The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

Group Swim Lessons

When it comes to determining what type of swim lessons you can offer, or what type of swim lesson class a parent should enroll their child in, there are several considerations, including, but not limited to the skill level of the swimmers.  In today’s blog on group swim lessons for kids, my recommendations are based on the assumption that we are talking about non-swimmers or true beginner swimmers.  With that said, here are my recommendations based on the age of the beginner swimmers:

3 & 4 year olds

Especially for children under five years old, I personally don’t recommend a class larger than 3 children.  As you probably well know, I also feel strongly about the benefits of using a “progressive flotation device (removable buoyancy pads),” from both a safety stand point as well a means to increase the child’s ability to learn faster due to increased practice time.  You improve anything through practice.  If you can’t practice-you can’t improve.  In terms of a developing a dependency with a progressive flotation device, you eliminate that because you are constantly challenging the swim lesson student by giving them just enough buoyancy to be successful.  On the other hand, use no flotation device and what happens?  The child becomes dependant on the person helping them and holding them, and doesn’t learn how their kicking and pulling actually moves them through the water.

5 & 6 years olds

A quad class (4:1 ratio) or small group class (6:1 ratio) can work nicely in kids swim lessons, providing you use some type of progressive flotation device for beginners AND have an experienced swimming instructor who minimizes downtime.  If there is a lot of “waiting turns,” then you’re much better off with a smaller class.   Not only does the child miss out on invaluable practice time, but teachers will experience class management problems as well, not to mention the safety of the children is compromised.

7 & 8 year olds

For children ages 7 and over, a group of up to 8 can still provide an effective learning environment even for beginners.  But once again, providing the swim instructor uses some type of flotation device and knows how to maximize practice time when teaching  group swim lessons to beginners.

Advantages of the Small Group Lessons

There are some clear advantages of small group swim lessons over private lessons as well:

  1. Peer Learning – Peer learning is very powerful. The “if she can do it I can do it” logic is very real and goes a long way in learning and improving skills.
  2. Fun – Children enjoy being around other children.  More than any other class scenario, “small groups” capture this critical component of learning.   Enjoyment = Success.
  3. Price – Small Group Lessons are certainly the most economical because the addition of more students brings down the cost of the class.

At the Swim Lessons Company, we no longer do anything larger than a trio (3 children per class) for beginner preschoolers (Swim 101).  We did quads (4:1 ratio) for a long time, but for both learning and safety reasons, we now don’t go larger then trios.  For older children, Swim 102 (6-9) and Swim 103 (10-12), we regularly offer quads and small group classes, which the class is comprised to up to six students.  In fact, we even will put up to eight students in a class in some of our school swim programs, camps, etc. where the children are at least 7 years of age.  Again, when you combine flotation devices and better motor ability due to maturation, you can run a very successful small group class in a safer, more enjoyable learning environment.

Hope this article was helpful to you.  I will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of private swim lessons in my next swim lesson blog.

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November 28, 2010 at 2:09 pm Comments (0)

Learn to Swim Classes

One of the most common misunderstandings about learn to swim classes is that each child has to be at the “exact” skill level.   While there are certainly benefits to dividing children up based on their skill level in swimming lessons and I definitely recommend it, you will always have a range of swimming abilities and skill differences among students, just as you do in the classroom at school on any given subject, or any other class for that matter.

In fact, providing that the differences in skill level aren’t extreme, there are real and clear advantages when there are some differences. In addition, there are lessons to be learned when a child is the best student in the class and lessons to be learned when the student is the least skilled student in the class.

For example, if you observe a child who is the best student in the swim lessons –you may witness improvements in self-confidence, self-esteem, and even leadership qualities as this child may naturally start trying to help his fellow students or at least lead by example with his positive attitude and approach to learning.   On the other hand, if you observe a student who is the least skilled swimmer in a class, this child will learn patience, persistence, and even better work ethic because he naturally wants to be as good as the other student(s).

Doesn’t this make perfect sense?  Yet far too often, parents tend to want either one scenario or the other.  Some learn to swim parents like it only when their child is the best.  Other parents think their child needs challenged and they don’t want them in a class with children of lesser ability.  But in my opinion, there are clearly advantages to exposing children to both scenarios.

I should also point out that when a swim lesson is thoughtfully organized, you will also often see one student excel in one skill/exercise and another excel in something else. In my opinion, every swim lessons should include five or six major skills or exercises that are appropriate for the student’s ability level. Within each of those five or six major skills, there should be progressions predetermined that will make a skill/drill start out easy, but gradually get harder.  As in all our Swim Lesson Plans, you will find progressions already designed for you within our four major courses:

1.      Parent & Me

2.      Swim 100 level (beginners learning fundamental swimming skills)

3.      Swim Strokes 200 level (advanced beginners learning strokes)

4.      Advanced Swim Strokes 300 level (intermediate swimmers learning advanced strokes).

In addition, each of these levels are broken down further by age group, so your students are placed in age appropriate classes and the skills in each level are also age appropriate.  Not to mention, the approach and terminology should be adjusted when you go from teaching preschoolers to swim to teaching school-aged children.

For more information on the  Swim Lessons University curriculum and our swim lesson awards system, visit us at Swim Lessons University.

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November 24, 2010 at 4:42 pm Comments (0)

Water Safety for Kids

Today’s blog is to announce a podcast that I just recorded and published called “Water Safety for Kids,” with one purpose: To reach as many parents as possible and potentially save the life of a child. The purpose of the podcast is not only to prevent unnecessary drowning and teach water safety, but to prevent and recognize how devastating nonfatal drownings can be as well.

I have dedicated this podcast to Samual Morris. Samual Morris did survive a nonfatal drowning, but today he suffers from a hypoxic brain injury causing a lifelong disability. His mother Jo-ann writes, “there is no cure for my child.”

Nonfatal drowning can occur in seconds causing brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities, including memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning.

The podcast, Water Safety for Kids, challenges parents, in fact, begs parents to NEVER underestimate how easy it is for a child to find himself in a life or death situation in the water. Please join me in our fight against drowning and share this water safety podcast with as many parents as possible. Together we CAN make a difference and save the life of a child.


The International Swimming Hall of Fame has named Jim Reiser the recipient of the 2015 Virginia Hunt Newman Award for his curriculum and approach in teaching infants, toddlers, and children to swim.  Jim was the first American to win the award in 10 years.

If you would like to learn more about the Swim Lessons University certification program and curriculum, make sure to visit us at 

We have training and certification programs designed for both private instructors as well as organizations like YMCAs, Recreation Departments, Athletic Clubs, and more.

Swim Lessons University 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!

You can also call us toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

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November 23, 2010 at 7:56 pm Comment (1)

Can Manka bring football to LA? » OnMedea

Can Manka bring football to LA? » OnMedea

So it’s football season. You know what that means? It means gambling, that’s what it means. Football and gambling just go together, and I like to tag along – with my laptop, smartphone, anything that keeps me on the numbers.

I’m just off the plane from Ireland where I got to see some American-style football. You know what they do in Ireland? They gamble and they drink. Toss in a good ol’ college football game, and I was all in when Khan asked me to check out the international market for the game. He wants to move Manka Bros. into the sports world.

So I was in Dublin to observe the scene for the Penn State-Central Florida game. It was great. And a pretty good crowd, too. Both schools brought people and all of the trappings that go along. (The locals seemed to like the cheerleaders.) So everyone was red-faced and happy for the whole thing.

They brought in Seamus the sheep herder to line the field, and he must have had a few pops of single malt beforehand; the yard stripes were a little crooked – so cute.

I’ve made notes on all this – how Europeans don’t understand our version of offsides or why time goes backwards. Or why a game lasts four hours. After about two hours, these folks were ready to hit the pubs.

Plus I have a few ideas for Manka Bros. in the sports realm. First, I think they could buy a football team. If that crackpot Steve Ballmer can fork out a measly $2 billion for the Clippers, I figure Manka can go after a bad NFL team and ship it back to LA. Kahn would be like a hero out there.

Or maybe a sports movie – a struggling rugby player tries to survive in the NFL by tackling with his arms and shoulders rather than his head. Nobody likes him until the league actually has to go to court over the concussion thing. Then a line of slobbering old players in wheelchairs roll into the courtroom, and the league is finally convinced that our hero was right.

But back to the Ireland thing. Over in the UK, you can bet on just about anything. It’s like Vegas with a countryside. There are horse-racing tracks everywhere and like a million soccer games to bet on. You can get a line on anything from the outcome of entertainment awards to a political election. Ladbrokes even has an online version of the old TV game show, “Deal or No Deal.” No kidding, you can play the game at Ladbrokes for real money. You don’t have to spend money, though; they have a play-for-free mode. That’s how I got my strategy down.

November 23, 2010 at 1:15 am Comments (0)

Remembering our Swim Team on my Wedding Anniversary!

This blog is meant to serve as a big thank you to Kristin Newman, who wrote the poem below for our wedding day, 11 years ago yesterday. My wife and I celebrated 11 years last night, and before we went out, I shared this poem with her.

At our wedding, my former USS club team, Team NCS, helped make our reception one to remember. They were such a big part of my life. During the reception, the kids took turns reading a poem that one of my swimmers, Kristin Newman wrote for us. Ironically, Kristin is now married and I just got a wedding invitation from her younger sister Elise. Elise not only swam for me then, she teachers for me now.

At any rate, I want to thank Kristin and all my former swimmers for helping make our wedding day a special one, and making 1994-2005 such an incredible time in my life. For old times sake, I am going to post the poem she wrote for 11 years ago:

by Kristen Newman

There are lots of things we’d like to say
On this very special day
We’d like to say you are the best
We know this is true because we’ve definately put you up to the test
We don’t mean to, but sometimes we complain
Until we nearly drive you insane
But we’ve learned that quarters add up real quick
So looks like that move was pretty slick
You make us work our tails off week after week
But in the end it has helped us reach the goals we seek
We swim, we sprint, we do VO2 Max
We’re trying to figure out why we don’t all have six packs

Do you remember the day, it was the end of the season
We pushed you in the pool, we had a good reason
You were kinda mad ’cause you had a hot date
We apologize to you, Heather, for making him late
We think she ended up like you just a little bit
Because when she met us she didn’t throw in the towel and quit
We are your job, your work, your team
If you think about it you’re accomplishing your dream
You have a growing swim team and today a wonderful wife
Who will be your friend and companion for life
We pray that God will bless you as your start your lives together
And we, Team NCS, love you both, Jim and Heather!

Signed by many of my swimmers who shared that special day with us:
Kristen Newman, Diana Marino, Laura Stoudenmire, Shannon Luckie, Emily Niehaus, Tyler Nixon, Amy Starin, Jessie King, Kristin Willoughby, Kate Niehaus, ManyAnn Pascuitti, David Pascuitti, Molly Starin, Catherine Wood, Virginia Roach, Elise Newman, Stephanie Johnson, Libbi Nixon, Shane Spraker, Amy Green, Raymond Balint, Jeremy Newman, Don Bunch, and Steven Luckie (by the way, I sang in Steven’s wedding this past summer, who married another former swimmer of mine, Nicholle Guess). How cool is that!

I miss all you guys and the hundreds of swimmers who I coached at NCS from 1994-2003, and then our state champion Team Carolina swimmers from 2003 – 2005. I miss you all, and you’ll always be like family to me. Thank you! And of course, like Elise Newman, Rachel Drafts, Blair Francis, Catherine Wood, Alyssa Smith, and I’m sure some others, I hope more and more of you will become Swim Lessons University Swim Instructors and teach for The Swim Lessons Company someday soon!

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November 14, 2010 at 1:42 pm Comments (2)

Swim Lesson for Babies

Should you start your baby (under the age of 2) in swimming lessons? Swim lessons for infants? Swim lessons for toddlers? In my opinion, that really just depends on two things:
1. It depends on whether or not the experience will be a positive one.
2. It depends on whether or not you have reasonable expectations.

If you can answer yes to those two questions, baby swim lessons can be a wonderful experience for your baby. If your instructor takes a child centered approach, if the water is warm (87-94 degrees), if you are looking develop prerequisite skills to swimming and have realistic baby swimming goals, then you are on your way to having a great time and a beautiful bonding experience with your baby.

Toddlers as young as 19 – 24 months can learn some real swimming skills, even lifesaving skills, but no infant or toddler should ever be expected to save his own life. Parents must use a layered approach to drowning prevention and see to it that their infant or toddler never has to save him/herself from drowning. If they do, the parent has failed the child.

My advice to parents looking for opinions on these so-called infant aquatic survival techniques is quite straightforward: Pick up your baby and run the other direction! Stay far away from instructors and programs who’s one and only goal is survival swimming. Instructors who force skills on babies before they are ready are putting their lives at risk in the lesson itself. Would you like to see what this approach can look like? Check out the video clips on linked up in a fantastic blog by Katrina Ramser Parrish called Infant Aquatic Survival Techniques. Personally, I had to turn the video off because it was so sad. It literally had me in tears. I can’t imagine any parent thinking this is okay. I want to publicly thank Katrina for her excellent work in communicating what this approach can look like.

As a parent of three young boys myself (Rex, 3 months, Nolan, 2 years, and Jeb, now 7 years), I know that what I want for my children. Nothing is more important to me than my boys knowing that I love them. Nothing is more important to me than my boys knowing that I will protect them. Nothing is more important to me than the safety of my children. But you will never in a million years see my children in that environment. Innocent children are being put at risk by their own parents, because they are being led to believe that their baby can be drown-proofed.

At Swim Lessons University, we train instructors to teach infants and toddlers to swim through a child focused approach. Swim lessons for infants and swim lessons for toddlers can be of great value. Infants and toddlers can learn to swim in a setting that is positive and joyful. You can watch video samples of young toddlers (including my own) doing some very amazing things in our classes as well, but as a result of a completely different approach. An approach that puts the child first . . . an approach that makes learning enjoyable . . . an approach that shows our children that we love them.

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November 11, 2010 at 12:08 am Comments (4)

Swim Lesson Instructor Training

Make sure to check out our brand new home page video on Swim Lessons University. The video, also available on YouTube, is called What is Swim Lessons University?” In just over eight minutes, all your questions will be answered.

By watching this video you will learn all about Swim Lessons University. Whether you are a new start up business or an established one, a parent or teacher, whether you are a Red Cross, SwimAmerica, or Y program–you going to love the tips, ideas, and strategies you will discover at Swim Lessons University.

Maybe most importantly, you may be just looking for a swim instructor training program that is convenient and affordable. Swim Lessons University is a turn-key training program and you get to train all your swim teachers in house. You can adapt the entire Swim Lessons University system for your program or you can take bits and pieces. Whatever works for you! What’s most important to me is that we are all doing what we love to do—giving children a lifelong gift, teaching them how to swim and how to be safer in and around the water.

The Swim Lessons University system has been tested, tried, and proven. Jim Reiser’s approach has even been endorsed by
· Late, legendary, Olympic Swimming Coach Richard Quick
· WABC Executive Director and National Swim School Association Founder Steve Graves
· World renowned Author and coach Ernest Maglischo And many more

Call us Toll Free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946)

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November 8, 2010 at 8:24 pm Comments (0)

Swim Lesson Tools

Swim Instructors and coaches from every sport are always looking for that new piece of equipment that will help their students or athletes perform better. We all want to think of our programs as state-of-the-art, with the most up-to-date teaching methods, curriculum, etc., which includes our swim lesson tools. Personally, whether I’m coaching or teaching, I look for ways to put a little variety in the lesson just to keep things interesting. Let’s admit it, swimming is not the most exciting sport to practice, although just being in the water with a positive, encouraging instructor can make all the difference in the world.

With that said, swim lessons tools do play a vital role in our approach. We are “missing the boat” if we don’t take the time to consider how different swim toys, flotation devices, and other swim gear could help our program. But at the same time, it’s easy to go overboard. If you find yourself using so many different tools and pieces of equipment that you’re not working on the fundamental skill enough, you’ve gone too far. Get back to the basics.

So what do we use in our Swim Lessons University swim lessons? Well, it really depends on the course. For example, in our Parent & Me class we have a baby doll (to demonstrate holds, etc.), noodles (so the two year olds can start practicing kicking independently), colorful floating blocks, fish or other aquatic creatures, a watering bucket, bubbles (for redirection), SwimWays Rad Rings, and possibly a flotation device for the two year olds for their kicking exercises. I like using these especially because they help promote a horizontal position, which encourages a narrow kick that is propulsive and behind the body vs. a bicycle kick under the body causing a lot of drag.

Speaking of flotation devices, I have used the SwimWays flotation device for years and I’m sure we will continue to use it, but I’m also very excited to try the new OpaCove Sea Squirts. This is a new product that is very cute, with a variety of designs like sharks, clownfish, pink dolphins, killa whales, and blue dolphins. Like the SwimWays Power Swimr, their “Swim Assist” version has removable buoyancy pads so your students have a natural progression in the learn to swim process while affording the beginner with the ability to practice swimming independently sooner. OpaCove also carries a coast guard approved Life Jacket which I like for teaching larger groups of children or for open swim practice, not only for the reasons I mentioned above, but now for safety and liability as well. It is a little more expensive than the SwimWays device, but because it is made of neoprene, it should be as it’s much more durable and should last much longer.

At any rate, I can’t wait to try them out (my samples just arrived today) and you can be sure that I will let you know how it goes. If I like them enough, you may eventually be able to purchase them on the Swim Lessons University website.

But let’s get back to my thoughts on Swim Lessons Tools: No matter what tools you try or how many you use, remember that the most important part of teaching is not the equipment or the prop–but the teacher. Just as it isn’t as much the student’s ability that allows him to succeed, but rather the student’s enthusiasm and effort. Long before we had all these neat gadgets, children still learned how to swim. Your thorough preparation, your swim lesson plans, progressions, and most importantly your dedication and encouraging approach can never be replaced . . . ever!

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November 4, 2010 at 12:54 am Comments (0)