E 7: Teach yourself to Swim

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Navigating Neva! Neva Nicole here. Welcome back everybody.

I can't believe we're already on episode 7, today is episode 7. 

I’m going to share with you ‘how you can teach yourself how to swim’ and that's because I want no drownings 

I want a zero drowning summer; I want you to be safe, I want each child to be safe.

I’m an aquatic professional with 20 plus years experience in my industry, please check out my bio.

From sitting on the stands and lifeguarding to certifying guards, and running a pool: I have seen a lot and I am here to share with you my opinion and resources that are already out there.

I want you to stay safe and enjoy the summer.

Listen up and have a happy and healthy summer, and always remember-- your safety comes first.

Did you know learning to swim is one of the top five hobbies for people after they retire? Also did you know that swimming is one of the popular Olympic sports which has numerous variants?

So, I’ve had people ask me-- why am I going to teach you how to swim?

Wouldn't that put me out of a job? Because I’m a swim instructor in case you guys didn't know. I’ve been teaching swimming since I was 17. I’ll tell you how that happened: I became a lifeguard when I was a teenager; my dad signed me up for the American Red Cross lifeguard certification course, then I became a lifeguard. I sat in that lifeguard stand and I watched the lessons go on, and I went to my boss and I said—‘I want to do that’, she said –what? I said ‘that’, she said—‘you want to teach swim lessons?’ I said—‘yeah’, she said—‘okay’. So, I shadowed, I taught with some instructors, then I got certified with the YMCA of the USA. We did fundamentals of instructor training, then there was another certification for preschool and parent child, and there was another certification for youth and adult. Then I went on: I wanted another certification, so I got the American Red Cross water safety instructor-- that's basically a swim instructor-- it's water safety instructor-- that's what you obtain if you want to be a swim instructor.

There are more out there, I didn't go on to get them all. I did go on to get more certifications though, I did become a certified Pool Operator, and I became a certified Water Aerobics Instructor. There's more organizations that certify you to teach swim lessons such as Star Guard, Jeff Ellison Associates Swim University, but I just have Red Cross and YMCA. But I learned to swim when I was seven, and I want to share with you guys that story and then I’ll tell you how you can teach yourself how to swim.

And I’m going to give you guys some great resources because, again I’m not here to reinvent the wheel-- there's already great things out there by some wonderful people, and I don't want to take away from them because they're fantastic, and of course I’m going to post them for you on my Facebook page and my website so that you can use these resources. And of course, I’m also here if you want to have me be your swim instructor remotely, but some people like to do things on their own and by all means you may be one of them. I did it on my own. So as you guys remember I had a near-drowning experience or a non-fatal drowning, however you want to classify that, and I fell into the pool. After that, my mom took me down to the local pool and enrolled me in some swim lessons and we lined up on the side, and I think I was just pushed into the water. This is the mid 80s and it was—‘push you in and you'll make it to the instructor’. Well that didn't work for me because I just had a traumatic experience and I didn't like that very much, so I said-- ‘not going to happen’. So we didn't go swimming. I did not take swim lessons. 

We moved away: we went up north and I think it was a hotel pool but we joined some type of facility that had a pool and this was in Philadelphia and it was winter, it was cold, I was seven years old. My Mom would take me to the pool and I would go swimming after school. And I would play in the water, I would get into the pool and I would play. And I would do this every day until I pushed from one side to the other; this was an indoor pool, not in the basement. You could see the ground level and outside with snow, the windows were foggy it's not like an indoor pool and I wasn't scared. There was nothing there that related to my drowning incident to trigger any emotional incidents for me. 

So, I was comfortable in this place and I just I kept going there every day and I liked it. And then I could swim and then I kept swimming every day, all the time and you couldn't get me out of the water. I was a fish or a little mermaid and it was my favorite place to be and I love the water. So I learned to swim and you can too. So what I want to tell you is-- my story is the same formula I use for anybody to swim. So I’m going to do another episode on teaching your children. Children and adults are two totally different characters in the water.

So today's episode is going to be on adults. This is how you would teach yourself, an adult how to swim. So the first thing that I want to talk about is I’m just going to briefly go down: who, what, where, when, why. Who-- it's me and we're going to talk about you. What-- it's learning to swim. Where-- I was at my indoor pool. Where-- you need to determine where you're going to go. In the first two episodes: layers of protection and pool safety, we talked about where. We want to swim somewhere that's safe. We don't want to swim alone; we want to swim with a buddy. I was swimming with my mother's supervision: she was right there and that gave me a feeling of security, and a feeling of comfort. You do not want to swim somewhere that is not deemable for swimming, pick a safe place to swim and make sure you're not swimming alone. Do not decide you're going to put up a Wal-Mart pool in your backyard and then no one knows you're there, and work on swimming; somebody needs to be there: not cheering you on and giving you anxiety but somebody needs to be there-- to be your water watcher, to be your buddy, so you're not alone.

So where are you going to swim and when? I was seven. I also was swimming after school; I was swimming in the evening or the late afternoon. You need to decide when is a good time for you-- is morning a good time for you? Is evening a good time for you? People have different schedules and different time of days work different for different people. So if you're a morning person, you probably want to do this in the morning. If you're a night person you probably want to do this in the late evening, why?

I had a desire and an interest. You might have fitness or a health reason, but we should all want to learn to swim for safety. We want to keep ourselves safe. The earth is covered by 71% of water and we could be at any party, we could be on a boat, we'd be on a cruise ship, we could be somewhere around water, and just for our general safety. We need to not be afraid of the water; we need to know how to respond in the water. Why? Maybe we have the desire, we have the interest: for our health, for our safety, for our fitness. That's ‘why’. 

And now the ‘how’-- that's what I’m going to get to now. So a lot of people might be afraid. First you have to figure out the problem: we need to identify why you can't swim yet; was there something that happened? Did you create a fear? Is there something blocking you? Or do you just not like the water? 

First, we have to get over that. So you're going to have to get comfortable in the water. So regardless of who we're teaching to swim, me when I was seven, or you, right now, you need to acclimate yourself to the water's environment, and you do this by spending time in the water. 

So maybe you need to go to the pool -- every day. Maybe you need to walk in the pool. Sounds silly, but people do water-walking. So I’m not asking you to swim, I’m not asking you to hang out at a pool party. I’m just asking you to get in the water and walk. Walk in waste deep water, walk in chest deep water, just walk in the water. This is getting you used to the water. You can join water aerobics: it's for pregnant women or the older women or whoever you think. It's for everybody. Water aerobics is great. I used to teach it nine times a week. I would teach 3 classes each morning 5 days a week. Before that I used to teach 2 classes a day twice a week, I just taught water aerobics all the time, it was great-- you should try, it's really fun-- I can talk about that for hours as well. But water walking gives you a lot: it acclimates you to the water. So if your body isn't used to being in the water that is a good way to get in the water and get used to the water.

 Children get acclimated to the water with bath time. They get acclimated to the water in a backyard pool. We're a little big: so we can't really use the bath, we can't really use the backyard, but I do have some activities that you can do at home if you're really terrified. You guys can send me an email to navigatingneva@gmail.com if you're really afraid, and I can tell you what you can do to get over that fear, to work on it, before you get to the pool. So, you need to acclimate yourself in the water's environment before we can learn to swim, so give yourself a check mark, if you've already made it that far. You've made it that far: great job! Keep going forward. The next step is glide. A gliding: you have to be able to glide in the water, and in order to glide, we have to be able to float. So you're going to float; the water holds you. A lot of people don't think that this is a thing and it does. 

There's an amount of water that will hold you. Not everyone floats-- you might have to help float, you might have to thin your arms, or scully your arms and if you don't know what these are, you can do a YouTube search to get a good image of a skully or a finning. You're just moving your arms to help you stay afloat even when I get certified or certified people as water safety instructors. Not everybody can float and we don't require you to float. We require you to maintain a position on your back. So there's no floating. A lot of people say after swimming one lap, they were exhausted and they're just not fit. And that's not very true, what that means is that-- they're not unfit, they were panicked is what happens. You have a lack of trust that the water will support you, and the water is going to support you for some for some level of that. You're not a rock-- you're not going to sink to the bottom. You might sink halfway to the bottom, but you're not going to sink all the way to the bottom.

I had a guy that I taught one time he was in the army, and he said I can't float and I said, ‘well I’m sure you can float’; he said ‘no I don't float’. I said, ‘well show me what you do’ and he sunk almost to the bottom. He was like a foot from the bottom. I said, ‘well you don't sink, you just you float a foot from the bottom’. He said, ‘well what does that mean?’ I said, ‘well you're just going to have to swim a little bit harder than the rest of us.’ 

But you know: as we age and at different stages in our life we have different levels of buoyancy.

So maybe you have to swim a little bit harder right now, but at different times in your life you're going to swim easier. Might be harder, might be easier but we're going to float at some level. So to glide you guys just think of a torpedo or the nose of a boat, you just, push off the bottom or you push, because you propelled your legs together, and you're going to glide. So it's easier to glide if our face is submerged. So if we're in a prone position, we just glide. So we're comfortable in the water and we glide. Breathing is really important; I’m going to put a checklist together for you guys to follow along with these. I’ve got them, but you might not have them, so I’m going to share them with you. So we're going to glide and we're going to exhale, because anytime we put our face in the water if we're gliding with our face submerged, which is the easiest way to glide, we're going to exhale. Anytime we put our face in the water, we're going to exhale, because swimming I’m sure as you know is a cardio sport. 

So, if I was running, I’m not going to hold my breath; if I was biking, I’m not going to hold my breath. So when we're swimming, you got it, we're not going to hold our breath. So when we submerge we exhale, and when we lift our head we inhale. And then we put our face in and we exhale and that's it: that's how easy swimming is. So we want rhythmic breathing which is all that is: it's inhaling and exhaling as you swim. So it seemed pretty easy right. Your first skill is you're going to submerge then you're going to float and you're going to regain this. So if you guys want to do this activity with me, you're going to write this down, you're going to do it later. Don't take the phone to the pool; don't take the computer to the pool, leave that at home: in the car, in the classroom but your first skill or objective would be to float and then regain both feet onto the ground. 

So what does that mean: that means like we're going to hold on to the wall and you're going to stretch out like you're floating, or like you're flying like superman but you're on the surface of the water. So we take a breath, we exhale-- we stick our face in and we're just like laying on the surface of the water and you're exhaling. Now you're ready to stand up, so when you're ready to stand up, you're going to keep your head in, until your feet are placed on the ground and your hips are directly above your feet and then you're going to pull your arm back-- the one that's not holding the wall and that helps lift your body up. You're going to lift your head up and then your feet go down, and you stand-- very easy. Obviously much easier with an instructor in the water with you, but that doesn't mean you can't do it by yourself.

So let me tell you: I’m not going to sit here and talk the whole time, because it's not very helpful. I want to tell you that there are great resources: you can learn to swim by yourself in the water if you are acclimated and there's no fear. If there's a fear and you need to get over that, the best instructor in the world cannot teach you to swim until you get over that fear. Now you might go to an instructor that works with people who have fears and phobias and they can help you get over that. But just a regular everyday instructor is not going to help you with an aquaphobia. You want to find an instructor that specializes in that, and then they can help you. Otherwise you've got to be ready to learn to swim for a swimming instructor to teach you. So come to the pool ready to learn, if you're if you're past that and you know you're ready to learn you can just get in and start swimming on your own. so if you can stand and you're comfortable in the water, you're comfortable in waist deep water, you're comfortable in chest deep water; you can push off the wall and glide, you can push off the wall glide and stand, you can push off the wall glide and kick-- this is great. Then all you need is practice time, and you can pay an instructor, you can go to swim lessons, you can go to group lessons, you can join a master swim team.

 If you don't know what a master swim team is-- a master swim team is just an adult swim team, but of course there's YouTube videos, there's also Facebook groups, there's swim dash-teach.com. My favorite that I’ve been using for adults for a long time is ‘Total Immersion’-- that's actually a book. But there's a lot of good videos that this guy has made, the book is ‘Total Immersion’ you can buy it on Amazon, you can find it online. On my page I’m going to post some other really good resources -- these are pdf documents that you can you can just download them and print them, so there's no reason to buy anything here. There’s an adult ‘Learn to Swim’ lesson guide -- this is free. These are free resources it's on usms.org, there's also ‘Simple Swimming’ that is also a free document-- it's a pdf file; it is by the swim-teach.com. There is a swim teach book-- it's $11.99 but it's a complete beginner's guide to swimming; this is not an instructor's manual, this is just a book for you to have to teach you how to swim. There’s a ‘Swimming Simply Easy Learning’ it's tutorial points I’m posting this as well. There's assets.sportsstg.com, there's ‘Swimming for All, Swimming for Life’ this one I like a lot it's very cool-- there's lots of pictures in here. There is resources.fina.org and then the last one that I’m going to share with you guys is ‘Beginner Swimming Program’ and it's an edu website and I’m going to put that up there as well.

So again like I’ve said before-- I could rewrite stuff, I could share stuff with you, I’ve got years of swimming experience, years of teaching experience, but there are other great people out there who have wonderful stuff that is free, that they put on the internet, they want you to learn to swim. I want you to learn to swim. Just to go over our ‘water safety rules’ it's learn to swim. You want to learn to swim, so if you don't know how to swim I encourage you to learn to swim. If you're afraid of the water, I really want you to try to get over that fear. I understand that it can be scary. If you had an issue in the pool, I fell to the bottom of my grandmother's pool, I know, that it's scary. If you were pushed into the water and expected to swim to the instructor, I also was pushed in the water and expected to swim to the instructor. I also --when I was 13-- almost drowned during a scuba diving trip-- on a drift dive. So I know it's scary. I have not had any other life-threatening water experiences, but I know that it's the water is scary, I respect the water, I like the water, I find it relaxing, i love swimming and if there's anything I can do to help, you I’m here. I’m here: I’ve got a Facebook page, I’ve got a website, I’ve got a podcast, if there's anything else I can share with you guys-- tell me what I can do, I just want you to learn to swim. I don't want any more drownings and I want you to learn to swim.

So I hope you guys understand that I care and I’m here for you, and I want you to learn to swim and if I can help you in any way please know, I mean what I say I’m here and I want you to learn to swim.

Well this concludes episode seven-- I’m very glad that you guys checked in.

Just to recap in case you guys have missed some of my episodes or this is the first time you're listening in:  the first episode was ‘layers of protection’, the second episode was ‘water safety rules’, the third episode was ‘the drowning process and how it goes down’, episode 4 is ‘why CPR is essential and its roles in the drowning process’, episode 5 was ‘how we pick our swimming instructor’ episode 6. 

Oops, I’ve messed up; okay we're going to have to go back. Episode 2 was ‘water safety rules’, episode 3 is ‘the drowning process and how it goes down’, episode 4 is ‘the emergency action plan’, episode 5 is ‘why CPR is essential and its role in the drowning process’. Episode 6 was ‘how we pick a swim instructor’ and today episode 7 is ‘how to teach yourself how to swim’.

Tune in next week because we're going to discuss ‘how to teach your child how to swim’ along with important things that you should keep in mind before you start swimming lessons.

 Also I need you guys to chime in and let me know what else you'd like to hear on our upcoming episodes. Share my podcast with others; make sure you follow me on social media. Share my Facebook page and my website with other people -- along with my podcast-- so that we can grow our audience.

This is Navigating Neva; this is Neva Nicole your host. Remember to have a happy and healthy summer-- we want zero drownings, stay safe and stay healthy guys. Take care