Just because I enjoy some awful dad humor… let’s JUMP right into how to teach our swimmers the proper way to jump safely into a body of water.
Jumping into the pool is generally a skill most kids enjoy performing, however, getting them to perform the skill safely can be tricky. Before any swimmer can jump in, they have to make sure that the water is deep. This involves teaching your swimmer what the difference between shallow and deep is. By sliding into a pool “the safe way” (by rolling onto the belly and sliding in to hold the all with two hands), our swimmers can determine whether the pool is shallow or deep depending on if their feet can touch. This small step seems redundant, but can be important in showing swimmers the appropriate level of caution that must be taken around the pool.
Once it’s been determined that the water is deep, a swimmer can stand on the side of the pool with their toes touching the edge. We always want to stress this as oftentimes, swimmers will take a leap too far away from the edge and come close to smacking the back of their head against the wall, or slip on the deck during the attempt.
With toes on the edge, your swimmer should be trained to ask you a question – “is it safe?”
We want to instill this idea of asking about safety before taking action around any body of water. By encouraging them to ask this question, we’re teaching our swimmers that they must be accompanied by someone who can answer the question and to acknowledge that they can’t simply jump without checking for specific signs that could potentially cause harm to them or those around them.
When swimmers are first learning to jump, or have developed an aversion to independence in the water, they’ll tend to ask you to hold their hands for support. If this happens, it’s important to show your swimmer that you can hold their hands while standing off to the side, rather than right in front of them. When we support our swimmers by standing directly in front, ready to catch them, we’re showing them that jumping on or towards people in the pool is safe and that’s never something we want to promote.
So what if your swimmer isn’t jumping off the wall at all?
Sometimes, especially at younger ages, swimmers won’t push off the wall at all, or they’ll try stepping off the wall with one foot instead of two. When you experience this, ask your swimmer to take a step back from the wall and hop up and down like a bunny, kangaroo, etc. This gets them practicing the mechanics that they can eventually replicate when they step back up to the edge of the wall.
Safe jumping is a skill that some instructors and parents overlook because of its redundant, repetitive nature, but at the end of the day, we want our swimmers enjoying the pool and all of its possibilities while practicing safety and caution to the best of their ability. Let’s keep the pool fun, exciting AND safe for our children.