When you first start out swimming, it can be daunting, but the more technique you learn, the easier it becomes. You’re able to worry less about staying afloat in the water, and instead, coordinate your body, maintain a satisfying speed, and do it all without injuring yourself.
When it comes to kids becoming comfortable at the pool, the same applies. A bit of know-how does wonders when it comes to pool confidence. Knowing how to perform the major swimming strokes, how to use correct breathing, and how to be safe around water, ensures kids have an enjoyable experience. The best way to ensure this? With kids swimming lessons of course.
Why improving swimming technique is a good idea
Few would say they enjoyed the part of learning to ride a bike that involved falling off more than staying on. The same may be said for swimming. Splashing about in the water is fun, but working on technique (and sometimes falling short of perfection) can be a challenge.
But good technique can make swimming much more enjoyable, and kids swimming lessons will enable your child to:
- be able to swim laps faster using proper technique
- avoid the risk of muscle strains/injuries
- learn to breathe correctly during swimming, and thus swim more efficiently, maintain pace, and not run out of puff
- use muscles correctly and reap the benefits for their fitness that swimming offers
- eventually be able to participate in swimming races if it interests them.
What techniques are taught in swimming lessons for kids?
In Kingswim’s Independent level of classes (for kids ready to enter the pool without their parents), kids learn how to maintain basic body position in the water, how to kick, do a front overarm stroke, back kick with scull, backstroke and freestyle breathing.
The next stage is the Competent level of swimming lessons for kids, where they learn additional strokes like breaststroke, freestyle, plus water survival and dive and safety step entries.
Beyond that, in the Graduate level of kids swimming lessons, they learn more advanced stroke and technique including butterfly stroke, endurance (swimming greater lengths without stopping), and water survival in clothes.
During all these phases, a number of techniques are taught. Here are some of the main tips and tricks we share along the way.
Top tips for improved swimming technique
Good breathing makes swimming easier
Many kids hold their breath when they swim, making them easily tire out. Taking regular breaths that coordinate with strokes is essential for staying relaxed in the pool and not over-exerting. It’s also important:
- to avoid over-inhaling (taking in more air than needed for each stroke)
- to breathe out when your head is in the water, and in when it’s out of the water. It sounds obvious, but it doesn’t necessarily come naturally to new swimmers, and they often swallow water.
Tip: A great way to practise breathing technique in the pool is to remain stationary, and practise strokes and breathing without the pressure of swimming a lap. Then, add swimming short distances with correct breathing as you grow more confident.
When doing freestyle, look down rather than ahead. When you look ahead, your head is raised and your hips sink lower than the rest of your body. When your hips drop, you have to kick even harder to keep yourself afloat and progress forward, and you’ll tire out. (You might also get a sore neck.)
Don’t lift your head up to breathe
For the same reason as looking down rather than ahead, when doing freestyle you don’t want to lift your head up to breathe, as again, your hips will drop. Instead, roll to the side with the stroke and lift your mouth slightly out of the water (enough to breathe, but no more). This will take a lot of practise, because you also don’t want to over roll your body, as your body will end up thrashing from side to side, and that is wasted energy.
Ask for advice
Your child’s swim teacher is there for a reason, so get as much information out of them as you can. They can easily look at your child’s stroke and be able to pinpoint exactly what’s causing any problems, and they’ll have the advice to fix the technique.
Practice makes perfect
Swimming prowess comes to no one easily. It’s only with a lot of focus and practice that things fall into place. The more time spent at the pool working on swimming strokes, the better those strokes will be (if the right technique is being used of course).
A great way to get a short, sharp burst of swimming practice, is through taking part in an intensive swim program. School holiday swimming programs are generally the most suitable way for families to get their kids to the pool in a condensed format like this. The Kingswim Fast Track program, for example, runs over 4 consecutive days, with each day building on skills from the day prior. Kids get a really well-supported opportunity to focus on their swimming at their current level, and the chance to push a little further to progress in the pool. When they receive their completion certificate on Day 4, they feel a real sense of achievement.
Before we end our advice on how to improve your kid’s swimming skills, here’s our final, and most important, tip.
The most important thing to remember to do when working with your child on their swim technique is to have fun in the pool. If too much focus is on the technical aspects of swimming, they might forget to just enjoy their time in the water. As your child will have many years ahead of them in the pool, they don’t need to perfect everything right now, and if a technique particularly interests them, they’ll practise it whether you ask them to or not. So, keep things light.