Last night I dreamed that I was in a large indoor swimming pool and a group gathered and asked me to teach them. Before we moved to Lake City, we lived near Athens, Georgia and having 6 kids, we (I was outvoted) decided to put in a pool. It was large enough (18X35) and I resumed giving private lessons in diving and swimming.
They offered to pay the tuition and an opening date was set. Most of my students had been kids from 6 months old up. All these were women above 50. To learn to swim and to erase the fear of water is a great challenge. My wife Ann was my assistant, being a good swimmer on her own. In my dream I knew I would not be able to give lessons, so I broke down the fundamentals and was truly surprised how much I remembered and how smart I was.
Fear is the greatest enemy so deal with that first. It’s called, “Water is your friend.” Most of my students would not even put their foot in the pool much less get in. I pushed Ann to the bottom and all were amazed to see her come floating to the top. I used one of the students that was not so fearful and she came floating up like Ann. I turned her on her back and she gave me her head tilting it (with some resistance) she floated. All were amazed. NEVER force anyone in water. That method creates fear, it doesn’t dissolve it. When the class was in ease squatting in the water at the shallow end (4 foot), then we began dipping down to the neck. Holding on the edge of the pool, they put their head under the water. All were amazed that they did not drown. Before the hour was up, they were bouncing up and down with heads under without holding the nose. Lesson one was done.
With three lessons a week out of the series of ten, we used two and three to reacquaint themselves with the marvel of floating. Included in that hour was the PUSH GLIDE. Putting feet up against the wall, head down, breath taken, push and glide across the width of the pool. Over and over, again and again, head floating in the water – push and glide. By the end of lesson three, all accomplished that feat.
Lesson four began with the twin engines called the “FLUTTER KICK“. Keeping the knees stiff and kicking mainly from the hips and stomach muscles, they grasped the basic power of swimming. They learned the principle by putting one hand deep in the water and pushing against the wall and holding on to the edge with the other. This brings the legs and feet to the surface and they practiced and practiced and practiced. Then we moved to combining the “PUSH GLIDE WITH THE FLUTTER KICK“. The heels, not the toes would break water. Without this essential kick, good swimmers cannot advance. The Australian ‘Crawl’ and basic arms strokes rely entirely upon mastering ‘the flutter”. The power of this kick is on the ‘up-stroke’ not the ‘down stroke’. Like pistons, they alternate. When one is up the other is down. Power to maintain movement relies on the flutter kick.
I taught them smooth swimming is not splashing, but is gentle and moves one through the water with ease. When one can swim smoothly for 20 yards, they can swim smoothly for 200 yards. Don’t fight it, love it and use it, for sometime it may save your own life or someone else’s. Practice, practice, practice consumed lesson five, six, seven.
Lesson eight and nine began with the arm stroke. The body in the water turns with the movement of each arm. Reach forward and put your hand in the imaginary can straight in from of the shoulder and as you pull that arm down against the resistance of the water, the other is in equal motion. Like the flutter kick, they alternate. This swimming stroke cannot be done with the head up. Learn to push-glide-kick and stroke without disturbing a lot of water. The feet move you while the arms and hands pull you. 6 stroke power – two feet, two arms, two hands. It takes time and repeated practice to use these six powers.
Lesson ten introduced them to taking a breath while swimming and blowing out all the air under water, and as the head turns with the shoulder and arm, the mouth comes open, take quick breath and repeat the process. You can practice this art when you practice the flutter kick, with one hand down under the water on the wall, and the other holding on to the edge of the pool. With this type of breathing control, you can swim laps, back and forth from one end to the other without stopping. Ten hours of lessons with 43 students, all over 50.
NEVER SWIM ALONE!! These principles are basic, and while I do not teach these arts anymore, I was just thinking of you in my dreams. Take your time. Go slow, perfect each step and so the summers coming, learn to swim.
By the way, 89 percent of the class graduated.