These swimming levels are stages used in the Michael Phelps Swimming Training Program (MPS), an approach rooted in the philosophies of child psychology and early childhood education and development. MPS is a reinvigoration of the program taught at the North Baltimore Swim School, where Michael Phelps first learned his basic strokes and respect for the water. There are eleven levels in MPS; here we are focusing just on the first four, which typically include infants through elementary school.
Swimming instruction and progress is based on the development of the gross motor skills involved in swimming (kicking, stroking, and rhythmic breathing). A child can remain at one level for months, even a year, as they acquire basic proficiency and competence before mastering the skills they need to move on. While they are learning their swimming skills, they are also acquiring an understanding of the properties of water and how our bodies behave differently in water vs. on land. (Science!)
Has your child ever been in a pool? Does he or she go completely under water without a fuss? Can she or he float with his/her face in the water? If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, then your little one belongs in Level 1.
Level one is an introduction to the water in a one-on-one setting with a parent
or caregiver. This level typically includes children between six months and three
years and uses repetition and play to acclimate young children to being in the water.
This level aims to help children become comfortable under the water. They will also
learn to float as they become more comfortable under water. They must be at least
three years old, but is perfectly appropriate for older children who are not comfortable
going under water yet.
At this stage, children are learning how to have a streamlined body position
and to incorporate rhythmic breathing into the basic freestyle and backstrokes.
Advanced beginners are swimming partial laps and
refining their stroke and breathing techniques.
Congratulations on taking the plunge into giving your child the life-saving, health-promoting skill of swimming. There’s a good chance both of you will be spending quite a bit of time in the water in the next few months, so here are some tips on how to protect yourself from chlorine, salt water and sun.
To Prevent Brittle Hair
Rinse with fresh water before you jump in the pool. You can also apply a little oil- or silicone-based conditioner or gel to help decrease the amount of chlorine absorbed by your hair.
To Prevent Green Hair
Be sure to shampoo you hair immediately after swimming. A rinse of one part apple cider vinegar to two parts water, followed by a fresh water rinse, will also help.
To Prevent Dry Skin and Rashes
Be sure to shower after swimming with mild soap. There are also cleansers specially formulated to help neutralize the chlorine. A lotion or spray with vitamin C or vitamin E gives an extra boost of moisture.
To Protect from the Sun
If you’ll be swimming outside, be sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15 or greater. Sunscreens with zinc dioxide or titanium dioxide come is bright colors that can add a dash of fun for your little one. You can also find swimwear tops made from material that has ultraviolet protection.
To Minimize Eye Irritation
Chlorinated pool water can cause red, stinging eyes and blurry vision. A pair of goggles are your best bet at minimizing irritation, but the key is finding a pair that fits well, even for your little one. After swimming, you can splash the eye area with fresh water and use soothing, lubricating eye drops.