Beginner Swimming Techniques: Lesson 3

How’s the swimming coming? Don’t feel that you need to keep up with each weekly post in the Teach Your Child to Swim-Summer Series, but rather move at the rate of your child’s progress. Some skills will come almost instantly, while others may take all summer to learn. Our hope is that your children are enjoying their summer and are becoming better swimmers! Remember the more they swim and practice the stronger swimmers they will become. The skills today are for slightly older swimmers, we would suggest 3 years and older, however, Chrissy shares that she always informs parents that if their child can sit and listen, then they are old enough to begin learning more advanced skills; so don’t be afraid to try these with a mature 2 year old as well. 

Rolling Over From Swimming to Back Float

Back floating is an important survival skill, and it is an important skill for children to learn so that when they become overtired while swimming, they know what to do to remain safe. In Beginner Swimming Techniques: Lesson 2, your child learned the first beginner swimming stroke of Front Crawl/Free Style and began practicing Floating on their Back. This week we are going to combine the two skills into an important survival skill; please share with your child why today’s lesson is important and dialogue with them about when they might be in a situation where they might need to use it.

1. Begin by having your child swim to you (you should be 4-5 feet away from your child).

2. Once your child gets to you help them to roll over onto their back. You want to start by rotating the shoulders, while the hips and legs will follow. You may need to support their head with one hand and place your other hand on their back.

3. Remind them to keep their chin up (when they lower their chin they will begin to sink as their stomach will go down). Also remind them to breathe and relax.

4. When your child is rested they could kick with their legs (while still on their back) to the side of the pool (to safety), or  they can roll back onto their stomach and begin swimming again.

  • To roll over from back to stomach your child will want to begin the roll with their stomach this time. (Assist your child with this so they can begin to build proper muscle memory of the action.)


This is a perfect skill to work on with your child as they swim from one parent/adult to the another in the pool. They can begin with one adult, swim a few feet to another adult, stop, flip to their back, float, flip back to their stomach, and then swim back to first adult.

Now that you have taught your child to roll over onto their back, float, and kick on their back, we want to add a basic arm stroke to help them swim on their back. Elementary Backstroke usually uses what is known as Breaststroke Legs, however, we find it’s easier to teach with the Basic Flutter Kick (taught in Lesson 1) that they already know. It’s easier for a child to learn one skill at a time, master that skill, and then add to it, rather than learn two new skills at a time. Learning and practicing one skill at a time will help your child build confidence in their own swimming abilities and prevent confusion. 

Elementary Backstroke Arms

Like all skills, it’s extremely helpful to first begin practicing the Elementary Backstroke Arms on the side of the pool (or even at home before going to the pool)!

1. ‘Monkey’: With your child’s arms at their side, have them slide both arms up their side until the thumbs are at their armpits.

2. ‘Airplane’: Once the arms are at the armpits have your child shoot his or her arms out to the side, making a ‘T’ with their body and arms.

3. ‘Soldier’: Finally have your child pull their arms down to his or her side, palms touching their hips.

Repeat this motion. (As your child practices, the arm movements will and should become more fluid and not so ‘robotic’.)

Depending on where and with whom your child learn to swim, they may learn this skill as (Monkey, Airplane, Solider- as labeled above). Or, you could label the arm movements as :Tickle (when the arms go to the armpits), Punch (when the arms make the T motion) and Pull (when they pull their arms down to their side). Mackenzie writes that because her youngest son just turned three years old and is still very young, he best understands and enjoys the Monkey, Airplane, Soldier. Feel free to choose which best fits your family/child. 


The Teach Your Child to Swim-Summer Swim Series is co-authored by Mackenzie and her long-time friend Chrissy. Mackenzie has experience as a lifeguard for over five years and has been teaching swim lessons at YMCAs, summer camps, and private lessons for over ten years. She has recently been working with her own toddler boys and teaching them to swim. Chrissy has 13 years of experience as a lifeguard and swim instructor. She has also been the Aquatics Director for a the YMCA for 5 years. Chrissy has years of work teaching infants through adults how to swim.
Adult Supervision Required-Every water activity shared in the Teach Your Child to Swim-Summer Series requires adult supervision by an adult at ALL times.


  1. I’ve had my kids in swim lessons, but I think I need to work with them on their own too. I really want to get them swimming. It hasn’t been warm enough for the lake but the weather’s suppose to be great this week. Time to jump in I think.

  2. I remember learning to swim with my dad. Though he was more of a “lets put you in the pool and see what happens” type of teacher. 😀 Thanks for sharing on Tout It Tuesday. Hope to see you again for tomorrow’s party.

  3. Great ideas! Thanks for joining the party at One Creative Weekend!

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