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Lessons Learned: Swimming

It has been 30 years since I worked as a swimming teacher.

However, I often reflect about those summers because of the important lessons I learned. You can read more great articles about Simming at http://www.rdoswimming.com

I had learned how to swim when I was a child. The experience was very stressful and unpleasant. My teacher at the time was a big fan of the sink or swim theory. She would take children and throw them in the pool proving that most children would swim before they would sink. I remember dreading going to the swimming pool to learn how to swim.

The stress was frightening and unbearable.

Many years later, I was determined, when I worked as a swimming teacher to provide a better experience for my students.

One of the things that I had learned about water in all of those years was that it is impossible to win a battle with water over any extended period of time.

Although my swim teacher was correct that a child would swim for "its life." I had read numerous instances of champion swimmers who lost their lives being on the wrong side of an ocean current. From this I reasoned that the most important thing that I could teach a child was how to successfully "surrender" to the water.

I can still remember the look on my young students faces when I tried to teach them this valuable lesson.

I moved the entire class into shallow water and I challenged them to "fight the water" for the next two minutes as hard as they could. The class erupted with glee as the children started splashing and violently punching the water. However, the mood and tone quickly changed about thirty seconds later as all of the children quickly exhausted themselves.

I let them recover their breath and told them all that "fighting with the water" is the wrong way to swim.

Instead I suggested that we were going to learn to surrender to the water and make water our friend.
At that point I demonstrated how I float on my back by doing absolutely nothing. I arched my back, threw my hands over my head and just peacefully floated in the water. The children all looked at me very inquisitively.

One by one I took the children and had them imitate what I had just done. Reminding them that by relaxing and making the water their friend they would surely float.

One of my fondest memories is recalling the smiles on their faces as they all accomplished this primary objective. I remember them screaming to their parents to watch them as they peacefully floated in the water.

Water like life is a fascinating thing. It can be tranquil or violent. More importantly, our reaction to it determines the peace and level of success that we will experience.

Submitted by:

David Medley

David Medley is a Senior Masters Swimmer and the webmaster for www.rdoswimming.com. Swimming Instruction


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