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Teaching a novice "sinker" to float

  • I'm training my little sister (15 y/o) how to swim. She had an awful experience with group classes and I'm trying really hard to work around a lot of those fears. She's also got some developmental delays - very uncoordinated, she's a very "shallow" breather (struggles to take good deep breaths)... So we're working on really basic skills, like floating and treading water. Trouble (for me) is that she's a "sinker." She doesn't float - at all. I'm really trying to help her figure out concepts like buoyancy and density, working on getting big deep breaths and learning to hold them, but it's rough. She's also very tense - she can't relax in the water, which I think contributes to her tendency to drop like a rock. Any suggestions, ideas, or help are very much appreciated. Thanks!

  • I would focus on the fun factor more than any technique. Develop water comfort, then move on to skills.

  • Excellent advice - fun is always the way to go. Today we had a great lesson, spent a lot of time with a pool noodle (for confidence) and I let her use my TYR Burner microfins, which really helped her move around better. We played with some dive toys in the 4' part of the pool and had a blast. She still has trouble with breathing deeply, but she's getting more comfortable with the water and getting over her terror of being abandoned in deep water or thrown off a diving board. It was good.👍

  • I agree with Jim B, the poster above, that water comfort is key. So is relaxation, which we feel when we exhale. (Inhale is tension, exhale is relaxation). Have your sister take a small inhale, then have her put her face in the water, and SLOWLY, exhale (through both mouth and nose). Repeat many times. If she is wearing goggles, then the 2 of you can drop down in the water and do this together, while looking at each other. Make funny faces, etc while exhaling. People are usually often surprised by how long they can exhale with only a small inhale.

  • This reminds me of my girls in their first swim lessons almost 10 years ago. My oldest, who was then 2, absolutely loved it! While the youngest , 1 yo, cried the first 2 months.
    Not really contributing to the thread, just reminiscing...Blow bubbles!

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