Why fewer and fewer children in Germany can swim – Panorama

Most ten-year-olds in Germany cannot swim. This is also because learning to swim is degenerating into a science, and the fun of movement falls by the wayside.

What does a child really need to learn to swim? If you look around in German families, there are bracelets and countless other swimming aids such as swimming pads, swimming belts, life jackets, swimming noodles. And it is to participate in an often crowded swimming course with the aim of getting the seahorse, the first swimming badge.

Many children struggle through hard exercises with which to learn the difficult breaststroke style. A lot of people go home crying because this kind of swimming overwhelms them, they are afraid of the water or the bustle of the indoor pools is too much for them.

Most ten-year-olds can no longer swim

For years, Germany has developed more and more into a non-swimming country. According to the lifesaving community DLRG, more than half of ten-year-olds in Germany can no longer swim. This is because about ten percent of the public pools in Germany have been closed since 2000 – with the result that swimming lessons are overcrowded and swimming lessons are often no longer held at school. Corona-related closures of pools and unusual swimming lanes do the rest.

But it’s also because the way swimming is taught in Germany is often not exactly child – friendly, says Alexander Gallitz, president of the German Swimming Teachers’ Association. So what does a child really need to learn to swim? If you ask this question to the parents of children of harbor nomads in Thailand, they will probably look at you with amazement.

Here are no swimming lessons and no swimming aids. And yet the little children are already floating through the water, as if they had never done anything else. Because they spend most of the day in the water, they get to know its buoyancy early on. And they experiment with swimming movements that are sometimes reminiscent of dogs, sometimes fish, sometimes frogs and sometimes dolphins. It looks so easy and incredibly beautiful. Above all, the kids just enjoy themselves in the water. No adult would think of correcting her swimming style or letting her practice in the frog kick for hours. , says Alexander Gallitz, president of the Swimming Instructors Association.

Other countries are less fixated on breaststroke

There are many theories as to why on German swimming courses, as in many other countries, crawl, backstroke or a mixture of lighter forms of movement are not first taught.

The preference for breaststroke may have come from the days when it was the best way for soldiers to transport their rifle across a river. Lifeguards have the best overview in breaststroke position. “In addition, children always get a good breath and can always be talked to with their heads above water,” said Martin Holzhause of DLRG’s federal office.

Having fun in the water is more important than swimming style

In the meantime, however, there are also swimming schools that break with the tradition of breaststroke swimming. One of them is the radiant children of Berlin. “We focus on having fun with the water, and that the children get to know its natural buoyancy and then can experiment with their own movements,” says leader Anja Kerkow. Swimming aids such as belts or vests that provide artificial buoyancy are only a nuisance. “Here I engage passively and do something that I can not do without the help,” says Kerkow.

Swimming instructor Alexander Gallitz would also do without swimming aids whenever possible. “The child will learn to swim without if they are only allowed to spend enough time in the water and the parents support them.” If children initially prefer to do the paddle kick from the front crawl to the arm movements in the breaststroke, he supports it. ” The most important thing is first and foremost that the child is safe in the water and knows how to lie on his back as he can no longer. If it works, I can start learning swimming styles. ”

Leave a Comment