The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S. publishes “Should Flotation Devices be used in Swim Lessons?” »« How to Teach a Water Safety Lesson to Children without a pool!

How to Teach a Child to Swim Using a Progressive Flotation Device

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Have you wondered how a flotation device could help a child learn to swim? In this article (and video below), you will learn and see the tremendous difference a progressive flotation device can make, and why!


  1. Give the child’s self-confidence a boost. Are you confident about skills you can’t do? Of course you aren’t. And you hesitant to try something new that you know nothing about? Of course you are. Not to mention the added hesitation if you feel that you may be injured in the process of trying it, let alone drown. So the progressive buoyancy device gives the child confidence he needs to start practicing and developing swimming skills.
  2. Increase practice time. The bottom line is that learning to swim is no different than learning any other sport skill. Improvement requires practice. If you can’t practice, you can’t learn. It’s very simple. If you utilize a progressive flotation device correctly, your students will improve skills quickly because of the increased practice time in which they are afforded due to wearing the device and not be dependant on someone to hold them.
  3. Eliminate gross technique errors. Because the extent of the improvement is limited to the mechanics being used to perform the skill, the flotation device can really help a child’s ability to perform skills he/she wouldn’t otherwise be able to perform. Technique problems arise for the simple reason that the young children are survival swimming instead of being able to concentrate on doing the skill properly. One good comparison is asking a child to swing a major league size baseball bat. The child would be so busy just trying to lift the bat he couldn’t begin to swing it properly. This is precisely what occurs in the swimming pool. The child’s so busy trying “not to drown,” he has no chance of doing the skill correctly.
  4. Motivate the learner using the “removable flotation” pads as rewards. As you will see in the video below, we call the flotation pads “bones” and in the first class, we tell the children that if they “swim like a puppy,” they will get a bone! We even have them bark and pretend they are puppies. Of course, as seen on the video, once the children are capable of swimming with their face in the water we teach them to do a “pop-up breath” and discontinue the dog paddle, but they still LOVE to get their bones!
  5. Make learning to swim achievable and fun by giving the child enough buoyancy to be successful. Once again, as seen in the video below, you want to give the learner enough buoyancy to be successful. If the child is successful with a given amount of flotation, then you remove “one flotation pad” and let them try it with a little less buoyancy. By using this progressive buoyancy device with 9 removable flotation pads, you can take “baby steps” to swimming success, while you are making learning to swim challenging–but achievable.


Watch how Jim Reiser, the author, teaches a small class of three and four year olds to swim using a progressive flotation device.

Sources and Citations

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Teach a Child to Swim Using a Progressive Flotation Device. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

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December 22, 2009 at 6:07 pm
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