Swimming for Beginners … Can You Swim?

As a lifeguard and swimming instructor, swimming is and will always be foremost in my mind. I meet people from all over the world, and I’m interested in their lives. I also share about my life with them.

“Swimming for Beginners,” starts with the question, “Can you swim?” This is one of the first questions I ask people I meet. I get a mixed response. It is amazing that many people from the islands do not know how to swim. Some have no interest.

My mission is to introduce them to a fun and fulfilling pastime, which could also save their lives.

Hector-George-Campbell-1969
Hector George Campbell

Can You Swim?

Let’s start at the very beginning … my style. That’s a good place to start.

Swimming has many benefits from recreational to medical. Most people, especially those who learn to swim at an early age, was introduced to it mainly for recreation.

Many swimmers later on utilize this as a form of exercise for medical reasons. Others may have been advised to include it in their wellness routine.

Once I’ve established that a person is a non-swimming, my next move is to encourage them to change that status. This is not always an easy task.

Most people are naturally afraid of bodies of water, especially to immerse themselves. Half my job is done when they agree to start swimming lessons.

People who live near bodies of water or on an island in general should see it as critical to learn to swim. It is also good to learn lifesaving techniques. The life you save could be your own or someone close to you.

Let’s Begin.

Before allowing a student to enter the water, I establish two basic rules …

  1. They must listen to me.
  2. They must be willing to follow my instructions.

It is important to eliminate the fear factor by getting used to the water on their faces. Otherwise, this would be a huge barrier if they are startled by a sudden splash.

The method I’ve used throughout the years has been very effective. And although it’s difficult to convince everyone how important swimming is, I’ve had a high rate of success.

I instruct them to lay face down on the sand in very shallow water. Then they breathe out and hold their breath, close their eyes and mouth.

They lower their faces into the water, keeping it there as long as is comfortable for them. I have them repeat this exercise several times.

After they become comfortable doing that, they are ready to practice simple arm and leg movements in the shallow water. Then they go on to basic strokes.

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Next Steps … Or Strokes.

For the next step, they practice the strokes they have learned so far by swimming across the shoreline. This way, they do not wander out into deeper water. That could be frightening!

I usually do not go into the water with my students until they start swimming.

When their confidence has been built up enough, they are ready to launch out a little deeper. But first, they will learn to float and tread water.

These are two very important techniques that could make the difference between life and death. They can be used when a swimmer gets tired, instead of continuing to swim and run the risk of drowning.

Floating allows them to rest on their back without sinking. Arms are stretched out sideways, feet are together, chin is raised upwards to prevent water from covering the face.

Treading water allows them to stay in a vertical position in one place while moving their arms and legs in a circular or doggy paddle motion.

Different Folks, Different Strokes.

Different swimming strokes would have been introduced during the lessons. Everyone will have a preferred style or styles. The four basic ones are freestyle/crawl, breaststrokes, butterfly, and backstrokes.

Most students are willing to learn all strokes and feel confident enough in applying them. In the end, they will settle with their preferred choice.

Each student learns at a different pace. They are more comfortable when they don’t feel pressured or rushed to perform. Even if they are reluctant at first, in their own time they excel.

Some of my students have gone on to be lifeguards, swimming instructors, or involved in other water-related activities and professions. Quite a number of them never thought they would overcome their fear of water or learning to swim.

My goal is to get them beyond that.

Can You Swim? Yes, You Can!

At first, learning to swim may seem like an impossible task for many people. It’s a skill that can be learned easily if the student is willing to listen and obey the instructor.

Progress will be at each individual’s pace even in a group setting where everyone starts out with the same basic techniques. The level of trust and comfort will be helpful in the process.

Swimming has many benefits, and the initial fear of water can be overcome with the right approach and technique.

Although several strokes are learned, everyone will have their own personal style. What is your favorite swimming stroke and why? Let us hear from you.

It is fascinating when an individual transitions from being afraid of going into the water to becoming a fearless swimmer and, perhaps, lifesaver.

I would be thrilled to hear from my former students and acquaintances. There are many students from my Sunfish Swimming School.

Please reach out in the comments section below if you have benefited from my instructions or life in general.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. I will be more than happy to address them.

Learning Swimming Strokes: The Methods I Have Taught

Swimming is an art … a necessary life skill to have. Learning swimming strokes is fun and gets better with practice.

As a lifeguard and swimming instructor, I have taught all the basic strokes in addition to advanced ones.

Find a style you’re comfortable with or interchange them during your swimming routine.

Swimming

A Little History Lesson

References have been made to swimming for as long as mankind can remember. Books have been written, illustrations have been found from ancient times.

Old-fashioned swim aids, such as animals’ bladder and cork for floating, were also discovered.

Competitions have also been popular for many centuries. Indoor pools were built to hold these events and for swimming in general.

Then came the Olympics in 1896! Only males were included at that time, but in most recent years, women have become unstoppable.

Swimming is known to involve all the muscles of the body. This makes it highly beneficial for circulation and therapeutic for different ailments.

Indoor-Swimming-Pool
Indoor Swimming Pool

Warming Up

Every sport has a warm-up exercise before beginning … swimming is no exception. This allows the muscles and joints to slowly warm up before the more rigorous swimming exercise.

These include arms, shoulders, and legs, which can be done for a few minutes. They should not be too strenuous to get you tired, nor cause pain.

Some basic ones are raising and lowering the arms, rotating the shoulders, swinging the legs, and bending in different directions.

Now it’s time to head out to sea.

Warmup-Exercise

Let’s Begin … The Famous Four

These are the most common …

The Crawl: This was sometimes referred to as freestyle. Each arm is raised straight in front of you along the side of your head simultaneously.

You can choose to rotate your head to one side as you raise that arm, then switch to the other side at your convenience. An alternative is to breathe after a few breaths. Whatever is comfortable for you.

The head can be kept down if you’re wearing goggles and a snorkel for breathing.

The legs are kept straight with the feet doing a one-two, one-two “doggy paddle” rhythm. This will take practice to master.

Breaststroke: This is a beginner’s delight. It is more relaxing and easier to perform. The arms and legs are moved in a similar pattern.

From a belly-down position, the head is lowered into the water. The palms are placed together in front of your face with fingers closed. Push them forward, rotate them until the back of the hands touch each other.

A good starting point is pushing off with your feet on the sand or from a jetty or diving board with your hands in position.

The head is raised from the water for breathing and lowered simultaneously. It is raised when the arms are alongside the body and lowered to meet the hands before they separate again.

If you’re wearing goggles and a snorkel, you can keep your head down.

Keep fingers together and push hands and arms apart, bringing them down to touch your upper legs. In the meantime, the legs are drawn up with knees touching. They are then pushed away sideways while straightening the legs.

This takes practice to keep the rhythm going.

Butterfly: The butterfly stroke takes a lot of energy and produces the most splash! To start, position yourself as with the breaststroke. Keep your fingers closed and hands together before rotating them to push out.

The arms will be pushed out sideways alongside your body, then exit the water. They are then thrown over to reenter the water and continue the procedure.

The knees are slightly bent with feet together, pointing downwards, and ankles relaxed. Kick downwards as the knees straighten before repositioning. This propels the body forward together with the hand movements.

Inhale while the head is up; exhale while in the water. Perfect this stroke by practicing.

Backstroke: It is similar to the crawl, except it is performed face up. Synchronization of arms and legs are important. Speed is dependent mainly on the arms propelling the body. The kicking motion of the feet helps to balance the body.

If you can master any one of these strokes with a lot of practice, you are well on your way to more advanced techniques, if you choose. You may want to train as a lifeguard, swimming instructor, or be certified in other rescue-related areas.

On the competitive side, you can train at different levels all the way to the Olympics!

Swimming-Olympics

Which Style is Yours?

It could be one or the other or all, but usually you will have a preferred style. Some people like a more easy-going and relaxed style. Others are more concerned about speed, getting to their destination in record time.

Some like to show off for their spectators, while others will mix it up for convenience. So, your preference will depend on what you want to achieve.

Comfort, safety, and purpose are influencers in choosing your style.

Swimming-Style

Let’s Recap

The art of swimming has been known since the beginning of time. Swimming has been mentioned in every era. Some parts of the world offer more opportunities, especially if it is close to the ocean.

A warm-up routine is a good place to start before heading out to sea. It is beneficial, allowing your body to be more prepared for the swimming activity.

We looked at four of the basic swimming techniques … the crawl, breaststroke, butterfly, and backstroke.

You can practice all of them or choose the one(s) you’re more comfortable with.

Can you Swim? Which is your preferred style? Please let us know.

If you have questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. I will be more than happy to address them.

This article has been prepared on behalf of Hector Campbell.

Mouth-to-Mouth Resuscitation: How I Save Lives

Drowning accounts for a large percentage of deaths each year all over the world. Many people living on the islands do not know how to swim so drowning incidents are high.

Fortunately, there are qualified lifeguards, swimming instructors, and others who are trained in lifesaving techniques. There are also swimmers untrained in this area who have risked their lives to save others.

Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation has prevented many individuals from experiencing an untimely death.

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What is Mouth-to-Mouth Resuscitation?

This is a universally accepted technique used in cases of drowning, choking, and other instances where someone has stopped breathing. Usually, the person will still have a heartbeat.

The rescuer blows air into the victims’ lungs by sealing his mouth over theirs. This is referred to as insufflation, ventilations, or rescue breaths.

It is generally used in conjunction with heart compressions during cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to restart breathing.

Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is a method I have used successfully for over 30 years as a lifesaver.

There are different variations to delivering “rescue breaths”…

  • Mouth-to-mouth and nose: This forms a better seal when working on infants up to 1 year old.
  • Mouth-to-nose: Sometimes there is vomit in the mouth or injuries preventing mouth-to-mouth. This is also an easier method when working on the person while still in the water.
  • Mouth-to-mask: This method is more common today than before. A mask serves as a barrier between the rescuer and victim. A one-way valve allows air from the rescuer to the victim but not substances from the victim’s mouth to the rescuer.

From a Lifeguard Stand: A Bird’s Eye View

I worked as a lifeguard for over 20 years. Whether or not I’m on the stand, I’m constantly scanning the entire beach looking for someone in need of help.

The elevated view from the stand has an advantage … a bird’s eye view. It’s easier to see movements right below me and far out at sea. I wear sunshades to protect my eyes and to prevent the sun from obscuring my vision.

Speed in getting to the victim makes a great difference. This includes running as well as swimming. Practice makes perfect. These skills are not automatic. Ongoing training, practice, and annual examination are critical to my rate of success.

Lifeguard-Stand
Lifeguard on Duty

Ready, Set, Go … No Time to Waste

As soon as I see someone showing signs of uncertainty or fatigue, I’m ready to move. I observe people’s behavior closely.

Children are not always monitored. Sometimes non swimmers venture out too far or lose their balance. At times, they are pushed in by idle friends. Drunks and others under the influence of some kind have turned up for a swim.

These are all vulnerable individuals I pay special attention to. My eyes are on everyone.

There is limited time in which to get to a victim before they swallow too much water and end up in greater danger. Water gets into the lungs, they stop breathing, and within minutes the heart stops. This leads to complications and may be fatal.

Drowning
This Person is Drowning

In the Nick of Time, Another Life is Saved!

A drowning person is terrified. They can’t keep afloat, they swallow water, and they’re not sure if they will be rescued in time. One of the most important thing I do is prevent them from grabbing on to me. They could easily bring me down if I allow that.

My task is to hold them in a way that the head is back with the mouth and nose above water. This way they have no control over me and can now relax. I get them to shore as quickly and safely as possible.

It is important to lay them on the sand and continue with the procedures. I ask them questions and reassure them, confirming that they are no longer in danger. When necessary, I request medical help for them.

I have never lost a life in all these years. For this I’m thankful. It is a blessing to be able to make such a difference in people’s lives.

Rescued
Rescued from Drowning

Eyesight to Hands On

Learning to swim is a beneficial and necessary skill for anyone to have. Lifesaving skills is an asset, which has been used to prevent many untimely deaths.

Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, including its variations, is performed independently in drowning incidents. It is also a part of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

My role as a lifeguard and swimming Instructor is to save lives by teaching and rescuing. Children of any age, non swimmers in particular, and people under the influence of substances are especially vulnerable. They should be monitored closely.

If you find yourself in a position where there is no professional lifesaver, you may not have time to think through your actions. Remember, it is critical to always be in control.

It is important to get to a victim immediately to prevent further complications or death. Hold the person being rescued in a way that prevents them from grabbing you and pulling you under.

Get them out safely, lay them down, ask questions, reassure them, and seek medical help where necessary.

Best of all, pursue some kind of training to equip yourself to help others. Also, become a stronger swimmer by taking time to practice regularly.

This article has been compiled on behalf of Hector Campbell. I hope it has benefited you in some way. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. I will be more than happy to address them.

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