Today is National Learn To Swim Day. Learning how to swim can be scary at first, but once you get comfortable, it can be lots of fun. Here are a few tips for new swimmers:
- First off, you must get comfortable in the water! Start in shallow water or a depth you can handle. The more comfortable you get in the water, the deeper you can start to go.
- We don’t recommend learning to swim by yourself. We highly recommend taking a few swimming lessons. You can also go with a family member or a friend who is a strong swimmer.
- Get used to floating in the water. Start by holding the side of the pool and let your legs float out behind you. Once you’re comfortable with this, try floating on your back and stomach.
- Never panic – should anything happen, you can always float on your back. Don't flail around or start breathing quickly if you can't swim; simply lie back as flat as you can, and let the water carry you while you regain your composure.
- Practice exhaling under water, again starting in the shallow end, by taking a deep breath and putting your face underwater. Slowly exhale out of your nose until you're out of breath, then come back up (bubbles should come out).
Now you’re comfortable in the water, you can start learning the swimming technique.
- Practice kicking your legs. There are three main types of kicks you can practise. It’s best to start by holding on to the side of the pool and practising each of these kicks. Once you’re comfortable, you can then practise these kicks in shallow water:
- Flutter kick – with your legs behind you, keep your legs mostly straight and make small kicks, alternating between legs.
- Frog kick – imagine you’re a frog swimming through a pond! Start with your legs straight and behind you, bend your knees to bring your heels towards your buttocks, move your legs out trying to keep the kick narrow and then squeeze your legs together.
- Eggbeater kick – this kick is commonly used to tread water. Start with your knees bent and your legs slightly wider than hip-width apart. Then "pedal" each leg as you would on a bike, only they'll go in opposite directions: while one leg pedals "forward," the other leg should pedal "backward."
- Now you’ve got the kicking down, it’s time to learn how to crawl. To do the crawl, bring one arm out of the water so that it's "reaching" forward, then bring it back down and use your cupped hand to "push" the water behind you, alternating arms. Combine this with the flutter kick and you’re doing the front crawl!
- Treading water is a super important technique to have mastered. It allows you to stay in a vertical position with your head and shoulders above water. Once you feel comfortable with the eggbeater kick when holding the side of the pool, you can then try to tread water. Do the eggbeater kick listed above, and use your hands to keep your balance by "sculling". This is to keep your forearms flat on the surface of the water, and imagine they're butter knives spreading on a piece of toast. Move one arm in a clockwise circle, and the other arm in a counterclockwise circle.
We highly recommend you seek the help of a professional swim instructor if you’re unsure, uncertain or uncomfortable in the water.