Key Tips for Improving Water Confidence
One of the key tips for improving water confidence is being around the water as much as possible. Taking your child to the swimming pool outside of lessons will help them to build their confidence and feel at ease in the water. When going swimming with family, it’s time for free play and to take what they’ve learned and use it in their own way so consolidate their learning through play, so don’t make it feel like a lesson! You can give pointers if they’re still nervous. If they enjoy diving for sinkers or playing a certain game that they’ve learnt in lessons then you can encourage/do this outside of lessons. Let them experiment and learn in their own space and time.
Show water confidence yourself! If your child can see you enjoying the water, not being afraid to get wet then they will likely start to feel the same. Being scared to get your hair wet or have fun in the water could rub off on your child. Even if you are a bit wary of these things, show that you can do them despite being a bit nervous about it!
Don’t push your child out of their comfort zone. It is important to listen to your child and what they are comfortable with doing in the water. For example, taking them to the deep end of the pool when they are not ready for it could lead to the confidence they have already built up in the water being shattered if something were to go wrong. Remember to always stay safe! Encourage and create situations that allows them to explore but this has to be done with consent. Remember that you should not go out of your comfort zone either!
Bath time can be more about just getting washed! A lot of water confidence practices getting face wet and floating on backs it can be an important learning experience especially for young swimmers.
Bath activities/paddling pool/hot tub for each of the 4 key movements:
💧You can practice all different kinds of front and back floating such as star floats or pencil floats, make it fun and add in letter or animal shapes!
💧When floating on the front remember to encourage slowly blowing bubbles out when chin, mouth or face are in the water.
💧For little ones needing support, place your hand under their head for back floats. When floating on the front you can put your forearm across their chest holding under the armpits.
💧When supporting you can also do gentle bobbing up and down and small swishy fishy’s from side to side.
💧Floating on your back with arms stretched up like a rocket if you can, keep your body in a straight line and roll onto your front! Try to move everything at the same time, don’t let your feet or chest go first.
💧Practice going over and over in the one direction or even change directions!
💧For little ones needing help, adults can place their arm flat and encourage the little one to look from side to side, perhaps using a toy as an incentive. When the head turns the rest of the body should follow and they can rotate from back to front and vice versa with your support.
💧Older swimmers who are starting to learn breathing techniques can practice in the bath! Lying flat on your tummy, take a deep breath in and put your face in the water. Slowly blow bubbles out and when you need to take a breath, keep exhaling and turn your head to face the side of the bath. If you have goggles on, try to keep one google in the water as your mouth comes out to be able to breath. See how many times you can do this and keep a good rhythm! You can even practice trickling your bubbles out slowly for a count of 3, 5, 7 or 9! Remember to make sure your breathing is comfortable and you are not gasping for air!
💧For younger swimmers, just practicing getting water on their face or slowly putting their face into the water is great! This can include getting water around the face, back off head or over the face if consent is given. You can do this using a cup, watering can, sponge or even making some splashes to a song!
💧You can make any of these practices fun by singing songs or creating games to encourage putting their face in the water or getting water near the face. For example, create a treasure hunt putting coins/objects in the water that the pirates can collect by getting their face wet or blowing bubbles!
💧With submersion it is important to remember that all practices should be led by the swimmer and consent always needs to be given. They should not feel forced at any point. Aside from saying no, signs of discomfort in younger children include shaking their head, screaming or crying, tense body language, gripping the adult or avoiding eye contact.
💧The bath may be too shallow for older children to practice strokes, however this can also be done out of the water. They can choose their favourite stroke and practice it by moving their arms around as they would in the water!
💧For little ones in the bath, you can leave the water shallow enough that they can lie flat on their front and move around like a crocodile! Or crawl around the bath to feel movement in the water. You can use foam letters, numbers or shapes to stick to the side of the bath and encourage them to move around the bath and collect them!