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The Halliwick Concept

James McMillan has developed the Halliwick concept since 1950 as a swimming method for people with special needs.

He based the concept on his knowledge of fluidmechanics and added to this theoretical and observational considerations on the reactions of the human body in the aquatic environment. This combination of fluidmechanics and the neurobiological answers of the body led to a sensori-motor learning sequence, called The-Ten-Point-Programme. This sequence leads a person from the adaptation to water to a basic swimming stroke. A central topic in the programme is the achievements of control over rotations around the various body axes. These rotations occur because of the so-called "metacentric” effects, i.e. the relationship between gravitational and buoyant forces. This relationship is being altered by changes in shape and/or density that occur in the disabled body.

Therefore a thorough assessment of both changes in density and shape is needed in order to predict the rotational problems that a patient or a swimmer with special needs might have.

The order of teaching in the Ten-Point-Programme is:

  1. Mental Adjustment / Disengagement
  2. Sagittal Rotation Control / Disengagement
  3. Transversal Rotation Control / Disengagement
  4. Longitudinal Rotation Control / Disengagement
  5. Combined Rotation Control / Disengagement
  6. Upthrust or Mental Inversion / Disengagement
  7. Balance in Stillness / Disengagement
  8. Turbulent Gliding / Disengagement
  9. Simple Progression / Disengagement
  10. Basic Halliwick Movement / Disengagement

The ten points have three stages of motor learning, showing the process-oriented philosophy of the concept. The concept therefore is very popular in neurological and paediatric rehabilitation and is often said to be “Bobath in water”. There are resemblances, because both concepts deal with motor development. Halliwick however partially has it's own body-of-knowledge.

In 1974 McMillan was asked to develop an exercise system, based on the Ten-Point-Programme, by the medical director of the Bad Ragaz Health Spa Centre in Switzerland. During a five-year research project, Water Specific Therapy was developed in cooperation with e.g. Urs Gamper.

McMillan archives

 Photo's underneath show a collection of photo's, showing James McMillan


Conference presentations Leuven 2015

aqua leuven

Conference presentations Querétaro 2016


Conference presentations Mysore 2017

india 2017