FOUNDER


Esther Visser, founder of Swim in Balance

Esther Visser, founder of Swim in Balance

Esther Visser is a professional violinist, specialized in historical performance practice, Alexander Technique teacher, PhD researcher and she leads Swim in Balance.


Background

Esther is very interested in how you can perform a certain activity (playing the violin, moving, swimming) with so much quality that a beautiful result automatically arises. The Alexander Technique can help enormously with this.

When Esther studied violin at the Amsterdam Conservatory, she noticed that there was a room where students always came out with a big smile. She became curious and knocked on the door to ask what class was being taught there. The lady who opened the door said that she gave Alexander Technique lessons and offered her a trial lesson. Esther was 19 years old and at that time had never heard of Alexander Technique. During the lesson she found all the exercises a bit strange, but at the end of the lesson the lady said: “Now play something on your violin?”. To Esther's surprise, her violin suddenly sounded three times better. This convinced her that in order to become a good violinist, she needed these lessons.

During her Bachelor's and Master's degree she continued to hold Alexander Technique classes almost weekly and became more enthusiastic about it with each class. She already had the wish to become an Alexander Technique teacher one day, but since this is a very expensive private education, she first worked (internationally) as a violinist for 10 years before she decided to start teacher training in 2012. Esther specializes in Baroque music and works as a guest teacher at various conservatories in the field of historical performance practice.

Swimming

During her 3-year full-time study to Alexander Technique teacher at ATCA in Amsterdam, www.atca.nlEsther learned that there was a professional swimmer in London, Steven Shaw, who was teaching swimming lessons based on the Alexander Technique. This really appealed to her, because Esther has always loved water and as a student had also worked as a sailing instructor, training other instructors. She went to London and within a few lessons was convinced of this way of swimming: it was so much lighter and smoother! After positive experiences during various workshops, she therefore decided to follow the teacher training course with Steven Shaw.

She says: “I was especially surprised about the butterfly stroke, because I always thought that you had to be very strong for the butterfly. However, the butterfly stroke in the Shaw way is very light, even people with weak arm muscles can achieve this, and gives a wonderful feeling to your spine. You literally move like a dolphin does. Using the principles of the Alexander Technique and good timing, the arms come forward through the air flat over the water… creating much less resistance. I would therefore encourage anyone who dreads the butterfly stroke to try a Butterfly course, because you will be amazed!”

Then it turned out that at that time another Dutchman, also a musician (horn player) and Alexander Technique teacher, had just graduated as a Shaw Method teacher. Together they started Swim in Balance. 

A year later Esther also graduated as an Alexander Technique teacher and started her own practice free up in Harlem. She specializes in musicians with pain complaints, but also gives Alexander Technique lessons to people in other professions.

PhD study

In 2019 Esther won a full-time scholarship at Canterbury Christ Church University (UK) to do a PhD. She investigates how violinists balanced their violin on their shoulder around 1870. Her hypothesis is that this may have been much healthier than how it is done today (going too far to go into this, see her website esthervisser.com). She is currently completing this study.

What corresponds to swimming is that the way you perform something has such an enormous impact on the (sporting or artistic) result. In her method of balancing the violin, she uses exactly the same principles as when performing an efficient swimming stroke. They seem to be two different subjects, but at their core they are exactly the same.

She says: “Many violinists and other people suffer from shoulders, neck and back. The Alexander Technique and our way of swimming offer safe and healthy support for such complaints and teach you a skill that you can continue to apply independently. That's why I love teaching through this method: We teach people something that they will enjoy for the rest of their lives.”

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Reviews

“Very nice week in a nice environment to learn the Shaw method.”

- Martin (swimming holiday May 2022)

“If like me you thought you could never learn to crawl, and if you want to learn to get more impact (not just in the pool) with less force, then this is a course to do. Accessible, nice people, interesting method, wonderful location and real results.”

- Cilia (swimming holiday May 2022)

“I wholeheartedly recommend Swim in Balance swimming holidays. Learning a new stroke really well, with all the individual guidance that every participant needs, is guaranteed to succeed here. In addition, I learned a lot about the Alexander Technique, on which Swim in Balance bases its swimming method – also super valuable for other sports, making music and life in general. Even though we worked hard, it really felt like a holiday – great to hit the sauna after a swim! I wish Swim in Balance many more happy participants!”

- Alix (swimming holiday May 2022)

“A memorable adventure, where to my amazement I really learned to front crawl, unbelievable!”

- Nicolien (swimming holiday May 2022)

"Great, fun course, does what it promises"

- Show

"During the basic front crawl course, it was explained step-by-step and clearly how we can crawl according to the Shaw method. This is quite a bit different from what I've ever learned. But because of the clear explanation and the slow build up of the battle, it was easy to adjust. Lydia was also a very nice and enthusiastic instructor."

- Hannah

"All my life I was afraid of water and afraid of learning to swim. But after 6 weeks of Water Confidence I managed to leave most of my fear behind. Fantastic, I am very grateful to you!"

- Gabor

"Take a course. Swim in balance is good for your body and mind!"

- Rosita

"I have (already) followed a very nice course. Under professional guidance I was taken step by step in learning a new swimming stroke. It feels like dancing in the water. Recommended!"

- Danielle

“I really benefit from the lessons and come home happy every time.”

- Marjan

“I have never dared to put my head under water in all my life. After 2 lessons with Esther I completely got over my fear and because of that I was able to snorkel with the sea lions and their babies during my holiday in Galapagos!!! Top!!!!"

- Hanna

“I've been trying to teach myself the front crawl for years. With regular lessons you are quickly “forgotten” as a beginner. Esther teaches you, in a relaxed way, a very nice stroke without forcing your back or shoulders. From water habituation (floating) to the entire stroke. Recommended!”

- Hester

“The course really made me realize that the more aligned you are in the water, the more comfortable swimming is. Very glad I learned this, thank you!”

- Wilma

“Celebrating a holiday and also learning something has never been so much fun!”

- Esther (swimming holiday)

“Instructive course, recommended!”

- Marjoram

"Finally working on my front crawl in a relaxed way, before I mainly did this with brute force, but now through Swim in Balance courses and exercises this is done in a relaxed way, very happy with it."

- Nard

“This special journey has brought me a lot, through the Alexander swimming technique and the relaxing way of teaching I have become friends with water again. Besides this “friendship reunited”, other wonderful people and experiences have come my way. Thanks for this special week.”

- Sylvia (swimming holiday)

“My experience with the course was teaching the professional approach of the correct technique, in both the group instructions and the individual guidance, as well as the conviviality.”

- Janine

“Being always a bit afraid of the water, this has really been a life changing experience. I will not be doing the Olympics any time soon, but I definitely am happy with the outcome.”

- Monica

”I thought the crawl basic course was a very nice course, very relaxed setting, Niels is a great teacher with an eye for detail, and a clear explanation. Before the course I had no experience with the front crawl, and now I can swim the front crawl in a good and relaxed way, and I have the basics to train this stroke in a good way. Outside the bath I also benefit from the body awareness that you get in this method, so that I am more often aware of my posture and can improve it.”

- Timo

“Nice course. You learn to swim again, but in a constructive way. Very nice to discover that you can swim quickly with not much effort. And the crawl like this is a beautiful stroke.”

- Willemiek

“In small steps, with good instruction and stimulating guidance, the basics for chest crawl learned in a short time.”

- Nel

“Great lessons, fun and effective.”

- Pieter

“The swimming holiday to Croatia was wonderful! Good weather, beautiful people, learning new things every day in the salt water pool, fun optional activities and plenty of free time to go your own way. Perfect!"

- Lydia (swimming holiday)

“I thought it was a great experience to learn so much in such a short time! The classes were at the same time very relaxed, completely relaxed! Delicious! I had surgery on my back a few months ago, the result is not good, I hesitated to take the classes, but it has given me a lot of good! Recommended!"

- Saskia

“I was very happy with the front crawl level 1 course (in the swimming pool) as well as the 2 hour workshop in the lake 't Wed. Both have given me the skills to feel confident to swim laps in a pool or to swim in open water. Esther is a great instructor with patience and a passion for this sport. She is very relaxed and explains things in a concise and encouraging way. Anyone interested in improving their technique so you can swim more efficiently would benefit greatly from following Esther's courses.”

- Sue

“This course completely fulfills the promise! Really fun and educational to do.”

- Nicole

“Perfect course. Never thought that something I've wanted to do for years could be taught so easily. I wish I had done it years earlier.”

- Hans

“A wonderful mix of sporting effort and relaxation. Exactly what I needed! Sun, sea, salt water and inspiring swimmers!”

- Annelies (swimming holiday)

“I have experienced the Shaw Method as subtle, friendly, logical, natural, intelligent and effective. The instructors are calm and thoughtful. The technology is made up of building blocks so that you can fall back on the basics if you have lost the technology for a while.”

- Tess

“Esther taught me the basics of the front crawl in 6 lessons. The lessons are very clearly structured and ensure that you slowly get used to a new habit. The Shaw Method provides a relaxed way of swimming where relaxation is the most important. The advanced lessons allowed me to continue working on my technique and since then I have been jumping in the pool with great pleasure and confidence. Thanks!”

- Patrick

“If you thought you could swim, give this a try. You will learn relaxing techniques from expert teachers in a beautiful swimming pool on the coast of Croatia.”

- Nora (swimming holiday)

“A wonderful hour of relaxing in the water and at the same time developing more feeling. Nice to experience how effective it is to apply the Alexander Technique to swimming! I recommend it to all swimming enthusiasts.”

- Caroline