Nicola’s Top Tips

Keep up to date with Nicola’s Top Tips of the Month


August 2018

  • According to Jeans For Genes website the chance of birth or genetic defects is approximately 1 in 20 children in Australia – alarmingly high!  This month’s tip is looking at Angelman Syndrome which is considered a rare genetic condition, while I know that we have several affected children within Rainbow Club.  These happy children love water, are frequently non-verbal, restless and display jerky or stiff limb movements.  We can use the resistance of water to good effect with seaweeding, vertical swinging (like a pendulum), riding a noodle and similar activities.  Games or skills to challenge their balance, posture and movement will be very beneficial to them.  Activities with floating toys can help with developing gross motor skills.

July 2018

  • The cooler months are here so are you perhaps coming down with a cold?  Knowing that the children we teach are often more fragile than most, it makes sense that we teachers are obliged to keep ourselves in tip-top health J  As a precaution therefore, if you feel the onset of a winter cough & sniffle please do something about it immediately!  Alert your Lead Teacher that you may be unable to attend lessons as soon as you can and take the initiative to find a replacement teacher for yourself!  Please don’t leave it until the last moment to let your team down … be proactive.

June 2018

  • Do you teach a child with juvenile arthritis or other conditions with limited movement?  As exercise is one of the key flexibility and pain management strategies, the child may have an exercise program specifically designed by a physiotherapist – I recommend that you ask the parents if they could share this with you so that some of the activities might be included in your lessons!  With the added bonus of buoyancy and resistance that the water can provide, these exercises may be more beneficial than being done on land.

May 2018

  • This is Prader Willi Syndrome Awareness Month so for those of you teaching someone with PWS who’d like a really good insight into how they learn I’d recommend the following video: It’s a presentation to a group of school teachers.

    As a snapshot, you can expect low muscle tone, slow learning, poor short term memory, concrete thinking, lack of empathy, lack of spatial awareness so motor planning will be challenging, they are easily distracted.  They need a lot of support while learning new skills so don’t rush.  Don’t use “Now/Then” teaching with them as they find it difficult to comprehend the future (very much in the now or past).  Use verbal and visual cues to change activity, be patient. In addition they often have language difficulties, both receptive and expressive.  On the flip side, when anxious they may become very verbal so talk non-stop!

April 2018

  • Do you talk too much?  This is easy to do, as we often think that more words may help to convey a message.  However in many cases, especially with the children we are dealing with at Rainbow Club, our message can get lost in a flurry of words.  Avoid asking someone if they understand, you are bound to get a nod in reply, especially if they are merely answering that question – yes, I understand!  The real question is … WHAT have you asked that they understand?!  My tip is to try 3-4 word instructions only;  Allow for processing time;  Ask the child to repeat back what you have asked them to do.  Ready, set, go.

March 2018

  • Working with a very active boy (Green) at Orange recently (a bit of a handful, you might say) I used this as a way to slow him down and listen: in a back float I had him hold a ball between his feet – it was a partially deflated pimple ball, so quite squidgy – then worked with his arms (I was swimming behind his head) to perform survival backstroke saying “hold the ball with your feet, push your hands to your pants” over and over. The rhythm of the words (they must be said rhythmically, like a poem, and softly into his ear) plus the concentration required to hold the ball helped immensely. What similar activities can you come up with?

February 2018

  • Socks!  I’ve tested this out at Liverpool and Bondi in the last couple of weeks and it works …. as most of our Clubs don’t have access to waterproof wrist or ankle weights (exorbitant pricing …) I highly recommend you get a supply of heavy socks.  I went to Target and purchased a 5-pack of ladies and 3-pack of childs, cushioned sport socks.  Investment $14, worth every cent 🙂  Where you have children who have low muscle tone, very buoyant, the socks on their feet add just enough weight to give more feedback to their brain on what their legs are doing.  Also consider using the small socks on their hands to assist with sculling or paddling movements.  Consider also using with children who are struggling to coordinate kicking or over-water movements – the options are endless.  Mind you, work towards not needing them at all (as with all swim aids).

January 2018

  • In the lead up to Rainbow Club starting up again on 3rd February, please review the Swim the Rainbow program and watch the webinar for this month – that’s going to cover off on some new systems you need to be aware of.

December 2017

  • Thank you to all who were involved in the Swim the Rainbow Carnival on 9th December, we had such an awesome day! Perhaps we’ll see a few more teachers involved for 2018 – at Homebush again, that’s such a fabulous venue (how lucky are we?!)

November 2017

  • Remember to practice teaching in the deepest water you have this term in preparation for the Rainbow Carnival!  The students may be used to not touching the pool floor, but maybe you are not 🙂


Webinar Library


5th April 2018

  • To Plan or Not to Plan     While we all understand the need for flexibility in our lessons, it is essential that we have a ‘master plan’ for what each lesson is about.  That’s why we have Swim the Rainbow!


22nd February 2018

  • Developing Swimming Skills     I trust you are getting value from these recordings folks!  This month I’ve looked at some activities you could bring into your more advanced lessons which will offer new, fun ways to practice body control with your swimmers.    You simply MUST download the attached pdf first because I talk about it during the session, and I’m most annoyed that the screen sharing didn’t follow my switching screens!  You will understand what I mean when you get to that point in the recording!!  I’d also like you to consider …. for what purpose are you either towing the swimmers up & down the lane, or instructing them to swim laps?  If it’s stroke correction, practicing limb movements or breathing, I’d question why you need to go so far!  Practice in short bursts, only use longer distances to build endurance – like in squads.  Bear in mind that the farther the swimmer goes, the more cemented in their muscles is the movement they are doing … so make sure it’s the movement you want them to perform.  That goes for mainstream swimming as well as Rainbow Club guys – just think about it!  On a final note, I’m well aware that I say ‘um’ a lot – I AM working on that and I reckon that you could help by coming on board and making it a REAL conversation instead of one where I’m talking to my computer screen!  Whadya reckon?  Please connect with me by email or on facebook with some suggestions on time/day where YOU are available to join me on the call.  I know everyone would get heaps from such an opportunity!                                                                                           Happy swimming!  Cheers, Nicola

25th January 2018

  • Setting up for 2018   Even if you’ve worked with Rainbow Club for several years I recommend that you have a listen as I trust you will get some value from this half hour recording.I had a lovely chat with several teachers … which I neglected to record!  So I went through the slides again to create this recording to share with those of you who were not able to be present!  I welcome your feedback.

10th November 2017