27-Feb-2017 / written by Anita
18-Jul-2016 / written by Ian Cross
According to a survey from the Swimming Teachers' Association (STA) over 1/3 adults in UK are not competent swimmers, or can't swim.
One member of the public interviewed describes unsuccessful lessons, with the teacher on the side of the pool ''telling me to 'do this, do that' while I sank to the bottom of the pool!"
Studio guest Lynn Mathieson tells her story of learning to swim, a significant part being a trip to Wales to overcome her fear of water. She could 'swim' a bit when she arrived for a course of 6 lessons but she was unable to float or glide. She didn't trust the water to support her and had never attempted to float on her back.
Ian discusses the problem of teaching and learning to swim based on the misconception that you've got to learn what to 'do'. He says the key is to learn to do nothing; just to enjoy the support of the water. Before the interview Al, the travel guy, said that learning to swim for him was like trying to stand in a hammock. Ian says you just have to learn to lie in the hammock, which is much easier.
"Once you've learned to trust the water to support you, you can learn to do anything, as Lynn's shown."more
07-Jun-2016 / written by Ian Cross
All sports come easily to Matt except swimming… Is it true that “black men can’t swim”?
Cultural – there is a need to change the message that black kids can’t swim.
None of Matt’s black friends can swim well.
Black US Gold medallist – Cullen Jones, part of relay team with Phelps, helps to counter the stereotype.
Sport England: Black Caribbean men much less likely to swim than population as a whole.
Matt wonders, Is it true that black men are not ‘made to swim’ physiologically?
Matt Bridge, Senior Lecturer in Coaching & Sports Science, University of Birmingham
Expert on human movement and human physiology.
In terms of buoyancy there are some differences and there is evidence to suggest that black men and women are less buoyant than white men and women.
Differences in bone mineral density (weight of bones)
Take average black man and average white man and you’re looking at 300grams difference in terms of skeletal mass.
But there are people in both groups that break the rule, you can get very buoyant black men and very heavy white men.
But generally black people are less buoyant than white people.
But a non buoyant person can still swim.
Lack of buoyancy is most significant at the learning phase. E.g black kid kicking with float, legs may sink. Once you take the floats away, it evens itself out.
Anecdotal note (Ian Cross, Swimming without Stress): black people learning to swim will often make up for lack of buoyancy through better direction through the water than their non-swimming white counterparts.
Also, regarding the discussion of legs sinking – it is the same problem as men’s legs compared to women’s legs. It doesn’t matter if the legs sink. A more significant measure of buoyancy is whether the head floats (some black men’s heads do float lower than white men’s). But if you use legs as a measure of buoyancy, you could just as easily say ‘men’ can’t swim.
Matt Bridge goes on to say that in the US marine corps, where non swimmers have to learn to swim, no one, black or white, has ever failed (quite stringent and vigorous) swimming test. This shows that social factors, confidence, motivation, peer group influences, are significant.
Richard Bailey, Professor of Sport and Education, School of Education, University of Birmingham, re learning sport:
It takes a lot of courage for an adult to learn to swim. Being in a group makes it more difficult. Recommends finding a specialist swimming teacher teaching on a 1:1 basis.
Matt goes to see teacher Gary Humphries (?) - He says childhood experiences can be a factor in being a non swimmer.
Says that Matt will float lower in the water rather than on the surface because he has little fat and high bone density and he will learn to use his buoyancy to great effect. “everyone can swim”. Explores relationship between height in water of head to flotation of legs.
Anecodotal note (Ian Cross, Swimming without Stress): Again, I would be more interested in how the head floats when he lets it go. I think there is too much emphasis on whether legs float when learning to swim.
Prof Richard Bailey - Socialization is significant – whether mother and father can swim, whether they take you swimming,etc - even though the idea that black people can't swim is nonsense. There is no physical reason why black people can’t swim but loads of sociological ones…. Friends and fear of failure, expectation of failure from friends v role models.
Matt tried to learn aged 9. RB says this is late because time for learning key motor skills, through deliberate play, is 3 – 7 years. By 9 – 10 years, need to be honing skills, ‘practice phase’ - likely to have missed out on the key skills 'learning through play' stage.
Also see Ian's blog piece January 2014 Who Thinks Black People Can't Swim?
Also see: Floating Foundations/ Floating is a Feeling / Control Freak? Can't Swim? / Sing When You're Winning / Being Vertical For a Change / On Your Back / Rotation Rotation Rotation / Sink or Swim? / Rescued, Learner Lost with Woggle at Leisure Centre / To The Wallmore
16-May-2014 / written by Ian Cross
08-Jun-2012 / written by Ian Cross
The interview took place in May 2010 and focuses on helping non-swimmers learn to swim.
Some of the topics discussed are..
...experiences training with Steven Shaw.
...the benefits of work in the water, in the horizontal plane, from an Alexander Technique point of view.
...the problem of swimming with the head out of the water.
...the need for hands on guidance.
...our approach to the first lesson with a fearful non-swimmer.
...fear of putting the face in the water.
...misconceptions about breathing and floating.
...connection between head/ neck/ back relationship and breathing.
...how water exaggerates both tension patterns and our ability to release and expand out of them.
...non-doing in the water as opposed to trying to 'do' something to make ourselves float.
...the importance for a non-swimmer of learning to regain the feet.
...getting a non-swimmer to be comfortable in the water
...being happy just to glide, not being too ambitious
...the usefulness of what Alexander called 'carrying out an activity against the habit of life'.
...learning through play and not rushing into formal strokes.
...whether Alexander Technique teachers without swimming expertise can help people in the water.
For other topics, from horse-riding to rheumatoid arthritis, see The Body Learning Podcast
23-May-2010 / written by Ian Cross
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“In these posts we want to encourage anyone who'd like things to be easier in the water. You may be a non-swimmer struggling to trust the water, an improver trying to understand how the strokes work, a recreational or fitness swimmer who tires easily, perhaps with aches and pains, or a swimming teacher looking for a different approach. Two questions running through this blog are: What is it about being in water that makes us happy and benefits our health? Where does our focus need to be, to enjoy these benefits?
If you find a post helpful, see the links underneath it to others with similar themes. Oh, and if you're on Facebook, please click 'Like'."Ian and Cheryl Cross - Swimming Without Stress