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The Process

Why do we choose to follow a certain program?

When a new skill is being taught, it is important to know how we learn. As mentioned, swimming is multi facetted and therefor very important to apply the "big picture", broken down into byte size chunks as will be explained further.

Three distinct phases are present in the learning process

  • Cognitive Phase
  • Associative Phase
  • Autonomous Phase

Cognitive Phase

The swimmer will try to grasp the learning task, analysing it and verbalising what is required. Movements are slow, inconsisitent and ineffecient. In a Learn to Swim environment it is very important to have the basics done right and in so doing, take care and time.

Associative Phase

Swimming will take the next step up and become easier to execute. Through regular practise, fewer errors are made. Less time is spent on thinking about a certain drill or movement. Here we will focus on getting it done more efficiently, going further, faster and using less energy.

Autonomous Phase

The swimmer is now using all skills learnt and executing each movement automatically. At this stage, focus is on indidual strenths. Refining specifics and in depth work on technical analysis. Time is spent on gaining a psychological edge and visualization.

Lets look at a couple of Learning curves that we may encounter...

Negatively Accelerating Curve

A rapid increase in proficiency after the first few learning efforts. The profeciency levels rise more and more slowly after with subsequent learning efforts.
Reasons for this is:

  • The swimmer may have some familiaraty with the skill and therefor progresses well after the first few excersizes. As the process becomes more complex or unfamiliar elements of the skill has to be executed, the going gets harder.

  • It is easier to progress from a low level of proficiency to a moderate or high level than it is to progress from a high level of proficiency to an exceptional level.

Positively Accelerating Curve

Here swimmers make little progress at first but as they proceed the improve steadily. This kind of learning curve usually in the case of fairly complex skills. These swimmers first need to grasp all that is neccesary before they can make progress.

S-Shaped Curve

A combonation of the first two curves. Here swimmers progress so slowly that there appears to be no progress at all. This is shown in the line between points a and b. Then there is a spurt of rapid progress between points b and c, whereafter there is another spell of little progress between point c and d. The parts where there is little or no progress is called a plateau. This is a temporary position and sometimes discribed as quiet before the storm. The swimmer now has to master the next step before moving up a level.

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