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Fitness & Sports

The 7 Basics of Learning How to Swim

Getting in

To start the swim lesson you want to let the student get used to the water first. The best way to do this is to sit on either the edge of the pool that is level with the water or a ledge that is slightly submerged in the water and kick with straight legs.

Blowing bubbles

Next, the student must slide into the water and keep hold of the wall. While in this position, teach him how to blow bubbles from his mouth first, then progress to the nose. Never teach holding ones breath. Once the student is proficient at blowing bubbles have them extend their arms and reach their feet to the floor so that the head is completely submerged.

The following techniques will progressively get harder by lessening how much you help the student.

Rocket ship

The first technique is rocket ship and is also known as streamline. The student sits on the edge with their feet against the wall. Her arms must be raised above her head and covering her ears with one hand on top of the other. Hold the student’s hands and belly and help her push off the wall. Your hand on her belly supports the student and your hand holding her hands keeps the proper form. The student must be blowing bubbles, unless she needs to breath, and kicking the entire time.

Big arms

The second technique is to teach the student how to move his arms in a freestyle fashion while blowing bubbles and kicking. When the student has no knowledge of how to swim hold him around the waist with one arm and move his arm with your other hand. Verbally instruct him to blow bubbles and kick. As the student gets better hold his waist and push him to the wall slowly increasing the distance.

Back float

The student must slide in, hold the wall, and put his feet on the wall as if he were squatting. Next, the student should lean back so that his head is in the water. Once your hand is behind his head and on his lower back have him push off and kick. Once the student can float on his own show and help him how to do backstroke arms.

Side glide

Once again the student must slide in the water, but this time one hand holds the wall while the other is pointing in the opposite direction and her feet on the wall. Have her lay her head on her outstretched arm looking up at the ceiling, push off the wall, and flutter kick. This technique in conjunction with big arms creates the freestyle stroke. To get to this position while doing big arms the student must roll her entire body and head to face the ceiling. To roll back to big arms have the student push her own face into the water with the arm that is by her side and continue doing big arms.


The last activity is jumping because most students, which are normally young children, love to jump into the water. Start by having the him jump from the side of the pool, then progress to a diving board; always feet first and straight out from the wall. For those students that cannot swim yet, stand in the water to the side of him and hold your hand in the water in front of them. Once he is in the water turn him around and swim back to the wall. This activity simulates falling into the water and teaches students to not panic and swim calmly back to the wall.

Nicole E Scully