The following presentation was primarily delivered by Pat Frank with occasional comments from Terry Laughlin.
What we are going to do here is I’m going to let the video speak for itself. In general what you are going to see here is a beginner, an intermediate, and then advanced learn to swim picture, three different children all of them started at the same position that the first swimmer you will see. In each of the lessons that we do there are 4 components to each of those lessons, the beginner, intermediate and advance level. And the components are safety breath control, propulsion and balance. Those are the 4 things that we are working on, sometimes as individual issues and sometimes as combination issues.
We are sitting here on the magic carpet and this is her first lesson and of course Mr. Pat forgot to put the platform in the pool. Watch how her legs are moving a great deal, she is not real comfortable in the water yet, and how she tries to climb higher on my hands in the water. What we are doing here is listening to the fish and learning how to balance on the side. Now we are going to blow bubbles. This is all cued , I blow bubbles then she blows bubbles and then we try it again. You can see the nervousness in the legs, and the legs moving so much but you can also see that she is very verbal. We are going to try it again, and she is not real comfortable about putting that ear in the water, so what we do is we wash our face. The child puts the water on the face and occasionally will shampoo them. I’m sure that all of us have done this similar sort of a thing, in working with children. Then when we put water on our forehead, of course Mr. Pat has a good bit more forehead to get the water on than the children do, but, and we are still not quite ready to get that ear wet. We are trying a little bit nervous but now the legs aren’t moving quite so nervously, so we are going to go over and this is all happening in the first two minute sequence, 2 or 3 minute sequence of being in the water, so we try listening with both ears in stereo, to the fish.
The next thing that we are going to work on after breath control is propulsion and the first thing that they learn about propulsion is how to bounce off the floor. In this case a platform of milk cartons strapped together with plastic wirehangers. We go through a series of toy things and the balancing part of it is important. What we are doing here you will see at the beginning where I was, on the bouncing the issue is for the child to be able, if they go into the water, to be able to bounce and push themselves back up to the surface of the water, instead of learning to walk across the bottom of the water. Secondly it’s the beginnings of teaching them to be able to push off of the wall in the future. We do off steps or platform in order that the child’s face is up out of the water and we don’t have a breathing issue. The beginnings of this were with a great deal of support from the instructor now with some sort of floatation device. Then the child is able to enter the water, cued entry and learning to walk in the water, learning again without a breathing issue to be able to use the hands and the legs and start learning to support themselves in the water.
They are also learning here the basic skills of treading water, the muscle memory that they are developing here is the muscle memory that will be used later on when they are treading water. We use toys at this thing and I think it’s important to know that the instructor always puts the toys in the water. The children don’t put the toys in the water, the instructor puts the toys in the water. Again it’s a safety issue to try and set the pattern that the instructor does the things in the water. The instructor or the parent in working with younger children does that sort of a thing. At this point what we are working on is, she came to me with me hardly having to use my hands at all, she has been able to do things on her own.
This is the beginning of zoomers where she is learning to float on her own back to the wall and now we are working on our back. You will note that we have started and we finish lessons at this level without any floatation. We are doing a song here called the pancake song. Perhaps you all have used it. She is much more relaxed still stiff in the arms and not quite ready to get her ears down in the water, but gradually over this process, you will see her start relaxing and her ears are starting to get down into the water and now she has ears in the water, so we are going to pour, pour, pour out one ear and we are going to pour, pour, pour out the other ear and now she is really leaning toward the water. Oh that is interesting we can put our ear in the water now.
This is her second lesson and you will recall how reluctant she was at the beginning of this 30 minute period and how now at the toward the end of this 30 minute period, she is much more relaxed in the water. I think one of things that we are trying to do here and show is, how these children learn to relax in the water, and of course we finish with the grand old duke of York song, again all done very slow and easy, so that they have a good experience and a positive experience. And they are learning about buoyancy of the water in this process. That is the idea, is that they are learning how to be buoyant in the water and how to have fun in the water and that sort of thing. When they get the smile then we know that we can head on back.
The other thing that happens is that there is a certain amount of splashing that occurs in this type of an exercise and that splashing helps them to get their face wet. She is so much more relaxed now if you look at the arms how much more relaxed she is now and all of that occurred in the 30 minute session.
I sold main frame computers for twenty five years and retired about 14 years ago and got into the aquatics business and started teaching for the YMCA and used YMCA and red cross WSI as my training background, which was the only thing that I had available at the time. The one consistent difficulty that I had was converting beginner swimmers from dog paddling type of being able to scurry over to the wall and rotary breathing. Being able to move in a more needle like fashion across the pool and I’m not sure if that was just a problem that I had or one that I didn’t have enough training or background from the Y and Red Cross in materials. But, it was a difficulty and one of the things that I ended up doing was stretching the children out with an arm in front on a kickboard, their face at the ceiling and the hand behind them magically glued to their hip. I would start working them to develop muscle memory that when one arm was out long and the other arm was back here and their head was at the ceiling that is when you breath. I then read an article by Terry that said throw away the kick board, so I threw away the kick and magically the children were able to do this without the kickboard. It was wonderful and adding the arms and legs at that point, once they were balanced and relaxed and floating in the water, it was like magic.
That is how I came to, Terry’s process and I took a weekend workshop with him. It worked such magic on me that I started using the principals and the drills that Terry had taught in that weekend workshop to us, I started applying those to working with the children. That is how it sort of came about.
Terry Laughlin: I had really watched him teach, and then I got a copy of this 2 hour video, oh about 3 or 4 weeks ago and in watching it, what really struck me again from all of my experience from watching learn to swim, what I typically see when I watch a swim lesson is the kid holding on the wall kicking, holding on to the kick board and holding on to his instructors hand kicking, it’s always a lot of kicking, a lot of flurry of movements and so on and what I was watching with Pat, the process was not kicking or trying to minimize the kick. There was some nervous kicking at the start but as the children understood that they were safe with Pat’s support, they relaxed they let go of the kicking and then what he was doing was teaching them to shape themselves and what he was teaching is the idea of flowing easily without resistance through the water. So it was first of all an introduction right a way of flowing easily without resistance through the water, because they were learning to guiding and shape themselves to do that easily, secondly an emphasis on experiencing support so that they can then relax, get rid of your inhibition, your movement inhibition and so on, get rid of tension and certainly right a way from the first few minutes from the orientation to being on your side. You saw how uncomfortable she was and how she resisted it initially but and again, you are not seeing a whole series of lessons, you are seeing the first lesson here but, right a way an orientation toward being in the side lying position instead of a lot time spent on the stomach and the back. We swim like this if we swim freestyle anyway, and then in the intermediate what you will see obviously is a more refined student.
Sara, when she came in was absolutely scared to death of the water and she had some bad experiences. She has very narrow sinus passages and when she gets water in her nose it is extremely painful, so breath control had been an issue with her and I guess Sara and I spent probably two months, twice a week, just walking around in the pool and learning to get acclimated to the water. So her lessons are 45 minutes. We run 4 stroke basic skill levels. She has never done short axis and she’ll do some short axis here. This is at the very beginning, she hasn’t been doing any swimming with me for probably 18 months. She is 8 years old and I’m working with her here to just refine some of the things that she had worked on before. Now what we are doing here, what he has done here is the very same thing that we showed on the first step of that video that we showed two days ago, which is getting the head position right and right is just a little reminder with the finger, to get her head position right. Very little support, I’m not supporting her underneath, I’m showing her where to lean back and now we are working side to side and you can see she is not quite leaning into the water and her head is a little high, arms down in the water and you’ll see as she corrected herself as she gets more into it. So we are going to add some fun to this, rings in the water, rings in the water and spearing the rings with her arm, leading with the arm, swordfishing down and spearing the arms one handed. Now this is part of the purpose of it is to swordfish back to the wall and she is getting much more balanced now. Still got the chin up real high and you will see some of that correct itself as she gets further on into the lesson. So again what we have here is the same things, that we’ve got a 34 year old doing on the other video, introduce right at the beginning the same set of skills and the point here is that the logic of the progression and development of skills is one that should be followed from the very first lesson, whatever you want to end up at is what you should be working towards from the very first lesson so the activity you choose are at least an introduction to what you want somebody to be doing at the most advance level. What really makes this in my mind, advantageous is that there is no time wasted at the end of the learn to swim, because mostly learn to swim is about water safety, being water safe, but in the very same process teaching water safety what you could be doing is giving the young child all the skills they’ll need for competitive swimming and the very same time period, probably even faster than you usually make them water safe.
Now she was having trouble with the water in the nose, so I’m giving her some instruction here on how to rotate the head, how to rotate her head when she takes a breath and goes nose down. You’ll note that she doesn’t go all the way down in the water and there is some nervousness in the legs, this is basic support, she lifts her head as she comes out because of the problem with getting the water in the nose. What we are working on here she is getting more and more now face toward the bottom, nose toward the bottom and she is relaxing out the legs a little bit. Now one of the key things in this part here is that as she goes to a more advance skills she was able to do that hand lead balance, and the nose up position without any support or help from the instructor, maybe just a finger here or there, but as he moves toward a more advanced skill there is both rehearsal of the skill before she does it in some of the smaller kinesthetic parts but also she is getting support again, until she gets, so that there won’t be any struggling. At no point are you having the child do things that will cause them to struggle, they always have enough support to comfortably learn the new skill without any struggle. So we just break what is going to be done, down to the very basic level, she is shaking her head because I’m asking her if she getting water in the nose.
Now we change the drill now, we change the skill work to go toward, we are moving toward short axis pulsing. What I do with the board here is take all the resistance off of her and allow the movement of the arms to get an even pull through the water a balance pull through the water which she’ll need later on for her butterfly. She has never done any of the short axis pulsing that you will see here before. What I found interesting about this is last year Richard Quick was talking about having Dara Torres and Jenny Thompson do a balance drill similar to this on several occasions. Nort Thorton was talking about it yesterday, how Dara Torres can do this on ten kickboards and that is evidence of her great balance and so on and just on his own Pat was having the same, using the same exercise at the very beginning of the introduction to short axis skills to have really a sense of this in the first butterfly lesson of the kids life. She is starting out without struggle, she is starting out with fluent relaxed movement that introduces a movement pattern that will be there later. The only thing I work on here is just that lateral balance. An even movement of the arms, streamline push offs, lifting the head and now here she goes on her own to do nose down, nose up. Kicking along, much better balance now, nose down, nose up all the way to the wall on her own and this is the first time she has ever done what we call with the children the roller coaster, the short axis pulsing that you saw the other day, this is the first time she has ever done it.
We do head lead coming toward the instructor and we do arm lead going back to the wall so that they get a chance to work on both senses of balance and for safety. Some of the logic in this is when she was spearing the rings before she was working on breath control and she was working on being comfortable underwater and so on, but there was play involved and so she wasn’t thinking of it as something really important that she was learning, she was playing at it, but here she applies that skill of being under water in the intro to short axis skills, it is a lot easier to teach short axis pulsing to the entry level if you have them do it under water, because the water pressure and resistance on the body regulates how much amplitude there is in their pulsing. They can’t do the piking that is usually the most common stroke fault. When you are teaching short axis pulsing they interpret it as piking instead and they are bending too much and it is a very inefficient movement. So introducing it underwater, they can’t do that because the water pressure regulates the amplitude. This was the first time that we were adding the arms and we are going on the surface now and you can still see that at the beginning there is a lot of amplitude and she is losing her head down into the water. So the back of the head, back of the suit was the only instruction I gave her, back of the head and back of the suit. Now I’m seeing the back of the head back of the suit and this was adding taking a breath. And what was really remarkable this is just a matter of minutes and she has already figured out how to convert that up and down movement a lot more efficiently into a forward movement and she has added the breath.
Now we go on the deck for learning how to find the corners, it’s like, again a skill that I think, Anita Nall was talking about in her talk about breaststroke is that the short axis skills are like being introduced really early, Anita was talking about going from the Y position. We are teaching corners on deck here. It’s corners return, corners breath so that they get the breath on the uptake of the arms not on the downstroke of the arms and this is her first time in trying it and adding the breathing. She didn’t get far but it’s the beginnings. Rehearsal, it’s the rehearsal, now I’m holding her while she rehearses and watch the difference, it’s interesting. She’s got the basic figuring out of how to find the corners and getting the breath when the arms are to the outside. Now putting fins on helps them find the right way to the coordination of that.
Now I’m introducing the stone skipper drill which you’ll see on our video’s and she’s bringing the arms out over the top or out over the top and I’ll correct that on the next movement. Again these are assisted drills while she is learning. Now we are going to keep the arms under, we want to return under the water. This is an underwater return of the arms. Pulse, pulse, return. We call it roller coaster, roller coaster, breath, roller coaster, roller coaster, breath, roller coaster, roller coaster return. Now when she does it facing me to get the idea of it, and now she will do it on her own. So the first time she’s ever been exposed to short axis pulsing. Pulse, pulse, pulse return. There we go she got it. Now what I find remarkable about this is in a matter in five to ten minutes maximum she has gone a long way through a butterfly drill progression with ending up with a pretty high level of fluency, absence of struggle and the whole point of this is that you learn butterfly without ever experiencing struggle. I don’t know how many people can swim butterfly with no struggle, but if you teach every movement so that there is an absence of struggle right from the beginning and it’s her first introduction to short axis skills and she is about 60% through the whole butterfly skill progression that we teach already.
Now she is going to show her mom what she’s learned what to do today. This is with the hip release. There you go. So it is all broken into manageable parts all following a logical progression and so on and no wasted time, no wasted movement or anything totally efficient process. No water in the nose, a happy camper. And then with mom and with both children we go to the Zaney Brainy bag for our rewards, stickers, they get to choose which sticker they want, of course this could be brought into a reward program any number of ways, certificates, stickers on certificates that sort of a thing, I don’t give candy. I always give stickers cause sticker’s are a whole lot less expensive then candy and probably better for the children.
This is Michelle and Michelle is 9 years old. She swims competitively in the summer only, you’ll note the difference that I’m teaching now from the deck instead of in the water with her. Michelle has been coming regularly since she was a 4 year old, she just turned 9, so I’ve been working with her for about 4 years. When she came to me she was deathly afraid of the water and was not nearly advanced as little Laura the first child that you saw this morning. Michelle is a competitive swimmer, but what you are going to see here is just about the pace at which we practice when she comes to me for practice. She comes to me once a week and that is all the swimming that she has done up to this point and she generally stops swimming with me in August at the end of the State Summer meet and then starts back again in October. So what we are seeing here is advanced skill levels, 45 minute lessons and this is basically stroke refinement. We will start here with long axis drills to get back into the feel and the muscle memory of the long axis. Head lead, rotating from sweet spot to sweet spot. The thing I’m looking for is that the water line is at the chin and the forehead and that there is a dry arm and that we are getting good rotation from the sweet spot. Hide the head show the arm. Short repeats also as you notice, not using the whole pool, these are like half lengths. This is an easy backstroke, just a little more active version of the previous drill just linking the arm to that body rotation. This is an under switch again linking the arms to that rotation, slow easy fluid checking the position. Now at our workshop for adults this is the first drill we use to introduce the concept of front quadrant swimming and they get to use the recovering hand coming under the body and actually see the hand in front of the nose as the trigger for when the switch takes place, so the first time we introduce front quadrant swimming we introduce it with a visual cue and than later take away the visual cue and then later take away the visual cue and it’s gonna become kinesthetic but you are learning the timing to be a front quadrant swimmer with a visual cue and that is what you see her doing here. Just nice easy fluid movement she is learning to link the kicks but that is not the issue.
Here is the backstroke version of the underkick, that same drill but under water. This is a combination three back, three front, long axis combination. She hasn’t learned to stay tall yet as she does the switches, but most of the rest of it is pretty good. As we said it is a refinement process. The skills aren’t perfect yes, but they are further along than the intermediate level. This is the zipper switch. So here she doesn’t have the visual cue anymore she has to switch to a kinesthetic cue, but it’s just really purposeful patterning and movement that we are going to use in swimming. It’s the hand in front of the face. I took her back to the under switch, this is three of them though, if you will notice, there is a visual cue again. But she is doing 3 switches now instead of just one switch. The triple switch version of the under switch is where you start getting into swimming like rhythms when you do one switch and then go to your sweet spot and hang out there and we usually have them hang out there for 3 deep slow breaths.
When you do the single version you are patterning simple movement, but it’s not like swimming because you are always stopping at your sweet spot and there is a pause. When you move into the triple version, you do three switches before you go to sweet spot. You’re starting to induce a swimming rhythm. The questions was, what is the kinesthetic cue? It’s really just understanding where that switch took place, where your hand was, your lead hand was, where your recovering hand was when you made the switch, during the visual part of it and learning to feel the same place when you don’t have the visual cue anymore.
I’m giving her some instruction here on the wrist drag, triple switch to get that front quadrant. This is the over switch which is much more like swimming now. Now the previous drill is the triple zipper switch, that is my favorite name of all drills, triple zipper, the previous one is the only drill that we are really focusing on the recovery action and trying to make the recovery relaxed and compact to get away from using the arm as a throw weight and to get away from any tension in the recovery, so they use the resistance in the water, they drag the hand through the water, until it gets to the ear and then slice it into the water. They use that resistance in the water, both to make it more compact, but we also tell them don’t fight the resistance, yield to the resistance, make that recovery soft, yield to the resistance, so there is a softness of it. There is a relaxation along with making it more compact, then when they go to the over switch it’s more like slumming, but they’ve had the effect of the previous drill to make that recovery both compact and relaxed and not have the arm acting as a throw weight.
She throws the left arm, you’ll notice that it is a habit that she developed real early and we work on it a lot but she still tends to throw the left arm a little bit. Now this is reinforcement of her sweet spot, and you just see hiding the head, showing the arm, being very stable very still, very relaxed. She could actually be a little bit more on her back there, looking straight up instead of looking to the side. And here we just switch off to the short axis pulsing. What you can see here at a higher level of skill then at the intermediate lesson, is what Glenn was talking about the other day is the lazy chin. Watch the head release with each pulse, but again introduced under water, because it’s easier for them to get the skill right immediately the first time before they go on the surface by doing it in the first time in each session in the water. And she is a flyer, but we still when we are practicing we always practice the first length is under water. And then , nice pretty undulation.
The hips are coming up probably a little high so I took her off of that and we went into what we call hand stands on the T. This is the play that we do at this level and you’ll know that when she does the hand stands and she is going at it hard, she has trouble balancing and then this hand stands with walking. Now I give her the instruction to do a hand stand on the T silently and slowly. What I like about this drill and you may not have thought of that, but maybe you did when you were teaching that little game there, is what is required to get the right amount of undulation, is for the swimmer to learn how to control levels of tension in the torso, so you are controlling the amplitude and you do that by learning how to regulate tension in the torso so you allow the right amount of movement and that drill teaches that, going backwards into a hand stand and then being able to walk backwards in a balance position. You have to use the proper level of tension, and I think it just lends to them the ability to then take that same skill into the pulsing.
One of the things I don’t have, is I don’t have a deep end. In not having a deep end I’ve had to come up with other ways, so she is stabilizing her torso here. Yes, that was the stabilizing portion, to feel the difference kinesthetically between the two, and she is more regulated in her pulsing. Stretches her out much more fluid now. I’d do the same thing, but I’d have her in the water at the deep end, not down on the floor, but doing that, and vertical kicking dolphin style, yes both legs back and forth like this. This is with the arms forward. She is going a little deep, the head is going down a little too deep.
So now we are practicing the corners and the same game you saw the intermediate child doing, where she was spearing the rings on one hand. Michelle will now spear them on both hands using her roller coaster movement. Spear them on both hands. There is always an element of play in it. And also you note how she bounces off the floor. They just love to do that, I don’t know why that is. And we are going to practice the corners, rehearsal never stops. Always rehearsal where it is needed. We are also practicing and working on keeping the chin tucked in when she goes to get the breath, she and I call it being more Jenny like, Jenny Thompson like, in her breathing.
This is the stone skipper, two pulses with the arms in front, two pulses with the head in front, and we practiced the Jenny like breathing. Now she is going to do the hip delay butterfly. And what she still needs to learn here is not to hammer her hands down on the reentry but to have them land forward and to have the energy be transferred more forward.
And we are going into a series here in working on the breaststroke. The drill she is and the strokes that she has worked on mostly up to this point and time have been freestyle and butterfly, and this coming year we will be working on backstroke and breaststroke and though I’m mostly on the wall, I get in the water when we are working on new skills. This is the first introduction to some breaststroke basics and she is going to be linking it to the short axis rotation so teach the short axis rotation right from the beginning of introducing breaststroke. Link it to the rest, she doesn’t link it in a very coordinated fashion here, but you are going to see the coordination develop in a real hurry. Still doesn’t have the arms linked but watch it develop. Starting to come together now, there it is, that is almost perfect. We call the drill mini pulse, mini pull, glide to balance.
We are going to put all this, I’m going down to Atlanta next week and we are going to put all of this on video, and sometime early 2001 we will have three videos out, one will be on beginner process, one on the intermediate and one on the advanced process.
(Inaudible question) That is why I put the platform in the pool. With the little ones, you gotta take the struggle and the breathing issues and that sort of a thing away from them, that has to go away, they have to be able to pick up on those things on their own and they will.
This is the interaction I just wanted to show that she, I ask a lot of questions about how did that feel, what did it feel like. To get feedback from her thinking about how that feels. And this is just a backstroke movement back to the wall. What I’m looking for mostly is the rotation of the body and staying balanced, we have a lot of work to do in the coming year on these two strokes. And this is to show some underwater, and note how the water, the bubbles are coming off of her hand on this particular sequence. And when she comes back the bubbles have gone. Getting good rotation and a fairly good connection between the arm and the hip movement.
She is practicing front quadrant swimming, swimming slowly, precisely silently. She is hammering in and these are some things that we just started working with and she is not asked to swim a full length either just to swim a certain number of cycles. You can see how well she has learned short axis movements. And this is the feedback process, I just wanted to show a little bit about how we talk and how she comes into the feedback part. The idea here is, I’m more concerned with the balance and the rotation of the body and the actual arm movements and that sort of thing. You can see where she does get some of that arm movement, she still has to put her head down a little bit more to get her hips up. Now she’s got it down a little bit better. But you can see she can’t hold the movement that well for that long, it would be better for her not to do a full length but just go a short distance.
This is one up two down breaststroke, that she has just been introduced to in this session and this is how she ends up with it. She has not seen them, this will be a gift to her and to both families when I get back. But I think that is pretty good for a first time on a breaststroke lesson. Her legs aren’t working but then I gave no instruction on the legs, I’d rather see the legs in a body dolphin motion at this point and time and you can see that she is more than, well we have some work to do. She does have hip rotation, which is very nice. She’s got the hip rotation, she’s got the basic movement but she’s splitting. The one leg works pretty good the other leg isn’t working that well just yet.
Balance, body rotation, lengthening the body on every stroke, just developing and imprinting habits right at the beginning of the introduction of competitive swimming. But you can see here the completion of a process that started with the beginner and continued through the intermediate, the process that you never step off that road.. All of the things that you see with the little 3 year olds are the things that Michelle did as a 3 year old, it was the same process.
(Inaudible question) The backstroke, we have not worked a lot on the backstroke. What backstroke work we have been doing is all been based on being needle like in the water and being balanced and you will note that the one drill you saw was this, what we call EZ backstroke where the arm rotates down and then we’re paused here in the head lead position and then extend the arm and then rotate back over this way. The other one that she works on is the backstroke version of the under switch where she is in this position. The recovery arm just simply comes to the shoulder and then the rotation occurs and then extend. The whole purpose of it is to, you just simply can’t do a good backstroke unless you are absolutely on balance through the whole thing, so the most important thing is how, at this stage of her development, isn’t how she does her arms, so much as how she maintains that balance. The emphasis just really remains very secondary on how you pull. It’s how you position your body, it’s how you move your body to the corner and then later when that stuff has been mastered and you have freed up thinking space to do something else. If we were to go back through this and see it again you will see that happen occasionally, but it is not a taught thing and it’s not a trained thing. She is finding the kinesthetics to have that happen for herself. It doesn’t happen all of the time, but as I say, it’s where you put the emphasis, with the children.
Mini pulse, mini pull. We work on mini pull with the hands in front, mini pulse, mini pull.
(Inaudible Question) I do one on one lesson. We have found the most effective way with 3 to 5 year olds is one on one lessons. Everything you saw me doing with Michelle as an 8 year old at the advanced level, no question that I can have 3 or 4 children doing that at the same time. However, introduction of skills is always one on one, and then once they’ve got the basics. I work at a high level private club, and so what I charge, let me put it this way, I charge the maximum price that is charged in Atlanta because of the club that I work in. I bill out at $75.00 an hour.
(Inaudible Question) When they go to group with me it is $50.00 an hour per each. The club gets some of that. Parents, once they see results happen as fast as you saw them happen, they are not reluctant to pay especially since they could be paying $25.00 an hour endlessly and have nothing happen. I can tell you that we get a lot of children from Red Cross and YMCA group programs, where the children just don’t learn much, because at a young age they’re in fairly large groups.
I think from a business standpoint Pat can tell you about the effect of his club. His club is a member of a chain of clubs. Tell them about the effect when you first started doing this.
Five years ago when we started our lessons, our revenue has grown almost four fold in the time, four times, and we still have that bell shaped curve, but that bell shaped curve has risen by a remarkable amount. Before you could set off a canyon and not hit anybody, now we are so busy that the plan is now to heat the outdoor pool during the winter time. We will be heating the outdoor 25 yard pool and they’re looking at expanding the program to all of the clubs in the chain.
(Inaudible Question) No we have myself and two other coaches, coach pretty much year round, anywhere from 20 – 30 hours a week. We all work for the club in that location. I also teach at other locations in the town. In the summertime we had an additional teacher and we take them through a basic orientation program, to orient them toward teaching this way. They all start with Red Cross or YMCA basic certification. We have a three tiered system for instructors and for assistant coaches and for head coaches and I’m at the head coach level.
(Inaudible Question) I do well understand that people don’t want to put floatation on children, but what is important about that bubble in the beginning, you don’t see 14 year olds with bubbles on their back, it just doesn’t happen, children adapt and adapt. But by taking the struggle away from the 3 year old and enabling the 3 year old to figure out how that water works and how to move themselves through the water, you eliminate the breathing issue until the child is ready to attack the breathing issue and you attack the breathing issue a little step at a time. Wash their face, listen to the fish, talk to the fish all those sorts of things.
The two things that I think are the best applications for swim coaches are, first, the revenue potential from being a really effective teacher and doing teaching that works and, secondly, every kid coming out of the instruction program is ready to be a wonderfully skilled member of your competitive swimming team. Michelle swims 25 yard fly. She came in 2nd in the state meet in the 8 and unders in 15.85 for her 25 fly and her freestyle is at 15.24 and she came in 2nd in that one as well.
(Inaudible Question) In working with that real early age group what you have to watch out for is this tendency for them to hold their breath under water, I get a lot of children coming to me, that the parents say, the child can swim they don’t need a bubble, but the only way they can do it is by holding their breath and then when they come up and to get air they’ve got a problem. They don’t know what to do. The 2 year old, all children under the age of 3, we do parent tot classes. We teach the parent how to do. What you saw us doing with the 3 year old, this is in line with the American College of Pediatrics and their guidelines. When does the bubble come off? Well, first of all those bubbles are reduced one at a time as the child learns how to deal with buoyancy and water movement and then the bubble comes off as the child gets used to being able to jump into the water first assisted and then on their own and then without any assistance at all. So it’s a step by step process just like everything else that you saw. We also do a lot of leaning forward on the bubble so that they start leaning forward and start getting their arms out in front and learning balance with the bubbles. The whole purpose of the bubble is to eliminate struggle and allow them to do more things that they can do otherwise.
(Inaudible Question) In our teaching pool, our indoor pool, we keep the water temperature at 84 to 85 degrees, our outdoor pool we keep at whatever the outdoor temperature happens to allow it to be. This was a struggle for the first two years, but when they started seeing the revenue that we were generating and the loss of revenue when our pool would be under this ideal temperature for teaching we got a heater. The other thing that has happened is because we use the same process for adults that we use with children, our adult level instruction has grown tremendously. I mean in the last two years, just myself, over 400 adults have learned how to swim this way at that pool. Mostly triathletes and iron men, but a lot of recreational swimmers, and now we are picking those up now, because they have seen the ease with which people move through the water and don’t struggle and don’ splash. I had given up on teaching adults. It was simply too painful to me to get an adult to a certain level of capability and then no matter what the effort for all the effort and time and expense they put into it they simply never got better in relationship to the effort they had put in. But now when I use this sort of methodology with adults they get better and they keep getting better and that brings in revenue which pays bills. The function of the Red Cross is safety, the mission of the Y is character development, and if you view our program of aquatics within those contexts it is very understandable and they do a wonderful job of meeting those criteria. As you pointed out it is hard for me to teach a teenager how to work with children, but the Red Cross program is ideally set up for that and they come to us being able to work with in a knowledge of working with the children. The YMCA does that as well, I’m an instructor trainer for the Y and the Y program does that as well. So they are coming to us with some knowledge and some experience of having worked with children, and all we are doing is shifting their technique and methodology, that’s all.
(Inaudible Question) As you saw today when I see any kind of struggle going on we put the fins on them sometimes its introduction of skills. Generally we start a skill without fins then we put the fins on and then we finish the skill without fins just like we did at the beginning with the bubble. We start a lesson without any kind of support and we may use some support during the lesson and then we finish the lesson without any support.