A push and glide is a way of starting a swim. The swimmer pushes with the feet from the wall under water and glides across the surface in a streamlined shape. The push & glide has two main benefits. Firstly, it gets the swimmer into an ideal flat, buoyant position ready to swim and secondly, it gives the swimmer momentum to travel. Pushing and gliding from the wall at the beginning of each length can provide a much-needed pause to recover and re-set when swimming fast or swimming a long distance. A push & glide can help young children or beginner swimmers to gain confidence as they can travel across the water without buoyancy aids and without needing to know any swim strokes.
Skills that help to improve Push & Glide:
- Confidence to put the face in the water
- Blowing bubbles
- Float shapes (pencil float)
- Floating and standing up again
Development of Push & Glide from Beginner to Advanced:
The very first goal of a push & glide is to encourage confidence and bravery to let go of the side and glide across the water. Young children can enjoy being pushed from one adult to another. Beginner adults may feel more confident to push from the floor and glide towards the wall or glide towards a buddy who will catch them. At the very beginning, children can push and glide whilst wearing armbands. They can keep their head up and they don’t need to make a streamlined shape. Just being brave is enough to start with.
As swimmers gain confidence, they can glide with their face in and start to make a streamlined pencil shape when they glide. Swimmers can start to think about the order of each component: putting the face in, followed by stretching the arms forward, and finally pushing from the wall. When performing a push and glide on the back, swimmers can glide at first with their arms down by their sides, which is relatively easy to do. As swimmers improve, they can attempt to glide on the back with their arms stretched above the head. As with all strokes and skills, swimmers should aim to improve by becoming neater and more powerful.
At an advanced level, a push and glide can be done under the water, using a butterfly kick (dolphin kick) to optimise the momentum gained from the push. If the swimmer is interested in competition, they can incorporate the push & glide into a racing turn (tumble turn or touch turn) under the supervision of a qualified teacher or club coach.
Skill-specific Hazards for Push & Glide:
Besides the general inherent dangers involved with water-based activities, the Push & Glide skill has its own specific risks:
- Nervous swimmers may not be able to stand up after gliding. A supervising adult should assist until they can safely right themselves after gliding on the back and front.
- Swimmers should make sure they are aware of their surroundings. A push & glide can potentially cause a swimmer to collide with another swimmer or with underwater pool features such as submerged steps or seating. Swimmers should glide with the arms outstretched (protecting the head from impact) before increasing the power of their push.
- Nervous or young children who fail to glide far enough to the wall or to an adult that they can hold on to may lose confidence if they start sinking.
- People who are assisting swimmers to push & glide can easily get hurt if a swimmer pushes unexpectedly hard when the assisting adult is too close.