The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

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!


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 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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March 13, 2015 at 4:33 pm Comments (0)