Odd props used for teaching swimming: mussel shells

Fig.1 Mussel shells

Three times a week I teach swimming to kids age 7-12. All classes run for 45 minutes. Each week we work on a different stroke or school. Every time include some fun in the session and not having them bash up and down the pool doing drills or parts of the stroke. The fun brings them back. At this age make it a drag and they either play up or don’t show.

I do this thing called ‘sea otter’. For one length, 25m, they have to pretend to be a sea otter. I don’t need to show them a picture. Most can visualise it from a natural history film. The sea otter swims into the kelp and pulls up mussels. They bring a rock to the surface too, then lay on their backs, breaking open the shells and eating the content. I take them through the actions: long armed doggie paddle, duck dive to the bottom of the pool, onto their backs at the surface, a gentle flutter kick while they break open the shells, eat the contents, throw away the shell pieces then roll onto their fronts and repeat the exercise. I expect them to do this four to five times as they swim the length of the pool. Some like to make squeaking noises. All grin. All take their improvisation seriously and do a great job.

I tick off the long armed doggie paddle, the duck dive, the push-off the bottom, the flutter kick on their back, and developing fluency and love for the water as all worthwhile. From this they improve their front crawl and back crawl, they make steps towards a tumble-turn and even diving (several don’t, none do well) and they have fun – always deserved after 15/20 minutes of ‘real’ swimming: lengths up and down the pool to warm up, kicking with a float or on their back.

I play other games. Maybe three such interludes for a couple of minutes at most across the session.

Six years of doing this with this club and the teenagers laugh about ‘otter’ some even insisting once in a while to add it to their coached session where they are swimming over 2200m in an hour.

LTAD Learn to Train Girls 8 -11. Boys 9 – 12 years

Learn to TRAIN

LEARN TO TRAIN (SWIM SKILLS)

(Girls 8 to 11 years. Boys 9 to 12 years)

If you experienced it as a parent or saw it over several years through the swimming club, you will have a view on how boys and girls differ and the quite different growth spurts they go through, both physically and mentally.

Personally I’d teach boys separately from the girls ’til they are 15 or 16 – not achievable though.

Don’t you find you have a class splits down the middle where there are equal numbers of girls and boys? And how a boy on his own in a group of girls might not last long? If we’re going to address the problem of so few boys being attracted to or staying in the sport, then clubs should get their heads around the gender differences.

In our club this learn to train phase is at the top end of teaching groups, say grades 7 to 10 (here treating Mini Squad as a teaching level).

Whilst we promote on merit, skills and times being achieved, meeting the entry requirements for squads, if not training groups, we ought to be more conscious of the need to get competent girls out of teaching as they reach 11, while with boys we could run for another year.

Mini Squad at present has girls and boys 8-12 and splits into two distinct groups. To achieve our long-term goals to gain Swim21 Competitive Development Status we need more coming in age 8 (girls), age 9 (boys) so that they are ready to compete for in the age 9 category.  This in turn means bringing them through teaching stages faster, but with not less efficiency. This can only be achieved is the more committed swimmers a) start younger – age 7 into the club; b) swim more often – twice a week initially and three times a week+ from age 8/9; c) talent spotting to fast track skills and stamina into skills groups at both pools.

PHYSICAL

At this stage young athletes show no fear but lack the skill level so accidents can occur. They are extremely active, but they still need to rest. As ligament growth is not yet complete they still cannot withstand too much stress.

COGNITIVE

They show short attention spans and enjoy repetition of fun activities They are eager to learn.

EMOTIONAL

They are sensitive to criticism and need oodles of positive feedback. They are eager to please the coach and are prone to sneak on each other are cliquish & competitive!

THE KEY DRIVERS HERE FOR ME ARE:

Positive feedback

Swimming drills are repetitive anyway, so try to make them fun with constant variety.

Use their eagerness to learn, a few minutes on the side of the pool every week and they can quickly pick up all kinds of valuable lessons.

 

 

Mini, Dives, turns and FC and BC break-out

Mini Dives and Transition in FC and BC

Fun and team-building warm up

  • Hot potato
  • * Push and glide on front
  • * Push and glide on back

Deep End

* Dolphin Kick by lane rope

Re-cap

* Jump from block

* Topple and jump

* Topple and dive

* Dive, glide and dolphin kick (distance challenge)

* Back start, glide and dolphin kic

* Break-out into FC

* Break-out intro BC

100m swim FC

100m BC

 

Rotational Turn

Mid-pool three strokes and flip

Mid-pool to end, Feet on Wall

Push and glide, flip

Push and glide and 1, then 2, then 3 strokes and flip

Check stroke count on BC

IM RELAY 25s or 50s?

Swim Down

(Tunnel ?)