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Speedo Says...

Learn to Swim programme: Stage three – Get Confident!

Paddle? Pah! Now it’s time to get adventurous. This final section will teach your child to develop a confident kick and a strong stroke in the water, and although you still have to supervise them at all times, we’ll have them diving down and swimming in a variety of styles. “Now’s the time to start developing a swimming technique and get more adventurous underwater,” says Olympic medallist, Rebecca Adlington.

Time to get adventurous! Develop your child’s swim skills with stage three of our guide


*Activity 1. Treading water *


This essential swimming skill will keep your child’s head above the surface in deep water.


Start in a deeper section of the pool, your child stands upright with their head out of the water. They lift their feet from the bottom of the pool and kick quickly with pointed toes to help them stay in one place. Encourage them to use their hands to help push down on the water, remembering to keep those fingers closed!


Help from the Sea Squad: Goggles


Activity 2. Making shapes


With balance, movement and imagination, this task will turn your child into an aquatic acrobat. The challenge is to make the following shapes, while staying afloat.


Lying on their back in the water, they keep their hips close to the surface, tummy up and ears submerged. Stretching arms and legs out, like a big star, keeping their balance, they move their legs together and arms up against the side of their head to look like a rocket. Make up your own shapes and have fun!


Once they’ve mastered the movements, try the task again, this time floating on their tummy with their face looking down into the water.


Help from the Sea Squad: Goggles

Activity 3. Going down under


Learning to dive can be a little scary, but this task will help build confidence for taking the plunge. First, drop dive sticks and rings into the water. Wearing goggles, your child bends their knees and drops their head under the water to find them on the pool floor. Encourage them to use both hands to grasp the dive sticks and collect them one at a time.


When confident doing this activity, try seeing how many they can pick up without using goggles.


Help from the Sea Squad: Goggles, Dive Sticks, Dive Rings

*Activity 4. Diving down *


Now they’re ready to start diving, use the four Gs (goggles, glide, grab and grip) to help your child master this technique.


Find a section of water about shoulder deep and get your child to put on their goggles. Stand them with their back to the pool wall, arms straight ahead and hands together.


Leaning forward, your child pushes and glides down into the water, moving their hips upwards to help their head and hands submerge. Their arms should be over their ears as they reach down to the pool floor to grab a dive toy, gripping it with both hands while kicking their legs to return to the surface.


Help from the Sea Squad: Goggles, Dive Sticks, Dive Rings


Activity 5. Kicking front crawl – 10 metres


This activity helps children learn how to achieve a strong kicking motion, essential for all swimming strokes. The trick is, try not to make a splash!


Floating with their tummy first on the water, your child stretches their arms out ahead, holding the edge of a Minikick float. Before you they start kicking, their legs should be straight and close together, with toes pointed and ankles nice and loose. Encourage your child to look straight ahead and kick their legs to move through the water.


The next step is to try this movement with your little one’s face in the water, taking a breath to one side every couple of kicks.


Help from the Sea Squad: Minikick, Goggles

*Activity 6. One-arm and kick front crawl *


Now your child’s a kicking pro, it’s time to introduce their arms to the action.


Again, holding a Minikick out in front, their face is submerged, hips high and body straight. They drop one hand and use this to ‘pull’ through the water, pushing towards their feet as with each kick.


Encourage your child to take a breath to one side as they raise their elbow high out of the water, followed by the rest of their arm. To pull again, keep their palm facing out with fingers closed, turning their face into the water as they slide your hand and arm back in, thumb first.


Keep practising and aim to swim 10 metres each time.


Help from the Sea Squad: Minikick, Goggles


Activity 7. Full stroke front crawl – 10 metres


You’re almost there! This time, go for the full stroke using both arms and no Minikick. Start in the same position, floating on their tummy, hips high, face down, arms stretched out in front and legs straight and together.


While kicking, your child takes it in turns to ‘push’ through the water with their arms - raising their elbows high out of the water before sliding them back in, thumb first, palm facing out. Your child turns their head to breathe every couple of kicks as they power through for 10 metres.


Help from the Sea Squad: Goggles


*Activity 8. Kick-only backstroke – 10 metres *


Unlike front crawl, you can’t see where you’re going when swimming backstroke, so explain to your child that they need to be careful not to bump into the side, or other people in the pool!


To start, your child floats on their back, hugging a Minikick across their chest using both hands. Keep their body flat and their legs nice and long. To help them swim straight, ask them to gaze up and find a spot on the ceiling (like a line of tiles) and follow it as they move. Now, get them to start kicking, remembering to point their toes and keep their legs straight.


Help from the Sea Squad: Minikick, Goggles

Activity 9. Arm and kick backstroke – 10 metres


This task teaches your child how to ‘windmill’ their arms, an essential skill for backstroke.


Floating on their back, your child holds a Minikick across their chest using only one arm. Next, they lift their other arm out of the water, thumb first, keeping it straight and close to their side.


When their hand is right up in the air, they turn their wrist so their palm faces away from them and plunge their arm back into the water, little finger first. ‘Pull’ their arm through the water up to their side so they complete a big circle. Repeat this circular ‘windmill’ action and encourage your child to keep kicking for 10 metres.


Help from the Sea Squad: Goggles, Minikick

Activity 10. Full stroke backstroke – 10 metres


Windmills are great for swimming - just think what you can do with two! Explain to your child that, by using both their arms, they’ll travel quickly and stay straight, making backstroke a fun way to swim.


Floating on their back, your child keeps their legs straight, toes pointed, eyes up and body flat. Now they take it in turns to ‘windmill’ round their arms, keeping the movements as smooth as possible. As soon as one arm goes into the water, the other comes out so they rock gently from side to side as they swim. Keep practising and aim for 10 metres.


Help from the Sea Squad: Goggles


Congratulations, your child has completed stage three of our Learn to Swim programme! Keep them practising and having fun in the water and your little swimmer will enjoy their new skill for years to come.


Looking for more fun and games? Read our Learn to swim: Stage three – Fun and Games feature for more water-based activities.


Discover all three stages of our Speedo Learn to Swim programme:


Stage One – Start Splashing. Introduce your baby to the water for the first time and build their confidence in the pool with fun activities, singing and gentle movements.


Stage Two – Start Swimming. Help your child learn how to paddle and develop their water skills through confidence-building activities and games.


Stage Three – Get Confident. Encourage your little swimmer to advance their swimming skills, with fun challenges that focus on improving their diving, underwater confidence, front crawl and backstroke swimming technique.