CrossFit – “Infant Swimming Resource: Teaching Progression” with Harvey Barnett
In the beginning phases of this you have to teach the baby to close the mouth and open the eyes to the sensation of being underwater. I’m feeling her breathing cycle here with my hands and as she inhales, I take her underwater. So the first time, when she goes underwater, she she’s already inhaled maximally and the chances of her taking in any water or swallowing it are remote so she comes up, there’s no crying, there’s no sputtering, there’s no coughing. There’s no verbal cue. But there is a hand cue. Watch my hands very closely here and you’ll see the cue. Good. Alright now, then you take the child to the wall, teach them to hold on, pressing down on the fingertips. Create a little turbulence here for them so they have to hold on a little tighter. Always protect the chin. And now see if they’ll take it in the air. Good. Now let’s combine being underwater, coming to the surface and taking the wall. There’s the cue, there’s the behavior. Now we are going to introduce a slight angle. So for rotation of the core you take this hand, and this sets up a little bit of the oblique musculature, the abdominal musculature, and the lats and so forth. Ready? Say go? Student: Go. And now we’re going to have her exposed a little longer underwater. And she tolerates that well. Now let’s combine everything. Have her take a 180-degree turn and take the wall. Now let’s change the orientation so the rotation means air. Here’s the rotation, there’s the air. We’ll do it again. Here’s the rotation, there’s the air. Good. Next you teach the child to float on the back. Natural buoyancy of the water toward a human body is slightly positive so she floats simply because she’s a normal human being. Look at me, look at my eyes. You have to teach a good head orientation. Good. One, two, three, four, five. And my arms are just exactly like the buoyancy of the water except they’re more amplified and they can be more controlled. Look at my eyes, Sophia. Good girl. Head orientation is vital. Ready? One, two, three. Ah, ah, look at my eyes. One, two, three, four, five. Good. Wait on your back until I count to five and then I’ll pick you up. Look at my eyes, look at my glasses. Ready? One, two, three, four, five, good. Now we reintroduce a slight angle to it so that she’s got to finish the float like that. And eventually you set this up— one, two, three, four, five—so that she can go from this position and go onto her back and float. One, two, three, four, five. On her own. One, two, three, four, five. Ready? Say go. Student: Go. And I’m giving her some control there, that’s part of the psychology of working with a child. They need to feel like they’ve got some control in the environment. So I ask her to signal herself. Say go. Student: Go. Sophia, that was nice. Turn over and get my hand, I’ll pick you up. One, two, three, four, five. Go! Go, Sophia. Good. That was combined because she was able to come off of the wall and get my hand so she trusts my hands. Can you say go? Student: Go. Very nice. Now we’ve got a good head-down posture, we’ve got nice feet at the surface. Ninety-five percent of swimming and floating for babies is about body orientation since their torso is such a large portion of their body. What we’re really teaching her here is a lot of the athleticism that comes from knowing where your body parts are in space. Say go. Student: Go. Get my hand. The difference is, water slows everything down and that’s very nice cognitively for a child of this age because then they can incorporate the sequences that are going much slower for them. Kind of like learning how to do a snatch in CrossFit, everything happens very, very quickly and it’s got to be timed perfectly. This is a situation where due to the density of water, it slows the process down a bit, and she has an opportunity to see and practice how various other aspects of her movement or her lack of movement influence the environment that she’s in. Give me five. And again, you’re always working from the psychological end of the attention span, the physical and the emerging personality of an infant or a young child. Say go. Student: Go. When you can use language meaningfully, you’re no longer an infant. Now you’re a child. So I’m matching some of the voabulary aspects of Sophia. and some of her skills, verbally, along with her cognitive development and her personality. Turn over and get the wall. There we go. Get my hand. Good. So I didn’t have her struggle all the way to the wall there, but I had her come to my hand which is intermediate. Now I’m going to pull her in with the hand, pull it away and now she takes it. So now she’s thinking, “Hm, I can take the wall by myself.” “I don’t need the hand target.” Let’s see what she does. Go! Perfect. Very nice. Her mom is in the back here always watching the lesson so that I have another pair of educated eyes watching the lesson. for any safety issue or protocol that may be of concern during the lesson. And the mom is keeping track of some things for us. Mom, here we go with the constriction check. And it’s a 3. What are we at, 7 minutes? Mom: 8:08. Say go. Student: Go. Good girl, Sophia. Come back and get me, go. Come and get me, Sophia. On your back. Good girl. Oh, mom. Sophia turn over and get my hand go. Now there’s the entire swim sequence. Mom: That is awesome. That was it right there, I can’t believe it. Mom: That was really cool. Coming off the wall. Here’s the whole sequence. I’ve been doing this for 46 years and I have goosebumps. I’m serious, look at my goosebumps. I am not kidding. Say go. Come get me, go! On your back. Sophia, come get me. Go! On your back, Sophia. Nice. Oh my gosh. On a Monday no less. Come get me, Sophia. Go. Haha! Wooo! Give me five, girl. Alright, now, here it comes, this is a tough one. Because she sees that wall and she sees the gate. If she’ll do it here, then we’ve got her. Say go. Student: go. On your back, Sophia, on your back, on your back. Nope. She sees that wall and that’s the finish line. OK. So I’ve got to slow her down a little bit. Alright, Sophia, here we go. Sayyyyyy … Student: Go On your back, Sophia, on your back. She isn’t going to do it. Not today. I’ve got a little trick here, what I’m going to do since I can feel her breathing, I’m going to let her go on no air. Say go. Student: Go. On your back. Turn over and get the wall, Sophia. Go, Sophia, go! Mom: All right! One last time and you’re out of here. Constriction check at … Mom: 10:53. She’s done. This is it, say go. Student: Go. On your back, Sophia, on your back. Good. Turn it over and get the wall and you’re done, go home, bye! Oh my gosh! Mom is a little excited. Very nice! Woo!