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Matej Grožaj
SWIMMATT
Personal coach
Z-Health Practitioner
Bratislava

Everything you need to know about children's swimming training




If you are a parent, grandparent, relative, or family friend looking for swimming training for a child but are unsure about which training to choose or how to formulate your training requirements, you are in the right place.😊


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In this post, I will use information and videos from my many years of experience to present the concept of children's swimming training through specific examples, allowing you to form a realistic idea of what to expect for your child at each stage of my swimming program. This will help you better choose the level at which you want your child to participate. Additionally, you will understand the complexity and time commitment of the chosen training. You will also be better equipped to articulate your desires and adjust your expectations at the outset.


Children’s swimming training - Training levels:

  • Preparatory

  • Basic

  • Intermediate

  • Advanced


Each of the training levels has its justification and always precedes the next higher level. The level at which a child begins training is determined after my initial assessment of the child on land, and if the child already has swimming experience, also in the water.

 

Preparatory level


For complete beginners, thorough physical and mental preparation is important over a period of 1 to 1.5 years in a shallow pool (approximately the duration for training once a week). In such a pool, the depth should be minimal so that the child can stand on the bottom without needing to submerge their head. The water in the pool should be warmer to ensure that the training remains enjoyable for the child, even with lower initial physical activity.


Many parents often ask me if it's possible to shorten the time needed to transition to the large pool. Well, it's possible, it requires a higher frequency of training sessions per week.

The speed of progression is significantly influenced by the child's health, age, temperament, and upbringing, as well as the combination of these factors. It may take longer for children with health issues, insufficient mental maturity, younger age, dependence, or those without prior physical preparation on land (not only targeted sports physical preparation but also time devoted to physical activity such as playing on the playground, with a ball, on a scooter, and so on).


During this phase of training, the child acquires various swimming skills for the aquatic environment, such as breathing, spatial orientation, understanding of the environment, sitting on the bottom, floating, submersion, object retrieval, swimming, as well as coping with unpleasant experiences, such as accidentally inhaling water during training.

 

According to the child's progress, I tailor this preparation to their needs. Additionally, I consistently inform parents about the progress, which actually applies to every training level.


 

Basic level


In this section, you will be accompanied by Terka, Miška, Paulínka, and Dávid in the videos. All of them underwent thorough physical and mental preparation under my guidance over a period of 1 to 1.5 years before transitioning to the large pool.

 

The timing of the transition to the large pool needs to be well-planned, as children are alone in the large pool from their first training session.

Incorrect timing can cause a child to struggle with the stress of the large pool and may lead to a mental block. The stress arises from the change in environment, which is entirely unfamiliar, as well as the cold, which is a shock not only to the body but also to the mind (more information in the blog Why it is important to understand emotions in swimming).


In the videos, you will see the children swimming in a 25-meter pool without my personal presence in the water. They will demonstrate sitting on the bottom, floating, object retrieval, and other exercises. Their movement corresponds to approximately the 3rd to 6th training session in the large pool, at which point they have stabilized mentally.


Children are not dependent on any swimming aids during this phase of training. What they fully rely on at this stage is their understanding of the current limits of their own bodies.

They have learned, at a relatively young age, to perceive their body's signals well, first on dry land and subsequently in water, without the need for any swimming aids.


Children naturally have more potential than they currently demonstrate. However, it's not desirable to put too much pressure on them at this stage. They need space and time. It's entirely natural that at their age, they have concerns, and uncertainty temporarily affects their current physical expression. By gaining sufficient experience in the water, children will learn to respect their body's signals and make the right decisions at the right time based on this.


Video - Toy retrieval in the deepest part of the pool (depth 1,8m)

In the individual recordings, you can see how some children can repeatedly dive for toys without any issues, calmly resurface, or, if needed, swim back to the pool's edge without panic and take a break. They are aware of when and how to take a real break to rest before diving again.


In practice, this means that children do not endanger themselves; they understand what could happen to them. They have learned this during training. If they decide to resurface earlier, that's okay. Their body told them that they weren't ready, and based on that, they chose the right strategy to reach safety. These children can prepare for another attempt, knowing very well how they should feel or how their body should behave for the next attempt to be successful.


Video - Sitting on the bottom

Children already have enough experience to safely sit on the bottom and subsequently hold their breath when they feel secure. This teaches them to perceive time based on emotions - they don't know how much time has passed, but they know how they feel. They are aware of the volume of air they hold, how long it takes to resurface, and how much air they will need. As I mentioned at the beginning, they have to ensure their own safety. They remember well the attempts when they didn't estimate correctly. This past experience is so firmly ingrained in their memory that they will do everything to avoid experiencing that unpleasant state again.


Video - Floating on the surface

Children have mastered breath control, allowing them to repeatedly maintain a face-down position on the surface. This awareness is crucial for calming a child's mind. It gives children time to calmly consider their next steps while holding their breath. For example, they can peacefully map out the bottom where toys are located around them. After taking a breath, they can then proceed to retrieve toys or, for instance, observe marine life while on vacation by the sea😊.



Video – Swimming


Children demonstrate a calm movement of their bodies forward without signs of panic. Calmness is especially important when lifting their heads out of the water to take a breath. It also enables them to float easily on the surface and smoothly perform natural movements. The quality and technique of such movement are closely linked to the current level of mental development.




Video - Swimming and toy retrieval in pairs


An example of how training can work in pairs.


Terka, Miška, Paulínka, and Dávid eagerly and repeatedly return to the water. The large pool has opened up new possibilities for them, where they can gain new life experiences and at the same time improve those previously acquired. Their internal motivation has strengthened as they have realized that they are capable of fulfilling their own desires and needs in the water.


Their age, level of brain development, as well as physiological limits currently allow them to spend a maximum of 30-40 minutes in the large pool. This duration prevents unnecessary cooling and avoids the possibility of catching a cold.

 

Intermediate level


In this section, you will be guided by Hanka, Dominika, Leila, Zaira, Adam, and Anička with their practical demonstrations of the techniques for the backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle, and backstroke technique with arms together.


The first four videos focus on demonstrating the complete techniques of the freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and backstroke technique with arms together. These represent the final stage of the techniques, without preparatory exercises that precede the practice of the entire swimming techniques.


Breaststroke - the entire technique:

Backstroke – the entire technique:

Freestyle – the entire technique:

Double arms backstroke – the entire technique:

More on the double arm back stroke technique also in other blogs: Compensatory swimming and Compensatory swimming after an injury.


The children reached this stage only after thoroughly mastering the basic movements. Training requires time and patience from all involved.


If the children were unable to perform the individual preparatory exercises and instead immediately adopted the entire swimming technique, it would likely lead to spinal damage (in the form of pathological scoliosis), headaches (migraines), and potentially other complications in other parts of the body.

In the videos below, children demonstrate individual preparatory exercises:




Freestyle - detail: https://youtu.be/PmsKwHoTJQg


Backstroke technique with arms together - detail:

 

 

Advanced level


In this section, you will be guided by Adam with his advanced breaststroke swimming techniques as well as demonstrations of other exercises. If you are interested in the whole training story of Adam from the age of 5, you can find it in this blog.


Video – Breaststroke technique and its modifications:

Adam demonstrates the breaststroke technique as a coordination exercise. In the video, he showcases the ability to float on his side using only arm movements, leg movements, or a combination of both. This type of movement allows Adam to feel even more secure in the water. Why? In the event of an injury, he is able to stay afloat even with minimal limb movement and swim to safety.

 



Video – Restriction of movement:

Adam demonstrates kicking, jumping, swimming on the stomach and back using a diverse combination of movements. Additionally, he consciously restricts his arms, showcasing his ability to cope with various situations. Without a healthy self-confidence, built on rich training experiences in the water, current limits of his own body, and the ability to regulate his own emotions, he wouldn't be able to achieve this level.

 



Video – further advanced exercises:

 

In conclusion...


Throughout the ages, human kind naturally seeks to simplify various processes and methodologies that are intended to help us and future generations progress more quickly. I myself strive for this with each child, applying a methodology based on previous experiences with other children, as well as new insights from educational courses abroad. Naturally, this results in more efficient progress, meaning less time and cost for the training process for parents.


Nevertheless, it is important to realize that each child is unique. In practice, this means that each child requires a different approach, finding the right way to present information and allowing time for individual physical and mental development on land as well as in the water.

It is important to bear in mind that children do not choose what they want to experience in the water and what they do not. Children must actively learn to face many dangers, they must recognize them under professional supervision. Their behavior in the water must always be based on their own life experiences. Under my guidance, children are led to build healthy self-confidence, which is based on real-life experiences from joint training on land and in the water.


As children become familiar with their own body movements, they learn patience, concentration, and self-discipline. They have the opportunity to develop critical thinking, learn to accept setbacks in the water, and understand how to use their emotions to fulfill their desires in the water.

Parents often tell me upon returning from vacation that their child swims so beautifully and is no longer afraid at all. They see for themselves how their child behaves naturally in the water after pool training, regardless of the depth and without the need for any swimming aids. This is a positive result of the hard training and effort put in by the children themselves.


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If you like my training system, don't hesitate to contact me and enroll your child for the first trial session. I look forward to it!


Please also check out more information about children's swimming training HERE.



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