Although originally called a ‘Method’, the Halliwick Concept is more than just a means of teaching swimming. The term ‘Concept’ was later used to encompass all aspects of the swimmer’s development, physical, psychological and social. As James MacMillan (known as ‘Mac’) said,”the mind, the body and the spirit”. ‘Concept’ also reflects the dynamic nature of our work, developing as our knowledge increases and our experience widens.
Halliwick is based on principles of hydrostatics, hydrodynamics and kinesiology. It is an holistic approach, bringing together knowledge about: the water and the body; teaching and learning; motivation; challenge; activities, games and music; group dynamics; disability equality issues and swimming strokes.
Swimmers are taught on a one-to-one ratio until complete independence is achieved but each pair is a unit within a group activity so that the swimmer gains advantage of group work but also gaining from the constant attention of an individual instructor. No flotation aids are used so the swimmer is able to discover their own balanced position in the water by learning to deal with any problems of imbalance.
Points 1 & 2 are Mental Adjustment, which includes breathing control and relaxation, and Disengagement, the process of becoming independent in the water. Both are points the swimmer has to deal with as each new skill is introduced.
The control of rotational forces are covered by points 3 to 6.
Then comes learning about Upthrust, Balance and Turbulent gliding (points 7 to 9).
And finally, Propulsion. Point 10 is a simple progression and a basic swimming stroke for someone who is learning in the water, whether they can swim independently or not, emphasising inclusion, participation and high expectations.
‘Swimmers’ learn to control their own balance in water, without flotation aids. This is achieved by working on a one-to-one basis with a helper who gives adjustable, minimal support. Working in groups gives the ‘swimmer’ a chance to enhance learning as it improves motivation and allows ‘swimmers’ to learn from each other. The group situation allows opportunities for communication and socialising. Games are also used as a good way of learning through structured play and fun. Good communication between a ‘swimmer’ and helper is essential for many reasons, including the ‘swimmer’ being able to be involved in the learning process. Halliwick practitioners take into consideration different ways to help people maximise learning. This applies in teaching ‘swimmers’ with disabilities and also when teaching new instructors on courses.
The 10-Point Programme develops the patient’s ability to initiate and perform movements and activities which may be difficult to achieve on land.
Opportunities to practise movement in the aquatic environment may facilitate new patterns that increase the recognition and understanding of different concepts of motor learning, sensory processing and cognitive learning and develops the ability to organise movement patterns and control activities required in daily living. (MacKinnon, 1997; Bumin et al., 2003; Getz, 2006; Getz et al., 2007).
Swimming can be an important activity in promoting well-being throughout a person’s lifespan. As outlined previously, swimming as a therapeutic tool has an important role in improving and maintaining health.
The International Halliwick Association (IHA) is a charity organisation with the objectives of promoting and developing internationally the Halliwick Concept. For more details of the IHA go to the IHA website at www.halliwick.org. If interested in attending a course, or organising a course, you can find details of Lecturers to contact on the ‘Courses and IHA Lecturers’ page of the IHA website.