Experts in swimming lessons for adults

Interview with Swimming Instructor Urška Slivšek

Read our interview with swimming instructor Urška Slivšek (aka Nemo) who trains swimmers in The Hague. 


When did you decide to become a swimming instructor?

It’s difficult to pinpoint the actual start of my swimming career. I made my first baby steps on the side of a local swimming pool, so it all began quite soon. In fact, I’ve been dubbed as ‘Nemo’ the fish from the movie Finding Nemo. I was always swimming with an orange cap (I guess my admiration for The Netherlands was shown at an early stage). Because of this, my swimming mates saw a resemblance between myself and Nemo.

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How long have you been teaching for and who are your students?

My coaching career started midway during my professional swimming career, firstly as an assistant at summer swimming schools for kids. Upon dabbling in other water-related sports and after receiving the coaching certificate, I became an actual trainer. Starting with toddlers, I progressed to coaching children and swimmers with both mental challenges (Autism, Down’s Syndrome etc.) and physical challenges.

What makes teaching at Your Personal Swim Coach so special?

Being able to swim is one of the greatest super powers there is, and with time and dedication everyone can obtain it. Teaching someone how to swim is a challenge, but is very much rewarding for both parties.  

What is an ideal swimming lesson? What makes it successful for students?

Relax, take a deep breath and just keep swimming.

Interview with Swimming Instructor Thiery

Read our interview with swimming instructor Thiery who trains students in The Hague. 


When did you decide to become a swimming instructor?

I decided to become a swimming instructor when I achieved all six swimming diplomas. I really like to swim and I wanted to share this pleasure with other people. 

How long have you been teaching for and who are your students?

I officially started teaching others to swim a year ago. But around eight years ago I actually began assisting and teaching children and those younger than me. This work is voluntarily and I still do it every Sunday morning. Next to teaching children to swim, I also teach grown-ups for Your Personal Swim Coach

What makes teaching at Your Personal Swim Coach so special?

The biggest difference between this school and others is that you really see a bond between teachers and students. Of course teachers are teachers, and students are students and it should stay like that, but both sides really get to know each other well. Because of that, you can be very friendly and help them significantly improve their skills.

What is an ideal swimming lesson? What makes it successful for students?

My ideal lesson is a lesson that is fun, where you can make jokes and laugh but this is also a lesson where you can achieve something.  
That is my ideal lesson.

Tell us about a moment while teaching that you will you never forget.

Moments I can never forget happen at the end of a course. My students say: “thank you for all your time and for helping me with my troubles”. They often tell me this when they achieve their swimming diploma at the end of a course. 

Interview with Ghalib, a Swimming Student in The Hague

Read our interview with swimming student Ghalib, who trains in the Hague. 


Where are you from?

India

How long have you been living in The Netherlands and what brought you here? 

I live in the Netherlands for three and half years. Work brought me here – I am a programmer (IT).

Why were you looking for swimming lessons and what goals did you have in mind? 

Water always fascinated me. I envied people who can swim. I wanted to be able to enjoy being in water without the fear of drowning.

How did you come across Your Personal Swim Coach

Friend of mine who was also looking for swimming lessons found information about YPSC at his place of work.

What helped you to take that first step to enrol? 

I never had courage to go on my own. We were a group of three and thought it would be fun together so we joined in January this year.

Did you experience any hesitation in the beginning? 

Yeah, it felt weird initially. I thought we would be the only adults who don’t know how to swim and thought we’d have to train with kids. But it was fun once I was in the pool with so many beginner adults.

How did you experience the lessons? 

I absolutely love the lessons. I learn lots of basics and tips and tricks.

Tell us what you have you achieved? 

I am able to swim now (all of four strokes). I still need lot of practice for freestyle though. I can also dive and swim underwater a bit.

Will you keep on swimming in the future? 

Definitely.

Did you learn anything in addition to swimming skills? 

Besides swimming skills the classes have also made me fit. I feel better now. I guess it also helps to relieve some stress.

Do you have any advice for those considering swimming lessons in The Hague? 
I would say to join as soon as possible. It is never too late to join. You will have an experience like never before. It is the one exercise which is also fun.

What else would you like to share with Your Personal Swim Coach?

I would like to thank the team for providing me with an opportunity to learn. I never knew I would be able to swim one day.  It is fun, good exercise and also a lifesaving skill. Everybody should learn it.

Interview with Jiya, a Swimming Student in The Hague

Read our interview with swimming student Jiya, who trains in the Hague. 


Where are you from?

India

How long have you been living in The Netherlands and what brought you here? 

Since 2011. I came here to study .

Why were you looking for swimming lessons and what goals did you have in mind? 

I had learned some swimming long back. I was looking to learn it from scratch. My goal was to learn enough swimming to enjoy the water and as a survival skill.

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How did you come across Your Personal Swim Coach

Facebook

What helped you to take that first step to enrol? 

Friendly Facebook page and website.

Did you experience any hesitation in the beginning? 

Maybe, I wasn’t too doubtful of myself.

How did you experience the lessons? 

Very encouraging and confidence building.

Tell us what you have you achieved? 

The basics of the 4 strokes, I think. I still have to learn to breathe and swim.

Will you keep on swimming in the future? 
Definitely!

Did you learn anything in addition to swimming skills? 
I understood its never too late to learn. Much happiness and good times!

Do you have any advice for those considering swimming lessons in The Hague? 
Give it a go for the wonderful teaching team.

What else would you like to share with Your Personal Swim Coach?

They are very patient with our swimming problems. loved your teaching team! I hope I can improve my swimming soon.

Interview with Swimming Instructor Lucio

Read our interview with swimming instructor Lucio who trains students in Rotterdam. 


When did you decide to become a swimming instructor?

I was born in Sicily, a very beautiful island! I first started playing waterpolo at the age of 10. I played in semi professional division for many yars and trained twice a day for five days a week in that period. At the age of 19 after I was selected for pilot training within the airforce I enrolled in the swimming section of the airforce. After I left the airforce I relized I could help people by being more than just a uniform. I realized that I could help people get out from bed for instance (sometimes that is their own prison). I could help people find a new sense in life despite their own handicaps. At the moment I help people to overcome their own fears, both in my work as a physiotherapist and as a swimming instructor. I help people to overcome their own fears and this is what motivates me!

What makes teaching at Your Personal Swim Coach so special?

I find it great to work at Your Personal Swim Coach because here I can focus on small groups.

What is an ideal swimming lesson? What makes it successful for students?

Just let your fears go and let’s have some fun! And dont forget the technique I apply strictly.

Interview with Lorna, a Swimming Student in The Hague

Read our interview with swimming student Lorna who trains in the Hague. 


Where are you from?

I was born in The Netherlands, and moved to England when I was 5 years old.

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How long have you been living in The Netherlands and what brought you here? 

I moved back to The Netherlands in 2007 as my husband was offered a job in Den Haag.

Why were you looking for swimming lessons and what goals did you have in mind? 

Our eldest son was taking swimming lessons and I wanted to be able to keep up with his skills and confidence as he developed. Our youngest son is very relaxed in the water too. I want to be a parent that can swim with their children, not just sit at the side of a swimming pool and wave at them while they are having all the fun!

I could swim fine (or so I thought!) and have no fear of water at any depth, but I lacked skill and finesse. I really wanted to be able to more confidently put my head under the water, learn breathing techniques, and of course learn new swimming strokes.

How did you come across Your Personal Swim Coach

I actually saw your swimming school on Facebook!

What helped you to take that first step to enrol? 

Becoming a housewife gave me some time for myself, and I thought that having swimming lessons would be the perfect answer. The first email [received] from Your Personal Swim Coach made my mind up for me, it was friendly and professional.

Did you experience any hesitation in the beginning? 

Yes, of course! It can be hard taking the first step, but I knew from my first lesson that I had made the perfect choice of swimming school.

How did you experience the lessons? 

My first lesson was brilliant! Warm welcome, warm water, no rush and total individual care and instruction. I was so worried, and this was put to rest within minutes.

Tell us what you have you achieved? 

Firstly, I gained confidence, not just in the water, but [in] new environments and [with new] people. As the lessons progressed, I noticed, as did the teachers, that my swimming skills were developing very well, and to my delight I was swimming with more skill.

Will you keep on swimming in the future? 

Yes, without a doubt. I have even plucked up courage to go down water slides!

Did you learn anything in addition to swimming skills? 

Yes. It’s very good to meet others with similar fears, wishes and progress in the swimming lessons. There are friendly smiles, and encouraging words from both fellow students and the teachers that make you feel wonderful!

Do you have any advice for those considering swimming lessons in The Hague? 

Try a lesson, just one, and you will want to come back for another.

What else would you like to share with Your Personal Swim Coach?

I think the teachers need a mention here. The progress I have made is thanks to them. The teachers offer consistent advice, training and support, whatever your swimming ability. It’s a very positive experience, and not once have I felt pressured or rushed. The teachers all know when you can go further too! In my last lesson, I found my self diving off the side of the pool – not something I have done for a long time!

Interview with Swimming Instructor Manon Prins

Read our interview with swimming instructor Manon Prins who trains students in The Hague. 


When did you decide to become a swimming instructor?

After living abroad for many years I returned to The Netherlands in 2011. During my years as an expat I frequently assisted with swimming lessons and when I came back I decided to become a licensed instructor.

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How long have you been teaching for and who are your students?

As of 2012 I teach swimming lessons in The Hague. My students range in age from 4 years old to adults over 50, and they are on all kinds of different levels (from A diploma to competitive swimmers). I teach students from 4 – 6 years old and the occasional parent at a swimming club. I also teach swimming lessons at the Council of The Hague school for kids 8 – 10 years old; and of course the students at Your Personal Swim Coach.

What makes teaching at Your Personal Swim Coach so special?

Teaching at Your Personal Swim Coach is a rewarding job because I like to work with people from different cultures and backgrounds. Part of growing up in The Netherlands is that almost every child has had swimming lessons from a young age. Many students who arrive at Your Personal Swim Coach have not had a swimming education in their youth. I really admire these students that they have decided to learn to swim at a later stage in life and for some of them even to overcome their fear of water!

What is an ideal swimming lesson? What makes it successful for students?

To me a successful lesson should have four elements: safety, it should be educational, intense and fun! First of all I ensure the safety of my students and I show them the proper techniques. The students receive lessons with a lot of practice and guidance and I think most important of all, they must have fun and at the end of the lesson leave the pool with a happy feeling!

Centre of Buoyancy

The Center of Gravity is the point through which the gravitational force acts (usually in the region between the points of the hips when the body is in the anatomical position). Its magnitude is described as “weight”. The position of the body segments determines the actual site of the Center of Gravity.

Centre of Buoyance

The Centre of Buoyancy is the point through which the buoyant force acts (usually in the lower chest area but it too is determined by the position of body segments). Some body parts are more buoyant than others, and so the centre of buoyancy usually does not coincide with the center of gravity. The centre of buoyancy relates to the body’s volume while the center of gravity relates to the body’s mass. Since these two factors normally are different, they are usually sited in different areas of the body. The distance between the centers of gravity and buoyancy usually is greater for males than females.

The divergence between the locations of the centers of gravity and flotation presents a problem for humans. In most cases, rather than floating level, the body rotates until the centers of gravity and buoyancy are aligned vertically. The body then displays a motionless float at that angle. The water supports the weight of a motionless swimmer but only at that angle. This is illustrated in the figure below. When the body commences in a horizontal (streamlined) position the relationship of the centre of buoyancy to the center of gravity will produce a rotational force and subsequent movement until the angle of flotation is attained.

Centre of Buoyancy
Centre of Buoyancy

(Source: Swimming science Bulletin ’07. Brent S. Rushall, Ph.D.)

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Floating in swimming

The buoyant force from water and the pull of gravity determines how an individual floats. It varies considerably between swimmers. It requires technique adjustments because it interacts with any movement principle.

Basic Physics of Flotation

When an object floats in a dense fluid, it is acted upon by two forces. One is the ever-present force due to gravity and the other is the buoyant force, the force exerted by the fluid on the object. When the object is symmetrical, such as a rectangular block of Styrofoam, the two forces coincide. When the object floats, the buoyant force equals the gravitational force. Since the floating object displaces its weight in fluid (Archimedes’ Principle), equilibrium is reached and the Styrofoam block rests at the surface in the fluid. The water “supports” the weight of the object. This simple event is illustrated in Figure 1. Confusion often reigns between the roles of the volume and the weight of the water displaced. Archimedes’ Principle is appropriate to understand what occurs. It commonly is stated as follows:

When a body is immersed in a fluid, it experiences an upward buoyant force equal to the weight of the fluid displaced.

Weight is the common measure of the gravitational force. When the volume and weight of water displaced are equal to the volume and weight of the object, the object does not float or sink. The state of “neutral buoyancy” is achieved. This is useful for activities such as scuba diving, where a buoyancy compensator is used to produce neutral buoyancy. If the effects of that device were not used, a diver would be fighting constantly against sinking or rising in the water resulting in the unnecessary expenditure of energy and air supply.

Floating

When the volume of an object is greater than the volume of the fluid displaced, some of the object will show above the fluid surface. Specific gravity (in water) is the useful measure of the capacity to float. It is the fraction: the weight of the object divided by the weight of an equal volume of water. For example, if a 99 kg person displaces 100 kg of water when fully immersed, the specific gravity of the individual would be .99 (99/100). The volume of the person above the surface would weigh 1 kg. Because of varying densities within the human body, it is not possible to determine the percent of volume of the swimmer that would float out of the water.

(Source: Swimming science Bulletin ’07. Brent S. Rushall, Ph.D.)

Aquaphobia aka Fear of Water

What is Aquaphobia aka fear for water?adult swimming lessons fear of water

Even though it is not in the top 10 most spread phobias, it can create havoc. This fairly common specific phobia that involves a level of persistent and abnormal fear towards water and water related activities is beyond the person’s control and it may interfere with his or hers daily life. People suffer of aquaphobia in many different ways and may experience it even though they fully realize that the water in an ocean, a river, or even a bathtub poses no imminent threat. They may avoid such activities as boating and swimming, or they may avoid swimming in the deep ocean despite having mastered basic swimming skills. This anxiety commonly extends to getting wet or splashed with water when it is unexpected, or being pushed or thrown into a body of water.

Conquering Your Fear of Water Tip #1

Conquering Your Fear of Water Tip #2

Conquering Your Fear of Water Tip #3

Like all phobias, it may vary dramatically in severity from person to person. Some people are only afraid of deep water or strong waves, while others fear swimming pools and bathtubs. Some are afraid of entering the water, while others cannot bear to even look at a large body of water. Occasionally, fear of water is so pervasive that even being splashed or sprayed with water can cause a phobic reaction.

At Your Personal Swim Coach, we have had the privilege of working with a large number of people who had to deal with a sever fear of water. Supported by our team of certified instructors they have passed through the process of overcoming their phobia and becoming a relaxed and confident swimmer that not only enjoys water but also is looking forward to the next lesson.

For each of these persons the main reason their fear of water developed has been a negative introduction to or negative experience in water or even worse, they’ve undergone a traumatic event. Some have been pushed into the water, bullied by others, others were shown little or no respect by their previous instructors, fallen of a boat, or had a tensed parent who set an unfortunate example during their childhood. Any of these reasons is more than enough to determine the start of aquaphobia.
Each one of them has decided to face this fear and in the end they all prevailed.

Whether they were driven by their wish to share the beauty and joy of swimming with their children; or because they wanted and needed to return into the water so that they could use swimming as an exercise, was less relevant than the major victory they have accomplished by being in water. So there they were, with nothing else but a bathing suit, showing up at one of our venues. No matter for which of our classes they have enrolled – Private Elite Class or Small Group Classes – the determination and mental battle they had to go through was just as big. They are an inspiration and a role model for us and their courage and success made us to be even more grateful for our position.

Under these circumstances, learning how to swim is more of a mental process than a process of explaining how to use one’s arms and legs. When dealing with sever fear, the mind is dominated by preexisting thoughts and believes based on negative experiences. These believes have been repeated for so many times that they become “the truth”. This will make one fight for, or at least fear for, one’s life as soon as getting close to a pool. These thoughts can dominate mental processing and block out all rationality, all positive encouragement and common sense within less than a second.

This phase of the learning process causes a lot of frustration; our students are mainly adults, bright college educated professionals and mostly expats; but with our help and guidance they all found a way to pass this phase and they have all become confident, efficient and relaxed swimmers; they are no longer afraid of water. Before reaching this moment of bliss, though, most of them went through several phases; they got angry with themselves and disappointed each time they failed or panicked; they allowed negative thinking to take over which led to more negative thinking and thus threw them in a vicious cycle of negativity; they suppressed feelings, although they all know that psychological research shows that this will make them more likely to recur. All these inner struggles translates into their behavior and actions in water: most beginners try to prevent water from coming in contact with their face, eyes and nose, which results in unnecessarily stiff body, a disadvantage when trying to float. In spite of what might seem at first sight an insurmountable obstacle, thanks to their strong will power and determination, our students wield their body and their brains to plow ahead through each lesson.

So what could we do, to ease the process, to give it a more positive note you might wonder. One cannot go from aqua phobic to independent swimmer in one day, unfortunately. This process is a sequence of stand-alone steps. With care, patience and a bit of humor, we are creating an atmosphere of comfort and safety, which helps diminishing the student’s learning curve and slowly but surely tears down the walls of this phobia. Through simple explanations of the physics of swimming; just as simple yet powerful exercises and eloquent demonstrations our students start to take control of their body while in the world of water; soon both body and water are no longer misunderstood by the novice student.
We help our students see that it is useless to fight against the water and that it is much easier to allow water work for them. One of the principles that need explaining is the interaction between the ever present pull of gravity and the forces of buoyancy; the force exerted by a fluid on any immersed object. This trick of interacting with the two forces and eventually float, can be mastered by anybody. There are moments when fear will block out all information and absorption of these insights and techniques. These are the moments which make our métier more challenging than it usually is. This process we deal with every day means the world to us; we guide students on their path, and their persistent negative believes are gradually replace with positive experiences. So this is an ode to them, it humbles us to gain their trust. To each and every one of them a heartfelt: thank you!

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