With an abundance of backyard pools and lakes in our area, those who cannot swim have to make due with the shallows if they want to get their feet wet. But whether it’s the fear that often accompanies adults who never learned or the inexperience that usually goes with kids, Wings over Water on Route 22 in Brewster eventually gets them in over their heads with a simple premise.
“It’s all about balance, breathing and safety,” says its owner Edie Flood.
Incorporating a methodology she calls “Swimplicity,” learners gradually move into a comfortable connection with water. In terms of children, infants havea leg up since they’ve just emerged from their own watery environment.
Introducing them to the chlorinated blue, babies are very comfortable in water. In fact, she says, “If you let them go, they will undulate like a tadpole.” Of course, the idea is to introduce them to the water through games and song, then submerge along with their parents and cultivate a whole pattern of water safety.
At the next level, the training begins out of water and above the neck. It’s not jump in the water, she says, “it’s sit, listen and wait.”
As the reinforcement becomes second nature and kids are honed in on parental cues, balance is the primary technique that is mastered. So as the water gets deeper and the foundation and footing lessens, they learn to equitably adjust to the change on their body. Short of tippy toeing and skimming the surface in pools specifically designed for teaching swimming, she says, “We try to take the arms out of the equation until they are older so they can learn to swim with their core body.”
In that capacity, children as young as two can get from point A to point B, which is directly tied to the safety instruction. “If they fallin, what they learn to do is turn around and go back to where they came from,” she says.
On the other end of the spectrum, adults who can’t swim know water safety all too well – they avoid the deep end all together. As a result, they end up losing out on more than a quick chance to cool their heads in summer. “It’s huge because it’s a fear they’ve been carrying around for a long time, and it goes into other parts of their lives,” she says.
WOW opens them up to a lot of possibilities by bringing them the calm their feet normally feel with gravity. “It’s like being in space,” she says of swimming.
That said, the goal is getting their feet up off the bottom and then back on. Using balls, mats and hula hoops, she says, we help educate them about the water by moving their bodies through it.
Add a breathing regimen to the artificial flotation and students accrue the calmness they need to eventually get them in the water with their children or grandchildren. “It’s all about relaxation, because if they can’t be relaxed and be with mother nature, then what happens is mother nature is going to fight against you, she says. And no obstacle can be worse than that.
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