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Preparing Beginning Swimmers for Freestyle

Today’s video reviews the basic progression that I follow when teaching beginning swimmers freestyle. Throughout this progression, a proper face down head position is essential. With most beginning swimmers, the higher the head, the lower the feet. That’s ultimately why we learn side-breathing, but even when we’re on our side, if the head goes up, the feet sink down.

So, when we’re teaching floats and glides, proper head position is important. If I try to float in a heads up position, my legs start to sink down. While I’m able to maintain a heads up glide by kicking, most beginning swimmers don’t have very efficient kicks, and their feet will sink down to the bottom.

In addition to proper head position, there are other skills that we can introduce when teaching floats and glides that will enable our students to learn side-breathing easier. When we’re teaching front and back floats, we also need to be teaching our students how to roll over from front to back. Once again, proper head position is important. Heads up rollovers often lead to heads up breathing.

When demonstrating rollovers, we should always push with our hand, turn our head, and twist our shoulders. Watch as I, push,turn… push, turn… push, turn, twist. Rollover = Push,Turn, Twist

When teaching front glides, we should also introduce side-glides. While the video shows me performing this skill on my own, if I was working with a beginning swimmer, I’d be supporting their outstretched arm, helping them turn their head,and twist their shoulders into a proper side-glide position. We want them to be comfortable in this position.I often tell the kids that this is the “shark” glide position.

Watch as I string these beginning skills together: front glide, rollover, side-glide.What’s it starting to look like? Front glide, rollover, side-glide. It should start to look a lot like side-breathing.

If we look at our basic progression now, it looks a little more detailed. By emphasizing proper head position, rollovers, and side-glides early in the progression, we can prepare our students for side-breathing. Once they get comfortable with side-breathing, the progression continues,and we can begin working on more advanced skills like a more efficient pull, six-beat kick, Hypoxic breathing, et cetera.

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Written by Chris B.

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