The foundation of learning to swim includes:
- Breath control
At LPB, we teach this foundation much differently than most other learn to swim programs. We teach beginning students "Balloon Face" instead of blowing bubbles. Here's why:
Think of the lungs (the center of buoyancy) as an inflatable inner-tube. When you fill them with air, they float. Now, imagine you blew up the inner-tube and then left the valve open. The air would leak out, (blowing air bubbles) and the tube would deflate, losing it's buoyancy and eventually sinking. The idea here is to hold the air inside the lungs so that the body floats.
Another reason why we do not teach beginners to blow bubbles is so that they have enough power behind their exhale to clear their airway (think of a whale blowing it's spout). If you go underwater and blow all your air out, the reflex is to immediately inhale when you surface to breathe. This can cause students to choke by inhaling or sniffing water. We want a powerful exhale (blow!) out before students get a new breath in and return to swimming.
Lastly, the Balloon Face creates pressure inside the mouth and sinuses, preventing water to go in the nose/sinuses. If you have ever gotten water in your nose you know it is very unpleasant and painful. It is one of the most common cause of crying in swim lessons. Once students learn a proper, full-cheeked/lipped Balloon Face, submersions will soon turn into floats, and before you know it...they're be swimming!
So, do we ever teach students to blow bubbles at LPB? Yes! Once students have mastered breath control completely, we teach them "blended breathing" which is when students start their underwater swim with a Balloon Face and then begin to blow their air out as they come up for air. We teach students to "hmmmmmm, blow, breathe" in Level 4, which makes for a more efficient breath for technical stroke development.
So, while it may be fun and silly to teach your little one to blow bubbles in the bath or pool, try teaching them Balloon Face instead....your child will thank you, and so will your child's swim teacher!