Peers in Swimming

Senior swimmers should be encouraged to serve as role models for young swimmers in all aspects of swimming – pool competition conduct, personal behavior standards – and to provide group support and demonstrate good technique and racing skills. Young swimmers should learn from their senior swimming friends that competitions are enjoyable learning opportunities that promote self-discipline, self-confidence and other personal skills and values.

Peers have strong influence on a swimmer’s performance. There will always be an element of competition in each group or team, despite the existence of close personal friendships.

Swimmers often perform well in front of their peers and reach greater height by attempting to match or better the good performance of other group members.

Peers enjoy seeing good swimmers perform and the instructor should ask a good swimmer and/or per group leader to demonstrate a skill to help inspire others.

Swimmers can be shy with each other and the opposite sex. The instructor must be aware of this fact and employ strategies to develop interpersonal relationships appropriate for each swimmer’s personality and level of maturity. Swimmers should be focused on the task and kept busy throughout the session yet be encouraged to work with all group members in team activities.

Enjoyable class activities help to create a bond between the members of the group. The collective support of the individuals within a team environment can be powerful learning tool.

Developing a sense of groupwork ensures that each swimmer contributes their best effort in an environment of support and encouragement.

Group pride is a great motivator and confidence builder. Instructors should therefore consider fun-oriented activities that will also challenge swimmers.

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New Year Resolution and Swimming!

What is the secret to long lasting results?

Probably you have a Do list for the New 2019! You are full of expectations for better, healthier and more successful year!

However, the big question is: what is the secret to have long lasting results?

Probably you are very busy person. Your daily routine is packed, full of meetings, long drives to work, early get ups… or you are very stressed because you are looking for a job. At these moments the idea of “time for myself”, “time for swimming” looks like a dream! But have you ever asked yourself what made you do your first step as a baby, or how long it took you to learn to read? It was a cocktail of things, but the main ingredient was PERSISTANCE! You were unstoppable as a baby. Why not be unstoppable now as a grown up? All you need to do is to keep trying again and again! 

The beginning is always difficult but when you keep going, it always gets better and better, easier and easier. For example, a kid goes to swim lessons one time per month for a period of 3 months and based on his swimming abilities his parents decide that he should try another sport. This kid did not have a chance to develop his swimming skills. His only chance was to hope that if he goes to another sport, he would have more time to practice. Most importantly, this kid might miss a valuable life-lesson: It takes time and practicing until one achieves excellence in anything he does! As Malcolm Gladwell stated, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. Therefore, if we keep changing our focus, we wouldn’t be able to reach excellence in anything.

Talking about swimming and its positive impact on people, we usually believe that it takes long time to go and to do the practice. However, if swimming really helps our body, mind and soul, to feel better for the rest of the day, we may conclude that one hour per day is not a long time. It doesn’t matter if we are beginners or advanced swimmers, practicing continuously, makes us more confident, because we are well organised and able to manage difficulties. Swimming also keep us in good shape, relieves the stress and effects our lifestyle!

There is a saying that it is easier to think, to dream of something than to do it. However, nothing is impossible! Work hard! Work with joy! Work for your dreams!

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How can we improve swimming through Augmented Reality?

SwiMMinD believes that swimming can be improved by Augmented Reality (AR) as:

  • Visualization

Michael Phelps is the greatest swimmer. One of the secrets of his success was that he was able to visualize his swimming and thus improve his technique.

AR could help swimmers and coaches visualize 3-D models in the real world, in real time. Thus, swimmers would have an advantage and could potentially become much faster than Michael Phelps.

Virtual memory makes us memorize faster and by utilizing AR, we can increase swimmer’s interaction by aiding their visual memory.

Generally, swim sessions stimulate learning though practical implementation. That is why for some children it could be very hard to understand what is being taught by their coach unless she enters the pool. Beginner swimmers need to picture the relevant swim skill in their mind and if they do not see an example the improvements could be very limited.  

AR does not impede the learning but accelerates it. Children now do not need to picture in their heads what things in real life might be like but can actually see and feel them.

This takes imagination and creativity to a whole new level as now AR is the base on which they will build their imaginative worlds.

  • Increased sensory and mental development

With AR it is possible to improve people’s physical and mental abilities. In general, swimming is a practical activity which requires more mental involvement if you need faster improvements. That is why, besides swimming, students would need to gain more knowledge by seeing and observing through stimulating videos, images, cartoon characters, three-dimensional charts, graphs, etc. Such kind of learning aids have a better impact on beginner swimmers.

  • Interactive learning

Persistence is key in succeeding in anything, but you cannot have persistence without fun. AR makes swimming fun and effortless. Basically, AR would lead to deeper engagement in swimming sessions. Swimmers’ mind will be excited and their body active.

It is not just swimming. AR increases the thinking process and thus swimmers will improve their swimming technique and they will progress much faster.

  • Less injuries

With AR swimmers would understand things easily and grasp essential and complex skills much faster. This is important because not all coaches could give full attention to their swimmers and bad habits could lead to injuries.

  • More knowledge

Have you seen swimmers buying textbook or any other materials for learning purposes? Swimmers rely entirely on the knowledge of their coach and they never question her methods. They can just hope that their coach has all the appropriate tools to teach them. Unfortunately, not all coaches are trained (certificates/diploma) or even if they are trained, they do not always follow the standards for each of their students.

Can you imagine if you go to school and the textbooks for all subjects your child reads are written by his only one teacher? That will never be accepted in any educational system. This is the problem that SwiMMinD AR focuses on. With AR swimmers will be able to listen to their coach and interactively gain more knowledge about swimming and see whether they are following well established learn to swim programs or are just being bathed.

Dependability of swimmers on their coach could be reduced greatly by introducing AR, especially in adults swimming where students are driven to learn on their own. This would only lead to further progress in the swimming sector because with the support of AR coaches could give more individual attention to all of their swimmers, instead of having few favorite students.

  • Encourage parent involvement

AR could greatly increase the parent involvement in their children’s swimming skills development, especially if children use the AR at private pools.  

  • Teach that anything is possible

AR can bring objects, fairy and scary creatures in the swimming pools which are impossible to be present in current swimming sessions. Thus, in a Pokémon Go style SwiMMinD releases Sharks, dolphins, whales, seahorses, sirens mermaids and more at local swimming pools across the globe!

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Aquatic Training Through Pregnancy

How will pregnancy affect the body?

Pregnancy will affect each individual woman slighly differenly. However, som key adaptations to the body will affect all women.

The pelvic floor muscles

These muscles run from the front to the back of the pelvis, forming a ‘floor’ across the base of the pelvis. When these muscles are weak, urine may leak out when the woman coughs, squats widely, or performs activities that involve jumping. When they are strong it should be possible to cough and jump with legs out to the side (a Jumping Jack) at the same time with no leak of urine. During pregnancy the weight of the baby presses against, and places a stress on, these muscles. During birth an even greater stress is places on them. Therefore, the inclusion of specific exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles is essential both during and after pregnancy, through everyone can benefit from keeping these muscles strong.

The abdominal muscles

The abdominal muscles must stretch and lengthen to accommodate the growing baby. Great care should be taken with any abdominal work when the baby starts to show. Intense abdominal exercises and too much abdominal work at this time can place too much stress on the abdominal muscles, so avoid such activities.

During pregnancy greater emphasis should be placed on contracting the muscles to fixate the spine and maintain correct posture. If the abdominal muscles are stressed, it is possible for them to separate down their mid-lane (linea alba). This condition is know post-natally as ‘diastasis recti’. (Note: separation of the abdominal muscles is a normal physiological response to pregnancy.) The advice is for participants to work carefully: generally, it is unlikely that exercise in water would cause over-stress.

Osnce separation has occurred, even greater care is needed for the abdominal: it will be more difficult to regain the figure, and the mother may be left with a permanently rounded tummy. The abdominal muscles should be checked regularly after birth, and any exercise which causes the abdominals to dome should be avoided.

To test for separation of the abdominals:

Lie on the floor with the knees bend, and lift the head. If separation has occurred, a gap may be apparent down the middle of the abdomen. A further check can be provided by placing two fingers widthways into the midline of the abdominals, just above or below navel level.

The pelvis

The pelvic girlde becomes lee stable during pregnancy. This is due to the release of a hormone called relaxin that loosens the ligaments around the pelvis in preparation for birth. Any movements involveing the pelvis should either be avoided or performed with great care during pregnancy.

Relaxin may also affect other joints such as the knees, fingers, hips and spine. Care must be taken not to exceed the range of motion at any joint, to prevent permanent damage occurring to the ligaments that will result in the joints becoming less stable. It is essential that correct exercise techniques is emphasized throughout the ante- or post-natal exercise session.

The back

Тhe weight of the growing baby will place extra strain on the lumbar spine. This may result in a forward tilt of the pelvis that will cause the lumbar spine to hollow. In addition, the center of gravity will alter and will affect balance. The mother may develop a leaning back posture to counteract these changes, so it is essential that correct posture is coached throughout the swim sessions to increase her body awareness. Encouraging the mother to lift the growing baby up and into the pelvis will develop her awareness of correct alignment.

The cardiovascular system

During pregnancy the volumе of blood we pump around the body actually increases, so the hear has to work harder. It therefore adapts and becomes stronger to cope with the demand. Pre-exercise heart rate will be slightly higher during pregnancy due to the increased blood volume and circulatory demands.

High intensity activities may restrict blood flow to the fetus: they should be avoided during pregnancy. It is also wise to exercise for a shorter duration because foetal heart rate may increase if exercise is too prolonged and too intense. Care must also be taken to avoid excessive rises in temperature, which are dangerous to the fetus in the early stages.

What are the benefits of exercising during pregnancy?

  • Decreased aches and pains
  • Assistance with weight management
  • Easing of constipation
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved posture
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Fewer backaches
  • Decreased occurrence of varicose veins
  • Regaining shape and figure after birth more quickly.

Why is exercising in water ideal during pregnancy?

Buoyancy will provide support to the whole body. The weight of the growing baby will be supported, as will the weight of the growing breasts, so the mother will feel lighter when exercising in the water. This additional support provides many benefits for the expectant mother. It will:

  • promote relaxation and the release of tension from the muscles that normally have to work to carry the additional body weight
  • ease movement through a fuller range of motion without placing the joints under stress
  • reduce the weight and stress placed on the pelvic floor muslces
  • reduce compression of the joints
  • decrease the impact from jumping movements. Therefore, some of the lower intensity cardiovascular exercise can be performed without placing the body at risk
  • reduce the stress placed on the pelvic girdle if raking the weight on the one leg
  • reduce the stress on the spine during bending and rotating and hip circling movements. ( Note: care should still be taken not to exceed a comfortable range of motion, even though this area is more supported. A correct pelvic tilt should also be encouraged.)

Resistance provides sufficient intensity to challenge the muscles and maintain their tone without overworking them. It also reduces the speed of movements, so it is more difficult to exceed a comfortable range of motion.

Hydro-static pressure improves the circulation of blood. It may help to prevent an accumulation of harmful wast products that can potentially cause distress to the fetus.

The temperature of the water will have a cooling effect on the body, preventing the body from overheating, something that can be harmful to the fetus. Ensure that rhythmical movements are maintained throughot the session, however, to prevent excessive cooling.

What are the safety considerations?

It is always advisable to check with a doctor or midwife befor starting or continuing an exercise programme when pregnant. Care must be taken to ensure that over-extension does not occur:the mother should listen to her body and do only what feels comfortable.

In general, during the initial stages of pregnancy, fewer changes will need to be made to the programme for a regular exerciser. However, more precautions will need to be taken during the middle and later stages of pregnancy. In all instances the emphasis should be on maintaining fitness rather than improving fitness while pregnant.

How should the session be structured.

The session should include a warm-up and warm-down. It should aim to maintain rather than develop swimming abilities, so it should contain activities to increase general mobility and improve body awareness. A greater emphasis should be placed on breathing, correct posture and alignment. The duration of the session should be shorter and the intensity much lower.

Adaptations to session structure for an ante- and post-natal group

Warm-up

  • Emphasis correct posture at the start of, and throughout, the session
  • Make movements slower and more controlled
  • Increase the number of mobility exercises
  • Move all the joints through all possible ranges of motion to reduce stiffness
  • Use full range of motion mobility exercises to warm the muscles
  • Pulse-raising exercises should be of a much lower intensity, the primary aim being to warm the muscles rather than increase the heart rate
  • The intensity of movements should be built up much more gradually to avoid sudden increases in blood pressure
  • Directional changes houl dbe minimal to assist maintennace of balance
  • Fewer stretches may be needed, especially if full range of motion mobility exercises are included
  • Stretch positions should be supported, and care should be taken tnot to exceed a comfortable range of motion
  • The pool wall should be used to assist balance.

Cardiovascular

  • Work at a much lower intensity for a modate duration. AIm for slight breathlessness
  • Decrease the number of directional movements; centre of gravity changes making it difficult to balance
  • More gradual build-up of intensity to avoid increase in blood pressure
  • Fewer jumping moves, to maintain comfort for lager breasts
  • Avoid explosive movement that lift the body out of the water
  • Use lower impact, rhythmical and free-flowing movements
  • Use slower movements and music
  • Use simple and less co-originated movement patterns
  • Promote full range of motion exercises.

Muscular strength and endurance

  • Include exercise for the pelvic floor muscles
  • No abdominal exercises – be sensitive to amount of fixation of abdominals in water and plan rests
  • Select comfortable starting positions
  • Avoid exercises that may place excessive pressure on the pelvic girdle
  • Use movements related to everyday actions
  • Perform fewer repetitions
  • Use slower and less intense exercise.

Warm-down

  • Include range of motion mobility work to maintain a comfortable temperature
  • Include specific relaxation work (if water temperature allows)
  • Avoid positions that may overstretch the ligaments
  • Select balanced and comfortable positions for passive stretching
  • Don’t hold stretches too long, to maintain rather than develop flexibility.

Credit: Debbie Lawrence “EXERCISE IN WATER”

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What is the best age to start swimming?

At what age did you start swimming? Were you a baby? Did your parents brought you to the pool or you are an adult who learns how to swim now?

Swimming is recommended for people at any age because of its beneficial effects over the body, mind and soul. However, we all have different development, talents, interests and goals.

If you have started learning how to swim as a child, you have probably developed early survival skills and you love being in the water. Hopefully the process of learning continued through all the stages of swimming development and besides survival skills you have much more abilities. You got the gift to explore the magic of water, had lots of fun, experienced many water adventures and grew healthy.

Many parents are ambitious and are looking for the best for their children while putting them at the pool at very early age (bellow 6 years of age). There is no doubt that lots of swimming schools throughout the world offer the best for children at this age. The magic here is the genuine love of swim instructors to their little swim students. To make this magic, instructors find many ways to reach the hearts of their swimmers, to make the swim lessons enjoyable and helpful.

There are also parents who believe that children are not ready to learn to swim until they reach 6 years of age. Their belief is guided from what they have heard from some coaches and swim clubs or even because they were swimmers and that was accepted back in the days.

As usually, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

The progress in swimming depends on many factors but it is essential to know that we are all different. If a child enjoys a class and follows instructions easily, it may be concluded that it is the right time to start learning, no matter the age of the student. That is why, the instructor’s role is very important. Being patient, respectful, joyful and helpful is crucial. The instructor should be like the best friend to her students. It is beautiful to see how children are enjoying swim lessons! All this fun, sparkling eyes, wide smiles! The feeling is magical!

Unfortunately, there are situations in which children cry when they start at early age. When this happens, instructors should be able to locate the irritating factor; water temperature, lack of sleep or other. It is essential to find the cause of the cry because this is the only way to earn a smile. Otherwise, the impact could be very damaging, especially if an instructor persists on teaching a child who continuously cries. Therefore, if the instructor’s efforts are dissatisfactory, the child continues to cry, the best solution might be to try again but after a given period.

Nowadays, some people have a pool at their home or children play in parks where there is a lake, or they live near the beach. All these water basins are dangerous and building basic water safety skills at an early age may be lifesaving.

In conclusion, it is not proper to force someone to learn to swim. Being patient, finding the right place and friendly teacher is a process that could take a while, but it is worth it. Hopefully most of the people are lucky to end up in a Learn to Swim Program with well-established standards and enjoy their swim classes no matter their age.  As the old saying reminds us “Where there is a will, there is a way.’’  The age is not a breaking point, everyone can start learning step by step! Just don’t forget your swim suit and smile! Have a great day!

 

 

 

Lida Milkova

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