Hearing, Breathing and Body Balance: FIRST
Extremities and Eyes: LATER


Robert Strauss
Swim Gym, Miami, Florida USA

speaking at 9th WABC Conference

St. Petersburg, Florida, USA Oct. 24, 2007


Thanks to Steve and organizing committee for selecting my paper to be presented at this important convention.  It seems unbelievable that in Century XXI accidental drowning continues to be a statistic in loss of life for children under age 5, and for teenagers 13 to 16, when they prefer to go with their friends fishing or boating w/o parents and then during the college age when you are strong and think you will last for ever; in these two age groups it seems peer pressure and bad jokes, play a major roll in this tragedy.


From birth to age 2 children are significantly more auditive than visual; the eye becomes better trained in focusing as we grow up; when you think that a child learns to communicate in two to three years, you can understand easily, that in fact, they hear you perfect from the first moment.  Sure they will follow bright colors and objects, however, everything that goes in the hand, almost automatically it goes in the mouth. We spend a long time trying to get them to focus on us or on what we are doing with their eyes?  They are not trained on what to look at, nevertheless, educationally speaking, we start to train their eyes from the day they arrive home from the hospital.  Grown-ups say, “Look at…!“ “Watch this…” “Did you see that…?”  In many instances, we prefer to demonstrate skills as opposed to speaking the ability through.  As grown-ups, a majority of people function better with the eyes not with the ears, and when it comes to physical skills some also become better kinesthetic learners.  The key to easy swimming is in easy breathing, breathing sounds are easy to follow just hearing, with out “looking at them, watching them or seeing them.”  Mama Whale teaches Baby Whale to swim with breathing noises.


ORDER OF SENSE AWAKENING AFTER BIRTH: hearing, feeling, tasting, smelling, seeing.


1.         Water Wise vs. Water Safe

            2.         Covering mouth to cough

            3.         Children under age 5 do not need to swim strokes; adults who are afraid don’t need to swim strokes either

            4.         How long does it take to learn to swim: 50 to 100

            5.         Protecting nose/mouth… asphyxia

            6.         Teachers do not carry boom-boom…it will not fall

            7.         If a person has an accident in the pool…scared


What does it feel like when getting into pool?




        A class in calculus can be a hostile environment; swim team can be a threatening environment.

        Children will demonstrate, with their behavior if they’re OK or NOT.



Sound recognition does not begin the instant you are born. Noises begin in the tummy before you are born.  How quickly they can identify who is around and the curiosity to find out where noises coming from.


All or most noises or sounds begin in the home; lifting the head to “look for” or tune in to sounds?


Being carried around the house, sure brings a wealth of noises and smells


Good Teacher / Bad Teacher


It is interesting to watch how everything really goes in the mouth after it is seen and reached… Do they smell it first? I do not know


People become used to flavors and textures, reason why, it takes a while to acquire some tastes; and in fact some are never “liked.”


The implications for water for the sense of smell are not as important as the use of the nose in the water, the ability to humm breathe, burst breathe, and to protect the nose on your back, on your belly, on summersaults etc.  Many people because of habits of breathing in the gym bring the “Big Breath” up the nose to the pool, and that is devastating to the sinuses, nostrils and even the back of the head.

    1.    If it does not feel “right” or it is not safe in their perception, it is OK to decline

  1.   If the child can trust you she may try, even if it is only one time
  2.   If it was safe they will want to do again & again



In swimming we are developing a photographic eye as we learn to swim better; we see the style of someone and quickly we begin to correct the style… but developing that photographic eye takes a while!  People express themselves more frequently through the sense of seeing than any other!


  1. In every lesson the safety areas should be worked on, in our case: the table, the wall, the steps
  2. Floaties are not bad, when used sporadically; in fact they are great for aerobic fitness, and they can always be trusted
  3. Whatever you do always please simple to complex, do pony rides before bronco rides


Nose protection… Do we ever pay attention to how we breathe on land? We cannot afford not to pay attention to breathing in the water


1.  After doing the easy pony ride, now you may sit on the bronco horse

  1.   Give them skills they can succeed with!  Easy to build on success
  2.   Nothing beats a winner; that is a good day at the office


It seems we used to propel and balance the imbalances of the vessel with the extremities, in contemporary swimming we need to work on body balance so the extremities can truly concentrate in propulsion.


  1. Teaching new skill, make sure child wants to come, if not ready find the one who wants to come.
  2. Show skill, so every teacher (parent) can carry on…
  3. Parents are empowered