1/1/06 - 2/1/06

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Jan 22, 2006

Tips for beginners of all ages (kids, adults) - (Your body as a vessel)

Not Only For Beginners
Now that you have had some time to practice getting used to the water, doing bops, blowing bubbles, putting your face in the water, holding breath and relaxing, it is time we start focusing on floating. However, don't neglect the other drills if you still have some troubles. Be patient and the success will come.

Think of your body as a vessel where your core goes from the mid section of your chest to right below your hips. When floating or swimming the head should be in a neutral position. By neutral, I mean ears just below the surface of the water and your eyes are facing the bottom of the pool. The back of your head is barely dry or even slightly submerged and your suit is no more than 1.5 inches under the surface. If your head is in a negative position, your chin is tucked on your chest and all the water is flowing way over your head (NOT GOOD), just relax your neck and your head will float. If in positive position the water is hitting you on your hairline or your forehead and your legs are sinking (NOT CORRECT EITHER). Always think, eyes to the bottom of the pool, eyes to the bottom of the pool or pretend like you are watching your shadow on the pool floor below you.

streamlined body by jayhem
You can practice getting into the neutral position by performing so called dead man's float. Now, we need to realize that not everyone will float (for example: women float better than men). So if you are not the lucky floater, you will just have to compensate for your none floating in other way (more later). Let's get to the exercise:

- Take a deep breath, put your head in a negative position (chin on chest), be vertical, let your arms down toward hips - you can imagine they are in the pockets (you will have your feet dangling almost straight to the bottom

- VERY SLOWLY start raising your head into the neutral position, with the back of the head right above the surface (even right below the surface), ears under the surface and eyes facing the bottom of the pool. Allow for the hips and legs to ease themselves towards the surface. Do not have any movement in your dangling feet or legs (if done correctly, your hips/legs should rise a little)

- Now, slowly ease shoulders, arms, and hands into the streamline position (position where your arms are above your head - like you are trying to reach with both hands for an apple on a tree). Make sure you do not raise your arms out of the water though, they should rest right below the surface.

(if done correctly, your hips/legs should rise even higher to the surface - see the image below)

Some of you will find yourselves laying on the surface of the water. This is brilliant, well done. Some of you will have your feet still dangling down, however, they should be higher than they were originally. Well done as well. It is not a problem that your feet are not all the way at the surface, you will just have to kick more when swimming or bury your head deeper underwater. Don't worry though, if your feet are not right at the surface, this could be changed by practicing more and more and learning to relax more and more.

You probably ask yourselves. Wow, why is it that my feet are rising. Well, it is simple. Your body acts like a teeter totter (seesaw) with your hips being the axis. Once you get the head in neutral position then stretch the shoulders, arms, and hands in the streamlined position right at the surface, you are adding more weight on one side of the teeter totter/seesaw, so your legs will automatically rise up. I have included a picture of teeter totter below if you don't remember from your younger days :).

Be seen, keep your stuff dry and take a break when needed.

Jan 6, 2006

Tips for beginners of all ages (kids, adults) - (Overcoming my fear of water)

Swimming is a sport that is not natural to everyone. Walking, running, biking, all of these are quite easy to master, however, it takes some coordination and stamina to learn how to swim and to top it all off, before we improve our swim technique, we all have a different swimming style based on our physical ability which makes it that much more challenging. The good news is that everyone can learn how to swim if given the right instructions. Here are a few novice tips that will help you conquer the world of water.

Before getting in the water, let's think about a few things. First, swimming is done in a horizontal position which is not natural for many people. Most beginner swimmers feel disoriented when laying on the water, they sometimes feel as if they will fall down or that they do not have control over their bodies. However, this feeling should be overcome as it is not the case. Try to think of it more as laying down into a nice soft bed. Second, let's stay with the bed analogy. When you lay down to sleep, your body is relaxed, all muscles are loosend up. This is very similar how you should feel when floating in the water. Believe it or not, but the more relaxed you are the easier it is to stay afloat. So listen to Frankie and RELAX. Third, do not use any floating equipment. True, it is easier to kick with a kickboard or rely on some sort of a belt around your waist, however, most folks start getting dependent on the floating equipment and then it is hard to learn to swim the right way. Fourth, BREATHE. Do not hold your breath. Every time you take a breath and put your face into the water, start slowly exhaling bubbles. This will relax you and will let you enjoy your swimming exercise that much more. If you are having trouble breathing, perhaps this drown proofing advice will help. Fifth, do not be afraid, water is your friend. Many have mastered swimming before you, so why shouldn't you :)...

Now let's get to the good stuff. You are probably asking, so what do I do in the pool? How do I start? Well, let's see:

1.) If you are afraid of the water, you should start by standing up in the shallow end of the pool holding the wall and try to squat, so you get your chin close to the water. Breath easily. Once you are comfortable, try to go deeper under water while holding your breath. Now, don't just go up and down quickly, relax and use nice smooth motion to get up and down. If that is ok, try to stay with your head submerged for longer. If you have your goggles, open your eyes, look around you and explore the beauty of the water. Try not to wear any floating devices that would help you with floating. Learning to float on your own is the way to go, so right from the beginning you exercise the correct muscles and body positions. If you really need to have some sense of security, you can try the SafeSwimme safety product

Blowing bubbles by Darkumber
2. Now that we have mastered this, it is time for bubbles. Squat down holding the wall, so your mouth is submerged and start blowing bubbles through your mouth. You are still nice and relaxed and going up, taking a breath, and down, blowing bubbles for a few seconds. Try to increase the time you are under the water blowing bubbles. The exhaling with bubbles helps you relax by not keeping you too uptight while holding your breath.

3. It is time you learn how to stand back up from horizontal swimming position. You are standing up, your arms are at your side, slowly lay on the water facing down while extending your arms above your head. So you end up laying on the water as a tree log stretching your arms as far forward as possible with your palms down. Hold your breath (keep your mouth shut :)) and relax. Your body should be flat, the surface of the water should be hitting you on the back of your hair on top of your head, so get that chin toward your chest. Don't be afraid to even get your head under the water a little. Whenever you are ready to stand up, slowly bring your knees to your chest while keeping your arms extended forward and head under the water. You will notice your body is changing positions from horizontal to vertical. when you butt starts to sink start slowly moving your straight arms (palms facing down) from the front above your head, down toward your hips keeping your arms straight. So, they will make nice half a circle. Then when you are vertical, your face is still in the water, just extend your legs down to the bottom of the pool and rotate your head out of the water (backwards). Voila! Now, try it with exhaling (blowing bubbles) when your head is underwater. This will help you relax more.

If you can master all the swimming skills I discussed above, you should be fairly comfortable being in the water. If not, keep practicing, until you handle 1,2,3 with ease. Good luck and remember, water is not evil. Don't think too much about it, we all have instincts to survive. :)

Update: After you have handled the above with ease, feel free to move on to the next post where I show you how to start your first motion in the H20 or just dive straight into some swim lessons posts.

Learning to swim is priceless and SwimSmooth Learn to Swim DVD is a great start