Promoting benefits of swimming

Newsletter no. 1, May 2010




The eSwimming Project

Welcome to the first issue of the newsletter from the eSwimming project.


The project has been established, with funding from the European Union, to encourage the use of swimming as therapy. Through the work of dedicated groups, swimming has been shown to provide tremendous benefits for people with disability or special needs. But when we look across Europe as a whole, there are many people who are not able to get the opportunity. For instance, about one-sixth of the age group 16-64 have a longstanding health problem or disability, so there is a considerable potential for swimming opportunities to expand.


The aim of the project is to use modern communication methods to spread the word, through the internet and elsewhere, to make more people aware of the advantages – swimmers, parents, trainers, and potential volunteer helpers.


One aspect of the project has been to develop a portal with educational and promotional materials. This is now available at, and we would be glad to get your feedback on it.


Within the next month, we will be making available a video about swimming. It was filmed in the Slovenian town of Velenje, the base of the project coordinators, IPAK. Dr Stanko Blatnik of IPAK has a background in physics and engineering, and has developed many projects promoting innovation, in various parts of Europe. He also enjoys swimming, including water basketball and most of all training disabled swimmers, and this interest led to the present project.

Joining IPAK in the project are four other partners. The Italian research centre Amitié, based in the city of Bologna, specialises in the development of training skills for the information and communication technology sector. The Institute for Innovation in Learning (ILI), part of the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, has much experience in developing learning systems for special target groups. Scienter España, based in the Spanish city of Granada, develops new types of training systems. Going Nova, from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, focuses on communication and innovation.


The project is here to serve – the stimulus for it was admiration and respect for the dedicated work of trainers across Europe, and a desire to do as much as possible to highlight their achievements and encourage others to provide support. If there is anything you feel that we can do, we would be glad to hear from you.


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The Halliwick Method

One very successful method of teaching swimming has celebrated its 60th anniversary. It came about as the result of a gala organised by a London swimming club to raise funds for a local school of disabled girls – the Halliwick school.


At the gala, the girls from the school sat in the audience and watched the club members swimming. Several of the girls seemed to be looking longingly at the water and the activity and the enjoyment.


In the bus on the way back, the club’s swimming coach, James McMillan, asked his wife how the girls had enjoyed it, and she spoke of the look in the faces of several of them, that seemed to say ‘If only we could get in there and do that!’


He was quite for a long time. Then he suddenly said: ‘Why not?’


Through the following week the club organisers did a lot of thinking and talking. In James McMillan’s words – ‘They were children just like ours, so why shouldn’t they have a sport and wasn’t water an ideal playground?’


So they organised a private session at the local pool which was a big success. One of the club members recalls: ‘After a wonderful time (for them) splashing around and a promise (from us) that they could come again next week, we went home tired but happy with Mac saying, “We have now to get working a method of teaching, and a method that will be able to be applied to all disabilities, with two aims in mind – ability and normality.” ’


James McMillan was studying engineering, so he decided to apply some principles of hydrodynamics. He devised a 10-point method, which involved helping people to feel at home in the water, building up skills such as balance.


And that was the beginning of what is now called ‘the Halliwick method’. James McMillan’s programme involves the development of personal independence in the water out of three key concepts: mental adjustment, balance control, and movement. The approach applies to teaching all people, with particular advantages for those with physical difficulties or learning difficulties.


Part of the mental adjustment is for the swimmer to learn how to respond flexibly to different environments or tasks – to acquire the ability to respond automatically. Balance control involves maintaining position or changing position in the water in a controlled way, gradually learning a fine degree of balance, so that each movement is just the right amount needed. And movement itself is about mental organisation and physical control.


Information about the Halliwick method can be found on websites such as:

the website of the Halliwick Association of Swimming Therapy in the UK


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Project partners


IPAK – innovation centre in Velenje (Slovenia) – the project coordinator
Amitié srl – research institute in Bologna (Italy)
ILI/FIM – part of the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg (Germany)
Scienter España – developing systems in Granada (Spain)
Going Nova – communication and innovation group (Scotland UK)


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To find out more or to share information with the project, visit the eswimming website:
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DISCLAIMER: Every effort has been made to present all information accurately, however no liability is accepted by the eSwimming project and its partners for any information referenced in this document coming from external sources. Links to external sites are provided for information purposes only, and are by no means an endorsement of the accuracy of information contained within. The authors reserve the right not to be responsible for the correctness, completeness or quality of the information provided. Liability claims regarding damage caused by the use of any information provided, including any kind of information which is incomplete or incorrect, will therefore be rejected. Analogously, every effort has been made to identify the owners of the copyright of the reference texts. In case of any error or fault we are ready to arrange for the necessary corrections.


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