How to Teach a Child to Breath While Swimming

When doing freestyle you turn your head to the side out of the water to breathe. Breathing correctly is a major element in swimming successfully. Later in life many people would like to enjoy swimming for recre­ation but they cannot do so because their breathing is not coordinated properly. The side you breathe on is determined by whether you are right- or left-handed. Right-handed people find it easier to turn their head to the right side, left-handed people find it easier to turn to the left.

Get a waterproof permanent marker and paint a dot on the child’s hand after asking which hand he holds his pencil in at school. As you put the dot on declare that this, from now on, is going to be his breathing arm. If a child is too small to know which hand he holds his pencil in, the surest way to find out whether he or she is right- or left-handed is to ask the mother.

Never talk about right or left, just call the spotted hand the “breathing arm,” and the plain one the “pushing arm.” Keep putting the spot on until such time that when you ask the child, “Which is your breathing arm?” he automatically lifts it up. Using the marker helps greatly because after they go home from their swimming lesson, they carry the dot on their hands for hours, reminding them all the time, “This is my breathing arm.” You will find that the younger they are, the more proudly they wear this mark.

When explaining for the first time, have the chil­dren come out of the water and show them individu­ally what you want them to do. “When your breathing arm comes out of the water, you turn your head back, looking at your breathing arm, and take a b-i-i-i-g breath. When your breathing arm goes into the water, you put your head back in the water too and blow b-i-i-i-g bubbles.” As you explain this, stand behind each child, holding the breathing arm in your right hand while the left hand is on the top of the child’s head. This way you can synchronize the head move­ments with the arms.

Keep telling them to look back on their breathing arm, putting their chin on their shoulder as they breathe in; then, let the head come up, and roll the chin down to the chest as they blow out.

When teaching outdoors, it’s a good idea to let the children do this land drill before they enter the water, otherwise you might have four shivering children un­able to give their attention because they are cold.

If the children are tall enough to stand up comfort­ably in the three-foot six-inch end of the pool, have them walk a certain distance in the pool, practicing the above-mentioned drill, but this time have them put their faces into the water to blow the bubbles. This walking is a good way of getting them to coordi­nate their movements, because if they make a mistake they can hear your instruction to correct it more easily than if they were already swimming. The mistakes they make while walking like this—bending their arms, not lifting their pushing arm when blowing out, jerking their head up, holding on to their breath, and so forth—they will also do when swimming. So it’s important to spot and then correct these mistakes before they start swimming.

If the pool has a fair amount of shallow space in it, they can do a “crocodile walk”: with both hands touching the bottom of the pool, and their legs stretched out completely, they can start walking on their hands. As the breathing arm comes out, they turn their heads back and take a big breath. When the pushing arm comes out, they blow out a big bubble.

When you think of it, turning the head to one particular side only can be a very confusing matter. What you look at changes. For example, when you are swimming down the length of the pool you keep breathing toward the fence. But when you come back you are not looking at the fence, but at the house. If you have the mark on your hand it makes it easier to tell when you should be looking at the fence and when at the house.

When the children have a fair idea of how and when to turn their heads, and when to breathe in and out, the teacher should stand in front of each child and make him swim a short distance.

Filed Under: Sports & Fitness


About the Author: By profession, Ralph Crutcher is a swimmer but enjoys playing football, Golf, and regularly goes to the gym to keep himself fit and healthy. This is one of the reasons; he likes to write about sports and fitness.

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.