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Natural swimming: learn to swim by playing to imitate animals

Colunista: Marcelo Barros de Vasconcellos


Everyone knows that swimming is beneficial, but the act of swimming for many people is lonely, repetitive and monotonous. Is displacement in the water boring for animals? Probably not.

The lightness with which the fish swim, the dolphin jumps, the whale spouts water and strikes with the tail, the alligator glides, the sea lion moves, the penguin dives, the duck floats, the frog moves, the shark accelerates and the dolphin sinks shows, a little, how much water can be explored.

Thinking about the pleasure of swimming, the method called natural swimming was created, which is a playful and extremely motivating way that teaches how to swim using the models developed over millions of years of evolution, by the different animal species. For beginners swimming teachers, natural swimming can be a valuable subsidy for the planning of classes and, for the experienced ones, a valid way of “airing” its contents and techniques.

Swimmimng imitating animals and aquacity

As the creator of the “swimming imitating animals” method, I say that the greater the experiences lived in the liquid environment, the better the psychomotor development and transference to the four swimming styles: freestyle (also known as crawl), backstroke, swim butterfly and breaststroke. Natural swimming provides new bodily experiences in the liquid environment using animals as a reference, seeking, through a variability of practice, a faster and more pleasant adaptation to the liquid environment, offering an improvement in psychomotor development.

The idea is that the student’s aquacity (level of adaptation that allows him safety and autonomy in the liquid environment) is improved in a playful way and not with the use of a board, noodles and other float equipment that provide false security in the liquid environment. Natural swimming uses only the body to move in the water by imitating the animals’ gestures.

There is a natural style for each swimmer, knowing his own body and knowing how to use it in the water, he will be able to perform most movements in a natural way, thus being able to overcome his deficiencies and limitations.

The man spent nine months in the liquid environment and in the first months of life out of the water he still has movements of swimming reflex, which are the movements that babies make if they are placed in the water, gestures that look like movements of the puppy swim, hitting legs and arms instinctively. This reflex decreases and every human being needs to relearn how to be alone in the liquid environment.

Hence the need for man, probably due to his high imitation spirit, to try to acquire the possibility of moving around in water, imitating the movements and attitudes of animals that, by nature, enjoy this ability to move naturally in the liquid environment.

It is possible that the ancient man, watching animals cross rivers and lakes, with lightness and smoothness, copied them and learned to stay longer in the water, moving and bathing safely. Data from the history of swimming show that, in Europe, the most usual swim was born from observing the way the frog performed its movements and this resulted in the primitive breaststroke.

As for the animal relationship, swimming itself, it is explicit in the nomenclature of some of the styles disputed in the competitions: the dolphin swim, given the similarity to the wave movements of this animal, and the butterfly swim, given the similarity to the movements of the wings of this insect (trajectory of the ancient stroke).

A big difference is that learning a swim will take a few months, for natural swimming is that the beginner student already leaves the 1st class swimming and playing with the animals. Some examples: the shark, placing his hands on his head; the puppy, moving with its head out of the water; the frog, with the kick with feet out; the alligator, opening its big eyes underwater; the dolphin, diving and undulating; the scorpion, shifting one foot out of the water; the starfish, with arms and legs spread apart; the crab, moving sideways; the hyena, moving around smiling; the bat, standing upside down with its hand on the bottom; live fish, with leg movement; swordfish, hands in front; laziness, with very slow movement; the kangaroo, jumping on its feet; the turtle inside the shell, embracing both legs; the ostrich, sinking its head in the water; the hummingbird, with fast movement without placing its feet on the bottom or one of the other seventy animals proposed by natural swimming.

How old is a child to start swimming?

The literature in the area has suggested six months to begin with the justification that the child has already taken most of the vaccines, however it is necessary to respect the principle of biological individuality. Six months is no rule. There are children who can start before and others after.

Consideration should be given to the teacher’s experience and the characteristics of the place where the class will be held. Is the pool exclusive for babies? If it is, there are no problems to start at six months, otherwise, from nine months to 1 year, since collective pools do not have the control of chlorine and HP as efficient as the exclusive pools for babies. Another aspect is the teacher’s experience with babies. Baby classes can be individual, collective with the parents or collective with interns/teachers. The recommendation is that the parents check what it is like in the place where they intend to place their child and maybe do an experimental class.

The swimming class begins in the bath at home. Familiarization with water in the shower: eyes open, playing with water, putting water in your mouth and “spitting”, not vacuuming, not drinking. This will help in class. Transform the bath into a playful, interactive, spontaneous, diverse and pleasurable activity.

What is the pedagogical sequence of natural swimming?

The pace of the class is always demanded by the individuality of each student and not just by the teacher. Thus, the playful experience of imitating animals is sought with the purpose of adapting the student in a playful way, increasing their degree of aquacity and monitoring their evolution in the first classes with the didactic actions:

  • From the simplest to the most complex.
  • From the most important to the least important.
  • From the most secure to the least secure.
  • From the shallowest to the deepest.
  • From the easiest to the most difficult.
  • From the lightest to the heaviest.
  • From the lowest to the highest.

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