Weekly Focus: Submersion

Introducing the Cue

This week your instructor will introduce the verbal and physical cues for your child to start underwater swimming. After class, please practice the cue and getting water on your child’s face in the bath, shower, or pool in preparation for submersion the following week. Remember to start with a small amount of water and gradually add more as their comfort level grows.

For sensitive children, wean them onto this activity slowly: start with your wet hand or a wet washcloth passed over their face, progressing to a small sponge of water. Follow your child’s lead, watch for their response. Make a game out of it: peek-a-boo, wet your face then theirs, or taking turns under the shower spray if your child likes that. Most of all, keep it light and fun.

To help your child acclimate to the water, hold them close to the interface (where the water and air meet) during class so they can explore the water with their mouth and face. This allows them to get comfortable with splashing and the movement of the water around their body, mouth, and face.

WaterBabies 1 (4-10mo)
In this age group your child is governed by reflexes. There are 2 reflexes we use in our program that help to support submerging your child. The first is the Breath Holding Reflex. This reflex is activated when you blow on your child’s upper lip/nose area. When done correctly, your child will take a small inhalation without being startled. This is to make sure that your baby has some air in their lungs before going under water. The second reflex is the Mammalian Dive Reflex. This reflex causes your child to hold their breath and open their eyes when their head is fully submerged.

Introducing the Cues:

•  Parent holds baby facing them, upright in rib cage hold
•  Parent says the baby’s name – “Rosie, ready”, and
•  Gently blows on baby’s face, right around the nose and upper lip

Watch for baby to take a small inhalation. You may hear them inhale, see them inhale, or feel your baby’s chest fill when inhaling. When inhale is complete, drip a small amount of water from the top of your baby’s head down over the front of their face.

Important Notes:
Each baby is different so it can take some practice to get the correct blow for your baby.

Your baby should not startle after the blow. If they are startled try a softer blow. If your baby does not respond, don’t worry. Try blowing a little harder, or repositioning where you are blowing, making sure you are blowing on the “mask” area of their face. If they still do not respond, they may have lost the reflex (most babies lose this response between 6-9 months). You can still use the cue for submersion; the blow in this case will serve to gain your baby’s’ attention.

WaterBabies 1 (10-18mo) & (18-36mo)
In this age group the cue quickly becomes a learned response. It is important to be consistent and use the same cue every time. This is key to the cue becoming a learned response.