It’s summertime! You know what that means? Besides pool hair and buckets of sunscreen? There are more people in the water! More people who want to learn to swim! Summer is our busiest season and you might notice the lanes getting a little crowded. Not to worry! One with the Water is committed to the best practices in coaching and Coach Mohammed is going to share with you our philosophy on learning to swim safely and successfully.
The National Safety Council reports that there are over 7,000 drowning deaths nationally each year. Drowning accidents are the leading cause of death and injury of children under 5 years of age. Drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related death among children under the age of 15. (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
You can imagine how important it is for a parent to want their kids to learn how to swim. Parents in Southern California are willing to spend any amount to make sure their children will be safe in the ocean or at pool parties. We have made it our mission to provide everyone access to the lifesaving skill of swimming, especially children and adults with high risk, high needs, and limited resources. To that end, we offer the best program in southern CA. What sets us apart from the competition is the way we teach each class.
I’m here to answer the question, “Do coaches/instructors really need more than 8-10 meters to teach someone how to swim?”
Learn to swim in ten meters or less.
Inside the brain, information is transmitted through neurons. Human skill is created by chains of nerve fibers carrying a tiny electrical impulse from the brain to the body through these neurons. Myelin is the insulation that wraps around the nerve fibers in our brains and increases signal strength, speed and accuracy. Myelin is produced by a person thinking about and analyzing skill situations themselves. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, “The purpose of the myelin sheath is to allow impulses to transmit quickly and efficiently along the nerve cells.” In laymen’s terms, the more we do a skill, the thicker the myelin layers will be, and as a result, the better and faster we are able to do that skill.
Thus, it is important to make sure that you or your children do the CORRECT skills over and over and over again, and do them correctly. When someone who does not know how to swim is being introduced to swimming skills, he or she needs to only do the skills perfectly in a very small space. Once the swimmer is no longer able to perform the skills perfectly: they should stop, think about what they did wrong, and start over again to do the skills correctly.
This type of practice is called deep practice. We do not want you or your children taking more than one wrong or bad stroke. If they take more than one, the myelin layers thicken and swimmers create “bad habits.” Therefore, it becomes unnecessary for a coach to have a new swimmer swim more than a few strokes. Once we are able to thicken the myelin layers by doing the skills correctly over and over again, we can start having swimmers go beyond the 10 meters mark.
To quote Olympic Coach Dave Kelsheimer, “Swimming more than 8 meters becomes a different sport for swimmers under 8. It is just like asking a sprinter (50/100) to swim the mile or the 10K.” For this reason, USA Swimming sanctioned meets mostly offer 25 yard events to swimmers 8 and under. We also see this type of short distance training in other sports like soccer and tennis as well. By making the playing field smaller, we are forcing the athletes to be faster, more precise, and more aware of their form/technique.
The bottom line is that we do not need more than 8-10 meters to teach you or your children how to swim or improve skills. Doing laps only becomes necessary when swimmers need to increase endurance, which should only occur after the swimmer has learned the skills. Forcing swimmers to do more than 8-10 meters only makes them not enjoy the lesson, learn to swim with bad form, and overtired. We take our time to teach you the basics (balance, kicking, etc.) in the short distance to ensure you are learning proper form and practicing it correctly.
In short, you can learn to swim in ten meters or less, and we can teach you.
You can be a hero.
Have you seen what swimming can do? Do you want to help empower others to overcome their fears and be confident, safe and successful in the water?Partner with us today to teach economically disadvantaged families, special needs children, and Service-Disabled Veterans to become One with the Water! You can be a hero to those that lack traditional access to swimming and swimming lessons.
Molly is a member of our creative team, mom of four water-loving babies, and a fierce advocate for CPR training and really early swim instruction.