The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

Breath Control Game for Swimming Lessons

Writing about this activity has  “I Saw Esau,”  playing over and over in my head, a song made famous by the Ames Brothers in 1956!  At any rate, if you’re looking for a fun breath control game for swimming lessons that will take the monotony out of your rhythmic bobs, your learn to swim students will certainly enjoy this one:

This is not an activity for true beginners, as children would need to have some basic air exchange skills as a prerequisite for this activity.   It would work perfectly, however,  in the Swim Lessons University Swim Strokes 201 or 202 Lesson Plan though for sure!

The Swim Lessons University Instructor Certification program and curriculum is currently being utilized by recreation departments, YMCAs, America Camp Association swim lessons programs, as well as by private swimming instructors in 45 states and over 30 countries!

For more information on the Swim Lessons University Swim Instructor Training or our Online Swim Instructor Certification courses, make sure to visit us at   or call us toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).


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October 18, 2016 at 3:07 am Comments (0)

Freestyle Kick Games for Kids

Do your students ever get bored, or even lazy while you’re having them practice their freestyle kick in swim lessons? Here’s a fun little game you can incorporate called “Cat and Mouse” that has proven to be both MOTIVATIONAL and FUN! 

For more detailed instructions on “How to Teach the Freestyle and Backstroke,” check out our “SWIM STROKES 201/202/203” video course!

You can even become a Swim Lessons University CERTIFIED SWIMMING INSTRUCTOR to teach the “Swim Strokes 201/202/203” class through our ONLINE SWIM INSTRUCTOR TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION COURSES!

The Swim Lessons University Instructor certification is an internationally recognized alternative to the Red Cross WSI. And when you utilize SLU, you can even SPECIALIZE to teach in specific courses or you can certify to teach then all! Best of all, when you choose Swim Lessons University you can do all your training in the comfort of your own home, at your pace, and at a fraction of the cost!

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October 5, 2016 at 2:38 am Comments (0)

Tips for Sport Parents and Youth Coaches

DON’T Tell Your Kid: “Do Your Best!”

“Do your best” is an overused, inaccurate cliché.  What we really mean to say is “Try your best.”  When it comes to performance in sports, sport psychologist Dr. Alan Goldberg cites that athletes, coaches, and sport parents should emphasize the “controllables” and take emphasis off the “uncontrollables” (U.C.’s).

Here are two examples:

  • To win is a “U.C.” You can “try to win,” but you won’t always win even when you “do your best.”  You have no control over the competition, the conditions, the officials, etc.  Winning is a “U.C.”
  • To have a best performance is a “U.C.” You can “try to perform your best,” but that doesn’t ensure that you’ll “do your best,” i.e., an all-time best game, a best performance or even a good one.


Swimming – Swimming a personal best time every event or winning a race.

Basketball – Making every lay-up or scoring 20 points every game.

Baseball – Fielding every ball hit your way, never striking out, or pitching a perfect game.

Soccer – Scoring on every shot attempt, never turning the ball over, etc.

What is controllable?  Simply “trying your best.”   I’ve been coaching and observing youth sports for 30+ years.  Here’s what I CAN’T say:

I can’t say that I have ever seen a swimmer race and try to lose.   I can’t say I’ve ever seen a basketball player try to miss a lay-up.   I can’t say that I have ever seen a baseball player try to make an error or strike out.   I can’t say that I have ever seen a soccer player intentionally miss a shot on goal!

My seven-year old’s baseball coach recently made him run a lap for missing a ground ball.  Do you think this is the best coaching practice to encourage improvement or to get a player to correct an error?  Consider this:  He didn’t try to miss the ground ball.   He is a young boy in his first year of organized baseball boy just learning to field groundballs.   Lastly, my son genuinely wants to please the coach–not let the coach down.

So how should the coach have responded to the error?  Instead of making him run a lap, the coach could have responded with one of two forms of feedback:  1. A correction that would help the young player identify why he misfielded the ball.  2. Give positive feedback to encourage him and communicate that he, the coach, believes in his young shortstop.  This would give the coach’s player the confidence to get the next one…but have a seven-year old run a lap for missing a ground ball?  Fear-based correction doesn’t work with young children.  Quite the contrary, fear-based correction scares kids, breaks down their confidence, and makes them feel unsure of their abilities.

Now if my son said, “Hey coach!  You’re just a BIG BUTT and you don’t know how to coach!”  That’s a reason to make him run a lap!  But that’s not what happened.  This was simply a seven-year old child who misfielded a ground ball as he was “trying his best.”

As a sport parent to three sons and as a third generation, educated coach–it pains me to see children being punished, hollered at, and belittled for making mistakes.  Young athletes don’t intend to disappoint us.  They don’t try to make mistakes.  They don’t try to lose games.  They are actually “trying their best.”  Do they always perform at their best?  No.  But neither do professional athletes!   All we should expect from any athlete is that they work hard, that they listen to their coaches, and that they try to correct mistakes when given the appropriate constructive feedback.

As sport parents and youth coaches we need to encourage our young athletes when they make mistakes–not punish them, belittle them or give them consequences and ultimatums.    Save those strategies for when they exhibit bad behavior, disrespect adults, or say mean things to their teammates—but not for making a human mistake while “trying their best.”  Ironically, the same coaches and parents are the ones who are baffled when a kid doesn’t want to go to practice or wants to quit.

The Positive Coaches Alliance (PCA) has created coping mechanism tools like “Flush it” to help athletes forget about mistakes.   In his book “Winning Every Day,” legendary football coach Lou Holtz discussed an acronym he called “W.I.N.” which stands for “What’s Important Now.” W.I.N. reminds players to stay positive and in the “now” not focus on any negative in the past.  When you’re thinking about a mistake you’re not helping yourself or your team in the present.  In football, the great defensive backs don’t remember getting beat for a TD until they see it on film the next day.   All the great ones develop an ability to stay in the now and focus on the task at hand.

In addition, athletes who focus on performance goals vs. outcome goals are almost always more successful.   An example of a coach who kept his team focused on performance goals vs. outcome goals is Legendary UCLA Basketball coach John Wooden.   It is well-known that the all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division I Basketball history NEVER talked about winning to his teams!  Yet we have Little League and Pop Warner coaches emphasizing the importance of winning the next game at every practice.

If you want to teach a kid to become a winner, you have to teach him how to use failure and adversity in order to achieve success.  You have teach him how to persevere and work through mistakes and failure, not fear them.  One of the greatest basketball players of all-time, Michael Jordan, sums this up perfectly in “Why I Succeed:”

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

Instead of “hitting them when their down” youth coaches and sport parents need to encourage our young athletes when things don’t go their way.  More than ever this is the time they need reassurance.  This is the time they have to hear that we believe in them.   We have to teach them the great trait and characteristic called perseverance so they learn HOW to overcome adversity–NOT fear it.   Babe Ruth once said, “Every strike brings me closer to the next homerun.”

Personally I am thankful for my son’s coach and I admire anyone who unselfishly volunteers their personal time for our youth.  We wouldn’t have youth sports without them.  But I also challenge the leaders of sport organizations like Little Leagues, YMCAs, and Recreation Departments to make sure that those volunteer coaches spend some of their volunteer time on coaching education.

The American Sport Education Program (ASEP) has a great slogan, “Athletes first, winning second.”   When ASEP’s says “athletes first,” they are referring to coaching kids in a manner that puts their psychological and emotional well-being ahead of all else.

When your athlete is confident in himself because of your coaching–that’s when you know that you have really made a difference.  As the New York Yankee great Yogi Berra once said, “Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical.”

This is true in all sports.   Youth sport coaches must understand that while we are teaching physical skill, developing our athletes confidence is equally important, if not more important than the physical skill itself.

So the next time you are tempted to say “Do Your Best,” remember it’s “TRY YOUR BEST…” and you’ll be doing a much better job at teaching young athletes to feel and become successful!

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September 21, 2016 at 1:02 am Comments (0)

Swim Instructor In-Service Training Ideas

Do you find that after training your swim school staff and getting into your swim lessons that you or your instructors start having new questions on how or what to do in different situations?  

Do you even notice that certain techniques and strategies that were addressed in the original swim instructor training are still lacking by new instructors?

We do!  So at Swim Lessons University, we decided that the perfect solution to address these problems would be to hold an In-Service Staff Training session!  AND NOW–without traveling one mile—YOU AND YOUR STAFF can be a part of our amazing session!

In this brand new video—SLU Executive Director Jim Reiser answers 25 EXCELLENT QUESTIONS from his local staff, and he provides 25 simple and practical techniques to help every instructor improve their classes!

Here is a Small Sampling of the 25 Questions:

  1. How do I correct parents in my Parent & Toddler classes without appearing confrontational?
  2. How do I put the parent at ease about taking an infant or toddler underwater?
  3. What do you do in situations where you have a child who refuses to get in the water?
  4. What do you say to a parent who sends their child to the pool with goggles and they aren’t even putting their face in the water yet?
  5. Do you ever tell kids to close their mouth when breath holding?
  6. Do you let kids Doggie Paddle if they aren’t putting their face in the water?
  7. Do you have any tips on how to help students pick up the Freestyle Side Breathing easier?
  8. How do you get a child to flex both feet in breaststroke?

Again, these are just some examples of the 25 common questions asked by SLU swimming instructors….  As always, you will find this In-Service Swim Instructor Training Video to be information-packed, high energy and fast paced. You and your staff will be new and improved in 90 minutes or less–guaranteed!

Order your copy today at




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September 14, 2016 at 10:38 pm Comments (0)

Swimming Lessons in September?

Here is a recent message I shared with our swim school parents:

Dear Families & Friends:

Would you consider dedicating 30-minutes of your child’s week to swimming instruction if you knew it could determine life or death?  Of course you would!

As fall approaches, I urge parents to consider continuing the pursuit of helping your child be the safest and strongest swimmer he/she can be!   Sure, we are all busy with school, other sports activities, etc., but the last thing we should do is substitute other activities for swimming instruction when our child is not yet a strong swimmer.

As a physical educator and coach, I am a HUGE advocate of children participating in multiple sports and activities.  My three boys play baseball, basketball, soccer, and have done karate.   But I would never substitute one of the sports at the cost of my child’s safety.   So just because the fall sports season is approaching, please continue your commitment to your child’s swimming safety and skills.

Learning to swim is a process, not an event.  Just like those who believe in karate for self-defense, stick with it, and pursue a black belt–EVERY PARENT should have their child pursue a “black belt in swimming” for their child’s safety.


Jim Reiser, Founder & President

Learn-to-Swim Professional

M.S. of Physical Education & Motor Skill Acquisition

The International Swimming Hall of Fame has named Jim Reiser the recipient of the 2015 Virginia Hunt Newman Award for his approach in teaching infants, toddlers, and children to swim. Jim is the first American to win the award in 20 years!

Jim has also been honored by:

USA Swimming as the Adolph Kiefer Water Safety Person of the Year

National Drowning & Prevention Alliance Lifesaver of the Year

World Aquatic Babies & Children Congress as the President’s Award Recipient for world-wide contributions to learn-to-swim.

July 29, 2015 at 11:34 pm Comments (0)

The International Swimming Hall of Fame Honors Jim Reiser

For the first time in 20 years, The International Swimming Hall of Fame’s has honored an American as the ISHOF Virginia Hunt Newman Award recipient.  The 2015 honoree is Jim Reiser, Founder & Executive Director of Swim Lessons University.

Reiser earned this honor by following Virginia Hunt Newman’s  footsteps, bringing worldwide attention to a kind, non-forceful, non-traumatic approach to learn to swim.  As the executive director of Swim Lessons University, Jim Reiser has led the way in creating online swim instructor training courses for teaching infants, toddlers, and young children to swim using a kind, gentle method– just as Virginia did.

Swim Lessons University uses the world-wide web and DVD video courses to train and certify swimming instructors to teach with this progressive, effective, yet gentle approach.  The Virginia Hunt Newman Award is sponsored by legendary Olympian Adolph Kiefer and the World Aquatic Babies and Children Congress.

For more information on Swim Lessons University Online Swim Instructor Certification, visit or call 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

Here are some highlights of the ceremony including a few words from Jim Reiser after being presented with the award:

June 25, 2015 at 2:21 am Comments (0)

Youth Sport Parents Priorities MUST CHANGE to PREVENT DROWNINGS!

It was the summer of 1982. I was just 13 years old when I got my first job as a Swim Instructor Aide teaching under my father at his swim school in Johnstown, PA. Between 1982 and 1990, I not only continued teaching, but I played about every sport I could play.   As a youth and teen, it was swimming, baseball, soccer, football, and basketball.   In high school, it was football, basketball, track, and swimming.   Oh yes, and I fiddled with karate after breaking my hand in 1985, and later pursued and earned a black belt in Tang Soo Do.

In college, after playing football my freshman year at California University of Pennsylvania, I started my own lean-to-swim program as a sophomore. While I wanted to keep playing football, a back injury during spring ball cut that career (going nowhere) short! While rehabilitating my back in the university pool, I got this idea to propose a Swim Lessons Program and lease the University pool.   After a lot of perseverance, it was finally approved.  In no time at all I knew I found my calling. I ended up in Columbia, SC  after accepting a graduate assistantship to teach aquatics for the University of South Carolina’s Physical Education Department while pursuing my master’s degree in Physical Education and Motor Skill Development.

I will be 46 years young next month, and coaching sports has been a huge part of my life. Coaching and teaching is my life. To me, nothing is more rewarding than utilizing sport to teach life skills to kids.   And sports are a wonderful medium to do that.  From 1993-2005, I coached year-round competitive swimmers from novice to elite, producing 20 National Top 16 Qualifiers.   For the past year and a half, I have been having the time of my life coaching my son’s AAU Basketball Team!

But while there are so many benefits our youth can learn from participating in most all youth sports with the right coach–there is one thing that cannot be denied about swimming:   Swimming is the only skill that can save a child’s life.”   The problem is, I don’t believe this statement is taken anywhere seriously enough by parents across the United States.

Why do I say this?  Because when I am not writing curriculum for Swim Lessons University or working on The Swim Lessons Company, I spend the majority of my life in the gym and on the local ball fields.  What do I see?   I SEE THOUSANDS of YOUNG KIDS playing t-ball, soccer, and basketball… And I know there are thousands of others also doing dance and gymnastics.   I WOULD LIKE TO APPLAUD EVERY SINGLE PARENT for giving their child these wonderful opportunities … BUT I CAN’T!

Why? Because my educated guess is that the majority of them can’t swim or they are WEAK swimmers!  And rather than making sure these children are learning a skill that could also save their life, parents are turning a blind eye to this fact.  Instead, parents are enrolling their children earlier and earlier in these other sports are hoping their son or daughter becomes the next Michael Jordan, LaBron James, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Tom Brady, Walter Payton, Pele, Lionel Messi, Roger Federer, Venus Williams, or Nadia Comaneci.

I understand that some families can’t afford swimming lessons.  Here in Columbia, SC, I have done two things to help create solutions for those families: First, we partnered with the USA Swimming “Make a Splash” program and discount all of our lessons at our downtown location by 40%!   Number two, Ebony Bowers and I co-founded The Swim Lessons Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) that affords children with FREE LESSONS to families who can’t afford them.   (I do feel we are underachieving in securing donations so if you can help by donating please go to www.SwimLessonsFoundation.Org )

But the fact is…DROWNING TAKES MORE LIVES THAN ANY OTHER ACCIDENT for children under the age of six, and ranks 2nd only to AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS for ages 6-14.

The point of my writing today is to ask you to consider re-prioritizing your child’s activities, especially if they can’t swim or swim well enough to save themselves.   Take a look at this blog, “SWIM LESSON OBJECTIVES,” which outlines what your child should be able to do at a variety of ages.  Would your child pass the test?  You can watch video samples of what I believe is a reasonable objective at a variety of ages.  You can find all those videos and blogs on this site!  For example, here is a link to the blog of  what every 3 & 4 year old are capable of learning if taught by a qualified instructor.

PLEASE REMEMBER THIS:  Learning to swim is a process, not an event!  Don’t wait until summer to enroll your child in swim lessons.   Find a child-centered, progressive swim program near you today!

Warm Regards,

Jim Reiser, Executive Director
Swim Lessons University
Jim Reiser has been named the 2015 Virginia Hunt Newman Award recipient by the International Swimming Hall of Fame!
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March 13, 2015 at 4:33 pm Comments (0)

Swim Lessons Results are Dependent Upon Effective Communication

So last night my wife Heather and I were winding down and watching reruns of “King of Queens” and she fell asleep on the couch.  I decided to head to bed and let her sleep.  Well a few hours later, our five-year old Nolan goes downstairs and decides to curl up on the couch with her in the middle of the night.  He then proceeds to wake her up and asks:  “Can we go upstairs and sleep in your bed?

Heather says: “Okay, but just for little bit.  Then you need to go back to sleep in your bed like a big boy.  You go ahead up and warm the bed up for us and I’ll be up in 5 minutes.”

Nolan responds: “I have no idea what you’re saying to me!” LOL!

This leads me to our choice of words and lingo when teaching young children to swim.  Too often we try to impress the parents and use advanced terminology.  While it may sound good to the parents, more often than not our young students don’t understand what we are trying to convey to them.  In my 5-Year old Nolan’s words:, “I have no idea what you’re saying to me!”   If they don’t understand what we are telling them, learning will be hindered.  On the contrary, if a Swim Instructor uses the K.I.S.S.  technique (Keep it Simple Stupid), children will learn to swim faster.

If you’d like to learn the teaching cues and terminology we have tested and tried specifically for children in our Swim Lessons University courses, visit our website and learn more about our Swim Instructor certifications, DVD and Online video courses, and swim lesson plans today!

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January 19, 2015 at 11:05 am Comments (0)

NCAA Swimming Scholarships may become EXTINCT!

You read it correctly!    IF we care about the sport of swimming, whether you are swimming instructors, swim coaches, swim parents, or fans–we must get ready to fight for it, as ASCA Executive Director John Leonard writes in his article below.

Take a minute to read it now.  As always, John’s articles are honest, informative, and to the point.  He doesn’t dance around and politic.

He tells you the way it is.

With John’s permission, I share with you:


The House Is On Fire”

By John Leonard

One of the key roles that the American Swimming Coaches Association has played in American Swimming since 1958, is to warn of threats to our sport. Today, I am going to tell you about the biggest threat to American Swimming in the history of our sport.

NCAA Scholarship Swimming is under assault. And very likely to become extinct SOON if we don’t act to save it.

This is critical to all of us for two reasons:

First, for ALL of us, the USA is the only country in the world where a young man or young lady taking her/his first swimming lesson TODAY, has NO LIMITS on their future! They can choose to swim a little, swim a lot, excel, (or not) go through high school swimming, move on to the world’s most competitive program in NCAA swimming. (which attracts athletes from all over the globe, seeking what they don’t have at home) and go on to be an Olympian.

Or they can chose to do summer league swimming, swim in high school, move on to academic life, and never swim again.


In no other place on earth is that the case. In most of the globe, that young lady or man has almost nothing BUT limits – and most, even if they are serious youth swimmers, have no choice but to quit swimming between 15-18 and concentrate on academics which determine their future. No option of Scholarships, no option of elite coaching – no realistic dreams of being the best they can be. Their swimming careers END between 15-18.



Second, for all the reasons outlined above, NCAA Scholarship Swimming is the engine that drives our Olympic/International Success. Those 6,000 NCAA Scholarship Swimmers who keep swimming from 18-24 as they mature (and late maturers are the leading edge of elite athletes) are the talent pool which we have drawn on to lead the world in swimming for more than 100 years now. NCAA Scholarship Swimming is the EDGE that we have over the rest of the Swimming world.

IF NCAA Scholarships go away, the USA in ten years will look like a second rate swimming nation. We’ll have similar numbers of elite athletes, except some of our friends live in countries where swimming really COUNTS in the culture. You all know where swimming ranks in the USA in terms of cultural importance.

So, what do we do?

You’ll hear lots of work ideas and see lots in action soon. We have about a 12-24 month window to save scholarship swimming and elite coaching jobs in the NCAA. Within 24 months, the path will be set. Universities will be either keeping or dropping scholarships and full time elite coaching jobs by then. All of this DRIVEN of course, by the insatiable need for dollars for football and basketball players, and 6 Million Dollar a year football coaches.

We will need YOU to rally your teams. Get tons of letters and emails written to University Presidents and Athletic Directors in support of the Real Student Athletes swimmers. The College Swimming Coaches Association of America and the ASCA are working together with USA Swimming to develop the plan, and ask you to work the plan.

I am personally so offended by the hypocrisy of the NCAA ad that goes on about “most of them will go pro in something other than sports.” Which implies that the NCAA actually has something to do with that! WHILE the finance of University sport heads inexorably towards the ELIMINATION OF OLYMPIC SPORTS in favor of the semi-pro leagues for football and basketball players.

It’s a toss up right now whether the IOC/FINA or the NCAA is the most hypocritical organization in the world of sports today – but that’s a discussion for another day.

What is for today is simply this… if you love American Swimming, get ready to fight for it.

We’ll need ALL OF US, TOGETHER, to save it.

Let’s Go USA. We can do this. Plans coming. House on Fire. Man The  Buckets.

All the Best, John Leonard

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January 2, 2015 at 3:29 pm Comments (0)

Swim Lessons Levels: Move up or stay down?

Dear Mr. Reiser,

I don’t know if other coaches have asked this question but…..After finishing a season of teaching & starting a new one a few months later–do you start your children in the level that they were at before or do you place them in the lower level to make sure the skills they learnt are still familiar?

If my swim lessons student swam without the flotation devise and performed the Surface Swim with Pop-up Style Breathing (just about) at the end of the season last year, do I place him in “Swim Strokes 201″ right away or go back to “Swim 101?” I’d appreciate your thoughts.

Thank you.

Helen H., Aquatics Director

Vero Beach, FL

Excellent questions.  Helen!  Your first question: 

Do you start your children in the swim level that they were at before or do you place them in the lower level to make sure the skills they learnt are still familiar?   Generally speaking, we would recommend that you place the child in whatever level he left off before taking a break.  Do students come back a little rusty sometimes?  Of course!   But our experience is that that won’t last very long.  Within a lesson or two, the skills and stamina will be back.   While I don’t like to compare swimming to riding a bike because it is much more complex skill, there is still truth in the statement.  Once you learn a skill, you don’t forget it.   You may lose conditioning, flexibility, reaction time, etc., but you remember the skill.

Your second question:

If my student swam without the flotation devise, Surface Swimming with Pop-up Style Breathing (just about) at the end of the season last year, do you place him in “Swim Strokes 201” right away or go back to “Swim 101?”  Now this part is a slight bit trickier.  Quite frankly, I would base some of this decision around the child’s age as well as the quality and consistency of his performance.

For example:   If you have a 3-year old or even young 4-year old who just barely passed the “Surface Swim with Pop-up Style Breathing,” then I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend that he continue to strengthen this skill.  If your best judgment is that you believe the young child will struggle to learn the new skill of Freestyle (Front Crawl), then I would recommend to his parents that the “Swim 101” skills are going to be a little more age-appropriate and stick with those for another session or so until they are “mastered.”  Don’t get me wrong, 4-year olds and some 3-year olds can pick up a crawl stroke, but there is plenty of time for that if the Basic Surface Swim with Pop-up Style Breathing can still improve a good deal. 

When you look at the child development literature, research shows that most children develop in a natural, predictable sequence from one developmental milestone to the next.  AND THIS MILESTONE stands out to me in this case:  On average, three to five year olds do NOT have real control over their major muscles. They lack coordination, which is critical to combining the arms and legs in putting together the front crawl.  So this is why we teach 3-5 year olds the Surface Swim with Pop-up Style Breathing.  But again, as we pointed out earlier, once a 3-5 year old has mastered the “Swim 101” skills and is stroke ready, you can graduate him to “Swim Strokes 201” and add the Front Crawl (Freestyle). 

I hope this helps, Helen!  The brand new 2nd Edition of Swim 101 is coming soon!  Pre-order it today and get 20% off!



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January 29, 2014 at 11:15 pm Comments (0)

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