The Home Pool
INDIVIDUAL: Overview of Lesson One
If you finished the orientation exercises with little hesitation and were relaxed, pat yourself on the back! If you repeated each step several times and were looking forward to returning to the pool, you have accomplished much toward overcoming water shyness.
Lesson One is the first major hurdle and most difficult for reasons other than fear. It takes willpower to do something you dread instead of spending a quiet day or evening at home. This kind of strength will help you throughout the lessons. You have proven that you possess both determination and a positive attitude.
If you still have doubts or were uneasy with any tasks, rest assured that with each practice and repetition your anxieties will diminish and finally vanish. Always return to the last task previous to the one causing the problem and repeat it several times before going on to the more difficult one. Next, perform the difficult task only partially, gradually adding to it until you are able to accomplish the complete exercise with ease. BE AWARE: DO NOT GO TO A NEWER TASK UNTIL YOU ARE AT EASE WITH THE PREVIOUS ONES. If you skip around you will defeat the purpose of Task Analysis, the process of learning by breaking down a task into small components that are slightly more difficult, and progressively easing into them.
At any time during the lessons you may experience "frustration levels," best described as "coming up against a stone wall." It may seem impossible to go beyond them. Some common frustration levels are: being unable to keep your face under water for ten seconds; the inability to relax long enough for legs to rise slowly during a float; or unable to believe the water will support you enough to release one or both hands from the side while learning to free float. The important thing is to not give up!
Most water-shy people have the physical ability and coordination to learn everything in this swim manual within only a few days but are not capable emotionally to do them. They may suddenly become panicked for no apparent reason. They have told themselves many times that floating in water is fearful and here they are actually doing it! This sudden realization may evoke panic before reason. They need time to realize they were wrong to assume that they couldn't perform the task in question. This is one reason why the chaining method works so well--it allows the time to accept and get used to new thoughts about learning to swim.
Another way that chaining helps, is the repetition. It's boring to keep repeating from the beginning all the tasks you've already mastered. It's analogous to children who are allowed to look up math answers on printed multiplication tables. They soon find it's easier and quicker to memorize them. This practice only works if children have been given enough problems to make the memorization worthwhile. Similarly, those who repeat long lines of chaining tasks find it easier to memorize them than to concentrate on one single fearful task.
The following lesson is for the Stationary Float. This means you'll be floating while holding onto an immovable object such as the pool side. You may also wish to read the directions under "Instructor" in Chapter Three for greater insight. The "Individual" instructions are similar.
It's helpful to have someone with you when you perform these tasks so you can receive immediate feedback, though it's not absolutely necessary. However, if you're by yourself and unable to perform a stationary float it may take you longer to figure out why than if someone were there to point out what you are doing incorrectly.
First, review ALL of Lesson One. Do not proceed until you are at ease with every task. This includes the side steps, knee bends, face in water, side kicks, showers and all orientation exercises.
1--At shallow end grasp side of pool--with hands shoulder width apart.
2--Step back, straightening arms and locking out elbows. Keep arms STRAIGHT!
3--Bend forward until chest is flat atop water. Face need not be in water at this time.
4--Move feet back as far as possible with legs completely stretched out so far that you are on tiptoes.
5--Hold this locked out knee and elbow position to count of five.
6--Relax and stand erect.
7--Repeat task from beginning at least 3 X or until at ease. You must have the feeling of being stretched out in the water.
8--This time after stretching out, take a deep breath and while chest is atop water lie head and face down into water. Hold this position for three seconds.
9--Lift head, stand and relax. Take a deep breath and repeat the previous task (#8).
10-Repeat tasks #8 and #9 at least four times (4 X).
11-This time repeat same, relaxing neck muscles, letting water buoy your head. Keep head well down into water for five seconds and then stand.
12-Repeat previous task (#11) at least 5 X or until at ease with it. Work up to maintaining this position for ten seconds.
13-Maintain position again, but this time with slight pressure of hands against pool side. Legs will slowly rise to surface. Lifting your head will cause legs to go back down.
14-Repeat this sequence until you are comfortable holding the Stationary Float to count of ten seconds. IMPORTANT: stretching out is the key to holding the float. (See illustration below)
Most water-shy people performing a stationary float for the first time find it enjoyable. This is because they've never experienced near weightlessness before. Water, being heavier than air, easily supports a body that's in a stretched out position whether prone (face down) or supine (on the back). This fact is important to remember if you can neither swim nor tread water and are waiting to be rescued.
To end a stationary float, keep holding onto the side and simply lift up head or bend elbows and your legs will go back down.
If floating makes you nervous, keep repeating the preliminary tasks until the uneasiness is extinguished.
If unable to accomplish a good stationary float refer to Frequent Problems below for possible errors. Also, refer to Frequent Problems in Chapter Three under Instructor.
FREQUENT PROBLEMS WITH STATIONARY FLOAT (Individual)
Check for all of these:
1--Head not well into water; neck muscles not relaxed. Drop relaxed head down into water.
2--Elbows not locked out--arms not straight.
3--Chest partly out of water. Bend forward until chest is flat on water's surface.
4--Legs not stretched back far as possible. Not standing back far enough to be on tiptoes.
5--Back is either swayed (causes chest to lift up); or arched (prevents legs from stretching out).
6--Hands pulling downward on pool wall. Causes elbows to bend. Push straight out against side, not downward.
7--Keep body straight. Do not turn or twist waist, hips or neck.
8--Allow enough time for legs to gradually rise--some legs take longer.
9--Breathe in enough air to stay afloat at least ten seconds.
If you've read all the above errors, and believe you are doing everything correctly but still can't acquire a stationary float, have someone else check you or ask the lifeguard. If the other person agrees that you're doing everything correctly, refer to Special Problems in Chapter Three as well as below.
SEE ILLUSTRATIONS AT BOTTOM OF PAGE
SOME SPECIAL PROBLEMS
SEASICKNESS: Though unusual with a stationary float, some may feel slightly dizzy or nauseous performing it for the first time. It's more likely to occur with the Free Float when there's nothing solid to grasp. The feeling goes away after taking deep breaths, relaxing and repeating lead-up tasks. I've only had one pupil, a man with a history of sea and motion sickness, who was unable to continue classes because moving water made him too ill to learn a free float. At the time, I was teaching in an outdoor pool with bright sunlight and dark shadows reflecting onto the water when clouds passed, which probably contributed to his problem. Such strong reactions are rare. I've asked other instructors about this and found none who have encountered pupils who became seasick while learning to swim.
BREATHLESSNESS: Generally, this is not serious but it's often a concern to pupils. They may say they feel oppressed or that they do not have enough air when fully immersed in water. Most people don't notice any difference, but there IS a logical explanation for it. The body also breathes through its pores. When most of the body is under water not as much air goes through the pores. Those who are sensitive will notice it. Another event adding to this effect is water pressure. Water pushes against the chest and back, causing some people to feel like they are "lying on the floor with a sack of potatoes across my chest," as one pupil put it. These sensations become unnoticeable as you progress and get used to them.