Let’s say you just finished 6 hours of school swimming instruction. Your throat is a little dry because you ran out of water in the last chapter. You have a bit of a sore throat but feel really fine.
A master swim coach should be aware that the vocal cords are like every other muscle in the body and need a little respect, love, and care when they’re tired. This occurs when an accomplished swimming instructor sucks on (untreated) throat lozenges a bit of honey and eucalyptus and increases their fluids with regular sips of water or lemon juice.
Instead of cooking up “chili” and drinking a glass of wine tonight, they make do with some lemonade and macaroni and cheese. The lead swimming teacher would refrain from yelling at the children and would go after the children to read a bedtime story to them, before they themselves went to bed early. Only to wake up in the morning, feeling rested and refreshed with their voice back to normal.
Don’t take too much. Just a few changes in your self-care endeavors. The Master Swim Instructor understands the pressures and strains of our business and respects them accordingly.
Allow me also to add some practical audio tips for swim coaches that can or should now become best practices for all professional swim coaches.
Top Ten Tips for Avoiding Voice Abuse in Swimming Coaches
1. Don’t limit the amount of speech “outside the classroom or on the pool deck.”
2. Slow down your speaking rate, pausing often while speaking. In fact, be more of a listener.
3. In noisy environments, don’t use your voice or intonation at all, switch to large body movements and expressions that communicate.
4. Drink room temperature water often before, during and after class.
5. Do more relaxation and exercise to loosen tight muscles, and certainly massage if necessary.
6. Where possible, use a microphone or a loud voice transmitter, Messaging cannot be used to provide feedback and guidance when your students are within walking distance,
7. Never speak up when you are under emotional pressure or duress.
8. Avoid sugary drinks, alcohol and smoking at the end of the day. Lemon juice, honey and a little ginger is a great alternative and pick me up.
9. Use your facial expressions to communicate as much as possible
10. Always stay in a positive, happy mood, and if you need a rest, take it. Don’t come to work if you’re sick or under the weather.
As a swim school owner, I used to insist, when one swim instructor’s voice started to sound, that I was giving them the mandatory 4 days off. It didn’t make me very popular, but I really wanted to avoid any of my swim team having to go through the sound abuse and ultimately the throat process and experiences that I went through.
If you know someone who could use this knowledge, please pass it on with my blessing. Who knows, wouldn’t it be great if there were more “Masters Swim Instructors, With Their Voices Not Changing” over the next few years.