This week, we ran a session in the pool for volunteers to learn techniques to support swimmers in the water. Not only was this an occasion to practice before the first WeSwim session on Friday, but it was also great to meet other volunteers.
We were welcomed by Daiga at the pool where the Pimlico Puffins run their session. After a bit of time to allow the swimmers to get in the water and be paired with a volunteer, we met Cian, an experienced volunteer who was going to be our teacher of the day. We went in the water and learnt how to use the first equipment: flotation belts. By pair, one of us helped the other to glide on their back and turn around by gently carrying them on the surface of the water with our hands supporting their back. It was a very relaxing exercise!
Then, we took pool noodles: they can be used to help a swimmer to float, by putting one either under their neck, higher back under the armpits or lower back. We also learnt techniques to help swimmers improve their leg strengths. If you need more ideas for exercises, watch this short video:
We were then sent to shadow some volunteers and help with their assigned swimmer. Every swimmer was different: one wanted to practice their leg movement and breathing with a kickboard, another one worked to improve their walking and core strength with a pool noodle, and I even got to race with a child in the smaller pool. The training cannot cover all the ranges of abilities and needs of the swimmers, so we learnt that the most important is to communicate with the swimmer and adapt so that they get the best of their session. We then helped a swimmer to get onto the hoist and get out of the water, although we were advised that the hoist in Old Street swimming pool worked a little differently.
Overall, this was a great session, educational and fun, and we look forward to meeting WeSwim swimmers on Friday for our first session!