Level 1

Swimming Ideas: Level 1

Going underwater, and Support

Minimum Ages: 2.75 years or 3 years old.

Participants should be able to stand on their own, understand language, and have control of their limbs, and ability to follow directions.

Quick Test Criteria:

Does the swimmer go underwater on their own?

Testable Skills

  • Go underwater unassisted
  • Supported front float with face in water
  • Supported back float with ears in water
  • Go underwater, then stand up on own

Why are these skills in Level 1?

Everyone needs to start somewhere. In swimming, the first essential skill upon which all others are formed is going underwater. If you do not put your face in the water, you cannot do any of the other strokes, or swim efficiently. Yes, you *can* swim without putting your face in the water, but we’re in the business of teaching people to swim, and primarily, teaching children to swim well.

Going underwater is essential to moving forward. This is the foundation upon which we build swimming.

We selected three skills initially: going under, supported front, and supported back. Going underwater and finding your footing was added to ensure that participants were able to stand on their own in the water, as well as go under, lay flat, and then find their footing to stand up on their own.Together,these four level one skills are baseline skills, things so basic, so essential to moving forward, that we have to establish them here before allowing participants to move on.

Level 1 is just as much about getting participants in the water and getting comfortable in a swim lesson setting as it is teaching them swim skills. A significant portion of this level should be spent playing games, singing songs, and doing activities that expose participants to the pool environment; use the wall, stand on the bench, use the ladder or stairs, entering and exiting the water, etc. Furthermore, significant attention should be placed on how activities are run. Instructors here should establish routine and class etiquette which are important to instill early.  As this is the first experience many swimmers will have with swim lessons, we’ll need to teach things like how to enter the water, waiting for the instructor to enter the water first, and learning to follow instructions.

Supported floats are tested in level 1 to gauge participant ability to follow direction, demonstrate comfort and trust in the instructors. Most participants in Level 1 will be terrified of swimming alone, or doing things without support. We’ll be looking at can they relax while doing front and back floats with the instructor. When the body is fearful it goes rigid and tends to sink. We want to see relaxed and comfortable body throughout.

Main activities:

  • Various games, songs, activities around going underwater, which includes putting your mouth, face, or eyes underwater. Ultimate goal is the participant going underwater completely on their own repeatedly with ease.
  • Jumps from the side with support
    • TIP: always ask the participant if they want to go underwater on each jump. Follow up on their request. Eventually they’ll agree to going underwater which can be a key sign they’re ready for Level 2.
  • Supported front glides with the instructor.
  • Supported back glides with the instructor.

Special note:

Criers and scared children that claw their way out of the pool and run for their parents is to be expected. You will have kids that cry, that refuse to participate, and will be afraid of leaving their parents. You many need special attention devoted to these levels. Make certain to train staff on how to deal with crying participants, and refresh managers on how to deal with parents. We recommend you maintain a ratio of 1:4 at most for these levels.

See more details and specifics in the free Level Structure course.