I’m in the process of organizing a training clinic for the staff at the facility I teach at and this clinic is going to introduce a tool that instructors can use to train their swimmers on how to save their own lives if they fall in the pool and to test swimmers on how well they’re taking in the knowledge of safety we work to instill in them everyday. The objective of the clinic is to encourage my coworkers to take on new ways of teaching and to expand upon the skills they’re already trained in. The biggest take away is to have a new skill under their belts that they can incorporate into their lessons. The skill that’s being introduced is called a Pop-In and it’s a progressive drill that can adapt based on the level of the swimmer and is a great way of showing parents where their swimmer stands in regards to water safety.
In its most basic form, a Pop-In starts off with a swimmer sitting on the side of the pool with their hands on their knees. The instructor stands in front of them and picks them up by pinning their arms to their sides to avoid them grasping onto their body as the skill is performed. The swimmer is then submerged in the water and are trained with time to turn around and grab the wall. The objective being to teach our swimmers to reach for the wall in that which they fell in on rather than seeing the opposite wall and attempting to swim to that side of the pool.
The best part of this drill is that it can be adapted to fit the needs and skill level of the swimmer you’re working with. If a swimmer isn’t going underwater without feedback yet, they can be brought into the pool, asked to blow bubbles and then turn to grab the wall. If a swimmer is more advanced, the instructor can sit next to them on the wall and perform a submersion by “popping” the swimmer into the pool and having them be completely independent when grabbing for the wall.
During my Parent/child classes, I use this drill as a safety check to inform the parents how their swimmer responds to being submerged. Oftentimes, a swimmer won’t understand to grab for the wall and will instead push the wall and attempt to grab onto the person standing nearest them. This is what the drill works to solve as we can’t allow our swimmers to think that this behavior is beneficial to maintaining safety in the pool. The more they practice, the better they’ll respond to going underwater near the wall.
A Pop-In is an invaluable tool that instructors can add to their repertoire of skills to get their swimmers active and engaged in safe practices around the pool. Instructors, if you’re struggling to fill a class with beneficial content, implement Pop-Ins in creative ways between other skills you’re currently working on. You’ll definitely see a change in the way your swimmer reacts to being under the water and nothing compares to the feeling of knowing that your swimmer is making progress and becoming water safe.