Teaching different levels of beginners how to swim

Swimming Development Programme

I know this isn’t to do with my ‘Training’ as such, but a swimming teacher asked the question of me recently:

How do you teach a class of beginners to swim when there are two levels of beginners in the class?
ie. Total beginners and beginners who can swim a little bit.

I’ve been teaching swimming in the ‘Learn to Swim’ Scheme for Glasgow City Council for almost 10 years now, so I’ve had my fair share of teaching beginner children of varying abilities (and characters!) how to swim. 😀

TEACHING CHILDREN OF DIFFERENT ABILITIES TO SWIM
Click here to download the Word document to print out

When you teach children of different abilities to swim, it’s good if you can do it efficiently so that all children gain confidence, progress and learn new abilities.

It’s important that advanced beginners are not neglected (and left bored) whilst you spend time improving the total beginners confidence and abilities. And it’s also important to progress each child individually at whatever level they are currently at.

You want to aim to:

  1. Assess the class and if required, split into groups of ability: Beginner and Advanced beginner.
  2. Use the wave method where you send one group of children to do a drill, then the next group to do the same or another drill. (ie. 4 at a time: Beginners do one drill, Advanced beginners do a more advanced drill).
    (Don’t send children off one at a time as this will reduce class time/learning efficiency).
  3. Push the kids who can do what you’re asking them to do.
  4. Develop the confidence and ability of the total beginners.
  5. Switch your attention between both groups of children and get the class moving so that the children are never left waiting for your instruction.
  6. Spend equal amounts of time with all of the class to improve their individual ability.

The trick is to teach progressive drills to the class and to get the advanced kids to practice the advanced drills whilst you spend time with the beginners.

Here are some other points to consider:

  1. Use pupil demonstration where some children are not able to do certain activities. ie push and glide / kicking action.
  2. Where beginners are unable to progress past a drill, get them to practice the drill they can do.
    (ie If they can’t kick with 1 float, go back to kicking with 2 floats on their front).
  3. Where advanced beginners can do drills, progress them to the next stage and get them to repeat the drill and progress to the next drill, as you spend time with the beginners.
  4. Aim to progress all children to the next level.
    ie. Beginners, from 2 floats to one or none.
    Advanced beginners, from one float to none, or swimming/breathing to side.
  5. Provide continuous feedback to all children in the class.
  6. Make the kids feel at ease and make the lessons fun!

LESSON PLANS

I’ll use a beginner (Seahorse) class as an example and provide a Front Crawl lesson and a Back Crawl lesson:

8 children:
4 beginners competent with 2 floats, possibly not able to put face in.
4 advanced beginners on 1 or no floats, confident putting face in.

FRONT CRAWL

A 30 minute lesson on Front Crawl would look like this:

WARM UP – 5 minutes

Objective:
Warm up, submerge, kicking, assess, group and number class into beginner/advanced (1/2).

Get into pool safely, via stairs.
Jump up and down at wall, submerge, blow bubbles.
(Assess to see which children can confidently go under the water)
Ask children to pick up 1 or 2 floats and show you how they can:
Kick on their front with 1 or 2 floats.
Kick on their back with 1 or 2 floats.
(Show them how to hold 1 or 2 floats).
Assess children based on ability and split into two groups:
Beginners, and Advanced beginners, number them 1 or 2.
Tip: You could write down the grouping on the register for next time.

MAIN SESSION – 20 minutes

Objective:
Advanced beginners should aim to use 1 float, progress to none, then FC swimming.
Beginners should aim to use 2 floats to start, progress to 1 (or none).

Front Crawl Kicking
1. Kicking legs at wall, arms and legs straight. Try to put face in, blow bubbles.
If children are unable to kick well, do pupil demonstration for those who can’t.
2. Kick 5m on back with 1 or 2 floats, head out.
3. Kick 5m on front with 1 or 2 floats, face in.
4. Kick 5m on front with 1 float, face in.
5. Push and glide on front.
If children are unable to do push and glide, do pupil demonstration for those who can’t.
6. Kick 5m on front with 1 float, using push and glide to start.
(One hand holding wall, 2 feet up, 1 hand in front holding float. Push off, face in, kick).
7. Kick 5m on front with no floats, using push and glide to start.
8. Introduce breathing to the side at the wall, and on the float.
If children are unable to breathe to the side at the wall, do pupil demonstration for those who can’t.
9. Kick 5m on front with no floats (push and glide), breathe to the side.
Front Crawl Arms and Swimming
10. FC arms – standing on poolside – Practice recovery arm lift (if required)
11. FC arms with walking (put face in if possible)
12. FC single arm, kicking, with float – Face in if possible, otherwise head up.
13. FC full stroke attempts (if possible)

COOL DOWN / CONTRASTING ACTIVITY – 5 minutes

Objective:
Reinforce submerging, practice floating and improve water confidence.

Floating on front (2 floats, 1 float, no floats).
Floating on back (2 floats, 1 float, no floats).
Submerging, blowing bubbles, splashing.

BACK CRAWL

A 30 minute lesson on Back Crawl would look like this:

WARM UP – 5 minutes

Objective:
Warm up, safe entry, reinforce FC kicking and push and glide.

Group and number class into beginner/advanced (1/2).
Get into pool safely, from side. (2 hands to one side, turn around, slide in)
Jump up and down at wall, submerge, blow bubbles.
Push & glide on front & back.

Reinforce from last week:
Kick 5m with 1 float on front, head out of water.
Kick 5m with 1 float on front, face in, breathing to the side.
Remember grouping (beginner, advanced beginner) from last lesson.

MAIN SESSION – 20 minutes

Objective:
Advanced beginners should aim to use 1 float, progress to none the BC swimming.
Beginners should aim to use 2 floats to start, progress to 1 (or none).

Back Crawl kicking
1. Reminder floating on back, progress to kicking 5m on back.
2. Push and glide on back.
(Push off with 1 float: hold wall with 1 hand, Push off with 2 floats, push off from wall – no hands holding wall).
If children are unable to do push and glide on back, do pupil demonstration for those who can’t.
3. Kick 5m on back with with 1 or 2 floats. (Remember to push off wall)
4. Kick 5m on back with 1 float.
5. Kick 5m on back, arms by side (including push and glide).
6. Kick 5m with 1 float, arms extended above head
7. Kick with arms extended (streamlined) above head, stretch arms (advanced).
Back Crawl arms and swimming
6. Sculling final downsweep, arm start at right angles to body.
7. Standing like soldiers, back crawl arm action.
8. Single arm with 1 float – brush arm past your ear, pinky in first.
9. Single arm without float, one arm glued to your side. Repeat with other arm.
10. Attempt full stroke BC, long continuous arms and legs, hips up, look up.

COOL DOWN / CONTRASTING ACTIVITY – 5 minutes

Objective:
Reinforce entries and exits.

Safe exit using stairs, or climbing out at side.
Repeat safe entry from side, climb out.
Safe entry via stairs, climb out.
Safe entry jumping in, climb out.

This entry was posted in Challenge, Swim Teaching, Training Plans and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s