Monday, March 27, 2006

Take a Shower - Repeat

By now you are probably wondering if this blog is worth your time. If you already are comfortable in the water, this post will most definately underline that concern. Are you ready? This post deals with getting your face wet. Don't laugh - I'm serious. I first discovered the problem of new swimmers getting their faces wet when I was working as a camp swim instructor for the Boy Scouts. One week, I had a bunch of kids from the inner city - kids who didn't swim too often, if at all. I started them off, having them wade into the water and allowed them to get wet. My boss had told me to watch them closely since many had no swimming experience. He was right and they were easy to spot. Almost to a boy, those who had no experience would get their faces wet and then immediately wipe the water off their faces like they had just been splashed in the eyes with paint. They'd blink and keep wiping until they were comfortable again. I was stunned. To me, water on my face was as natural as air. It looked like I had a problem I hadn't ever imagined. I'd have to get them to cease wiping their faces if any of them were going to learn to put two consecutive swimming strokes together. To break them of this, I made up a competitive game of face-dunking. Boys that successfully put their faces in the water and came out without wiping, got to go a little deeper. The power of peer pressure was a thing of beauty. If you are an adult, we have other methods. This only works for wiggly 11-year-olds. Since that time I've seen countless novice swimmers do the face wipe thing. It has nothing to do with demographics. OK, now for the laughable advice - I recommend you beginner adult swimmers take a shower. Put your face in the stream. Get it soaking wet, but keep your hands to your sides or behind your back. Now take remove your face from the stream and open your eyes. Resist any spontaneous urge to wipe your face off. When you are comfortable, put it back in the stream and repeat. If you have some pool lounging time, hang out by the wall and drop your head (or just your face) under water from just a moment and repeat the steps above. You goal is to get comfortable with water on your face whenever it is there. Now practice.

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