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Ask the ALTS Experts

Ask the ALTS Experts

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ALTS questions answered by Morgon Latimore, lead ALTS instructor and owner of Latitude Pure Coaching:

I have a new client who is signed up for her first triathlon in four weeks. She can swim, but she tires easily and is afraid of panicking. Whats a good strategy to get her ready for the half-mile lake swim?

A large number of athletes in a triathlon deal with anxiety in the swim. This is somewhat normal for beginners. Lakes, rivers, oceans all come with different challenges, but you can make your athlete more prepared by doing some open-water drills in the pool and can getting them in the open water prior to race day. Things like the water polo drill will help them work on the neck and core strength needed while sighting; putting 3-4 other swimmers in one lane (side-by-side) will help with the anxiety/panicking a swimmer may get from swimming with other swimmers around them.

There are many ways to help your swimmer, but I would suggest the athlete start in the back, outer side of the pack. This will keep her away from the faster swimmers who will swim tight to the inside of the buoys. You should have her practice sighting every 3-5 strokes so she swims in a straight line. Pick a large object higher than the buoys in the water. A tree or building are good objects to use. Get to the swim start early to find what you can use.

If your swimmer tires easily, make sure she is breathing every-other stroke and is not breathing every 3, 5, or 7. Breathing every-other stroke will supply them with the oxygen needed to stay relaxed and prevent her from holding her breath because she is nervous.

Lastly, a wet suit will give her more confidence and reassurance that she will be safe. Also, she will be able to swim to the lifeguards in the water, as long as there is no forward progress. This is a good time to rest and catch her breath and relax. If she has a panic attack, tell her to stop swimming and float on her back until she calms down and is ready to start swimming again. Reassure her that she can do it and to believe in herself.

Good luck to you and your swimmer!

Id like to expand my ALTS program. What is the best way to get new clients?

Be the MAYOR!

What I mean by that is you need to really get involved in your local community and make sure they all know you have an ALTS program and where it is. Volunteer to talk about swim safety where adults hang out. Clubs, corporate events, social media, swimming meets (just because kids can swim doesn't mean the parents can), and word of mouth. Check to see what other swim instructors are doing in your area, and make your program better.

Do this for 6-12 months, and they will start coming to you. The key is the more people you can expose your program to, the more likely they will come to you. Continue to change lives with your ALTS program!

Id like to use my training and experience to help adults in disadvantaged communities learn to swim. How I can get the word out and get people to the pool?

Well, this is challenging but never impossible. You will really need to educate your community on the ALTS program and why it is so important to learn to swim. Making it convenient to them is important because if they are going to school or are working, they may not have much time. Get out and ask individuals to take the lesson -- don't wait for them to come to you -- you get out and find them. This may create a buzz in your area. You can talk to the aquatics director at the pool you teach at and try to create a free ALTS program. This will bring people to the pool, and cities love that.

Your journey may start off slow, but if you stick with it, you may have more people wanting to learn how to swim than you can handle. This is a good problem to have! Good luck and remember swimming saves and changes lives!

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