Learning Plateau

Why has my child come to a plateau in his/her swimming?

It is likely there will be stages during the learn-to-swim process when your child experiences a learning plateau. During a period of skill development and while attempting to master a skill, a learning plateau describes the feeling that your child is making little or no progress, even if they are always trying 100%.


It is important for parents to acknowledge that a learning plateau is a normal element of the learn-to-swim process, and that it is generally experienced when swimmers reach a level that is intrinsically challenging. For example, learning to coordinate bilateral freestyle for the first time.


Children often make wonderful advances when they initially learn to swim. As the child quickly builds their knowledge and skill base in these early stages, their progress is marked and is easily identifiable and able to be measured. Thereafter, the learning tends to be more gradual and consists of a consolidation and extension of existing skills and knowledge. As the learner strives to refine his/her skills, progress is less apparent.


Occasionally at these times parents begin to question the value of continuing lessons or consider giving the child a break. The advice from any swimming professional is DO NOT STOP!! Consideration of the following tips will help your child’s transition through a learning plateau.


1. Maintain continual commitment to lessons. Consistent practice involving skill reinforcement accelerates the learning process. Interruption to lessons results in a loss of momentum and more often than not, necessitates the re-teaching of the child upon lesson recommencement.


2. Create as much time as possible to practice. Consider taking an additional weekly lesson, do revision at home (either in a pool or through discussion and land demonstration), or schedule a visit to a swimming pool.


3. Remain positive and supportive of your child as they pass through this stage. Praise and reward improvements. Be patient and expect these plateaus to occur, and don’t pressure your child.


4. Talk to staff at the Swim Factory about the things you can do to make the transition through a learning plateau stage easier.


Swimming is a lifelong skill that takes many years to master. An awareness and understanding of the learning plateau in swimming development will serve a parent well as they help their child along this pathway to swimming mastery.