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At Home: Practice for Swim Lessons

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Keep your child active and practicing learning to swim with these at home tips from the Pavilion Aquatics Center. 

Starbabies Parent/Child and Preschool Swim Lessons

  1. Practice getting your child’s face wet (first by pouring water over the head and then slowly by submersion). Try using a cup or bucket to pour water over their head and encourage them to close their eyes and hold their breath
  2. Have your child slowly begin to practice holding their breath for a couple seconds to longer periods of time. Make it fun by trying to make each other laugh using silly faces or jokes. This will require them to learn to focus their attention on the activity you are working on.
  3. Practice blowing bubbles in the bathtub, a sink that has been filled up or even a cup/bowl. Have your child pretend the sink in a cake and blow out birthday candles. You can also put a small floating object in the water such as a bath toy or ping pong ball and using a straw, blow air to push the object across the surface of the water.
  4. Have your child dip one ear in the water at a time.
  5. Practice stretching out and laying on the back while looking at the ceiling. (A great song to sing during this exercise is Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and have them look for pretend stars in the sky.)
  6. Use bath toys to help him/her enjoy the tub. Practice reaching and grabbing for toys. This activity will help them start to form the arm movements needed to swim
  7. Practice back floats in the bathtub. Encourage them to keep their belly and chin up and you can place a whole hand or a few fingers underneath their lower back to provide support. Encourage them to look up towards the ceiling and not down at their body, this will help them to stay afloat.

Youth Group Levels 1-3

  1. Leg Kicks will help your swimmer to gain strength in the water. To practice leg kicks, have your swimmer lie down on the ground on their belly. One leg at a time, have them raise those legs without bending their knees. See how high they can raise their legs. Remind them to keep their legs straight, as this is a common mistake made in the water that can make learning to swim more difficult. Encourage them to think about their form as they are doing this.
  2. Have your swimmer work on their arm circles. Holding on to something sturdy in front of them such as a countertop, Have them practice the arm movements associated with freestyle. To do this have them swing their arm straight back, then straight up. Their arm should brush past his or her ear, then extended straight out in front to pull it down back to the starting position. A common mistake is for swimmers to accidentally swing their arm out, so have them imagine there is an invisible wall there keeping their arm from swinging out. You can even try having them do this next to an actual wall if they are struggling. Once they have completed an arm circle on one side they should move to the other side and have them alternate back and forth. To make this activity more fun you can have them pretend they are a windmill supplying energy to something.
  3. Developing Breathing Skills. If your swimmer has not yet mastered holding their breath, have them practice doing this with a few games, like the ones listed above for the preschool class. If your swimmer is able to hold their breath, have them practice doing this with the arm movements added in. This is an introductory activity to rotary breathing which will help your swimmer be able to swim longer distances without stopping to take a breath. Have them try holding their breath while completing the windmill activity and having them take a breath every time their arm returns to the starting position. When they breathe they should turn their head away from the arm that is in the forward position. Now try having them hold their breath for a few arm circles, or strokes, before taking a breath.

Youth Group Levels 4, 5, and 6

  1. Work on their breathing skills. Have them practice their rotary breathing techniques, and go through the motions of swimming freestyle. You can use the same activity as number 3 for youth group levels 1-3, and adjust it to your swimmers ability.
  2. Have them try some dry-land core strengthening exercises. These will help them to build the core strength they will need to improve their endurance in the water. These are also activities that they would be doing during some practices if they were to join a competitive swim team in the future, so it is great practice to become familiar with now! Have them try doing a combination of the following activities: 10 sit ups/crunches, 10 push ups, 20 jumping jacks, 15 leg raises, 30 second plank. You can have them do a few of these each day, and can adjust the amounts to best fit your needs. Make sure to rest in between!

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