushing back into your arms. To make it even more fun, ask your child to pretend to be a rocket or Superman. Although this will seem like a fun game to a child, it’s actually helping her to master the correct position in the water.

Once she has mastered this technique, you can move on to adding a flutter kick, to extend the distance when pushing off the wall. Then add a breast stroke style pull with the arms.

Swim stroke development comes in stages. Practice the kicking, arm motions and breathing separately, while standing in shallow water or holding onto the edge of the pool.

learn-to-swim-kickboardWhen the student is ready, bring together all of the coordinated arm, leg and body movements, with a little support from you underneath, to keep them prone and on top of the water.

Learn Proper Positioning

When learning to swim, most adults and kids tend to hold their upper bodies and heads too high in the pool. When your head is above water, your legs and hips tend to drop down, which can impede your progress.

nearly-proper-swim-stroke-technique-istkWhen learning to swim, focus on pointing the head down and remaining prone in the water. While inhaling, instead of lifting the chin out of the water, stay flat in the water and roll the upper body and head to one side, pushing the opposite arm forward.

Practice this advanced swimming skill while holding onto the edge of the pool, and with support from the instructor – it takes time to master!

Safety First

No matter how old the student is, pool safety is the number one concern. Consider getting a pool alarm to protect the pool when you’re not watching. A pool safety fence can effectively keep curious kids and pets out of the pool area.

homemade-shut-the-gate-sign-which-we-do-not-sellWhen teaching a new swimmer how to swim, always remain within arm’s reach, and keep your focus on your student. If you have to leave the pool for any reason, everyone leaves, and then shut the gate.

Recommended Related Reading
Swim Lesson Plans for Home
When to Signup for Swim Lessons
Is Your Child Ready for Swim Lessons?

Most importantly, have fun. Swimming is a life skill that opens up the door for so many water related activities. But kids aren’t just little adults (and adults aren’t little kids) so stay positive and patient, encouraging and empathetic, to keep swim lessons light and fun for swim students of any age.


Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor