Acclimation and Safety
In the beginning, it’s all about water acclimation—getting them comfortable in the water. Their parents are in the water at the very beginning of those lessons. Mommy. Daddy. Nanny. Me. Grandma or Grandpa’s fun when they come in sometimes. It’s all an opportunity to get the kids working toward being comfortable in the water.
And there are little safety things. We teach them right from the beginning because, after all, that’s what’s probably the most important thing we’re getting out of this whole ‘learning to swim’ process: how they’re safe around the water. And it’s a skill they’ll have for the rest of their lives.
We teach them different things—learning how to crawl out of the water is really important, especially when they’re small. They fall in… we teach them how to crawl out of the water. One of the things we do regularly, as part of this whole little progression, is having them jump in and turn around and hold on to the wall that they just dropped off from.
So many kids get into trouble if they fall or they’re pushed into the water; they try to get to the other side. And they can’t get there, and that’s when they get into trouble. If they’ve learned through our lessons where they jump in and turn right around and hold on, they’re going to be safe.
Monkeys and Marshmallows
The monkey crawl is another safety thing, but it’s fun: how to hold onto the wall. If you fall off or you just want to get around the pool and you’re not really swimming yet, we do a monkey crawl. And they’re holding on to the poolside, using their own strength. And it’s kind of a fun little game as they start to get better.
We just made up the term ‘monkey swim’ because they’re in their little learn-to-swim—progressive, learn-to-swim vests—and now they’re starting to swim on their own, kicking and scooping their arms, maybe getting their face in the water while they’re doing it. The little learn-to-swim vests are really important because it helps the kids get in the right position in the water.
But they’ve all got marshmallow centers: they have no core strength.
The other kids don’t like it, but they’re just as bad. It’s just another thing for their muscle memories, how their bodies are going to be positioned in the water.