“A Very Gentle Start and Superman

Terje Stakset

Manager of the Norwegian Lifesaving Federation
in Oslo & Baerum, Norway

Author: The Truthful Face of Baby Swim
How to Teach Young Children to Swim (dvds)

Recipient of the Virginia Hunt Newman Award 2006. 

presented at WABC2007 Oct. 23, 2007

audio file

Baby swimming has to be and must be - gentle.


In Norway and in many other countries they put the babies under water and hope they can hold their breath normally.

If they are lucky the babies don’t cry or swallow water.

In a baby swim class we have enough time to teach the babies to hold their breath consciously.

Why should we put the babies under water when we want them to swim and float in the surface some months later?


Film clip: >


In one Internet site in Norway they said this about diving babies: “The sooner the better.

This way you get less negative reactions and fewer problems. Some baby’s looks frightened the first times and some scream.” The comments for this point of view are: The screaming will stop when you have done it some times.


We have a lot of time and we also have to give the children time. They need time to find their way. The babies and children must enjoy their swimming lessons at all time. Why do exercises we know leads to crying?


I got the idea of the “very gentle start” when I saw Rob McKay performing his cheek dip.

This got me thinking of how I could use this to prepare the babies to hold their breath deliberate when they get their face “introduced” to water.


The babies begin after 3 months of age. A lot of good and positive communication from the very start is needed. When the babies are pleased with the present being, after counting to 3 we poor some water down their forehead, and give the babies a lot of praise.


When the babies find themselves confidante at the swimming we start to” swim”. Usually we begin with this the 3rd or 4th Time in the pool.


Now I will show you the McKay/Stakset way to introduce babies face into the water.


First clip: >




And now “Superman”


In the Norwegian Swimming Federation they want to create a swimmer!

You must kick, kick, kick, and kick!


I want the chiLd to become “Swimming“

Float like an arrow!

Lie on your back and wave to the fishes.


Here we see little Christoffer who just became 3 years old.

He is in a class where the other children are almost 1 year older.


Here we can see Christoffer float like an arrow.

In the next clip Chrisoffer will be floating as Superman.

When Supermen get tired he changes arm.


We begin to float alone with this noodle. The children also begin waving to the fishes.

Not too much because then you will scare the fishes, and not too little because then the fishes cannot see you are waving at them.


When the child has cracked the code of floating by them selves, they will soon swim on there back weaving happily to the fishes.


As a lifesaving association we put in some lifesaving training in our classes. Here we will se Christoffer saving his father.


We have to give the child time. “A whole lot of precious time. To do it right.”


 At the very end I will show you a little clip from my DVD.

“How to Teach Young Children to Swim”