Very recently I visited my local swimming pool to observe two new clients of mine who regularly took part in group swimming lessons. To say I was shocked at the lack of interest from the swimming instructor would be an understatement. I am not willing to accept that she was having an off-day.
There are many adults, and children who are anxious, or have a fear of water and desperately want to learn, and enjoy their swimming journey. The majority of these people will book lessons at their local authority swimming pool, expecting understanding, and enthusiasm from the teacher.
More than 25 years ago, I qualified in England with the ASA as a swimming teacher, and in 1999 I gained my diploma as a Shaw Method Swimming Teacher, which applies the principles of The Alexander Technique. Since then I have been gaining knowledge to help me in my quest to teach adults with skill, knowledge, empathy and humor.
My understanding of a swimming teacher is they need to have a proficient knowledge of scientific principles, physiology and psychology; coupled with the ability to apply them to the individual is vital. Thoroughly understanding these elements allows the teacher to work within the capabilities of the non-swimmer, or swimmer, both physically and mentally, adapt the strokes, and achieve a comfort level within every session.
As adults we feel emotions of inadequacy and this is fully exposed in a swimsuit so its important adults feel safe before they can relax and learn. When working with people who have had traumatic experiences they first have to accept their fear, and then they need to learn how to trust themselves in unfamiliar territory. This takes time, patience and understanding from the teacher.
When teaching adults the pace must be slow, and dictated by the individual or group. The most important skill you need as a teacher is to read the individual's face and body language and have the empathy to know when to be sympathetic, and when a little pushing is required.
Before learning to swim it is imperative that the pupil needs to know the fundamentals of breathing patterns above and under water, floating prone, supine and regaining standing in a calm and balanced way. When these skills have been taught and the pupil is comfortable, only then can swimming strokes be introduced.
Learning a new skill is about being in a relaxed, safe environment, exploring feelings, fears, having fun and learning how to be at one with the water in a happy, calm and balanced way.
As teachers it’s our job to encourage, and support the individual, or group. We are in this job because we want to make a difference to those people’s lives. If we are to inspire others we must apply our expertise, knowledge, and remain open so we are able to learn from other teachers, our pupils, and gain experience to pass on to others. Teaching is an art, and poetry in motion.
About the Author: Stephanie Dutton, founder of ATSSI, is a highly experienced swimming instructor and aquatic therapist. She practices a holistic approach, and brings an exceptional insight and creativity into aquatic movement, and swimming.
She specialises in fear of water, meditative swimming, disabilities, and sporting injuries, for adults and children using her unique method.
Stephanie has combined and beneficially interwoven the four disciplines that she practices; Shaw Method, Watsu, Ai Chi and Healing Dance into a unique teaching protocol, called Steph’s Way.
Her unique approach is designed to help you to cultivate a relationship with the water which is conducive to physical as well as emotional relaxation.
Stephanie has earned an international reputation for positive results from her unique and gentle method.
"Being in water is about enjoying and exploring movement in a continuing flow of graceful, unforced strokes, when every part of the body seems to be an extension of another part, and nothing is hurried or rushed" Poetry in Motion, Stephanie Dutton FISTC.
Please contact Stephanie at: Stephanie@enjoythewater.com - visit: http://wwwenjoythewater.com - phone: UK 07840 789661 and US: 440 292 6776