Hi Aqua Families! Let’s talk about progression.
There will always be peaks and valleys when it comes to progressing in any skill. The Red Cross Swim Kids program that Aqua uses has a lot of benefits. It’s split up into 3 main sections:
- Skills and Water Safety
- Fitness Activities
This format helps structure a lesson from an instructor’s point of view because they can see exactly where each individual swimmer needs to spend time and energy working. Maybe it’s the distance swim that’s giving them trouble. Focus on Fitness Activities. Perhaps Eggbeater has been challenging a swimmer. Focus on Water Safety Skills for the next few weeks.
These are the things going on in a swim instructor’s mind at any given point during a lesson: Where to go next. A plan of action moving forward. This is the exact reason that we don’t like to focus on what level the child is in. I know that doesn’t make much sense right out the gate. Hear me out!
Levels are a quick way for us to gauge skill level ON PAPER. That’s it. When deciding what to work on with a class, getting a badge is very rarely on my mind. I feel my swimmers’ time is better spent on developing and progressing skills, thinking of the badges as a by-product of the skill development.
Over the years I’ve seen a lot of swimmers and their families get very disappointed about not completing a level when, in reality, they had a fantastic session where they improved tremendously! This saddens me deeply. Hitting an arbitrary checkpoint on the road towards being a great swimmer matter less than the fact that they are progressing in the first place in my mind. We can absolutely celebrate these checkpoints when they happen, but should also celebrate mastering a Standing Dive, getting a perfect ‘S’ pull during Front Crawl, keeping ankles flexed during Front Whip Kick, or any number of accomplishments that don’t have to be involved with the receipt of a badge.
Here at Aqua, we take a huge amount of pride in producing the absolute best swimmers from our program. There are no handouts and our swimmers will work hard each and every week to achieve their individualized goals. This method can bring up some tense situations where a swimmer and an instructor may disagree on what constitutes a change in level. These are moments I like to remind my families that we can and will progress any skill when it’s ready to be progressed. There have been many situations where a swimmer will be Level 5 on paper because they are having a tough time with the Whip Kick needed for that level, but will also be working on Stride Entries (Level 7), Eggbeater Treading (Level 8) and Elementary Backstroke (Level 6).
Let’s have a great swimming year and remember the knowledge and skills learned are more important than any badge!