Let’s face it… it’s a tough skill to master

Putting their faces in the water can be a tough nut for many children to crack – and it’s something that we see regularly, especially in our beginners swimming lessons. 

While some children jump straight in and are happy to submerge their nose and their mouths, others take a little longer to master this skill. Although either scenario – and everything in between – is totally normal, it is something that we get quite a few questions about. So, it’s something that we wanted to talk a little bit about in this blog.

Why is this such an important swimming skill?

Learning to put their face in the water – and being comfortable doing so – is a really important skill for children to master in their swimming lessons. As well as enabling them to develop their aquatic breathing skills, being able to submerge their mouth and their nose allows children to develop a streamlined – or flat – body position while moving through the water (and this is key when it comes to stroke development and various other swimming skills).

Until they are comfortable moving around the pool with their face in the water, children may find it harder to complete some of the other skills required of them in the earlier stages of their learn to swim journey. This, of course, can be a cause for concern for some parents, who might see other children in their class achieve stage or distance awards, while their swimmer seemingly struggles to tick off any of the skills that they should be working towards.

Don’t panic

It can be hard when you feel that your child isn’t progressing quickly enough in their swimming lessons – and we understand that here at SwimNE (after all, many of us wear parent hats ourselves, so we know what it’s like). Remember that, until they can swim with their face in the water, your child won’t be able to maintain a flat body position – and this may mean that they find it harder to master other skills. It doesn’t mean, though, that they aren’t progressing…

You’ll have heard us – no doubt – say before that when it comes to marking skills as complete, and awarding distance and stage badges, consistency and great technique are what we look for. If we look at the skills that we develop during stage 1 as an example, you can see that many of them require a flat body position – in other words, they rely on your child moving through the pool with their face in the water.

Once your child does master the skill of putting their face in the water – and they will, trust us! – many of these other skills will quickly fall into place. And don’t forget that your swimmer is still developing these skills even when they aren’t fully comfortable putting their face in the pool. Once they do crack this nut, though, all the pieces of jigsaw fall nicely into place, and you’ll notice a real leap in your child’s confidence and ability in the water. It also means that skills such as push & glides, floatation, and more will be able to be completed with the correct technique – and this then helps your child move forwards with a really strong learn to swim foundation behind them (which does wonders further down the line).

Let’s face it

Learning to swim with their face in the water can be – let’s face it –  a tough skill to master for many swimmers. It’s normal, and very common. 

There are, of course, some things that you can do to help your child with this important learn to swim skill:

  1. Invest in a good pair of goggles – goggles can help your child find the confidence to put their face in the water, and can help to overcome any fears that they might have. We always recommend looking for goggles with clear lenses – which make it easier to see while waiting on the side of the pool – and a split strap at the back to help keep them in place. We stock a range of googles, including brands such as Vorgee and AquaSphere, at our PaddlePod venues; you can pick these up ahead of your next lesson.
  2. Practice in the bath – try out those goggles at home. Grab some bath crayons, and write little messages or draw pictures at the bottom of the bath. Get your child to put their face in, and tell you what they can see. Don’t forget those bubbles (aquatic breathing) while you’re doing this.
  3. Take the lead – go swimming together, and let your child see you put your face in the water. Seeing you – or an older sibling – do it will give them the confidence to try it themselves. Don’t forget that our friends at PaddlePod run regular family swim sessions at their venues in Killingworth and Shiremoor – perfect for some family fun time in the pool!
  4. It’s raining, it’s pouring – use a shower head or a watering can to pour water over your child’s head. Allow the water to run freely down their face, and have some fun playing games.
  5. Shower them with praise – as with everything, children thrive on praise, so be sure to give them a huge round of applause, lots of cheers, and thumbs up a-plenty. Do this at home, as well as after their weekly swimming lessons (we’ll do it too, of course!).

We are always here to help

Don’t forget that the SwimNE team are always here to help if you – or your swimmer – have any questions. You can speak to one of our coordinators at your next lesson, or you can get in touch with them at any time via email.