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The use of buoyancy and propulsion aides in teaching young swimmers is contentious. Some believe that such aides provide an artificial crutch that retards learning of independent swimming. Others believe they provide valuable learning cues for progress. This study investigated the progress made by 7 year olds learning to swim with and without buoyancy and propulsion aides. A single primary class was divided into 2 matched-ability groups: aides (n = 10) and self-support (n = 9). Each group attended 10 daily, 40-min lessons prior to the school day. Unsupported stroking and kicking actions were videotaped in the last 10 min of each lesson and scored using the MERS-F scale. As a whole, significant improvements were revealed by the third lesson (p < .05), although no significant differences existed between groups. Case studies of the most rudimentary swimmers in each group confirmed that teaching frontcrawl to beginner swimmers using multiple buoyancy aides failed to enhance skills beyond those gained by using a kickboard only in 10 lessons.
H.E. Parker and B.A. Blanksby are with the Department of Human Movement and Exercise Science at the University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Western Australia, 6907, Australia. K.L. Quek can be reached at 200b Toho Mansion, Holland Road, Singapore 1027.