A guide on how to use SwimFin for your swimming lessons
These tips can help guide you as a swimming instructor and allow you to think about how SwimFin could be used within your swimming lesson plans with a group or one-on-one.
A few key points to remember:
- There are no rules on how to use SwimFin
- Imagination and teaching knowledge is the key to delivering a successful lesson
- How it works for one user is different to how it works for the next
- The child’s perspective of a SwimFin needs to be taken into account
The advantages of SwimFin compared to other buoyancy aids:
- Essentially it’s fun
- Used on the back so it’s out of the way
- Allows freedom with no restriction to the arms and legs
- Works on all ages, all strokes and all abilities
- Strong and durable
- Teaching aid
- Buoyancy aid
- Fun water toy
- Psychological tool
Most importantly, every swimming lesson has to be in a happy environment if the children are to enjoy their time in the water. When a child first observes a SwimFin sitting on the side of the pool, they are immediately drawn to the ‘fun’ factor. In almost every case when given a choice between armbands etc or a SwimFin, their sense of play comes into force.
Unlike armbands, body vests, and costumes with floats attached, SwimFin is placed high on the back by two adjustable elasticated hook & loop straps allowing total freedom of the arms and legs. It’s very difficult to move through the water with other buoyancy aids due to the resistance they cause. SwimFin’s patented profile design allows easier movement through the water.
No other piece of equipment can be used on all four strokes from beginner level to more advanced. Plus it has the ability to replace a kickboard (floats) and pull buoys.
SwimFin is not only a buoyancy aid. It’s the only piece of equipment in the world that can be used on every ability from the very young, (generally from around 18 months up to adults, and one size works for everyone). It is recommended that a young child needs to have the ability to control their head – ie: be able to lift it above the water level. Although not designed to tip a child forward, on the very smallest – youngest child this may happen in the early stages until the child is strong enough to work with it. The positioning of SwimFin is above the center of gravity so this should suspend the child with their chin on the water and legs hanging down. The development of SwimFin allows it to support the heavier user. It is guaranteed to keep an adult afloat (tried and tested by adults/instructors).
SwimFin must NEVER be worn on the front of the body.
Swimming strokes and the most common teaching practices
The teacher needs to keep in mind what works well for one child might not necessarily work for the next. It’s a huge advantage if the teaching knowledge and ability are imaginative and adaptable.
SwimFin is useful for teaching forward and back rolls. It assists to maintain the body from rolling sideways and once past the center point of the roll will assist in a quicker recovery, aiding the children to the surface sooner and with less panic. Progression will take them to turn at the wall.
SwimFin is a great tool for playing all types of water games that boost confidence!
Simple games like tag, one shark chasing all the fishes. SwimFin can be used to identify a beginner, (eg red for danger). Progression within the groups, similarly to graded belts in judo (black belt = black SwimFin). It can be used as a reward, the best achiever gets to wear the Orange SwimFin for example!
The most common swimming strokes
For the basic doggy paddle to progressive stages, it’s a great step forward if the child can go prone, with the face in the water. We use SwimFin as a shark, fish, whale, dolphin, etc – imagination and play here are key. The more the child becomes horizontal the more SwimFin rises above the water level. The part that is out of the water is no longer working as buoyancy, this saves us having to inflate, deflate, add or remove additional buoyancy. When the user is face down and SwimFin is clearly out of the water, the beginner is then buoyancy aid free ie. SwimFin is self-adjusting. An added bonus is it’s very easy to regain a safe safe vertical or upright position. Most teachers see the advantage from this one exercise alone.
Learning to breathe
For the basic doggy paddle to progressive stages, it’s a great step forward if the child can go prone, with the face in the water. We use SwimFin as a shark, fish, whale, dolphin, etc – imagination and play here is key. The more the child becomes horizontal the more SwimFin rises above the water level. The part that is out of the water is no longer working as buoyancy, this saves us having to inflate, deflate, add or remove additional buoyancy. When the user is face down and SwimFin is clearly out of the water, the beginner is then buoyancy aid free ie. SwimFin is self-adjusting. An added bonus is it’s very easy to regain a safe safe vertical or upright position. Most teachers see the advantage from this one exercise alone.
Another way SwimFin can be used for the front crawl is the measurement of body roll when breathing. It is often apparent that most children will roll to excess when breathing. When the body is horizontal and the body roll reaches a point of 90 degrees, the user will feel the resistance and should be encouraged to turn the head more. and not the body. As an observational tool, two swimmers can be compared within a group situation. The object of the exercise is to see who can swim front crawl keeping SwimFin vertical and steady. It’s inevitable during progression that a swimmer will be twisting the head, shoulders, and hips, but with a SwimFin on, it will be clearly visible to notice these faults. A simple teaching point would be to ask the swimmer to keep SwimFin vertical and steady.
This will save complicated instructions generally given, i.e., working with center lines and shoulder lines. They work it out for themselves as they are aware of what’s happening due to the demonstration between a shaky SwimFin and a steady SwimFin. More complicated drills can be used for more able swimmers, for example, one arm extended whilst the other works or one arm behind the back. This exercise will encourage awareness and develop a stronger stroke.
Certainly, within the early stages, SwimFin works like an invisible hand. Most children panic when put on their back for the first time. Their arms come out of the water in a panic trying to grab whatever they can, namely the teacher! With encouragement, they can be introduced to the body position gradually. There is no immediate rush, let the children do it in their time. They already know SwimFin will support them and trust it. Simply by asking the beginner to start vertical and gradually leaning their heads then shoulders backward, a supine position will take shape. Probably the hardest thing a child has to learn when using SwimFin is their body balance on their back. This is easily rectified by asking for a star position. The arms then act like stabilizers on a bike.
Once comfortable the legs can be used as a continuous and alternating action giving the child gentle propulsion, but support at the same time. Once the balance is established then simply rolling a shoulder SwimFin will rotate the swimmer into an upright position. This action gives the user vast confidence as they are in control and may stop whenever they feel. But because of the support they generally carry on allowing the strokes to be practiced. SwimFin will teach them how to use their body balance, usually, the lazier swimmers find this a little more taxing. This rolling movement becomes a massive advantage for the more able swimmers, it will let them know if their body is straight.
The profile design will allow only minimal resistance when traveling through the water. By using different drills, arms beside the body, arms extended in line with the body, one-arm exercises, etc, all shift the center of gravity encouraging inner core development.
With breaststroke, SwimFin will offer thinking time. It is common with all beginners when learning this particular stroke to push their hands down in the water, the main object of this is keeping their faces above. Also, a child’s perception of learning this stroke is probably the same as teaching an adult to unicycle and juggle at the same time. If there was someone to steady the unicycle then the process of juggling becomes easier. SwimFin offers that support to the child without being restrictive. We cannot teach breaststroke efficiently if they have the obstruction of a woggle, armbands or body vest, etc. With maximum support offered from SwimFin we can actually have the child bobbing in the water.
By copying the arm movements of the instructor and by using the correct teaching points then the swimmer will improve the prone position and in return raising SwimFin out of the water thus offering less support.
If we imagine the arms have improved and we start to focus on the leg action, the problem arises where the arms are working at one time in one direction and the legs are working at a different time in a different direction. How long did it take you to pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time? Full stroke is confusing and takes lots of practice and the swimmers always struggle, possibly panic or simply have arms and legs all over the place. The reassurance they have knowing they are supported will allow them to slow the exercise down and practice, practice, practice. Breaststroke legs can be practiced similarly as they would be on backstroke, i.e., the invisible hand but the freedom and confidence to continue.
If you were to ask a child what undulation means wouldn’t they have a clue! But if you asked the child to swim like a dolphin do you think they would understand better? SwimFin turns the child into an imaginary dolphin emulating the body action. It goes without saying that instruction/demonstration and effective teaching points are important, certainly if it’s in the early stages of the butterfly stroke. A powerful kick is equally important as a strong upper body. Games can be introduced on the front and back to develop the leg action. Swimming through hoops on the front, the kids love it!
As previously mentioned, SwimFin is out of the water, so no arm restrictions. Once the undulation improves and the body submerges under the water, then in theory SwimFin will assist them (with a powerful leg kick) to gain more height out of the water to assist recovery of the arms. What is really useful, fun, and demanding for the advanced fly kickers is to set challenges. See who can swim the furthest underwater (not on top). SwimFin now becomes a training tool. If the swimmer is off-balance, SwimFin will try to turn him or her over. If the swimmer has a weak leg kick SwimFin will bring him/her to the surface. The only way the swimmer can maintain submersion is to super stretch, keep straight, and powerful kick.
Set distances within the group, who can get the furthest etc. When they’re at this level, they are here to work hard and have fun at the same time!