Swimming Instructor one-to-one lessons

Swimming Instructor Gail

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Swimming Instruction

I am 52 years old and was terrified of water until  into my forties.  I am a teacher by profession computing and business studies and I semi-retired a few years ago due to illness.  With time on my hands I finally decided to beat my fear of water and now thoroughly regret not having done it a long time ago.

swimming instructor uk<————-   This is me on holiday in Tenerife 2003.

Having taken lessons at my local pool I went on to do a specialised swimming course and then took my first teachers certificate after specialist swimming instruction.

I am married to Dave and have 2 step children Lisa and Lee and 3 grandchildren Immy Logan and Luke. 

I am in the process of teaching my granddaughter Immy to swim.  She is 2 and a proper little water baby having been in the water from an early age.

My teaching career was quite varied.  Having had a fairly traditional 20 year career in computing (programming systems analysis project management consultancy) I switched to teaching first lecturing at Cornwall College to adults and later giving instruction to Special Needs teenagers in Birmingham. From this came a strong belief that most people can achieve whatever they set out to achieve provided they have the proper support and encouragement swimming instruction is no different to anything else in this respect.

Here is Immy’s brother Luke better known as the Bubble.  He’s next for the pool!

swimming instruction from Swim With Us

Gay practicing hand-lead body dolphin

You might also like to visit Learn-to-Swim-Easy and read Irene’s story.  Irene and I have much the same philosophy and outlook on swimming and you could also approach her for swimming instruction.  Swimming Instruction is also available from Steve at Ergoswim.

Please note I do not endorse any other swimming instructor or organisation.  Please satisfy yourself as the suitability of any swimming instructor or swimming teacher that you choose to employ.

More Sites for Swimming Lessons

Fl. Key West Scuba Diving Florida Keys – A guide to Scuba Diving in both Key West and the Florida Keys.

Endless Pools in the UK – Year after year British demand for the Endless Pool grows.

To read a little more visit Endless Pools.

Sports Media – Physical Education and Sports for Everyone

Physical Education Primary Ltd – Their web site contains 300  high quality lesson plans for gymnastics dance and games.

PELinks4U – PEA UK exists to promote develop and sustain high quality physical education in the United Kingdom

Free eCards Galleryfree ecards for holidays and birthdays or make your own ecards.

Nascar Jackets and Nascar Apparel – Turn 2 Sportswear – We offer Nascar Jackets Nascar Apparel Motorcycle Leather Jackets and Motorcycle Apparel.

Triathlon Coaching and Triathlon Training Programs  – Professional triathlon coaches design your triathlon training program from just $1/day – contact us now!

Swim Fins for swimming training bodyboard scuba and more

Home Fitness Equipment  Ultim8 Fitness equipment buy – treadmills ellipticals rowing machines and exercise bikes factory online UK

  stick baseball

 

 

BodyWorks

Here are some exercises we really like, to help you improve your flexibility not only for your swimming but your health in general.  A flexible body makes it easier to achieve a streamline in the water but more importantly, means a longer healthier life!

If you are serious about improving your flexibility we’d be happy to recommend suitable yoga books or yoga DVD.

In the meantime try Yoga Movement for lots more information on Yoga and Yoga Swadlincote for local yoga classes.

Please read the advice below and usual cautionary notes before beginning:

Eyes & Neck

Neck

Ankles 1

Ankles 2

Ankles 3

Hips & Knees

Hip Swing

Hips and Torso

Leg Raise 1

Leg Raise 2

Leg Raise 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advice Advice and cautionary notes.

The decision to practice any of the exercises on this page is yours and yours alone.  Swim With Us cannot know your state of health and existing or potential problems.  If you have any doubts at all about these exercises, particularly in relation to back or neck, consult your doctor first!

Always start your workout slowly and feel your bodies tight areas, focus on the tightness and consciously relax the muscles. Soften the tightness with the aid of deep breathing, do not force the stretch before the muscle is ready. Concentrate on your breathing instead, lengthen your exhalations when you feel your muscles tightening. You should allow the muscles to relax into the poses very gradually. Be very alert to the overall condition of your body, do not hurry past its natural limitations in an attempt to do the poses correctly.

Identify the amount of time you have to spend each day.  It would be more beneficial to do an exercise 3 times a day for 3 minutes rather than once for 10 minutes.

If you have very limited time, select the most appropriate exercise for one day, and another for the next day.

Keep a record.  Plan the week ahead then look back before planning the next week.

Allow you body to gradually do a little more as time passes.  NEVER force the pace.

Above all RELAX!.

Mother and Child Drown

Husband finds his wife and daughter dead in luxury pool

Mother couldn’t swim.

If ever there was a plea for adults to learn to swim, this is it.

A BUSINESSMAN found his wife and toddler daughter drowned in a swimming pool at a company headquarters where he was finalising details of a new job. Vinh Nguyen had left wife Annie, 33, and 21-month-old daughter Summer to look around the grounds as he met one of the development firm’s bosses for a chat.

The plan was for them to enjoy an informal swim in the heated indoor pool after Mr Nguyen, 37, had completed details of his new job as a land manager. But to his horror he reached the pool to find his wife and daughter face down and unconscious in the water in their swimming gear in the -middle uf the pool. Mr Nguyen and Mr Tom Waldon, a director of the firm, rang for an ambulance.

They attempted resuscitation but paramedics pronounced mother and baby dead at the scene. Police and the Health and Safety Executive were yesterday investigating the tragedy at the headquarters of Land-Marque Sites Ltd in Studley, Warwickshire on Saturday.

One theory was that the little girl fell in and the mother, who like the child, could not swim, jumped in to try to save her. Annie was 5ft lin tall and her family have been told by police that the pool was 5ft 6in deep at the centre.

 

 

 

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Learn to Swim Award

ROCHESTER GIRL CHOSEN FROM THOUSANDS TO WIN SWIMMING AWARD.

Zoe Bartlett is making a splash after earning a top award to mark her outstanding achievement in the water.

The seven year old from Rochester, had a major fear of water but this has not stopped her learning to swim.

Now her courage and perseverance have paid off and she is riding on the crest of a wave after she was presented with a Southern Water Learn to Swim Achiever of the Year award.

The successful youngster was one of fifty winners from amongst the 35,000 children taking part across the region. The awards are given to children who have shown great courage in overcoming particular difficulties or for their exceptional performance.

Zoe’s swimming instructor at Strood Sports Centre, Maureen Welsh said: “Zoe was extremely frightened of the water and was terrified of getting her face wet. She would not join in with the rest of the class, but fortunately she never gave up. With great courage and perseverance she has now overcome her fears and can swim and go under water. She is a very worthy winner of the award.”

Zoe was treated to a visit by the Learn to Swim scheme mascot Ollie the Otter, who dropped in to help her celebrate her success.

Nigel Smetham, Southern Water’s Water Manager presented the youngster with a bag of goodies, which included a sports watch, at a special ceremony at Maidstone Leisure Centre.

Mr Smetham said: “This is a tremendous occasion for these children. They have proved themselves in many different ways and made enormous achievements on the Learn to Swim scheme.

To win these awards is extremely significant because the youngsters have been selected from 35,000 children who were taught on the scheme last year.

We are pleased to be able to contribute to the community by helping children learn a very valuable life skill, as well as enabling them to reach their fullest potential.”

The scheme, now in its tenth year, teaches children from 4-12 year-olds and is sponsored by Southern Water. It is run in consultation with the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA).

 

 

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Backstroke Ban

Swimming pool bans backstroke

A local council has banned it’s swimmers from doing backstroke in the pool as it fears they could injure themselves if they collide.

Swimmers at the Daisyfield pool in Blackburn  have been told they can do only forward strokes during busy periods when the pool is divided into lanes, officials said.

“This is not about threats of legal action,” said Kate Hollern, of Blackburn and Darwen Council responsible for culture, leisure and sport.

“We are simply limiting the times when people can swim backstroke to prevent dangerous collisions.

“We would expect that people would be concerned for their own safety as well as that of others so we are being proactive in introducing these rules.”

She said the new rules complied with guidelines issued by the national Institute of Sport and Recreation Management, and were “designed be inclusive to ensure that all people can use our facilities in a safe way”.

 

 

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Bilateral Breathing

Should you Breathe to Both Sides?

Source: Kevin Koskella

One of the most common wonders of the swimming world is, should you use alternate-side, or bilateral breathing?

Throughout my swimming career, I had always breathed to my right side only until a year ago. Why? Because breathing on my left side felt awkward and uncomfortable! This is the reason why most swimmers will breathe only on one side.

Last year I had an experience that made me change my ways. I was getting a massage and my therapist noted that my left lat muscles (back) were much more developed than my right. Putting two and two together, I realized that years of right side only breathing in the pool had caused me to use these muscles on my left side far more than my right as I was balancing with my left arm while sucking air into my lungs!

The answer to the question is yes, you should use bilateral breathing, if you’re not already. The main reason is that it will balance out your stroke (as well as create symmetry in your back musculature!). The problem with breathing to one side only is that it can make your stroke lopsided. In a one-hour workout, you may roll to your breathing side 1,000 times. A lopsided stroke can become permanent in a hurry after practicing this for a while!

The benefits to breathing nearly as often to one side as the other are that using your “weak” side more frequently will help your stroke overall, and you’ll lose your “blind” side. If you are an open water swimmer, the later benefit will help you check for landmarks, avoid chop, or keep another rough swimmer from splashing water in your face (or punching you in the nose!) as you breathe.

The way to obtain these benefits is to practice bilateral breathing as much as possible. Often in my evening group I will have swimmers breathe every 3 or 5 strokes as part of a drill or warm down. But by no means should this practice be limited to drill sets or long warm downs! It will feel awkward at first, sure. But the awkwardness is easier to deal with than you may think. Regular practice of rolling to both sides to breathe will remedy this before you know it.

Some tips on how to practice bilateral breathing while keeping it interesting:

1. Breathe to your right side on one length and to your left on the next. That way you get the oxygen you need but still develop a symmetrical stroke. 2. Breathe to your weaker side on warm-ups, warm-downs, and slow swimming sets. 3. Experiment with 3 left, 3 right or 4 left, 4 right until you find a comfortable pattern

Keep the goal in mind each week of breathing about the same amount to one side as the other over the course of any week of swimming. Most of all, enjoy your swim and don’t get too hung up on being exact!

 

 

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Building a Swimming Pool?

Ray Cronise has some answers!

A Few Things to Consider

A reader asks: We are just stumped! We’ve been looking into purchasing a pool for our small backyard. We’ve looked into fibreglass pools at this point and like the way they look. We seem to hear a different story from each person we ask regarding the purchase of a new pool. Most agree it’s the installer who is the key. Is that your consensus as well? How do we check on the installer, other than relying on the references given to us by the pool company?

From Ray: First I want to disclose that I also am a manufacturer of fibreglass pools, so I will try to be as objective as possible.

A fibreglass pool is a great choice for your back yard and will absolutely be the lowest maintenance pool. You can look on our site for lots of other background information on these pools. Since I come from a Composites Engineering background, we are a little different than the other companies you might find.

You are correct, that the installer is everything! Unfortunately, fibreglass pools tend to lower the barrier of entry into the installation pool business side and so they tend to attract what I might affectionately refer to as Billy-bob and the back hoe gang. You get the point. On any builder first check the BBB in your area. Also request a list of references AND a list of jobs currently under construction. This will give you the opportunity to see who you are dealing with directly.

A few more general things to consider:

  • Don’t allow them to talk you into exposed coping: go with pavers, stone, or a cantilever deck
  • Consider Tile, but don’t allow it to be installed at the factory – this will result in unlevelled tile at the waterline
  • Request that the pool be installed with no main drain. They are not necessary for circulation and can pose and entrapment hazard.
  • Try to find builders that are members of NSPI. Also ask if they are Certified Building Professionals (CBPs)

Finally, be careful of dark colours and pools. We have colored surfaces, but do not have extremely dark colours. These fail after some time and fibreglass, unlike liners or shotcrete, are not designed to be resurfaced in the field.

Happy Swimming!!!

Ray Cronise, The RTR Group, Inc.

 

 

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Heidi’s Channel Swim

 

A COALVILLE woman has made a splash raising money for a spinal injury charity.

Heidi Spiller, 35, has now finished swimming the length of the English Channel — a massive 1,408 lengths of Hermitage Leisure Centre’s swimming pool.

All of the money raised around £1,030 will now go to Aspire, the Association for Spinal Injury Research Rehabilitation and Reintegration.

Heidi decided to dive-in and help the charity after overcoming her fear of the deep-end earlier this year.

She said: “Just before the summer holidays I swam 64 lengths, which is a mile, and I felt like I wanted something more to aspire to.

“When I went back to the leisure centre I saw the information for the Aspire Channel Swim and I thought I could actually exercise, lose weight and do something good for somebody else.”

Every day four people in the UK are told they will never walk again.

Aspire works with these people to offer practical support and innovation from the time of their injury for the rest of their lives.

The charity works towards reintegration by creating an environment where the barriers that divide able-bodied and disabled people are removed.

Having completed the task, Heidi said: “I feel fantastic – I’m jumping for joy.

“People are asking me if I’m going to swim back now that I’ve swum to France, but I’ll give it a rest for now!”

 

 

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Swimming and Epilepsy

Courtesy of Epilepsy Action

Three little ducksSwimming is an excellent way to keep in shape yet many people are frightened in case they or their children have a seizure in the water. This leaflet aims to show that with a few sensible precautions people with epilepsy can enjoy all the benefits of swimming quite safely.

Swimming is often a very sociable activity. Children for example may feel left out if they are barred from swimming just because of epilepsy while all their classmates are playing or learning to swim in the pool. Such segregation increases the feeling of being ‘different’ or an outsider. Other children may then react unfavourably and the child with epilepsy can feel rejected.

Everyone should learn how to swim especially children with epilepsy – it helps with self-confidence with social skills and relationships and most importantly it’s fun!

Often those of us with epilepsy may want to swim but are prevented by family friends teachers or swimming pool staff. Other people sometimes imagine the worst and decide on our behalf that it is not worth the risk. If so this page should help calm those fears but for extra reassurance they can telephone the Freephone Helpline on 0808 800 5050.

Research shows that few seizures actually occur in the water. This may be because when a person is enjoyably occupied they are less likely to have a seizure. All sports and pastimes including swimming can help to improve seizure patterns in some people. However it is impossible to be certain that a seizure will not occur so it is essential to follow a few simple safety measures.

Safety first

  • Never swim alone and do not take risks.

  • Make sure there is a qualified life-saver present (perhaps a friend or relative could learn). If there isn’t one swim no deeper than your supervisor’s or companion’s shoulder height.

  • Always tell a person in charge if you have epilepsy.

  • Check that the person in charge or your companion knows what to do if you have a seizure.

  • If you can practice with your companion what to do in the event of a seizure – this will boost your confidence and theirs.

  • Swimming in the sea lakes or very cold water is dangerous – be sensible.

  • If unwell don’t swim.

  • Avoid overcrowded situations.

Good buddies do it together

Those of us with epilepsy can find it embarrassing to be ‘supervised’ especially if we are the only person being watched over. Swimming in pairs is an American idea known as the Buddy System and it is becoming popular in the UK. It is especially useful in swimming classes because it means everyone has a partner taking attention away from the person with epilepsy. It also enables life-saving to be taught in pairs and teaches us all to be aware of other people’s safety.

Once or twice during the session someone blows a whistle and you must be able to touch your partner immediately. If you can’t it means you are too far away from each other and you have ‘lost’. An agreed forfeit may then be paid. If this partnering method cannot be used it may be better for the ‘supervisor’ to stay out of the water in case prompt action is needed. Whichever method is used supervision needs to be discreet.

How to deal with a seizure in the water

Not all people with epilepsy have convulsions. Some may simply go blank for a few seconds (absences) others may make repeated aimless movements for a minute or two (partial seizures). These last two seizure types do not usually require emergency action but care needs to be taken that the person does not sink. When they recover gently ask if they would like to get out of the water. They may not realise what happened or they may feel groggy.

The basic guidelines are:

  1. Do not be afraid the seizure will probably not last long.

  2. From behind hold the swimmer’s head above water.

  3. If possible tow the person to shallow water.

  4. Do not restrict movements or place anything in the mouth.

  5. Once abnormal movement has stopped move the swimmer to dry land.

  6. If water has been swallowed take the usual resuscitation measures.

  7. Place the swimmer on his or her side to recover.

  8. Only call an ambulance if the person goes from one seizure to another without regaining consciousness or if the seizure lasts longer than normal or if there is injury or a lot of water has been swallowed.

  9. If possible recovery should be in a private place.

  10. Stay with the person until they feel better.

Should I ask my doctor before going swimming?

It is a good idea to speak to your doctor first particularly if the epilepsy is largely uncontrolled. Both of you need to take into account the type severity and frequency of the seizures known triggers such as noise stress excitement etc. whether there is any warning before a seizure and what supervision is available.

However if you really want to swim find a safe and suitable way to do it using all the recommendations listed here. Those of us with epilepsy should not allow it to ruin our quality of life and being a non-swimmer is far more dangerous than learning to swim in a safe and supervised environment.

Further advice on epilepsy and swimming is available from Epilepsy Action by using the Email Helpline or if you live in the UK by phoning the Freephone Helpline on 0808 800 5050.

 

 

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Your Infant’s First Swim

Taking the Plunge – Your Infant’s First Swim

Author: Julie Moore

Aaaah, spring! With the last remainder of winter gradually melting into the ground, its easy to let your mind begin to wander to the firsts of summer: that first evening BBQ with friends, that first softball game being played in the park, or that first whiff of freshly-mowed grass.

But before you start day-dreaming about your little one’s first toe dip in a wading pool for swim lessons, consider the following: According to the American Academy of Paediatrics, swim classes may not be a good idea for babies. Research shows that, in children under 3, the risk of infections increases with time spent in swimming pools.

Your child may be more likely develop swimmer’s ear (due to water entering the ear), diarrhoea (due to germs in the water being swallowed), swimmer’s itch, and other rashes. Along with these greater risks, children under 3 who have taken lessons prove to be no stronger as swimmers in later years than their non-lesson counterparts.

Nor could an infant’s tendency to float in water (due to high fat content) be called upon in a life-threatening aquatic situation! So, should you shirk all water activity with your infant, and, on a hot day, ignore the enticing, glistening waters of your local outdoor swimming pool?

The answer is no. As long as you are aware of the risks, and do not expect your little one to develop self-reliant skills in the water, it is perfectly acceptable to use the pool as a place where you can both cool off.

Do keep in mind some common sense advice, however.

– Small children with colds and flus should refrain from water activity. If your child is prone to ear infections, seek the doctor’s approval before he takes the plunge.

– Don’t submerge a baby’s face. Swallowing water can cause water intoxication, a watering down of the blood that produces nausea, weakness, convulsions, and even coma.

– A baby who does not maintain good head control should never be taken into a pool. His head may bob under by accident, so wait until he is stronger.

– Lastly, have fun with your baby, but do not expect to “teach” him swimming skills. Allowing your child to feel comfortable and safe in the water is the first and most important step in his water safety training.

 

 

 

 

 

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Poem – Swimming Lessons

Swimming Lessons reprinted with kind permission of Deanna Young and the Arc Poetry Society, Ottawa, Canada

Swimming Lessons

by Deanna Young

Our children are bottom-feeders, feeling for a puck in the deep end. Floridian in fuchsia suits, they surface fish-eyed in goggles, gasp, and snort blue water. We sit on the sidelines, barefoot, tapping chlorinated puddles. Pass comments back and forth like cards. In my mind we are pressing the soles of our feet together. I never get my wish. The lesson is always over before I drag you to the deck, cup one hand under your chin, pinch your nose, and breathe myself into your lungs. Our children appear in garish towels, unrelated, though clearly the same species: purple around the gills, hair sleek as sealskin. Whatever happens they will all know how to swim. It is our job to see that nothing does happen. In the parking lot after balmy showers, blowfish bobbing around us in parkas, mouths steaming, you stretch, and mention how you spent the week knocking down a concrete wall. With your head? I wonder out loud. And later, what it takes to get through.

 ——————————————————————————– 3rd Prize, Poem of the Year Contest 2003 Arc 51, Winter 2003

 

 

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Stretching For Streamlining

Stretching For Excellent Upper Body Streamlining

By Marty Hull. Photos by Rod Searcy.

The fastest we ever go in the water is when we push off the wall. The moment our feet leave the wall, we begin to slow down. If upper body streamlining is excellent, then push-off speed is carried out farther from the wall, and we reach the surface while we are still moving very fast. Excellent streamlining allows a faster lap from start to finish.

What is excellent streamlining? A body that is as straight, narrow and smooth as possible. All three of these can he improved by stretching.

World record holder, Jeff Rouse, has a streamline position that is one of the best in the world. Notice how straight his body is.

(Picture 1).

Also, notice how he narrows his shoulders by moving his arms and shoulder blades up alongside and behind his head

(Picture 2).

To take full advantage of what streamlining can offer, you must he able to get to the most ideal streamlined position with extraordinary ease. The more resistance you encounter in your joints and muscles as you try to streamline, the worse streamlining ability you will have, especially late into a race.

Compare your flexibility to Rouse’s. When you extend your arms above your head, are they in perfect alignment with your torso? Does your back arch when you extend your arms over your head? If your arms are not straight in line with your torso or if your back arches even the slightest amount, this will ruin your streamlining.

Can you narrow your shoulders by moving your shoulder blades and arms up alongside and in behind your head? If you can’t, then your streamlining will suffer significantly.

The secret to getting to this streamlined position with case is to increase the range of motion of your shoulder joints. Additional range of motion of the shoulder blade is what allows Rouse’s straight, narrow, smooth body shape.

To stretch the shoulder blade muscles, it is necessary to use a pulling force on the hand or arm and to conduct this force safely along the arm, through the shoulder joint to the shoulder blade.

This can be done by grabbing onto a post or pole with the hand and then stretching. But stretching the large sheet muscles around the perimeter of the shoulder blade takes very high forces. High forces cause all of the muscles of the arm and shoulder to tighten. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to relax the shoulder blade muscles to allow them to stretch if most of the other muscles of the arm and shoulder area are contracted to maintain the hand grip.

A hand sling device, or a ROM (Range of Motion) strap is one effective way to stretch the shoulder blade muscles without contracting other arm and shoulder muscles.

This device retains the hand at the wrist while a stretching force is applied, making it not necessary to grip something to stretch. The hand, forearm. arm, shoulder, and shoulder blade can, therefore, stay relaxed.

Remember, begin each stretch very gradually. Do not bounce or jerk when you stretch. Shoulder joints are fragile, so stress to these joints should he kept to a minimum If the stretch hurts the shoulder, discontinue it. If you feel the shoulder coming out of the joint, stop and stretch and try to tighten the muscles that hold the shoulder joint together. Then try the stretch again.

Do this stretch three to five times, per week using light force for the first few days. Then gradually increase the force.

If you wish to significantly increase your joint range of motion beyond where you are now, hold each position for two to four minutes. Gradually increase the stretching force during the first one to one-and-a-half minutes and then hold at the force level. Go slowly so you don’t injure yourself. If you are loosening up before a workout, do each one for 30 to 45 seconds.

Stretches

Before you begin stretching, place your arms in the stream-lined position, remembering what it looks and feels like.

1. Hanging Stretch

(For lower muscles.) Adjust the rope length so that when you bend your knees, you can hang from your hands. Be able to release all stretching force if you stand up. Stretch for about two to three minutes.

2. Standing Stretch

(For upper muscles.) Place one sling on each wrist. Stand on the rope. Adjust the rope length so your lower back is straight during these stretches. To stretch, press your toes and straighten the upper chest. This will stretch the muscles at the top of the shoulder blade and the base of the neck. If you hunch the upper chest forward and press up, you will stretch the muscles farther over onto the back (rhomboids). Do both positions, for one-and-a-half to three minutes.

3. Chin Stretch

(For posterior muscles.) This stretch will move your shoulder around under your chin. Attach the rope just below shoulder height. Place a sling on one wrist. Lean away from the point of attachment of the rope. It may take up to 45 seconds before you begin to feel the shoulder blade muscles on your hack stretch, so be patient. Keep shoulder joint muscles tight enough to prevent shoulder dislocation. Stretch left and right side for one-and-a-half to two minutes each.

4. Forward Stretch

This stretches the muscles that move the shoulder blade forward (pecs and serratus anterior). Lean forward and rotate the arm to the position that feels most stable. Press forward. Arch the chest forward to increase stress on the pectoral muscles. Stretch left and right side for one-and-a-half to three minutes each.

5. Chicken Wing Stretch

This increases rotation of the shoulder blade to allow the arms to come closer together behind the head. Stretch each side for one-and-a-half to two minutes so stress goes to the muscles of the shoulder blade and not to the shoulder joint.

6. Streamlining Stretch

Place your hands high above your head and lean against the wall. See if you can comfortably move your arms well past the ideal streamlined position. Stretch for one-and-a-half to two minutes.

Now, test time! Again, place your arms in the streamlined position above your head and compare this with what you looked and felt like before you began stretching. You should notice some difference after one session.

Marty Hull is a top Masters swimmer and a consultant to the Stanford University Swim Team.

 

 

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Taking the Plunge

Taking the Plunge One Man’s Journey Into Fear Otherwise Known as a Swimming Pool

Reprinted by kind permission of Outsports.com co-founder Cyd Zeigler

What gay man doesn’t have some kind of trepidation about sports?  Some are afraid of dropping the football when it’s thrown to them and getting laughed at.  Some are timid about joining in on a pick-up basketball game lest someone roll their eyes when they miss a shot.  Others are afraid of jocks in general remembering their years of torment in high school.  Many have simply opted to skip sports all together.

Some people who know me refer to me as a “jock.”  I play football with passion bumping and running catching intercepting and throwing the ball whenever I get the chance.  I play Ultimate Frisbee with reckless abandon:  Send me deep and I’ll come down with every disc you throw me.  Tennis basketball golf – you name it I love it.

Yet I’m afraid of swimming.

I have been since I was 5 years old and drifted too far on my raft on Long Pond got off the raft and immediately sank to the bottom.  I avoid deep water and won’t go near a wave.  I’ve never dived head-first into a pool.  I’ve never once opened my eyes underwater.

All because of my fear of it.  Fear of what? You may ask.  It’s something I’ve asked myself a million times.  Fear of drowning?  Maybe.  Fear of looking bad?  Probably.  Fear of suddenly flailing in the water having to be saved by a lifeguard?  Most definitely.

Sure I’ll don a pair of colorful board shorts with the rest of them head to Laguna Beach and prance around throwing a football or a Frisbee with friends.  But when that football or Frisbee goes into the water I’ll let it go standing there with envy as I watch the other guys having so much fun diving under waves splashing one another as they laugh together.

It was one of those days not long ago that I decided I’d had enough.

About two months ago I was talking to Shamey Cramer a member of West Hollywood Aquatics about trying to swim.

“Come on out to one of our open swims at the pool ” he said.

Uh no.  I’m not going out to the pool for a swim with the West Hollywood Aquatics team to embarrass myself in front of a couple dozen guys who have been swimming all their lives.

As I was saying that to him I realized that I was doing what I accuse other people of doing with sports:  I was being afraid to fail and letting that stop me in my tracks.  So what if they laughed at me?  So what if they got impatient with my lack of ability?

Hmmm . . . better take a couple lessons first.

My biggest question before my series of four private lessons was that age old dilemma that every swimmer goes through at some point in his life:  Speedos or trunks.  You’ve got to remember:  I’d never done laps in a pool before and hadn’t taken a swim lesson since I was five.  All I knew of swimming semi-seriously in a pool was what I saw on television.  After a poll of a dozen friends the verdict was unanimous:  trunks.

So on the first Sunday in March I ventured to the pool where I was to begin my first road to hydrophobia freedom.

It was a disaster.

When we got into the water (on the shallow end of course) the instructor who speaks with a French accent so strong I can’t understand about 40% of what he’s saying says “OK do the breast stroke.”

Do the breast stroke?  I don’t even know what that is.

He looked at me blinked a couple times and did a quick demonstration of what looked like a frog swimming.  The only problem here:  a frog can hold his breath a lot longer than I can.  Trying desperately to come up for air every three seconds I was splashing around sinking quickly then bobbing my head above the surface kicking frantically wondering what have I gotten myself into?

Next up was the backstroke.  Same result:  lots of splashing even more sinking.

It’s a wonder he didn’t burst out into laughter watching me attempt the freestyle:  taking two strokes stopping standing clearing my nose then taking two more strokes stopping coughing taking two more strokes . . . .

At the end of the first lesson he said we were going to try diving.

“I don’t do diving ” I said.  As I said it I looked up to see the 3- and 5-year-olds who would be taking a lesson after me.  They were standing there as though in shock at the edge of the pool watching me.  Good to know I could provide a little humor to someone’s day.

With that we ended lesson #1 of my attempt to remain as afraid of water as humanly possible.

And someone once called me a jock?

Something funny happened on the way to the pool the following week.  A friend told me I should duck my head underwater and just open my eyes.  When I told him I didn’t have goggles he said I didn’t need them to open my eyes.  Then I whipped out the excuse I’ve always used for not being able to open my eyes under water:

“I wear contact lenses.”

“Take them off ” he said.

But but but . . . .   I tried coming up with a good response – to no avail.  As I headed to the pool I started wondering why I was afraid of opening my eyes underwater.  Was I afraid that my eyes would suddenly pop out of my head?  That I would go blind?  That it would hurt?  Hell I play football with a herniated disc in my back – THAT hurts.

At the start of my second lesson I dunked my head underwater and for the first time in my life opened my eyes.  I looked left looked down then popped back up.

“Hey that didn’t hurt ” I said.

“I know ” said the instructor.

I dunked my head under the surface again and opened my eyes.

“It still doesn’t hurt ” I said.

The instructor took a deep breath.  “Let’s start again with breast stroke.”

As I readied to push off from the wall of the pool he added something else:  “this time just relax.”

I took a deep breath and pushed off from the wall.  This time I didn’t sink.  This time I moved through the water.  This time I just breathed.

I only got halfway across the pool before water got in my nose I lose my concentration and came up for air.

“That’s good that’s good ” the instructor said.  “Keep going.”

Back into the water I finished the lap.  My first lap.  Ever.

Over the next couple of weeks we moved on to the backstroke and freestyle.  While I still don’t have the breathing down entirely for the latter I’m now going on my own to do laps at the pool.  Slowly.  With trepidation.  But I’m doing them.

At the end of the last session the instructor said it was time to try diving again.

An openly gay collegiate athlete said in a first-person article on Outsports.com earlier this year “coming out often felt like jumping off a 30-foot cliff into a deep pool of water.”  I thought that was a telling image – except for the fact that I’d probably crash into the water get the wind knocked out of me become disoriented and drown.

This time as I was about to offer my standard response – “I don’t do diving” – I blurted out “OK.”

It was freezing out of the water – in the middle of one of the windstorms that have swept across southern California in the last few months.  I was glad I wasn’t wearing a Speedo.

The instructor showed me how to stand on the edge of the pool with my toes curled for extra push (of course I thought what in hell do you want to push for – I wanted to get to the water as slowly as possible).

By now in the lesson the three- and five- year olds who came after me had arrived and were watching me on the edge of the pool knees bent arms out forward head tucked standing there waiting for someone to push me in.  Seeing them made me laugh as I figured them seeing me made them laugh.  And over I tumbled.

It wasn’t the prettiest entry but it was my first.  By the third dive I got so that it wasn’t hurting my stomach when I crashed into the water.  And by the fifth dive it was actually feeling pretty good.

While I still may have to stop and take a few breaths at every turn and while I sometimes stop mid-lap because water got in my nose I can honestly say I’m no longer afraid to swim.  I’ve even started going to the pool – with other people around – and doing laps.  The “pool snobs” may roll their eyes but now I don’t give a ****.

Plus I’ve managed to conquer another fear I’ve always had – one that goes back to beach parties with my fraternity and summers visiting every beach on Cape Cod south of Provincetown:

Speedophobia.

But that’s another column all together.

 

 

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Swimming With Dolphins

Depressed? Swim with dolphins

swimming holiday with dolphins

Dolphin Marine Experience for two £59

Dolphin Posters

Taking a dip with dolphins can be a tremendous therapy for people with depression according to a study published on Saturday in the weekly British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Nature lovers – biophiles to give them their scientific name – have long argued that interaction with animals can soothe a troubled mind but this claim has always been anecdotal lacking the scientific data to back it up.

Seeking to find out more psychiatrists Christian Antonioli and Michael Reveley at Britain’s University of Leicester recruited 30 people in the United States and Honduras who had been diagnosed with mild or moderate depression.

The severity of their symptoms was calculated according to established yardsticks for mental health the Hamilton and Beck scales which are based on interviews and questionnaires with the patient.

No antidepressants

The volunteers were required to stop taking any antidepressant drugs and psychotherapy for four weeks.

Half of the group was then randomly selected to play snorkel and take care of dolphins each day at an institute for marine sciences in Honduras.

The other half was assigned to a programme of outdoor activities also at the institute that included swimming and snorkelling at a coral reef but without the dolphins.

Two weeks later both groups had improved but especially so among patients who had been swimming with the dolphins.

Measurable symptoms of depression in the dolphin group had fallen by half and by two-thirds according to the two scales – twice as much as in the non-dolphin group.

In addition a self-rating measurement of anxiety symptoms the Zung scale found a fall of more than 20% among the dolphin group compared with a decline of 11% among the non-dolphin groups.

“To the best of our knowledge this is the first randomised single blind controlled trial of animal-facilitated therapy with dolphins ” say Antonioli and Reveley.

“The effects exerted by the animals were significantly greater than those of just the natural setting. The echolocation system the aesthetic value and the emotions raised by the interaction with dolphins may explain the mammals’ healing properties.”

Swim with the Dolphins

Wild and Free Dolphins

Swimming with dolphins – what you need to know

Polperro Dolphin Swims: Swimming

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Teach Baby to Swim?

Baby Swimming  Childrens Swimming Pools   Childrens Swimming Books    Childrens Swimming DVD

Little Dippers DVD and Video

DVD Teach Baby to Swim  £18.99

Video Teach Baby to Swim £14.99

Should You Teach Your Baby to Swim?

By Felicia Hodges

“Once the baby uses those lungs, their ability to automatically hold their breaths while submerged begins to disappear. Because of that, the American Academy of Paediatrics discourages teaching infants to swim by forcibly dunking them or submerging them in water.”

You’ve probably seen them on TV: classes of infants clad in swimsuit diapers or only in what Mother Nature gave them, floating effortlessly through the water, looking like little mermaids. You want your child to learn basic water safety, but is tossing your baby into a pool the way to teach him?

“Newborn babies instinctively know not to breathe while their heads are submerged in water,” says Certified Nurse-Midwife Charlene Taylor, who has assisted in more than 50 water births near her Boston, Mass. home. “From what I’ve seen, it seems as if they know how to swim instinctively. Many of them open their eyes and move their limbs and propel themselves forward in the tubs.”

According to Taylor, until the baby’s body is touched by air, all the oxygen they need is delivered via the placenta, not from his or her lung power. “In water births, their new environment is not much different than what they left behind,” she says.

The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends the following pool safety tips for families with young children:

  • Never leave children unattended near any body of water. In the time it takes you to run to the telephone or turn on the dryer, your child could fall in and drown.
  • If you have a pool, separate it from your home with a 5-foot high fence or gate. Use a gate that self-closes and self-latches. The latch should be higher than your child is able to reach.
  • Remove toys from the pool after you exit so children aren’t tempted to reach for them.
  • Learn Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).

“But once the baby uses those lungs, their ability to automatically hold their breaths while submerged begins to disappear,” says Dr. Brian Scopec, an obstetrician who practices in upstate New York. “Because of that, the American Academy of Paediatrics discourages teaching infants to swim by forcibly dunking them or submerging them in water.” Since there haven’t been many studies to either support or deny this theory, Dr. Scopec says there is really no information on exactly what age the breath-holding instinct disappears all together.

When To Begin Many parents with pools realize the benefits to teaching their children water safety at an early age. Karen Thomas, a registered nurse and mother of two, figured that sooner was better than later when it came to teaching her 2-month-old son, Zachery, how to swim.

“I signed us up for a mother/baby swim class thinking he’d be moving through the water unassisted or at least be able to roll onto his back in case he ever fell in,” she says. “I wanted him to be comfortable around the water because I grew up afraid of it and didn’t learn to swim until I was an adult.”

Instead of swimming, though, she and Zachery played in the water while she held him and sang songs like “Ring Around the Rosie.”

“They had us fall up instead of down so Zachery didn’t even get wet past his chest,” Thomas says.

“That is not too unusual,” says Patricia Ottie, a certified lifeguard and swim instructor at a health club in Fishkill, N.Y. “Most classes for children younger than 3 or 4 are designed to get children comfortable in the water, not teach them to swim. It may even be dangerous to try to teach children younger than that to try to hold their breath.” Such skills as blowing bubbles and holding air in the lungs require dexterity and coordination that children younger than 3 simply do not have, she adds.

What To Teach The key to teaching water safety is adult supervision, Dr. Scopec says. “Infants are so top-heavy that they should be supervised around even shallow water, as they can drown in less than 2 inches of water.” he adds. He cautions parents to always be in the water with a child younger than 6, regardless of the child’s swimming ability. “If you can’t be in the water with them, make sure another watchful adult or a qualified instructor is present.”

When in the water, the important thing is to get the child to relax,” Ottie says. “It will be a lot easier for them once they begin actual swim lessons at age 3 or 4 if they are used to the water or at least don’t have a fear of it.” She suggests that if your child is afraid of the water, you focus on activities that he or she is comfortable with and progress as the child feels ready.

“Never just throw your child in or sneak up and dunk him. It could make him have a fear of the water that he will never be able to conquer,” she says.

Parents Should Learn, Too Since drowning is the second leading cause of death for children between the ages of one and 18, the most important thing any parent can learn about water safety is CPR.

“Nobody ever wants to think about something terrible happening to their child, but if your child does fall in your pool or wanders off at the beach, CPR could save his life,” Dr. Scopec says.

“All parents should take a CPR class,” Ottie says. “It could save their child’s life or at least buy the child more time until professionals arrive or the child can be taken to a hospital.”

 

 Childrens Parties-Soft Play

 

 

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Teaching Swimming

Teaching swimming sounds like an easy task for those who know how to swim.

However, if you are not careful, you can scare people (especially children) away from water for a good amount of years.

How you teach swimming is very important. If swimming is not taught correctly pupils can develop a phobia. Teachers have to understand the importance of not rushing their students as they do not want fears to develop.

When familiarising students with water teachers should have a cheerful attitude and hold lots of understanding. Each student has different fears and needs, and teachers should learn these early on in the lessons. Teachers should offer plenty of reassurance and encouragement and sense when their students are apprehensive about a particular activity. If students show fear when learning something new, teachers have to be able to recognise this and take a step back, later teaching the activity with a different approach.

Teachers have to try to develop self-confidence with their students. This can be achieved by offering plenty of praise. Students learn at a quicker pace if they enjoy what they are being taught. Therefore it is necessary not to make swimming a chore for the pupil. Teachers will need plenty of patience as swimming should be taught at a self-paced level.

On the pupils first day of swimming teachers should not have high expectations of what the pupil will learn. Just allowing the student to get his or her feet wet is sufficient, especially if they enjoy themselves. When the student is brought into the water for the first time it is a good idea that the teacher walks around the entire pool holding the students hand. This will allow the student to see how deep the water is, and some of their fears may fade. This will not happen if the student does not trust the teacher. Without trust, there is fear and so little enjoyment; without enjoyment, there will be little practice and without practice, beginners will not develop skills or a positive attitude required to learn how to swim.

To attract children to water toys and games can play a very important part. Whether it be a small boat that the student can float on the water, or a pair of goggles that will make the student feel more at home with the more experienced swimmers, toys and games will help the student to enjoy the pool.

To teach children how to place their face in the water, it is encouraged to allow the student to blow bubbles and the occasional splash of water on their face. Some students will not place their face in the water without a pair of goggles. If goggles give the student confidence, then goggles should be worn.

If the student will not let go of the edge of the pool, then the use of floatation aids can be useful. Games and lots of fun activities will also help to encourage the child to take a step away from the edge. If the student refuses to let go of the edge of the pool, then let them stay there for a few lessons until they become more familiar with the water.

When teaching someone to swim it is important to remember that they should learn at their own pace. They will not develop confidence if they do not trust their teacher, and they will not enjoy the water if they are forced to enter it before they are ready. Some students learn at a quicker pace than others, but in the end they all usually learn to swim as well as each other.

 

 

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Toddler Drowning

Toddler drowning in domestic swimming pools

C Blum and J Shield

Royal Children’s Hospital, Flemington Road, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia

Aims—To identify how toddlers who drowned gained access to private swimming pools; to recommend preventive strategiesto reduce the incidence of toddler drowning and near drowning.

Method—The study reviewed critically all completed investigations into the drowning deaths of toddlers aged 1–4 years reported to the state coroner (n=33) as a result of unintentional submersion incidents in domestic swimming pools in Victoria, Australia,from 1 January 1992 to 31 December 1997.

Results—  There was a predominance of 1 year olds, and boys.Forty six per cent of the children drowned in the three summer months. The majority of pools were in-ground; most were located on the child’s home property. Over half the pools lacked fencing of any kind; of those that did have fences, only three appear to have met Australian standards.

Conclusions—  More than half of the children studied drowned in unfenced pools and spas. In not one case did a child gain unaided access to a pool fitted with a fully functional gate and fence that met the Australian standard. Where children gained access to fenced pools, the majority did so via faulty or inadequate gates, or through gates that were propped open. This finding highlights the need for pool owners to install Australian standard approved fences and gates, and to maintain existing fences and gates regularly. Door locks and supervision were inadequate primary prevention strategies.

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Up the River

Author: Janice Gallen

Water, water everywhere, And all the boards did shrink,” “Water, water everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.” These are the only words of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” that have remained with me since studying the poem at school. What has lingered with me, haunted me, are the horrible, eerie images portrayed in the narrative. The whole crew except one die and through the uneasiness it creates, as Death visits the cursed ship, my anxious association with water is perpetuated. I can’t swim. I have a dreadful fear of having my face immersed. I have to steel myself when taking a shower, as I feel I may suffocate from the water running down my face. Years of swimming lessons have failed to overcome the problem and I have now given up. That doesn’t stop others from encouraging me to participate in activities near the water. Is it my contrary nature that causes me to avoid the beach when the temperature is soaring and every inhabitant of this sun-drenched country is moving to the shore? Or is it the fact that I am frightened of the water and all that it holds; the potential suffocation, the large sharks and the horrible slimy creatures that inhabit the depths? I know the truth. The nightmares I have where I drown and wake up choking and grabbing at my poor husband, the way my stomach reacts when I have to walk near the edge of a swimming pool and my avoidance of the water rides at the Theme Parks are all part of the real me. However, when I go on holiday I put my phobias behind me; I seem to undergo a complete personality change. Nothing is too daring for me. I can overcome and enjoy all the activities that have previously daunted me. A ride in a glass bottom boat, a walk across a swinging bridge hanging precariously over a river or even a cruise on the harbour are all within my reach. Quite a few years ago, my husband and I went for a well-deserved holiday to Fiji accompanied by our three children who ranged in age from three to 10 years. My Mrs Hyde personality was in full swing when we decided to take a ride up the river in a long flat canoe with an outboard motor on the back. My husband has similar interests to me, swimming not being one of them. He can manage about five yards before going under. Our elder daughter could save herself, while the two younger children were completely dependent upon us. We were offered life jackets to wear. Our carefree holiday personalities took over and we declined. In retrospect I can’t understand my level of recklessness at all. This is the woman who occasionally wades in the little pool with small children, and only then if they promise not to splash or push her over! The first obstacle to overcome was getting into the canoe. We had to climb down a ladder on the side of the jetty. I peered over the edge. It seemed like 100 feet to me but probably was about 20. That didn’t stop my stomach from churning as I waited in line. “You go first,” said the huge Fijian man. Did he have any idea what he was asking? At home I would never venture more than two steps up a ladder even if someone were anchoring it. And here I was about to climb down where only a narrow canoe could prevent me from slipping into the mysterious deep. I was a mass of trembling limbs when I finally, victoriously made it. “Janice!” I could tell from the exasperated tone in my husband’s voice that something was wrong. I had been so proud of myself, climbing down to sit in the gently rocking canoe. I looked up to see what was the matter. “You’re facing the wrong way!” My face flaming, I wondered how I was going to safely stand to turn around. Grabbing tightly onto the seat in front of me, I stood slowly, only to find I had the seat still grasped in my hand, having pulled it from its place. I sat down again wondering about the safety of the boat when the seats could come out so easily. It didn’t give me much confidence. Then, to make matters worse, I had to face my husband’s frown as he took the seat from my quaking hands and replaced it. But soon everyone was seated and we were on our way. The scenery was spectacular, the vegetation thick and green, some of it rising straight from the river’s bank. Tiny waterfalls gushed into the river. It was so breathtaking that I forgot about my fears and began to relax. But then the river narrowed and we began to bump over some rapids. I could sense my husband was getting nervous. He confided to me later that he was planning to throw our son onto the bank if we got into trouble and then try to save the rest of us. Perhaps we were overreacting. Some of the more confident travellers admired the skill of the navigator who steered the canoe, unperturbed by all around him. “Bugs Bunny eats carrots,” said my son after we had hit bottom a few times. We were puzzled for several minutes until our daughter pointed out that he thought we were saying, “rabbits”. Overcome by our feelings of trepidation, we managed a slight chuckle. We entered a still, deep part of the river and the motor was switched off. Apparently there was an imbalance of weight. We had been hitting bottom a bit hard. Turning around, we looked back at the navigator awaiting instruction. “She move!” Was all we got as he pointed in my direction. Everyone looked at me. I couldn’t believe it and began shaking my head. There had to be a mistake! I had come on this trip in good faith. Nothing horrible had ever happened to me on holiday. And now they were asking me to do the unthinkable. For the last few minutes a horror story had been told about a previous trip where an American tourist, standing to get a photograph, had fallen in. I looked down into the murky water. It had to be well over my head. “You’ll have to move,” my husband whispered. He was getting embarrassed. All eyes were on me. I was terrified. After what seemed an eternity of everyone giving me encouragement I finally made a move. Can you imagine a rather large woman crawling on her hands and knees along the bottom of a rocking canoe? I must have presented quite a sight as I edged my way. The rest of the trip was uneventful. Of course I don’t remember too much of it. I was still in shock. Thankfully there were no more embarrassing episodes. We pulled into our destination and the Fijian offered his hand to help everyone out of the canoe. Everyone except me. I know all eyes were on me as he lifted me in his strong arms and carried me over three inches of water to deposit me on dry land. I still go on holiday. A few years later as I travelled across Hong Kong Harbour to Kowloon, I refused to pay my fare on the ferry until I had counted the life jackets. I am improving.

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Winded and Weary?

Winded and Weary? It’s Time To Update Your Stroke

By Ruth Kassinger

When the whistle blows on Memorial Day for the first adult swim of the season, I’m in the pool. All the pleasures of a summer swim — the near-weightless slip through cool water, the wavering patterns of sunlight on the pool floor, the calming silence below the surface — return.

For a few lengths. Then I recall an unfortunate defect in this pool: There seems to be a peculiar shortage of oxygen in its vicinity. I keep swimming, but the lovely silence under water is now punctuated by my gasps above it. Then I remember that this pool is filled with particularly dense water (could it be all that lead in the Washington water supply?), which surely explains why my arm muscles ache and my kick is tapering to nothing. Then the final problem emerges: The distance from one end to other gets greater with every length. I decide I’d better get out before I find myself trying to swim to infinity.

The story would be the same this year, except, inspired by yet another article about how good swimming is for you, this winter I decided to look a little further into my swimming problems.

What I find is that I’m not alone in having trouble swimming easily. A flurry of books and videotapes aimed at adults who want to learn to swim better has recently been released. This spring, for the first time in 12 years, the American Red Cross revised what has been the bible of swimming instruction, its swimming and diving manual, along with its instructional video.

The fault, I now learn, lies not in the pool, but in the fact that many of us learned to swim too long ago. Swimming techniques and instruction methods have changed dramatically in recent years. So, if you would rather be swimming in the pool than lounging by the side of it, take heart. Updating your technique can make swimming not only easier, but, I can attest, downright pleasant.

The Water’s Fine There is no better fitness activity than swimming, said Steve Jordan, educator for the National Academy of Sports Medicine. It is one of the best cardiovascular activities and it conditions most of the large muscle groups. Best of all, it puts almost no pressure on the joints, making it a sport for life. Because the water supports most of a swimmer’s weight, it’s a particularly good activity for overweight people. And since water is dense, moving through it takes a lot of energy, which means burning calories at a high rate.

It’s also difficult to injure yourself swimming. Katie Moore, president-elect of the American Physical Therapy Association, said muscle strains resulting from swimming are almost unheard of. The resistance of water — in essence, its weight — is a function of how hard you push or pull it. You simply can’t move more water faster than you have strength for.

Shoulder rotator cuff injuries occur occasionally, noted Jeff Berg, an orthopedist in Reston and team physician for the Washington Redskins. But these are the result of poor technique. Berg frequently sends players with knee injuries to the pool to maintain conditioning while resting the damaged joint.

Of course, these benefits accrue only if you swim regularly. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, to get the aerobic benefits you need to swim at least three times a week for about 30 minutes at a time.

So, how do you get good enough to swim comfortably for that long, instead of clinging to the wall, sucking air after five minutes?

If you learned to swim before 1980, you were probably taught to swim by an instructor certified in the 1938 American Red Cross method. The group’s manual for swimming instruction, which was not significantly revised for four decades, taught beginning freestyle swimmers to “thrash” their legs up and down and to move their arms in a “windmill type of two-beat stroke.”

More-advanced swimmers were instructed to kick like “pedaling a bicycle of very low gear” and to “fling the forearm beyond the head” to prepare to take a stroke.

Body roll was anathema. The pulling hand was cupped and pulled under water to a vertical position. Swimmers were advised to keep the waterline just above the eyebrows.

Mechanical Improvements

Instruction began to change in the 1960s, starting at the competitive level, when James “Doc” Counsilman introduced the study of biomechanics to swimming.

Counsilman, who coached Indiana University swimmers and the U.S. Olympic men’s teams in 1964 and 1976, pioneered the use of an underwater motion camera, strain gauge devices to measure a swimmer’s propulsion and other tools to collect efficiency and effectiveness data.

Counsilman, who died this year, discovered that the freestyle kick is not propulsive. Use it gently and with as few as two beats per arm cycle, he advised, simply to keep the hips from sinking and for balance. Body roll, from the hips through the shoulders and head, makes breathing easier and is essential for avoiding rotator cuff strains.

After the arm finishes a stroke, it should be lifted out of the water with the elbow held high and close to the body. (No forearm-flinging, please!) The pulling hand is most effective in a relaxed position with fingers close to each other but not glued together. The pulling arm should be bent and pass under, not straight alongside, the body.

Counsilman’s 1968 book, “The Science of Swimming,” brought these and other concepts to a more general audience. In 1979 the Red Cross began to modify the techniques it taught to instructors.

Over the next 10 years, successive versions of the Red Cross manual gradually incorporated the changes swimming coaches were using. The current manual, videos and DVDs — have been prepared with the help of USA Swimming, the governing body for competitive swimming in the United States. The YMCA teaches similar techniques; its materials have been vetted by the American Swimming Coaches Association. Many of today’s instructors have been trained through Red Cross or the YMCA.

The changes, such as slowing your kick or recovering your arm elbow-up and close to your body, may seem small, but incorporating them into your swimming can make an enormous difference. That’s because swimming, like golf and skiing, is a technique sport.

On land, people expend about the same amount of energy whether they run or walk a mile. But exercise in the water is different, said Joel Stager, professor of kinesiology at Indiana University and director of the university’s Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming. Because water is a thousand times denser than air, “a swimmer with poor technique expends three or four times the energy to cover the same distance. That means that a slight woman with a well-honed stroke that barely ripples the surface can outdistance the muscular fellow kicking and beating the water to a froth.”

Technique also trumps a lack of natural buoyancy, in case you’re a “sinker” who thinks you’re fated by your build to struggle in the water. While it is true that some people naturally float more easily than others (it’s one benefit of a little extra body fat), many lean-bodied competitive swimmers do not float well.

The bottom line is that if you learned to swim before 1980 and haven’t had a lesson since then, it’s a good bet your technique needs a tuneup — or a revamping.

Different Strokes

There are three major approaches to improving your swimming technique: lessons (either group or private), stroke clinics and Masters swimming.

If you are uneasy in the water and struggle to swim more than a length or two, group or private lessons may be the best approach. Donnie Shaw, aquatics director at the National Capital YMCA in Washington, reports that for many adults, “overcoming fear and learning to relax in the water is a real challenge. That can take some time.”

One common swimming error that is easy to fix and makes a world of difference, he adds, is remembering to always exhale completely while your face is under water.

If you can swim several consecutive laps without a sense of panic, a stroke clinic can fine-tune your technique be a good solution. Typically, such clinics meet once a week for six to eight weeks.

If you can swim about 30 laps, even if slowly and with rests, and want to refine your skills, a Masters swimming club may be for you. United States Masters Swimming is a national organization whose 43,000 members are associated with more than 450 clubs. Lap swimmers with a wide range of abilities join in order to swim with others at a set time and place. Some have highly structured workouts and active poolside coaching; others are informal and camaraderie is the most important draw.

I stumbled across a fourth option, a choice for do-it-yourselfers, offered by a company called Total Immersion.

Total Immersion, founded in 1989 by Terry Laughlin, who has been coaching swimming professionally for 32 years, is aimed primarily at adults who already swim but want to do it more easily. Rather than fine-tuning a swimmer’s strokes, the method develops an entirely new swimming technique.

The program is taught in two ways: through two-day clinics, several of which are held most weekends across the country, or via a video/DVD. Laughlin reports that in 2003 about 2,000 people took Total Immersion clinics and more than 30,000 bought instructional books, videos and DVDs. I opted for the DVD and joined an indoor swim club.

According to Laughlin, the first step adult swimmers need to take is to forget everything they have learned about swimming. Swimming “is not about using your hands to push water toward your feet,” but about slipping through the water with as little drag as possible.

To achieve streamlining, Total Immersion swimmers keep the head just below the surface of the water, which lifts the hips and legs and ensures that the swimmer stays parallel to the surface, offering as narrow a profile as possible to water in front of the swimmer.

Swimmers also reduce drag by performing most of the stroke cycle on their sides, switching quickly from one side to the other as the recovering hand enters the water. The switch, Laughlin asserts, also produces torque for additional propulsion.

In addition, Total Immersion-trained swimmers keep one arm extended in front of them all the time to lengthen the body’s profile, which, like a sleek sailboat hull, encounters less water resistance. That constant arm extension leads to what is called front-quadrant swimming, in which the extended arm doesn’t start to pull until the recovering arm is in front of the head and about to enter the water.

Laughlin’s method relies on a series of 14 drills. Each one adds a small, incremental skill until all the elements of the stroke are in place. The emphasis is on balance, fluidity and careful perfection of motions rather than on building strength by powering through laps.

The method worked beautifully for me: I can now swim freestyle for 30 minutes, and with pleasure. The drills were easy to do, and I enjoyed mastering the progression. The sequential nature of the method motivated me to get back to the pool day after day. But it took me several weeks to get a complete stroke again. Total Immersion is not a quick tune-up.

Although I’ve become a fan of the method, I have no doubt I would have improved with a stroke clinic or by getting coaching at a Masters club.

Many of Total Immersion’s techniques — as opposed to its instruction method — are similar to those of the YMCA and the Red Cross. Some of the differences are merely matters of degree: how far to roll the body or how deep to hold the head.

The feedback of an instructor has great value. In fact, at the end of the tutorial I found a Total Immersion-trained instructor to give me some one-on-one coaching.

One thing that all the experts agree on is that you need patience to make a new technique your own. Steve Jordan explained: “To create a new habit on a clean slate takes a few repetitions. To replace an old habit with a new one sometimes takes many hundreds of repetitions.”

But if you’d like to do more than sit by the side of the pool this summer, it’s worth it.

Ruth Kassinger is a Washington area freelance writer.

 

 

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Swimming Pool Safety for Children

A swimming pool in the yard can be very dangerous for children. If possible, do not put a swimming pool in your yard until your children are older than 5 years. If you already have a pool, protect your children from drowning by doing the following:

  • Never leave your children alone in or near the pool, even for a moment.

  • You must put up a fence to separate your house from the pool. Most young children who drown in pools wander out of the house and fall into the pool. Install a fence at least 4 feet high around all 4 sides of the pool. This fence will completely separate the pool from the house and play area of the yard. Use gates that self-close and self-latch, with latches higher than your children’s reach.

  • A power safety cover that meets the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) adds to the protection of your children but should not be used in place of the fence between your house and the pool. Even fencing around your pool and using a power safety cover will not prevent all drownings.

  • Keep rescue equipment (such as a shepherd’s hook or life preserver) and a telephone by the pool.

  • Do not let your child use air-filled “swimming aids” because they are not a substitute for approved life vests and can be dangerous.

  • Anyone watching young children around a pool should learn CPR and be able to rescue a child if needed. Stay within an arm’s length of your child.

  • Remove all toys from the pool after use so children aren’t tempted to reach for them.

  • After the children are done swimming, secure the pool so they can’t get back into it.

Remember, teaching your child how to swim DOES NOT mean your child is safe in water.

 

 

 

 

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Taking the Plunge

Taking the Plunge One Man’s Journey Into Fear Otherwise Known as a Swimming Pool

Reprinted by kind permission of Outsports.com co-founder Cyd Zeigler

What gay man doesn’t have some kind of trepidation about sports?  Some are afraid of dropping the football when it’s thrown to them and getting laughed at.  Some are timid about joining in on a pick-up basketball game lest someone roll their eyes when they miss a shot.  Others are afraid of jocks in general remembering their years of torment in high school.  Many have simply opted to skip sports all together.

Some people who know me refer to me as a “jock.”  I play football with passion bumping and running catching intercepting and throwing the ball whenever I get the chance.  I play Ultimate Frisbee with reckless abandon:  Send me deep and I’ll come down with every disc you throw me.  Tennis basketball golf – you name it I love it.

Yet I’m afraid of swimming.

I have been since I was 5 years old and drifted too far on my raft on Long Pond got off the raft and immediately sank to the bottom.  I avoid deep water and won’t go near a wave.  I’ve never dived head-first into a pool.  I’ve never once opened my eyes underwater.

All because of my fear of it.  Fear of what? You may ask.  It’s something I’ve asked myself a million times.  Fear of drowning?  Maybe.  Fear of looking bad?  Probably.  Fear of suddenly flailing in the water having to be saved by a lifeguard?  Most definitely.

Sure I’ll don a pair of colorful board shorts with the rest of them head to Laguna Beach and prance around throwing a football or a Frisbee with friends.  But when that football or Frisbee goes into the water I’ll let it go standing there with envy as I watch the other guys having so much fun diving under waves splashing one another as they laugh together.

It was one of those days not long ago that I decided I’d had enough.

About two months ago I was talking to Shamey Cramer a member of West Hollywood Aquatics about trying to swim.

“Come on out to one of our open swims at the pool ” he said.

Uh no.  I’m not going out to the pool for a swim with the West Hollywood Aquatics team to embarrass myself in front of a couple dozen guys who have been swimming all their lives.

As I was saying that to him I realized that I was doing what I accuse other people of doing with sports:  I was being afraid to fail and letting that stop me in my tracks.  So what if they laughed at me?  So what if they got impatient with my lack of ability?

Hmmm . . . better take a couple lessons first.

My biggest question before my series of four private lessons was that age old dilemma that every swimmer goes through at some point in his life:  Speedos or trunks.  You’ve got to remember:  I’d never done laps in a pool before and hadn’t taken a swim lesson since I was five.  All I knew of swimming semi-seriously in a pool was what I saw on television.  After a poll of a dozen friends the verdict was unanimous:  trunks.

So on the first Sunday in March I ventured to the pool where I was to begin my first road to hydrophobia freedom.

It was a disaster.

When we got into the water (on the shallow end of course) the instructor who speaks with a French accent so strong I can’t understand about 40% of what he’s saying says “OK do the breast stroke.”

Do the breast stroke?  I don’t even know what that is.

He looked at me blinked a couple times and did a quick demonstration of what looked like a frog swimming.  The only problem here:  a frog can hold his breath a lot longer than I can.  Trying desperately to come up for air every three seconds I was splashing around sinking quickly then bobbing my head above the surface kicking frantically wondering what have I gotten myself into?

Next up was the backstroke.  Same result:  lots of splashing even more sinking.

It’s a wonder he didn’t burst out into laughter watching me attempt the freestyle:  taking two strokes stopping standing clearing my nose then taking two more strokes stopping coughing taking two more strokes . . . .

At the end of the first lesson he said we were going to try diving.

“I don’t do diving ” I said.  As I said it I looked up to see the 3- and 5-year-olds who would be taking a lesson after me.  They were standing there as though in shock at the edge of the pool watching me.  Good to know I could provide a little humor to someone’s day.

With that we ended lesson #1 of my attempt to remain as afraid of water as humanly possible.

And someone once called me a jock?

Something funny happened on the way to the pool the following week.  A friend told me I should duck my head underwater and just open my eyes.  When I told him I didn’t have goggles he said I didn’t need them to open my eyes.  Then I whipped out the excuse I’ve always used for not being able to open my eyes under water:

“I wear contact lenses.”

“Take them off ” he said.

But but but . . . .   I tried coming up with a good response – to no avail.  As I headed to the pool I started wondering why I was afraid of opening my eyes underwater.  Was I afraid that my eyes would suddenly pop out of my head?  That I would go blind?  That it would hurt?  Hell I play football with a herniated disc in my back – THAT hurts.

At the start of my second lesson I dunked my head underwater and for the first time in my life opened my eyes.  I looked left looked down then popped back up.

“Hey that didn’t hurt ” I said.

“I know ” said the instructor.

I dunked my head under the surface again and opened my eyes.

“It still doesn’t hurt ” I said.

The instructor took a deep breath.  “Let’s start again with breast stroke.”

As I readied to push off from the wall of the pool he added something else:  “this time just relax.”

I took a deep breath and pushed off from the wall.  This time I didn’t sink.  This time I moved through the water.  This time I just breathed.

I only got halfway across the pool before water got in my nose I lose my concentration and came up for air.

“That’s good that’s good ” the instructor said.  “Keep going.”

Back into the water I finished the lap.  My first lap.  Ever.

Over the next couple of weeks we moved on to the backstroke and freestyle.  While I still don’t have the breathing down entirely for the latter I’m now going on my own to do laps at the pool.  Slowly.  With trepidation.  But I’m doing them.

At the end of the last session the instructor said it was time to try diving again.

An openly gay collegiate athlete said in a first-person article on Outsports.com earlier this year “coming out often felt like jumping off a 30-foot cliff into a deep pool of water.”  I thought that was a telling image – except for the fact that I’d probably crash into the water get the wind knocked out of me become disoriented and drown.

This time as I was about to offer my standard response – “I don’t do diving” – I blurted out “OK.”

It was freezing out of the water – in the middle of one of the windstorms that have swept across southern California in the last few months.  I was glad I wasn’t wearing a Speedo.

The instructor showed me how to stand on the edge of the pool with my toes curled for extra push (of course I thought what in hell do you want to push for – I wanted to get to the water as slowly as possible).

By now in the lesson the three- and five- year olds who came after me had arrived and were watching me on the edge of the pool knees bent arms out forward head tucked standing there waiting for someone to push me in.  Seeing them made me laugh as I figured them seeing me made them laugh.  And over I tumbled.

It wasn’t the prettiest entry but it was my first.  By the third dive I got so that it wasn’t hurting my stomach when I crashed into the water.  And by the fifth dive it was actually feeling pretty good.

While I still may have to stop and take a few breaths at every turn and while I sometimes stop mid-lap because water got in my nose I can honestly say I’m no longer afraid to swim.  I’ve even started going to the pool – with other people around – and doing laps.  The “pool snobs” may roll their eyes but now I don’t give a ****.

Plus I’ve managed to conquer another fear I’ve always had – one that goes back to beach parties with my fraternity and summers visiting every beach on Cape Cod south of Provincetown:

Speedophobia.

But that’s another column all together.

 

 

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Teaching your child to swim

Baby Swimming  Childrens Swimming Pools   Childrens Swimming Books    Childrens Swimming DVD

Written by Irene Bouette from Learn to Swim-Easy

Every parent wants their child to swim for various reasons, the main one being that they want their child to be able to get out of trouble if they find themselves in the water. This is why swimming lessons are important to the parent.

Teaching children to swim is a challenging task unless the child is a ‘natural in the water’. Unfortunately for the parents there are not many of those about.

When giving swimming lessons, to help the child to understand the techniques, it needs a softly, softly approach,  together with play, to give the child the understanding that the water will carry them. Because it is not always possible to explain a technique to them, the art of play is important so they get the message and realise what you are trying to get them to achieve.

This can be done in various ways during the lessons, playing with them in the water or using objects that they find fun so the water will not seem too daunting.

Usually the attention span is small. Half an hour is the maximum and the whole time should be in an upbeat manner, never shouting or making the child feel that he/she is a failure.

I find that one to one in the water is valuable because the child will not feel embarrassed if he feels scared.Private Swimming Lessons

My private pool is available for your child and they will be the only child in the pool.  This way your child knows that his/her swimming lesson is important  to them, to you and their instructor whilst at the same time the pool is small enough not to be intimidating.

My prices start from £15.  Please email for more information.

Some learn to swim books you might like.

Free Games Online  Kids Games Online Free Kids Games  Childrens Trucks Cars Diggers

   

       

   

       

Preparing your Child for Swimming

If you have ever seen a baby introduced to swimming, then you will know that being in water is natural and instinctive to human beings. However, it’s very easy to become fearful about water, and rightly so. A child can drown in 20 seconds. So making sure that your child can swim is not only crucial to help keep them safe, but is something you can have fun with. So read on to find out how to build confidence in your child, to prepare them for lessons with a qualified instructor.

The Correct Age for Swimming Lessons

Most babies will take to water very easily, and have a natural reflex to hold their breath under water before around six months. To actually introduce your child to formal lessons or teach swimming strokes, however, your child will need to be at least three years old.

First Steps for Children

To prepare your child for lessons and help them feel comfortable in the water, the main thing to do initially is to get your child used to the water. Never just take your child to a pool, take them out of their depth, let go and tell them to swim. Your child will not only panic, but be in danger.

You can try these simple techniques to help them feel happy in the pool:

  • Hold securely onto your child and glide them through the water
  • Play a splashing game – so they get used to water on their face and in their eyes
  • Practice blowing bubbles in the water, this will teach them importance of not breathing water in, and encourage them to move onto the next step of putting their face in the water.
  • Once they are happy to put their face in the water, you can encourage them to open their eyes. If it stings and they don’t like it, then add goggles to their swimming kit. Helping your child to feel happy with water on their face is a crucial part of taking the fear out of swimming.
  • Sit on the side with your child and show them how to move their legs in the water pointing their toes.
  • Never force your child to go further than they want to. Always make it fun, be positive and stay patient. Not all children adapt to water at the same pace…some are true water babies whilst others will struggle.
  • Always praise your child for their achievements in the pool.

Choosing Swimming Lessons

Once your child is happy to be in the water, then you can research swimming lessons.

You should always feel happy about the instruction your child receives, so always ask these questions first.

  • Will the instructor be in the pool with the children?
  • How many children are in the group? More than ten children to one instructor isn’t advisable.
  • Is my child assessed first?
  • Is the instructor qualified to ASA/UKCC Level 2 and CRB checked? They should also hold a current Lifesavers National Pool Lifeguard qualification/equivalent rescue qualification.

If you’re unsure, check with ASA, who regulate swimming tutors for more advice.