A few weeks ago, Alex's swim teacher (Matt of Akai Swim School)
was holding his arms, asking him to kick and saying, "OK, now put your face in the water!" Alex would gingerly dip his nose, lift it up, lest an extra drop go where it isn't supposed to, and sputter.
Today, he has no fear of water. He jumps, he dives to the bottom, he is reprimanded by the lifeguard on trying to pull stunts while jumping in. He is one step away from being a swimmer: side breathing (lift your head out of the water and take a breath for those who, like me, learned to swim from their pet dog).
The method they use is very unusual and quite amazing.
Step 1: learn to get your head in the water and hold your breath. They do that alongside teaching the kids to jump in the water, kick their feet and learn to accept back-lying position.
Step 2: swim under water by kicking feet only - then come up for air and find your footing)
Step 3: learn to use the arms and put everything together (along with learning to float on the back)
Step 4: side-breathing (completing the basic stroke along with the back stroke)
Until they get to step 4, they are limited by the amount of time they can hold their breath in how far they can swim. However, everything is done under water - something most of us avoid like the plague while we are in the pool. This process builds so much confidence and comfort in the water! And it clearly looks like swimming "the right way". I would like to take an adult course this fall, too. (My pet dog wasn't the best of all swim instructors!)
A key element at Akai
swimming program is the use of an extremely shallow pool for independent practice along with a class pool that allows a 4-yr-old to reach bottom. In my view, it is so important to let the child experience the water outside of his parent's arms and without any swimming props like boards, floaties, noodles and the like. Other swimming programs, like Australian Swimming School
we had a few classes in, just pale by comparison.