View Full Version : Teaching a complete Beginner

June 23rd, 2008, 04:30 PM
Hi, I taught swim lessons many years ago and am now trying to teach a friend of mine to swim. She is a cyclist who wants to do a tri. She is a complete beginner, she can dog paddle and thats it. Where do I start?? I use to teach kids and you would start with the " Missle" float...then add the kick...then the arms. I know there are some much more experienced teachers out there and was hoping for some guidance...drills etc. Thanks! Paul

June 24th, 2008, 11:43 AM
I have no teaching experience so these are just my random thoughts. I would have the student practice a lot of streamlined pushes off the walls, to give a sensation of going through the water quickly and learn the importance of minimizing drag. Then maybe floating prone (on stomach or back) and kicking with fins, then progress to working on the stroke. I would probably teach a 2-beat kick because that requires less coordination and helps focus on balance, with the opposing arm and leg moving at the same time.

I just remembered I do have a little experience offering people tips. For example one time I was practicing at an open water swim area and there's this triathlon couple decked out in expensive wetsuits who can barely swim. Truly. The lady asks me about races I've done and I start giving her tips, and she is interested in getting advice and follows my suggestions, but the guy is one of these jealous types with ego issues, and quickly starts glaring at me, so I say "fine, you teach her" and swim off.

June 24th, 2008, 07:43 PM
If this is a total beginner I would start really really basic - bobbing! Your student needs to be completely comfortable with blowing the air out under the water and not hold his or her breath. When your student can take a breath, drop under the water and blow it out and come up for a breath and repeat without a pause, for however many bobs you think necessary (100 isn't too many) then move on to body position and the streamline position. I just start people in the shallow water so they can just bend their knees and drop under the water, straighten the knees and come up, very non threatening and relaxed. You would be amazed and how many adults can't get comfortable with the water on their faces and how to accomplish the rhythmic breathing.

June 25th, 2008, 08:15 AM
I was a beginner, although not at the bobbing level, could dog paddle. I think you start her just like you would start a kid. An adult should catch on quicker though. Some things that are really hard for adults to learn is body positioning, kicking, breathing properly, oh wait, all the things hard for a kid to learn. Balancing drills help, breaking the stroke apart, helps. Make her slow down. If she is an athlete, she is going to want to try and swim fast, and will struggle. I did not have a break through in getting any distance until I slowed down until it felt silly.

June 25th, 2008, 08:52 AM
I'm a big fan of kicking on your side drills (after the above mentioned breath control and balance/streamline drills). You may have to impress the importance of a small fast kick (from the hips with just a little knee bend) as opposed to big wide kicks from the knee down first. Then, progressing to kicking on each side (arm out front--turning head for a breath). If your student has real trouble with this fins will help at the beginning. Then doing some kind of 6 kicks a side drill (switching with a freestyle arm stroke--head down). Then a three strokes and pause 3 seconds kicking on side and breathing to establish an alternate breathing pattern.

Anything to get the swimmer swimming long-axis and not doggie paddling.

June 25th, 2008, 06:50 PM
I've taught Red Cross swimming for years, and I have to agree with AnnG. Bobbing and rhythmic breathing are a must. Breathing out under water and breathing in above seems like a no brainer, and in fact it is for most swimmers. However, people who learn as adults have to think about it each time they breathe. It takes a long time for that to become automatic.