Ages 4 and Older

 

For children four years old and older you will first need to make sure they know the basics as discussed on the toddlers page. Once they master these skills they can progress on to more advanced skills. These are a combination of Marla Bollings skills and things that I found helpful while teaching lessons.

The Back Glide
Prone Glide
Arm stoke
Jump in and Turn Around
5. Turning Over and Floating
Elementary Backstroke
Backstroke
Flip Over and Swim
Breathing

The Back Glide

This is the prelim to the elementary backstroke and regular backstroke. Have the child hold the side of the pool with both hands with their knees tucked up and their head back in the water, ready to push off. Have the child take a breath (to get them to relax) as they feel themselves start to float have them push off. As they push off have them put their hands about their head (this raises their center of gravity) and remind them to keep their hips up.

The Prone Glide

A good way to teach this the “superman game”. Have them push off the walls or steps with their hands straight out over their head flying like superman. Have them prone glide and kick off both the ladder and the wall. Tell them to hold on to the wall with one hand with the other hand outstretched. Have them look at the outstretched hand and push off the wall, sneaking their other hand up in the “superman” position. Tell them that when they stop gliding to start kicking and have them kick to the other side of the pool.

Arm stroke

Take the kids out of the water to show and practice the arm stroke first on land. Have them make their hands like spoons (finders together and scooped slightly). Arms will extend down to their waist and then the elbow, not the wrist will pull the arm out of the water and back around. In order to make sure they fully extend on their stroke give them something to reach for. Marla uses her hand; but I always found it useful to have them swim to a toy.

Jump in and Turnaround from the Steps, Side, and Ladder

This exercise is designed to remind the child what to do in case they fell into the pool. It teaches them that there is a safe place and that they should turn around and swim back to where they fell in rather than try to swim across the pool. Always have them jump toward the center of the pool, this teaches them that they should never jump anywhere but to the middle of the pool. Have them swim back to where they jumped in. They them ahead of time that they will feel bubbles tickle their body but they won’t sink because they are holding their breath.

Elementary Backstroke

To teach your child elementary backstroke first have them practice using a kickboard. This is a resting stroke since you can breathe normally. Marla says to tell the kids to imagine they are marionette puppets and that strings attach their arms and legs. This helps them to remember that their arms and legs move together. Have the child start with their arms at their sides with their palms touching their legs, and their legs together. Have them move their arms up along their body over their head, and then back down to the starting position. The kick should be a whip kick. The best way to teach them this is to have them sit on the side of the pool. Have them bend knees till their feet touch the wall and then flex their feet and separate their legs (the feet should be wider than the legs), then whip back to the original position. The way I always taught my kids was to think of it as “pencil” with their legs together and arms at their side; “airplane” with their arms and legs out to the side; and the back to “pencil”.

Backstroke

They should already know the flutter kick from previous lessons. Have them practice alternating arm strokes with their thumb coming out of the water and their pinky entering the water. Underwater they should bend their elbow and push down to the waist, as in freestyle. Remind the child to keep their hips up. If the child has difficulty combing all of the skills together, have them practice the skills independently on land.

Flip Over and Swim

This skill teaches the child how to flip over from their back and swim to safety. Have the child start on their back and drop one should; the shoulder that drops will dictate the way they roll. When they drop the shoulder the bottom arm will stroke while the top arm reaches across the body at the same time turning their head and rolling their body.

Breathing

Finally, you will teach your child how to take a breath while swimming, which will allow them to swim greater distances. Your child may have already taken breaths out of necessity during your lessons but if not, then some rhythmic bobbing might be a good transition into breathing. In this exercise you will bob the child 20 times without stopping. Remind them to breath through their mouth and exhale through their nose.
In the “tap the head” have the child prone glide from the steps to you. Tell them when you “tap, tap, tap” on their head they should breathe out through their nose and look up toward the sky for a new breath. You can let the child use your arm for support until they catch on.
Finally, there is rotary breathing. Have the child sit on the steps and get in the prone glide position with their left cheek and ear in the water. Have them look back towards their right shoulder a quarter turn (to look straight down) and have them breathe out and then back up for a new breath. Have them try it from both sides to see which they prefer.
After the child masters these skills they could join a summer swim league where they would learn the four competitive strokes (butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle). Or they could try other aquatic activity like diving or water polo. From now on your child will have the skills they need to enjoy the water for the rest of their lives.

The Back Glide
Prone Glide
Arm stoke
Jump in and Turn Around
5. Turning Over and Floating
Elementary Backstroke
Backstroke
Flip Over and Swim
Breathing



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Toddler: Ages 2-4
Ages 4 and Older
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