Have your swimmers get used to jumping in from the side. If you’re attempting to teach diving from the blocks for racing starts, have them jump off the blocks first. Being comfortable leaping from the side into the water is the first step to diving. If the swimmers are not comfortable going deep underwater they are going to have an extremely difficult time overcoming that fear diving straight down.
You can use this progression:
- Hold both hands Jumps
- Hold 1 hand Jumps
- Jump in the water and catch swimmer
- Jump in, let swimmer fall in the water then pick them up
- Jump in, let swimmer fall in water, resurface on own, then assist
- Jump in, swimmer falls in, recovers to surface, turns around to the wall on own, or swims to instructor.
The seated dive is the first actual head first entry that someone should be exposed to. The swimmer has almost complete control over they fall as they are closer to the water’s surface, and they can easily turn it into a glide and less of a drop.
Have the child sit on the edge of the pool, butt on the edge, feet dangling in the water or pressed up against the side of the pool in or near the water.
Roll the body forward in streamline (hand over hand, elbows squeezing ears, looking down).
Get long over the water if possible and push with the feet. Use the legs to drive the body forward through the water.
For this Dive, it isn’t as much about going down as it is learning to elongate the body and stretch it out over the water and through the water as much as possible.
Instructor can assist by doing the following:
- If in the water, hold the child’s hands and gently pull them forward into the pool
- On the deck, press their lower back down and away
- On the deck, place a hand on the child’s feet and leave it there: ensure that the feet stay there till the end of dive.
Typically if a child has mastered the kneeling dive, the other dives are easy. Kneeling is the beginning of the separation from those children that are no longer afraid of falling underwater and the other children who still embrace their anxiety and dislike the upside-down dropping motion.
The best tool we have to overcome this fear is repetition. Spend LOTS of time repeating the same motions to remove that fear of falling in the water.
Use instructional words to allay fears. Tell swimmers to arch their body backwards once they’ve jumped in to push them back to the surface. Remind them to stay long in streamline and they’ll float up to the surface soon. Let them kick or swim their way back up to the top after they jump in. Assure them that you’ll be there to help them if they need it.
Criteria of a kneeling dive:
- One knee bent down. Top of foot and knee supports weight
- Other legisforward, foot on the edge with toes curled over.
- Knee should be near face
- Arms should be in streamline over head
- Back should be mostly parallel to the deck or water surface
- Get low to the ground
- Get long with the body when you PUSH with legs
- Back should not RISE up as child pushes forward.
Standing dives are true dives in the water. If the child is jumping in FEET first, then it is a jump, and they should move back to seated or kneeling dives and master hand and head first entries.
Swimmers can put either two feet over the edge to grip the side or just one foot in a staggered “track start” position. Either one is viable and effective. We recommend you start where you want to end instead of teaching something twice you don’t need to (if possible).
In a standing dive set up by standing up straight, get your feet in position, and then spine straight stand upright, relaxed.
Instructor should say, “take your mark.” and child will grab the edge of the pool with their hands, and bend at the waist. Keep the head low looking at the back foot, or feet, and lift the hips up.
Instructor should then say, “GO.” and the child will dive into the water.
Remember these key points:
- Get toes over the edge
- Take your mark by bending at waist, not squatting down
- Lift the hips up in air on “take your mark”
- On “Go,” push with feet and extend into streamline
- Jump over the air
- Back and body should not rise above horizontal line of back in “take your mark” position
- Stay low.
- Get long
- Be fearless and LEAP!
For more guides, games, and plans in an easy to read format: Swimming Lesson Plans
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