Frequently Asked Questions

Why do you focus on front crawl and back stroke at first?

Pupils need to develop a well streamlined body with the correct head position to aid stroke development and over the years I have found that by concentrating on these strokes until they can hold the correct technique for an extended period makes learning breaststroke and butterfly much easier and quicker in the long term.

Why do you hold the children so much?

Initially we totally support the pupil to enable the body to learn the correct position, as the pupil gains in ability and strength that hold gradually lessons until we are either just guiding the head or tapping where they need to lift the body to the surface. It can look as though the pupil is being ‘held’ a lot but quite often once they are going it is purely a reminder, you may notice them suddenly flounder or collapse and that is because they are totally solo. It just doesn’t help the body build correct muscle memory to flounder madly across the pool as that is all it will remember so the correct technique will be lost. From such small beginnings strong swimmers are made.

Why does my child swim widths so much?

Good stroke technique is hard and hard work, many of my adult pupils are quite surprised at just how hard, so building up muscle memory is faster over a shorter distance. Also they are able to maintain the correct technique over a shorter distance so don’t tend to learn bad habits as they don’t have to ‘struggle’ across the pool – too often I have seen children swimming lengths and starting well but then ending up flailing around to get across and I feel this helps no one. I believe that learning positively is far more beneficial in the long run. A number of my pupils have never swum a length before until a school gala and have surprised themselves and their parents at how the length is easy once the technique is strong.

My child is nervous and doesn’t like getting his face wet- how can I help him?

Unfortunately until the pupil gets used to putting his face in he is not going to learn to swim quickly. As children get to about 2-3 years old they can develop a fear of water and this is perfectly normal, there are several ways to assist him and take the stress away:

- encourage him to blow, as in blowing out candles as this helps learning to breathe and stop water going up his nose and in his mouth. Do this in the bath and turn it into a game, eg how many bubbles can he make, what sort of noises can he make while blowing, how long can he blow for. Gradually get him to put more and more of his face in to blow.

- washing his face with as much water in his hands as possible to get used to the feel of the water on the face, try being different plants to water himself and use different items to water himself with both with his goggles and without.

- it is in his interests to get going as a matter of safety so the most successful pupils have had parents who are encouraging but also matter of fact and act as though it is perfectly normal to put the face in and this positive reinforcement tends to make him realise that there is nothing to be worried about. Please remember that we cannot teach him without your positive support. If there is room in the bath get in with him and water your head and face and allow him to water you and vice versa so he learns there is nothing to worry about.

My child cries before, during and after!!!

This is normal and usually lasts for 4 to 5 lessons. Remember we are new to them and they are also in a new environment so it takes a little while for us to build up their trust. I know it can seem quite daunting to listen to her cry but we do get through this and if anyone is really stressed I can put you in touch with many parents who have been there and now have water confident children. One Mum told me she used to stay outside the changing room until after a few lessons someone fetched her as her son was doing a few strokes with minimal help and she ended up being in tears! I have found that those children who carry on learn from their parents that there isn’t really anything to be scared of. If we work together and their trust in me increases so does their confidence in the water. Remember we cannot gain their trust without your support.

My child doesn’t seem to be doing as well as the others.

Everyone learns at a different rate also everyone’s body is different and some children are physically more mature. The way we teach means that the body learns the correct way as we give the child support while the body gets stronger. Remember when you first learnt to drive and there was so much to remember? Well stroke technique is pretty much the same as there are lots of little bits that make up the total stroke and each bit leads to another. We also teach the pupil and not the class so everyone learns the same things but may learn in a slightly different way or at a different level to suit them – a huge benefit of small groups and being in the water with them.

Why do you make them jump in the deep end even if my child is scared?

Water survival is important, drowning is the third biggest cause of deaths in under 16s in the UK, so we try to make them as water safe and confident as possible. As we are always with them in the water we have found that after the first few times they are so empowered as they realise they can do this which boosts their confidence and self esteem hugely, in fact many parents have said that they have noticed how much more confident their child is in general after a while.

Why do they start formal lessons at 2?

We start formal lessons at 2 as their bodies learn very quickly at this age and also to familiarize them with being in the water from a young age is better for their safety, all little ones have tears and fears at this age and it can be upsetting for parents but in no way are they too young or being put off swimming as they forget very quickly especially if the parents are supportive – see above about crying.

How long does it take to master the strokes?

Swimming well takes a long time and for it to become part of the body’s muscle memory it needs to be practised on a regular basis so while the intensives are a brilliant way to build technique and strength it is the weekly lessons that maintains this, some children give up lessons when they can swim quite well and unfortunately their technique deteriorates quickly through lack of reinforcement. If a child starts with us at 2 they are usually pretty proficient at 12/13 if they do lessons weekly with the odd intensive. We see a lot of children on the intensives whose strokes have broken down and get them back on track over another intensive only for the cycle to repeat itself so it is important to continue with lessons on an ongoing basis if you want strong and safe swimmers, also swimming does wonders for building the body up for other sports.

We are passionate about swimming and love watching our pupils grow from being really scared to strong confident swimmer who love being in the water as well as watching their stroke technique and skills flourish.