TEACHING about BODY AWARENESS
PART 2: FIGHT OR “ BE ONE” WITH THE WATER
Resist or Go with the FLOW
When faced with obstacles or challenges, we have a choice. We can resist or go with the FLOW. This choice is especially important when swimming.
We can fight with the water or “be one” with it. Our instincts may tell us to tighten our muscles and kick hard to stay up in the water and get from one point to the other. Yet, the exact opposite is true. When we respond like turtles and jellyfish — by slowing down and becoming soft and quiet, we swim more easily.
As children become more aware and learn to “create” a soft body, we start introducing them to body alignment techniques. By practicing these simple techniques, they learn to allow their natural buoyancy to do its work so they are able to float. We teach them to swim smarter not harder.
Rather than fast and jerky arm and leg movements with heads held high, they adopt a more streamlined alignment with slow, relaxed arm and leg movements and their heads held low.
Body Alignment Focuses
We teach them:
- Head Down Vs Head Up
- People instinctively keep their head high in the water because they “feel” closer to air
- When the head is up, the feet go down and the swimmer has a sensation of falling; when the head is down, the feet come up.
- If the head and neck are in line with the spine, it is easier to balance in the water and the children will feel like they are floating vs falling.
- The head position is important in all swimming skills – from the most basic front and back floats, to jumping in and rolling over, to the more advanced strokes. The head position allows the swimmer to assume a streamlined position.
- Back Down or Tummy Up
- When trying to back float, our instinct may be to tighten our tummy and sit up in the water; this brings the head and feet higher than the mid-section.
- To back float comfortably:
- The head needs to be in-line with the spine, with the eyes looking directly at the ceiling
- The lungs (the most buoyant part of the body) need to be lower than the belly, which is why we will ask the kids to either press their upper back (lungs) into the water, or push their belly up….slowly.
- The trick is allowing their bodies to stay soft while they do this.
- Using Arms and Legs to Leverage Balance
- With certain body types, it may be necessary to use arms and legs to help leverage a balance point.
- If someone has a hard time floating, slowly raising their hands above their head shifts their weight to the front half of their body and helps them to raise their legs (the heaviest part of the body).
- Sometimes people need to bend their knees, so their legs are not as long – again helping to shift their balance point.
- The same concept applies to swimming on the side, but works in a slightly different manner.
- The higher the hand, the lower the legs
Lessons Over the Years
Over the years, we’ve noticed when we don’t work on:
We’ve now built these body awareness explorations and focuses into every aspect of our program to help maintain constant attention to these “turtle senses.”
We hope by the end of their journey with us, they will know how to FLOW and will understand the “Fundamentals of Learning to be One with the Water and the World.”