Frequently Asked Questions
What are the laws used by the 5 Circles Teaching Method?
The Natural Laws of Learning, Applied to Swimming: A Work in Progress
- You can’t learn a physical skill if you’re not in control.
- In order to change a movement, it must be allowed to be the way it is.
- If you’re having fun, you’re more open and willing than if you’re not having fun.
- If you have a choice, you’re more open and willing than if you don’t have a choice.
- Going at your own pace is the optimal pace of learning.
- Comfort contributes to optimal learning. Discomfort distracts.
- You have to be in your body in order to feel.
- You have to be able to feel the water and what it does for you in order to learn to swim.
- Direction comes to us via feelings.
- If someone feels comfortable, safe and curious, learning is spontaneous and effortless.
- If the student remains in the 1st Circle, learning is guaranteed.
Every normally-abled person (and many disabled people) can overcome fear in water, learn to swim and learn strokes.
These laws can be applied to learning any topic.
Where can I learn more about using these laws?
They're explained and used most comprehensively in the book, Conquer Your Fear of Water by Melon Dash, Authorhouse, 2006. They're also presented in the DVD, The Miracle Swimmer and at the Miracle Swimming website's Learn About MSI video. A brief video description is also on this website at 5 Circles Explained: Video. (Please give videos a minute to load.) They're demonstrated and fully taught in the Conquer Fear Instructor Training.
The foundation of optimal learning is comfort: presence of mind, having a choice, having permission, having fun, and ones basic physical needs being met. From Presence automatically arises Control; from having Fun, Learning and Healing; from Choice, Curiosity; from Permission, Willingness. When each type of safety is provided as described above, the only possible result is Freedom: in swimming lessons, it's freedom in water, shallow and deep.
Why should I use the 5 Circles Teaching Method instead of what has worked for me for years?
The 5 Circles Teaching Method provides a successful path in all the places OTHER THAN what's worked for you for years—the places you've been stumped—AND in the places that your teaching has worked just fine. Panic-prevention is part of the 5 Circles which augments "teaching that works just fine."
In teaching swimming, the 5 Circles Teaching Method is especially helpful for teaching sinkers, afraid students, kids who cry, and people who are frustrated. You'll have a way to explain where students are in their learning and adult students will understand for the first time. Children as well as adults experience the 5 Circles approach as permission, compassion, and certain success.
Equally important, the 5 Circles should be taught to every student: everyone needs to know where they are relative to the 1st Circle in order to understand that being in control of oneself is a location as a spirit, and ones greatest success and safety in any endeavor come while one is in control of him/herself.
An understanding of The 5 Circles is essential to maximal personal safety. Every person needs to know how to keep him/herself in the 1st Circle and how to prevent panic—flying out to the 5th Circle—to have the best chance of saving his life in a life-threatening situation.
What are signs of movement of spirit in learning to swim?
Tension and relaxation. Hurriedness and calm. Stiff movements and fluid ones. Reaching for the wall frantically and approaching it slowly. Smiles and laughte, and sometimes tears of joy.
Where did The 5 Circles come from?
In 1983, Mary Ellen (Melon) Dash was informed that the next part of her life would be about teaching swimming to adults who were afraid in water.
“I was asked what thing that I loved doing would I be willing to receive $100 to do. There were only two things: coaching swimming and teaching adults who were afraid in water to swim. Since I was in Berkeley (CA) at the time, and there were half a dozen world-class swimming coaches in the area, I thought it would take me forever to “pay my dues” as a coach and compete at their level. But I felt I could be at the forefront right away if I worked with afraid adults. Without questioning it, I knew that was the path for me.”
When she started offering Swimming for Adults Afraid in Water classes, she asked herself, "how does fear work?" A few days later, the first two circles of the diagram appeared in the window when she was daydreaming. She noted that they were in response to her question, but felt there was something more. A few days later while daydreaming again, the other 3 circles appeared. At that time, she felt the answer was complete. There have been no changes to it since 1983. The diagrams have been tested tens of thousands of times. The system cannot fail. An instructor or student can only fail to use it.