Caring for your Orca swim trainer
You have received your Orca swim trainer. CONGRATULATIONS we hope you have hours of fun with it.
Here is a guide for you to get the best out of your Orca
What will be covered is:
How to use the 9 float pad graduation process to it's full capacity
How to care for your Orca
Please be aware that the Orca is NOT designed to protect against drowning. Only use when your child is under constant and competent supervision. NEVER leave your child unattended in the water. The Orca does not act as a life jacket. You must remain at arm's distance away from your child once they are swimming independently and never turn your back on them.
Let's start with the The Orca Graduation System.
This chart above shows the stages of your child's progression when starting with the Orca swim trainer.
Please note: Your Orca will arrive with 6 float pads in each pocket. You need 5 in the back pocket and 4 in the front pocket. You have these extras just in case you loose 1 or one gets ripped by accident.
Steps to follow when using your Orca
Step 1: Familiarisation Phase
For your child to become familiar with how the Orca feels wearing it in the water, let them hold your hands, with you standing in front (eye to eye) with them or stand to the side with your hands underneath their armpits. (stay low with them so you don't hold them above the water).
They will be in an upright position for this step as they need to explore and move their legs, arms and full body to adjust their balance and establish what they need to do. They will do this naturally so please do not put them in a horizontal position as this will hinder this important phase.
Let them hold your hands. This will give them the invitation to let go when they gain the confidence. You may hold hands for some time to help them with their balance and increase their core strength - this is great. They may choose to let go of one hand, if so encourage them to paddle with that hand. At first they may get all excited that they are doing it by themselves and perhaps get some water in their mouths. If this happens go back to them holding your hands to reassure them if needed. Please stop and let them gather themselves before you carry on.
Step 2: Exploration Phase
Once they have let go of your hands this is the time to encourage and praise them for being independent in the water They will probably be splashing with their hands and doing a cycling action with their legs. This is fantastic as this phase is all about gaining confidence and giving them the space to figure out what they have to do in order to move around.
Please do not rush this phase as the magic will start to happen. Lots of encouragement and reassuring words will help move the phase along.
Step 3: Magical Phase
You will begin to notice that your child naturally starts to move in a more horizontal position closer to the surface of the water.
This is the best time to start blowing bubbles with them and encouraging them to use their paddle arms (i.e. stretch arms out under the water), and long leg kicking (i.e. moving away from the cycling action to flutter kicks).
Their confidence will enable them to feel comfortable being closer to the surface of the water in a more streamline position. Having spent time on Step 1 and 2 means that their overall strength and endurance will have increased.
Do not take out any float pads during this phase.
Step 4: Transformation Phase
It's important not to miss this step. Your child will be happily putting their faces in the water, confidently moving around independently, in control of moving their body in different directions and they'll understand the purpose of the Orca. Give them plenty of time in this phase to really boost their confidence and enjoyment of the water.
Please remember to still keep a close eye on them at all times.
Step 5: Float Pad Removal Phase
Once step 4 is mastered, then you can start taking the float pads out. Start with just one of the back float pads. You will see them drop a little in the water but not enough to hinder their movements. If you notice they are struggling or they go back to being turtle necks (lifting their chin and splashing with their hands again, as in step 1) then you have taken the float pad out a little too soon.
The signs to look out for to know that you have taken the float pads out at the right time is to watch them and see that they have enough flotation aid to get from A to B with ease and fluidity.
This is the the perfect phase to really focus on "pop up breathing" (taking consecutive breaths over a distance they are traveling) and doing little, fast kicks with floppy ankles.
Step 6: Graduating Phase
They have all 9 float pads out of their suit and they are swimming confidently with a regular breathing pattern in a natural swimming position using paddle arms and flutter kicks. Fantastic you now have a little swimmer on your hands.
If you are wanting to practise safety skills from poolside, I would recommend taking out both float pad bags so you can simulate the feeling of falling in.
Do not rush through any of the phases. Also when you start taking the float pads out - please keep them, just in case you need to use some of them again.
If you have a period of time where you have been not using the Orca, you may have to put some of the float pads back in to boost your child and repeat a particular phase again.
Do not take two or more float pads out at a time - it's a progressive system so one at a time is advised for the system to work at its best.
Always stay in front of your child when they are moving - this is to watch their mouths so they don't take in too much water. Otherwise this could potentially hinder the whole process.
The all-in-one Orca suit is designed so you do not need to wear anything underneath it, but it's a personal preference and what feels comfortable to your child.
How to put your Orca swim trainer on
Put your suit on when dry - it's easier. If wet make sure you push the leg section up the thigh first then pull up either side of the float pad section before closing the shoulder straps.
Use the straps around the torso to create a snug fit - these are the most important straps as they keep the float pads in the correct position around the body. If the velcro is to it's maximum and you still have room then you need to go down a size. The costume should NOT ride up towards the chin when in the water.
The shoulder straps do not need to be done up too tightly (you have done them too tight if the material looks stretched).
How to maintain your Orca:
DO NOT use the straps on the back of the Orca to hold up your child - they hold your hands or you hold underneath their armpits at stage 1. The straps will eventually break if you continually do this.
DO NOT pull the suit up using the shoulder straps. You will strain the fabric too much. Step in to the suit and use either side of the float padded section to pull up.
Take out the float pad bags to enable a quicker drying time for your suit. Lie flat to dry or hang using the shoulder straps only.
When opening the float pad pockets hold on to the velcro section not the fabric. Over time if you pull open by the fabric, it could result in the velcro strip lifting from the fabric.
If you have any queries, questions or concerns please contact Helen Hughes, designer of Orca swim trainer and co-founder of Mini Water Adventurers.