In swimming lessons, students of all ages and abilities learn a potentially lifesaving skill that is also an excellent form of low-impact aerobic exercise. Most beginning swim classes are divided into groups based on ability and age and typically follow a specific curriculum, such as YMCA, American Red Cross or Starfish Aquatics Institute. Many of the teaching tools used by swim instructors in class are accessories that students can also use to practice on their own, outside of class.
Kickboards and Pull Buoys
Kicking while holding onto a kickboard allows the swimmer to focus on the proper form of any given kick while building muscle strength and endurance for a stronger kick. Using a board, the student can kick while holding her head out of the water, so she is better able to see and hear her instructors tips and suggestions. Pull buoys are used in much the same way to work the arms. A pull buoy, held between a swimmer’s legs, allows the swimmer to concentrate on proper arm technique while not having to worry about, or tire from, kicking.
Some swim lesson providers use flotation belts or swim bubbles to build confidence in students learning basic swim skills. Foam swim noodles can also be used for added support while learning how to paddle the arms or to help steady a student learning to kick with a kickboard. Life jackets — Coast Guard certified personal flotation devices, or PFDs — are sometimes used during a swim lesson to facilitate introduction to swimming in deep water. Some students, even though they may have learned to swim the width of the pool in shallow water, are afraid to try swimming in the deep end. Exploring the deep end while wearing a life jacket is often helpful in overcoming this apprehension.
A pair of well-fitting swim goggles is perhaps the most important swim accessory you can buy. Swim goggles should fit comfortably and have a good seal that doesn’t allow water to leak in. Because they keep water out of the eyes, goggles help with water acclimation and overcoming fear of submersion. Goggles allow students to watch from underwater as the instructor demonstrates a skill or breaks down the steps to a skill that is difficult to see from the surface, such as a flip turn.
Once you’re swimming widths of the pool and ready to start swimming the length, your instructor may recommend swim fins for part of your lesson to help you build strength and endurance. Swim fins used in lessons have much shorter blades than those used for scuba diving and are easy to slip on. Fins are excellent tools for helping novice swimmers learn to hold their feet in the right position for flutter kicks, and many swimmers find that using fins helps significantly when learning the butterfly kick.
Tips and Warnings
Check with your swim lesson provider before classes begin to see what, if any, accessories you should bring to class before purchasing items that may be discouraged, like nose clips or face masks. Most of the equipment you’ll use during class will be provided, but you may want to bring your own pair of swim goggles as well as a swim cap or something to keep long hair out of the way during lessons. Sunscreen and a rash guard, or swim shirt, are excellent swim lesson accessories for protection from the sun if your class is held in an outdoor pool.
All of which can be purchased from: