MAGAZINE: Swans a-swimming as the next Mission of the Month

Oxford Swans is a swimming club for disabled people and also the elderly. Oxford Swans teach swimming using the Halliwick Concept. Members are called ‘swimmers’ and we focus on ability in the water and not disability. One of the main aims of Halliwick is to help the swimmer to become confident and happy in the water. The Halliwick Concept was developed specifically for teaching disabled people to swim but it works for anyone and Oxford Swans has taught not only disabled people to swim but also family members. Halliwick is now used in many countries in the world both for swimming and for therapy. Swimmers are taught on a one-to-one ratio, until independence is achieved. No flotation aids or artificial buoyancy aids are used, so the swimmer is able to discover their own balance position in the water by learning to deal with any problems of imbalance. The structure of teaching includes Mental Adjustment, which includes breathing control and relaxation. Breath control is important, mostly for safety. Swimmers are encouraged to breathe by blowing out into the water or humming, as this prevents the inhalation of water. Swimmers are taught to blow every time their face comes near the water. Hold- ing one’s breath is not conducive to safety in water as it increases tension. Halliwick aims to teach water happiness, pool safety, and swimming. It aims to encourage disabled people to enjoy the water irrespective of their type or degree of disability. Through the medium of games and activities, appropriate to age and ability, swimmers are made aware of the properties and behaviour of water, and to control their balance and posi- tion in the water. Being in the water, with support from an instructor as needed, enables the swimmer to experience mobility that is possibly not experienced on land. Swimmers may be taught as part of a small group that is structured and led by a Group Leader. Working in groups enhances learning, encourages sociability, and is more fun. Swans have two swimming sessions, one at Temple Cowley Pool, for one hour, on a Tuesday evening and the other session at Ferry Pool, in Summertown, for two hours on a Saturday morning. Oxford Swans has many swimmers and is always looking for more helpers and instructors, for either poolside assis- tance or in the water. These volunteers would be trained in the Halliwick Concept. Oxford Swans would like to thank the congregation of St Mary’s, Iffley, for choosing them as Mission of the Month for November. Mary Carr