Chapter Four Stationary Float~Individual
The Home Pool


The Free Float and Recovery--Instructor


If you have pupils unable to perform the Stationary Float due to deep fear they should be given certain assignments. For example, tell them an exact number of times to do various, easy, specific tasks. The tasks may be smaller components of those previously given for the Stationary Float. Some suggestions are: holding breath to the count of ten a given number of times with face either in or out of water; performing the primary float position with head above water; or to stand up at each one or two second intervals after putting face in water, etc. When concentrating on such tasks pupils eventually forget about their fears.

Remind them to go at their own pace. It's more important for pupils to lose their fears than trying to keep up with the class and becoming more frustrated. Anxiety may only be succumbed by repeating simple tasks in the pool.

Strongly stress the necessity of visiting the pool between lessons to practice. This strengthens self esteem, willpower and commitment. Make certain they realize that the longer they've had the fear the deeper it is, and therefore will take longer to extinguish it. Emphasize that they must not compare themselves to others who progress at a faster rate. Encourage them by repeating that with time, they WILL feel at ease in the water.

Helpful Hint: If more than one person in class has extreme trauma, suggest that they practice together. They will give each other support and progress more quickly.



1--Practice warm up exercises at side.

2--Review the Stationary Float (explain, demonstrate, class practice, repetition)

3--Help individually until each one maintains a good stationary float, holding it for least ten seconds (head down, arms straight, legs rise slowly, body straight) This is a MUST!


In Water-Shy classes It's absolutely necessary to teach the Recovery BEFORE continuing with the Free Float. Unlike children or those without aqua phobia, adults who have never learned to swim become confused when attempting to regain a standing position after a free float. They often lose their balance and stumble which easily leads to panic. The following progressions are easy, fun tasks I've devised that teach them to recover from a free float without loss of balance.


1--Have class face you in water at shallow end. Explain why a good recovery from a float is necessary.

2--Holding onto side, perform a perfect stationary float, then push away from wall for a free float and recover, pulling both hands back equally to attain a standing position. Explain this is proper recovery.

3--Repeat # 2, but this time do a poor recovery, putting one leg down first, stumbling, going under water and flailing arms as if panicked. This demonstrates the importance of a proper recovery.

4--Perform a free float and recover slowly, pulling arms toward back evenly, lifting head and bringing both feet to pool bottom at same time. Explain each step.

5--Tell class that they are NOT going to perform a free float at this time--only the moves for a recovery.

6--Have class stand side by side at shallow end as you perform the following moves going past them: Standing straight, extend arms forward, shoulder width apart. Lean forward and pull arms downward past hips and toward back. Let strength of your pull lift feet off bottom causing a short forward hop. (See illustration below)

Left to Right Positions: A--B--C--D--E

A--Stand erect, hands down.
B--Bend forward, arms pull back, hop begins.
C--Chest thrusts forward, arms continue back, hop reaches apex.
D--Feet touch bottom at SAME TIME.
E--Arms balance body evenly and continue backward. Birdy Hop completed, body erect.

Continued Progressions:

7--Stress strongly the importance of keeping arms and legs evenly balanced. Feet must jump up and return to pool bottom together.

8--Demonstrate the Birdy Hop slowly several times, then fast.

9--With pupils standing side by side at shallow end, begin at one side and perform continuous Birdy Hops to other side in front of them.

10--Have pupils line up and take turns doing Birdy Hops across shallow width of pool as you critique individually.

The most common problem is landing on one foot before the other touches down which may cause pupils to stumble. Since they are not doing a recovery from a free float, they will be able to regain their balance without becoming panicked. This is an easy and fun exercise and after a few times performing the Birdy Hop across the pool width everyone will have learned it. All my classes were able to perform it well--even a tiny woman who was thin, short and with practically no muscle mass.



This section teaches how to recover from a Stationary Float using the Birdy Hop. Until now pupils have recovered simply by standing up while holding onto the side. The following progressions will ease pupils into learning the Free Float.

1--With class in semi-circle around you, demonstrate a stationary float. While holding the float, bring both arms downward and back. Explain: "This is the same arm movement as the Birdy Hop, and though I don't hop, my knees bend and both feet touch bottom at the same instant."

2--Demonstrate several times, stressing again the importance of both feet touching bottom at same time and arms pulling equally hard together.

3--Have class hold onto side and perform the Stationary Float with Birdy Hop recovery. Critique individually. (See Frequent Problems below.)


1--STUMBLING can occur when arms, legs or body are off balance.

ARMS: One arm pulls back harder or is slower than the other. Check that both arms pull with equal strength and together. Remedy: Pupil stands in one spot and practices pulling with both arms equally in strength and speed. Pupil may need to do 20 or 30 reps. before obtaining a good even pull.

LEGS AND FEET: See that both legs lift up together and feet touch bottom at same time. Have pupil concentrate on this holding onto side and jumping up and down with legs going up and coming down together. Have pupil use a kick board (or floatation device) and holding onto it, practice correct hops across width of pool making sure legs and feet move in unison.

BODY: Look for body listing to one side. This usually occurs when legs and arms are off balance, but sometimes everything looks correct but the pupil stumbles. To see if body is listing, have pupil lie hands onto your palms and perform a stationary float. Step backward with pupil in tow and check if body dips to one side. If pupil is made aware of this, it's often remedied, otherwise, have pupil practice stationary floats holding onto side and compensating for the list until proper balance is automatic.



The first time pupils perform a free float they may need help getting back to their feet even if they've already mastered the Birdy Hop. Keep this in mind and stand next to anyone doing a Free Float for the first time. You may review the "helping hand" (below) and teach it to your pupils who will be working with partners for safety.

A reassuring touch at the elbow may be all that's necessary, but if pupils need help to regain equilibrium, grasp their arm just above the elbow with your thumb on inside of arm and lift up.

1--At shallow end have class form semi-circle around you. Explain the Free Float.

2--Perform perfect stationary float, then lift one hand off side and return it still maintaining float then perform the partial Birdy Hop.

3--Have class line up at side and perform stationary float then lifting one hand up and back, and performing the partial Birdy Hop. Critique.

4--When all perform perfectly, have them do same as above with opposite hand. Critique.
Do not let anyone who is unable to perform these two tasks to continue, but have them practice alone until mastered.

5--Have class form semi-circle around you. While maintaining stationary float, slip one hand off side and back, then the other hand off and back, one after the other. Do the partial Birdy Hop.

6--Class performs # 5 at least 4 X until performed perfectly. Critique individually.

7--Demonstrate stationary float. Push against side slightly with fingertips. Free float for an instant then grab side again. Demonstrate slowly at least 2 X and faster at least 2 X. Do the partial Birdy Hop recovery after each.


8--Have pupils perform # 7 while you stand beside each individual. This task will be fearful to most pupils so you MUST let them know that you are ready to help them.

9--When pupils are able to perform this simple Free Float with the partial Birdy Hop, instruct them to choose partners. Review instruction for "the helping hand." Partners take turns watching each other. Have each partner practice The Free Float with Partial Birdy Hop at least 10 X. Be certain that they are at ease with these tasks before continuing to Chapter Five.


1--Primary cause of failure is forgetting to maintain a good Stationary Float FIRST and then holding it long enough to free float. Have pupils repeat all tasks for the Stationary Float from the beginning and learn to hold the float to counts of 10, 15, 20 seconds or more.

2--HOLDING ONTO SIDE or not letting loose. This is fear based, lacking confidence in either their ability to recover or in being able to free float. Reps. should be done with Birdy Hop and the partial Stationary Float to build confidence.

3--UNABLE TO FIND SIDE AFTER FREE FLOAT: This may be caused from disorientation, or pupils have pushed away from the side farther than they had expected. Have them practice with partner lightly touching an elbow to guide or support as needed. Pupil may kick slightly until fingers touch side or perform the Birdie Hop without touching side.

4--BODY TWISTING. This often occurs when holding side with one hand. It's caused from bending the elbow of gripping hand and/or turning head or waist to one side. Tell pupil to think about keeping arm and body position straight. Remedy: Have pupil slightly push against side with the gripping hand.


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