Swim class personal practice journal

A previous dean added this journal writing assignment to the curriculum for all De Anza College swim classes.

“Establish a personal practice workout journal to compare pre- and post skill acquisition.”

“Establish a personal practice journal to compare cardiovascular fitness acquisition and individual workouts.”

Previous students in my swim classes decided the length of 1,000 word minimum, (total 1,000 words, not 1,000 words per day).

Some students write over 2,000 words.

Part of your grade will be to keep a personal/practice journal in which you will compare pre- and post skill acquisition and possibly cardiovascular fitness acquisition and individual workouts.

Keep a written record of your experiences and progress in the class.

Start with an assessment of your skills before class started. You can copy the Canvas website first day of class assignment of the survey of your current skills and personal goals and then include details.

Then add: What did you accomplish each day? What was hard, what was easy, what was new, which techniques were best for you?

You will learn a lot from it (and your instructor will learn as well).

It should have a few paragraphs for each session of class, written as the class goes along. (A few pages of notes put together quickly at the last minute or a calendar of events with no discussion of your skills and improvements will not earn credit.)

long stripe of lake water

Here is an example of a journal that was not accepted for credit:

The student wrote a total of 364 words, part of which is here:

“Learning the underwater swim was great practice. I started seeing more improvement with my freestyle & backstroke by this time. Treading water with the scissor kick became easier. The eggbeater kick was still a work in progress”

. . . “End of the course
I had seen a lot of improvement on my form which was actually one of my goals that I wanted to learn and take away by the end of the course. It’s not a 1,000 words but I prefer Quality over Quantity.”

Please note that the completion of the assignment is 1,000 words (again, students decided on this number), not “X” number of points per word, so there are no points for partial completion.

sparkling swimming pool water

Make note of each of your distances on the Cooper 12 minute swims

and speeds on any timed swims for any stroke (you can regularly do 25 yard and or 50 or 100 yard timed tests). There are two big time-clocks at each end of the pool so you can look and note the time as you leave the side of the pool, and see how you did when you get to the far side for a 25 yard swim, for example.

west end of pool complex at De Anza College showing part of the diving well and an upstairs hallway


as well as distances underwater. One goal could be the requirement for graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy of 40 feet under water on one breath. The width of our main pool is 25 yards (75 feet). We can put a cone out at 40 feet. In the photo below, if you start a swim underwater at the right hand side, (the north-east corner of the pool) 40 feet is where the cone is:

pylon at edge of pool

cone at edge of pool deck to show 40 feet distance

(Again, remembering that underwater swimming will be allowed only when we say it is time for that and must be done without hyperventilating. If this does not make sense, please reread the swim class safety rules.)

Keep track of any improvements in your toe-point.

Keep a record of how many freestyle arm pulls it takes you to go across the width of the pool at the start of the quarter and as we go along.

Keep a record of improvements in your ability to tread water for a longer time, tread water without using your hands (kick only), treading water holding a weight.

Lifeguards are expected to be able to tread water using just the kick (leg movement) for two minutes, or even longer. A test says: “tread water for two minutes without support and without stopping, using only your legs. Your hands will be placed under your armpits. Your head must remain above the surface of the water.”

Treading water sometimes becomes a friendly competition in the class. Some students try to see if they can tread without using their arms/hands, then try the two minute lifeguard test. Some students have done 15 or 20 minutes at a time, again, with just the kick.

People who are already good at treading without using their hands (kick only, no arm movement), or who get better as we go along, have previously tried treading while holding a five or ten pound weight with both hands at the surface of the water, another kind of lifeguard test. We will not be taking out weights for people to use for this during COVID. But students can bring one or two full small (unbreakable) drinking water bottles and try holding one with each hand while treading (one liter of water weighs about 2.2 pounds).

holding water bottles in pool

If you have one, you could use a clean gallon (previously filled with bleach, now filled with water) bottle. One gallon of water weighs about 8 1/3 pounds.

You can also try just holding an empty gallon bleach bottle overhead, adding water as you get stronger.

man holding a bottle overhead while treading water

The current record for a student in one of my classes is one hour treading water just using the kick, holding a ten pound weight at the surface with both hands and no, he was not a waterpolo player.

water rippling

This treading water workout can be extra for your abs . . . just because you could be laughing so much.

Mitchell Conley juggles while treading water: man juggles three balls while in a swimming pool

(For the photo above this swim student was in 14 foot deep water. He had lots of experience treading water and juggling so this first try at doing both at once was relatively easy for him.)

Hmmmmm, and learning to juggle can improve your brain

Tips for learning to juggle are at: https://www.wikihow.com/Juggle
You can try this at home with rolled-up pairs of socks.



There is potential extra credit for a truly complete (in the opinion of your instructor) journal.

stripe of water

See: Knes 1A novice swim.

Knes 1B beginning swim

Knes 1C intermediate swim

KNES 1D advanced swim

KNES 2A aerobic swim