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Children need to discover swimming! Professor Robert A. Strauss M. Ed

When is the right time for kids to start swimming school? What is the easiest way to motivate a child to persevere and stay with swimming as long as it possible? The explanations are given for the Swimming Dad by our #Blog guest, legendary an aquatic guru Professor Robert A. Strauss, M. Ed, who has dedicated his professional career to aquatics for almost 50 years.

Robert Strauss teaching, coaching swimming since 1973. He has enriched the lives of babies, toddlers, school-age children, teens, and adult, assisting them to discover how to be safer and stronger swimmers. Strauss is well known for the development of instructional skills based on soft-touch and soft-voice.

Robert represented Mexico as a member of the National Team from ’68 to ’73 the highlight was the Munich Olympics in 1972. Coach Strauss and his life partner, Jennie, founded Swim Gym in 1984.

When do you think is the right time for kids to start swimming school and why then?

The best time for children to initiate their aquatic life is realy when they come home from the hospital. The way we bade them, probably initally even in the sink with a little foamy protection or in the kitchen sink and of course in a little bathtubs, plastic, rubber-plastic tubs with a little foam for them to reclaim comfortably, just getting them used to the water. The process will still be slow....

When should they start going to swim school? Well when they are healthy. When they got all their shots, the initial set up shots and it is a process it’s not like you learns to swim.

Children need to discover swimming.

It is important to understand one thing, the arms when you born are very little levers compared to the size of their head. A good parameter to understand when the children would be able to move independently and acquire their own breath will be when the elbow reaches the top of the head, when their arms straight up to the sky. You will find that the adults’ elbows are about two to three fingers above the head and the child’s arms at the beginning of life the elbows are about their ear. Imagine if your ear was as high up as your elbow, how big the head would be!? Instead of you caring 7kg head you probably would carry a 20kg head. And you’re also would have to hold on to a rail and you would also if you were running and you stop probably top all over forwards. So good time to start is as soon as mam, pap and the pediatrician is ready, because babies are ready to go from the start. It’s a process.

Can children who start with early age swimming classes and before the age of four get a false sense of security in the water?

Well I do not belive that children get a false sense of security if they start before age four. In fact in my book “Discover swimming” we talk about „NAIVETE”. Naivete coming from French means exactly: ignorance of the consecvences.

Children need to chose not to get near the water. So we need to spend a little more time training them on stayingout of the water and waiting for mom or dad to bring them inside the pool. I think if we spent more time training them to wait out, then training them to float on their back trough all kinds of desperate methodology, we would get a lot more miles and the children, if they can’t swim, they are not stupid or suicidal, they surely will not dive in, if they knowthey can not do it. Just protect them from themselves. And the kids will stay out 30 cm from the wall.

Should we withdraw the child from swimming classes if he shows repulsion after a few time? (from your experience)

The only reason that a child would show repolsone to swimming class is if the teacher is kind of a predator instead ofunderstanding the needs of the learner. No child when they feel protected, when they feel secure, when they feel safe, reacts in such a way. So, my sugestion to those parents of children that are like in their minds freeking out with the swim lesson is to change the teacher or change the enviroment, and make sure that the kids are perceiving the enviroment as frendly.

Onse a child begin swimming lessons they will be a few moments or a few classes of distrust or you know they just don’t trust in the whole place.... But you need to work on earning trust and showing them that you are there to protect them from themselves. You’ll be sucsessful.

When a child's parents ask you: When will my child learn to swim? Your answer is…?

When will my child learn to swim? That’s a really good question.

Objective parameters seam to indicate:

1. When the humerus has the elbow as high as the cranius, that means the top of the head.

2. When the child can color inside the line, that has to do with fine musle group coordination

3. When the child can ride his little bicycle without the weels in the back. That is large musle group coordinations as well as equilibrium or balance.

Those three ingredients, fine musle group coordinations, large musle group coordination and balance are elements that are indispensable to realy be able to develop the fines of the strokes of swimming, fly, back, breast stroke and free like we know them. There’s a lot of movements to learn.

What is the easiest way to motivate a child to persevere and stay with swimming as long as it possible? What is the easiest way to motivate a child to persevere and stay with swimming for a life time?

1. The first thing I would recomend is SAFETY. If the child feel safe in the enviroment that he is not use to it, he will return to it very frekvently.

2. Number two, have no EXPECTATIONS. It is very important to alowed the child to try his best under your tutorage and no expectations, to not use lines like “I know you can”. However after your interdused skill and you help as much as nesessery to accomplish it you could say: “I knew you could”.

This type of behevior with the children allowed them to come back to your class time after time, and it’s up to the teacher to keep them fired up and motivated.

More about Professor Robert A. Strauss M. Ed

From 1979 to present, Coach Strauss has contributed to learn to swim and competitive swimming conferences around the globe.

International Swimming Hall of Fame, the most presstigious award in the Learn to Swim Industry, announced that Robert Strauss was honored with the 2019 Virginia Hunt Newman Award.

Swim Gym is one of the Top 25 authorized providers of the American Red Cross in the South Florida Chapter, and includes certification of water safety instructors and life guards, as well as the learn to swim program, that teaches an average 500 children per week during the school year and approximately 1000 children per week during the summer camps.


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