So let’s assume, you have just finished 6 hours of teaching school swimming. Your throat is a little dry because you ran out of water in the last class. You have a little bit of a sore throat but really you feel fine.
A master swimming instructor should be aware that your vocal chords are like every other muscle in the body and need a little respect and tender love and care, when they are tired. This would be when a master swim teacher would suck on a throat lozenge (not medicated) just a bit of honey and eucalyptus and increase their fluids with regular sips of water or lemon juice.
Instead of cooking that “chili con carne”and drinking that glass of wine tonight, they settle for some lemon juice, macaroni and cheese. A master swim teacher would refrain from yelling at the kids and pursued the children to read the bedtime story to them, before they themselves go to bed early. Only to wake in the morning, feeling well rested and refreshed with their voice back to normal.
It doesn’t take much; just a couple of changes to endeavor you are looking after yourself. A master swim teacher understands the stresses and strains of our business and respects them accordingly.
Allow me to also add some of my practical voice tips to for swimming instructors that could or should now become best practices for all professional swimming instructors.
Ten top Tips to avoid voice abuse in swimming instructors
1. Do limit the amount of “out of class or pool deck “talking.
2. Do slow down your speaking rate, pause more often during speaking. In fact, become the listener more.
3. In noisy environments, don’t use your voice or tonality at all, switch to large body movements and expressions that communicate.
4. Do sip room temperature water often before, during and after the class.
5. Do more relaxation & exercise to loosen up tight muscles, definitely have a massage if needed.
6. Where possible use a mike or loud haler, it’s not possible use “the huddle” to give feedback and instruction when your students are in close range,
7. Never talk when under emotional stress or duress.
8. Avoid sugary drinks, alcohol and smoking at the end of the day. Lemon juice and honey and a little ginger are a great alternative & pick me up.
9. Use your facial expressions to communicate as much as possible
10. Always stay in a happy positive mood and if you need rest, take it. Do not come to work if you are sick or under the weather.
As a swimming school owner, I used to be adamant, when one of the swimming teachers voice started to wain, I used to give them 4 days off mandatory. This did not make me very popular but I truly wanted to avoid any of my swimming team having to go through the voice abuse and ultimately the throat operation and experiences I endured.
If you know someone who could use this knowledge, please with my blessing pass it on. Who knows wouldn’t it be wonderful to have more “masters swim teachers out there, with their voices intact” over the next few years.