Wow! What an experience and honor it has been for me to get back into teaching adults, infants, children and parents how to have fun and relax in the water.
After over 50 years of being away from teaching swimming, I have been rewarded with meeting people from all walks of life and their children. And believe me I never, ever thought I would teach again.
I've had the pleasure with helping doctors, lawyers, sales folks, tech folks, investors, nurses and many others from various walks of life enjoy the water and learn to swim.
What I have known and learned again is that there is no cookie cutter method in teaching swimming at any level. We each will progress at our own pace from infants to adults. We can guide them but cannot force them! Even though I have been a WSI, lifeguard and swimmer my early years in the water taught me everything I needed to know about teaching swimming at all levels to all ages. And my recent experience has just solidified this ingrained understanding that it is important to make it fun and relaxing.
I have to thank my father who was the "real deal" in swimming that made my learning experience a fun and relaxing experience. And the philosophy I use is his in teaching swimming…make it fun and relaxing…I can't say it enough.
With those that I have worked with over the last year or so the infants and children in the main adapt very quickly…however, it is sometimes difficult for the very-well-intentioned parents to deal with the initial swimming and learning process. In fact there is more than one father of an infant that has looked at me like they wanted to shoot me when their child first goes under water. But, very quickly the joy that the child shows filters into the parents and everyone relaxes.
I do not believe in forcing any part of the learning process. And with each student it needs to be a progression that is comfortable for each student. It is in the student's time…not a set amount of lessons or time frame. The infants and children in some cases are startled when they put their face in the water or go underwater for the first time but that soon turns to joy.
I've found that a key to the infant lessons is not only to make it fun and relaxing but to have one or more of the parents involved in the process. This is especially important in the first series of lessons. Infants need to feel safe and be happy and who better than their parents can do that? And depending on the infant/child I may rarely have physical contact with the infant. It's what works that counts and what enables the student to learn. Not a preconceived set of rigid processes.
Once the parents see what is happening and buy into it they relax and the child progresses easier. So, lesson learned…make sure the parents are completely involved within the learning process.
As I mentioned I was lucky and my father made it easy for me. So easy I don't remember ever being taught anything about swimming. But, he developed me into a competitive swimmer and enabled me to become a lifeguard and instructor much easier than it could have been. And the greatest joy was starting my own two boys at 3 months and 6 months old on the path of truly enjoying being in and around the water including swimming competitively and lifeguarding. But most of all being in and around the water was and is a family and fun activity that is safe and healthy. The feeling of creating a safe environment for our children and family was very rewarding. The better and more knowledgeable someone is about the water the safer it will be for them and those that they care about.
Today, my grandchildren all swim and couple competitively and one is a lifeguard while attending college. So, it has been passed on and hopefully will continue with future generations of our family.
Are you a retired teacher who would like a fun and rewarding part-time job working with students on their swimming skills? Learn more about becoming a swim instructor with Sunsational Swim School and get back in the pool today!
Douglas McCrea’s bio:
Hi, I’m Coach Doug. I’ve certified 1000s and taught 100s to swim. I help children & families have fun in the water while making sure, water safety and swimming become second nature. I've taught-beginners-advanced & special needs. PSU & Temple -BA. Lifeguard, Scuba/Free diver, CPR Cert, swimmer. USAF:WSI & LG at camp that trained medical per jungle survival skills, YMCA WSI. Learn the skills to enjoy a lifetime of fun and safety in the water.