The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

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How to be a “Black Belt” in Swimming

Every child should be a “black belt” in swimming! Why? Because if you give your child the opportunity to become a strong, competent swimmer, you are giving him the best “self-defense” against the leading cause of accidental death in children.

Despite popular belief, the biggest risk to your child isn’t the local school bully. It’s the neighbor’s swimming pool, it’s the pool party, it’s the boating or fishing outing, it’s the riptide your child finds himself in when “boogie boarding” in the ocean!   According to the the Center of Disease Control & Injury Prevention,  drowning takes more lives than any other accident for children under the age of six.  For children ages 6-14, only automobile accidents take more lives.  And when you consider the amount of time your child spends around the water vs. in the car, we can all agree that relatively speaking–the potential for accidental drowning should really be a parent’s biggest concern.

As a parent, even if you do the right thing and make sure your child becomes an excellent swimmer through ongoing and professional swimming instruction, it’s critical that you continue to respect the dangers of the water. Just as a parent of a young black belt should continue to respect and avoid dangerous neighborhoods. Just because a young child earns a black belt in karate, common sense guides parents against letting their child walk along down that dangerous street at night.

Parents of our young “swimming black belts” need to act accordingly as well. Children should never swim without constant supervision. Life jackets should still be worn on boats or when your child is swimming in the ocean or in open water. If you own a pool, you should still install four-sided fencing, self-closing gates and latches, and utilize the latest technology in swimming pool alarms. All parents should know how to administer CPR. This system is known as the Safer 3 and should be followed by parents of non-swimmers and swimmers alike.

How do you get a “black belt” in swimming? As far as I know, there is no such thing! But at Swim Lessons University, we do have a swim lessons award system that utilizes silicone bracelets that is quite similar to earning karate belts, and each colored wristband has a water safety component to it. For example, if a child is a beginner he/she wears a red wristband. Red stands for danger. A non-swimmer is obviously in danger when they are in or around the water. In addition, all major skills that the child needs to master in order to get his “next wristband” are abbreviated with a star beside the abbreviated skill right on the wristband.  When all stars are punched out of the wristband, he is awarded the next wristband, just alike a “karate belt.”

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 is the first American to win the award in 10 years.

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

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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July 18, 2012 at 12:09 am
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