About Shaw Method

Shaw MethodWhat is Shaw Method?

The Shaw Method seeks to establish the best relationship of head, neck and torso as a basis for a good swimming technique and then moves on to establish movements of legs and arms that will not damage or compromise the main joints. The principles of movement are as applicable on land as they are in water and can be extremely helpful for anybody suffering with neck, back or joint problems.

Steven Shaw was a competitive swimmer who had problems with shoulder injuries and a general disenchantment with a sport that had initially been pleasurable and exciting. He trained as an Alexander Technique teacher and began to put the two disciplines together — the result is the Shaw Method of Swimming.

One of the cores Alexander principles is that we are whole beings and interact with our lives in a holistic way. In other words, there is no activity that we perform that does not involve every aspect of ourselves. We tend to divide this whole into separate aspects in order to understand, explain and in the initial stages of learning to swim (or improving existing technique) a first consideration should be how the swimmer relates to the water. Does breathing in the water create anxiety? Have there been previous unpleasant experiences, which prevent the swimmer from trusting the support that water gives? Does the experienced swimmer thrash through the water rather than move with it? When these problems have been addressed, the mechanical aspects of moving through the water are easier to learn.

A video camera is used extensively, so that the swimmer can see exactly what he or she is doing and how the technique can be improved. Teachers are always in the water with the swimmer, using their hands to support and guide the movements. Floatation aids are not used (except to ensure the safety of young children) as these can prevent the swimmer developing their own sense of balance in the water.

The major difficulty that non-swimmers and swimmers alike experience is that of co-ordinating their breathing in a comfortable and efficient way. If a strong sense of body balance in the water is developed, these problems are easily solved.