The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

Drowning Prevention Tips: How Parents Can Keep Their Children Safer In and Around the Water

WLTX News Anchor Darci Strickland interviews Swim Lessons University’s Jim Reiser.   Reiser shares Water Safety Tips for parents with children of all ages, highlighting strategies by the “Safer 3” as well as by Aquatic Safety Group.

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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March 12, 2017 at 5:19 pm Comments (0)

My National Drowning Prevention Symposium Review

Now that my 10-hour drive from Pittsburgh, PA is over and my “heads above the water” again, I thought I would share a few highlights from the conference:

First I want to thank the committee who voted for me to receive the NDPA Community Life Saver Award.  I am so honored and proud.

Second, I want to rave about Tom Griffiths new FREE  Lifesaving  “Note & Float” program.   I share Tom’s philosophy and agree that this program combined with Johnny Johnson’s Safer 3 will save thousands of lives and lifelong devastating injuries from near drowning.  What I like most about Tom’s program is that it’s simple.  It’s something everyone can understand and is common sense.  As many of you know, I have my own bracelet system, but I will be combining it with Tom’s “Note & Float” program for any open swim type programs we offer.  I have already suggested the vests that Tom recommends to a couple local facilities here in Columbia that have campers, Chesterbrook Academy and Palmetto Athletic Center.  Plus, when children can float they can practice, and when they can practice swimming their swimming skills will improve.  I still use a “progressive flotation device” for swimming lessons, but this required life jacket program for non-swimmers is the ticket when children are not actively be instructed by a swimming professional.  In addition children will go from non-swimmers to swimmers in no time at all if they are practicing their swimming skills instead of standing on the bottom or sitting on the sideline.

I really like the durability of the jackets Tom suggests as well which are sold by Water Safety Products, Inc.   I had the pleasure of speaking with Paula Panton of Water Safety Products at the NDPA conference.  Because the jacket is made with vinyl coating over the foam, it is mildew resistant and will hold up much better to chlorine and even salt pools.   One of the jackets we currently use has a zipper and in the salt pool the salt just eats the metal zippers up, as well as the neoprene fabric.   This life jacket has plastic buckles instead.   I also like its’ sleek design, allowing swimmers to move more freely unlike a lot of bulky ski vests.   Check it out this life jacket, I can’t wait to get ours!

Third, I want to thank Kristen Goffman, the NDPA executive director and Mary Ann Downing, who convinced me to make the trip.  Check out her article “Mean Moms Rule the Pool!”

I am also excited about installing my new Magna Latch at my outdoor swim school in Columbia, SC.   I actually won the item in the NDPA silent auction.  I want to thank Maureen Williams of D & D Technologies and NDPA Board Member for offering to send me the conversion kit so it will work on our gate.

One of the coolest things was that on the night before the conference, I ran into Mark Miller.  Who’s Mark Miller?  Well he didn’t know who I was either.   In 1992 I attended the Aquatic School in Pittsburgh, PA to get certified as a Lifeguard Instructor.  Guess who my teacher was?  Mark Miller!  18 years later I recognized him and had the pleasure to talk to him again!

As always, I enjoyed seeing my colleagues and dear friends in Johnny & Cindy Johnson and Sue Nelson.  I also had a nice conversation with the USA Swimming Make a Splash Campaign Manager Kim O’Shea.  I also got to talk with Ashley Spitsnogle, who did a beautiful job illustrating “Josh, the Baby Otter,” A tale promoting Water Safety.

Last but not least, I also had the pleasure of meeting the new president Kim Tyson and Vice President Robert Ogoreuc from Slippery Rock University. Before getting my master’s at the University of South Carolina, I attended California University of PA.  So it was neat to see so many people from Slippery Rock University of PA and Indiana University of PA.

Most importantly, I felt blessed to be part of such a unique, diverse group of people all who have a passion to achieve one common goal:  Reduce drowning.  Drowning is Preventable, and I thank all my colleagues and friends of NDPA for their past, current, and future efforts.

May 4, 2010 at 4:54 pm Comments (3)



HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif.— April 21, 2010 The National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) recognized national and community drowning prevention leaders on April 26, 2010 at the NDPA’s 9th Annual National Drowning Prevention Symposium at the Sheraton Station Square in Pittsburgh, PA.

Cecilia Duer will receive the 2010 National Lighthouse Award, the NDPA’s highest honor.  Duer, executive director of the National Water Safety Congress since 2002, was selected for her leadership in water safety and drowning prevention. She also serves as the executive director of the Spirit of America Foundation and directs its youth education programs, and is involved in other national organizations dedicated to aquatic safety including the National Boating Safety Advisory; NASBLA Education Committee; Ohio DNR Division of Watercraft; and the NWSC Rescue Recover, Re-Warm and PWC courses.

NDPA Executive Director Kristin Goffman says, “Cecilia is a true leader in this effort, managing numerous national projects.  Her work in critical areas of water safety education has advanced drowning prevention efforts across the nation. She is a leading force in water safety, and she was selected by the NDPA board because she embodies the spirit of this award.”

Previous Lighthouse Award winners were Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Nancy Baker, whose tireless efforts helped to achieve passage of national legislation, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act, named in memory of Baker’s daughter, who drowned through entrapment on a spa drain.

Four NDPA Community Lifesaver Awards will be presented. This award honors exceptional work in the advancement of drowning prevention at the community or regional level through education, research, public awareness, legislative changes, or engineering advancements.  Winners were peer-nominated and selected by the NDPA board based on set criteria.

Jim Reiser with Swim Lessons University was selected for his leadership in promoting drowning prevention in his local community of Columbia, South Carolina through a multi-faceted approach including swim instruction, water safety awareness, and media outreach.  Reiser designed an innovative water safety & swim proficiency awards program using a color-coded arm band system, incorporating various colors with different levels of swimming ability. He has partnered with USA Swimming’s Make a Splash Campaign, authored books for parents on water safety, and serves as the water safety chairperson for Safe Kids Midlands in Columbia.

Julian “Duke” Brown with Horry County School District was selected for his dedication to the prevention of drowning in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  For the past ten years, Brown has coordinated a Junior Lifeguard Program for 5th grade students that meets state curriculum standards and encompasses water safety information and practices. The program Brown developed promotes appreciation and understanding of local aquatic environments and helps students develop specific abilities to save lives in and out of the water, and to assist swimmers in distress. Over 500 students have completed this after-school program.

Gary Gray, a Vashon Aquatic Club swim parent and board member, was inspired by his then five-year-old son’s desire to become a diver after watching the 2004 Olympic Diving competition. Gray immediately got involved in local swim programs and Vashon Island’s only competitive swim team–the Seals.  In 2009, Washington State’s Vashon Aquatic Club offered the free program to over 300 first-through-third grade students. Goffman says, “His nominators said that Gary is a tireless champion of getting kids in the water, and realizes the need for safety around the water since his community lives on an island.  He spreads his passion for water safety by ensuring that all children have access to swim lessons.”

The San Diego County Aquatic Council, led by Manuel Gonzalez, aquatic director for the city of Chula Vista and Belinda Bencomo, supervising recreation specialist for the city of San Diego CA, has made furthering aquatic opportunities for San Diegans, water safety and drowning prevention priorities.  The Aquatic Council has a diverse membership ranging from all 17 municipalities in San Diego County to numerous public and private agencies, swimming and pool industry representatives, and interested individuals. The Aquatic Council works to provide lifeguards with the necessary tools to ensure that guarded waters are safe, and to educate the public to help reduce drowning in unguarded waters. The group has been on the forefront of local and national legislative action and is currently working with local health departments to help ensure that pool operators in San Diego comply with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act.  Goffman reports, “This council demonstrates that a community-based water safety coalition can make significant advances in drowning prevention within its local community.”

For further information, visit or call (951) 659-8600.


About the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA)

The NDPA was formed in 2004 to maximize efforts to prevent drowning through the development and implementation of strategies to facilitate and improve education, public awareness, effective barrier codes and greater utilization of layers of protection. This tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) national organization is comprised of individuals, organizations, government agency representatives, policymakers and corporations who have the common goal of saving lives. Affiliated members and programs share “the best of the best” with other members so that successful efforts can be replicated nationwide, with a goal of reducing drowning in swimming pools, open bodies of water and household products such as tubs and buckets.

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May 3, 2010 at 6:23 pm Comments (0)

Will I see you at the National Drowning Prevention Symposium?

I will be heading up to my home state of Pennsylvania next weekend to attend the 9th Annual Drowning Prevention Symposium on April 26th and April 27th.  Many of my friends know that I am a Johnstown, PA native and did my undergraduate work at California University of PA, not to mention that I spent half my youth at swim meets in Pittsburgh!  At any rate,  I’m looking forward to visiting my family and friends on Friday and Saturday before heading to the NDPA event on Sunday.

If you are attending I look forward to you visiting with me.  I will have all my Swim Lessons University DVD’s, as well as my new Swim Lessons Awards Progression & Water Safety Bracelet system available at my exhibit. Mention this blog and I will give you an automatic 10% discount on any of the Swim Lessons University educational tools!

Hope to see you at the Sheraton at Station Square!

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April 16, 2010 at 5:00 pm Comments (0)

What You Never Knew About Drowning Prevention

Your Complete Guide to Keeping Your Child Safer in and around the Water

A California Firefighter & EMT commented, “I respond to horrific accidents in my job every day, but there is nothing worse than responding to a drowning accident involving a child.” Sadly, there is no accident more common than drowning for children under the age of five. 14x more children die from drowning than from automobile accidents at this age. Quite devastating. The good news is drowning is preventable. How? I’m going to show you in this guide.

In order to prevent childhood drownings, we must be successful at three levels:

  1. Awareness
  2. Education
  3. Application


No group has more ability to improve awareness than the media. Newspapers, magazines, radio, and television have the resources to get the education to millions of parents twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. I am convinced that the more the media covers this critical topic, the more children’s lives will be saved.


No group has more ability to educate parents on water safety than the swim professionals themselves. By utilizing water safety materials like the Swim for Life Foundation’s Safer 3 approach–a well-planned, layered approach can be communicated effectively to parents. Swimming professionals should take every opportunity to teach parents these critical safety practices.


Parents are ultimately responsible for the application. The Safer 3 presents Safer Kids, Safer Water, & Safer Response.

Safer Kids is about teaching children to swim and constant supervision. Hundreds of thousands of parents frantically rush to sign up for swimming lessons every summer. Yet thousands of children are still rushed to the hospital every year, and we lose an average of 800 children a year to drowning which is the leading cause of accidental death in children ages 5 and under. According to SafeKids Worldwide, drowning is second only to automobile accidents in deaths of children ages 6 to 14, which makes up 26% of accidental deaths, compared to 16% of accidental deaths for drowning. But relatively speaking, drowning is by far the more serious killer if you compare how often children are in and around the water vs. how often they are in the car.

So what’s the problem? If hundreds of thousands of kids are getting swimming lessons, why are so many children still drowning?

First of all, drowning prevention must be a layered approach. Safer Water emphasizes that pools are properly secured with proper fencing. Safer Response emphasizes that parents should learn CPR. There is no single solution for Drowning Prevention, it’s a layered solution.

In terms of Safer Kids, if thousands of children are taking swimming lessons, shouldn’t that alone reduce the drowning rate? My answer is yes and no, and here’s why:

  1. If all the children that signed up for swimming lessons were getting ongoing, professional instruction the drowning rate would significantly drop. However, this is not the case. Parents are sign children up “to take swimming lessons” like they sign up for summer camps. In other words, two weeks this summer, two weeks next summer, etc. What skill can you honestly master in two weeks?

    Learning to swim is no different than learning to read, play the piano, or to learn any worthwhile skill. In order to master any skill, you must continue instruction and continue to practice. Because swimming is an activity that we usually do in the summer, most parents only think about swimming instruction for a couple of weeks year. This is a SERIOUS problem in the U.S. and is a FATAL MISTAKE. Bottom line–parents aren’t keeping their children in swimming lessons long enough in order to master the skill.

  2. What is the Definition of Swimming? According to Webster’s dictionary, one definition is to play in the water! Another definition the dictionary gives is to propel oneself through the water, which is a little better than the first, but this definition is simply not good enough when it comes to drowning prevention. Another reason for the misconception of what real swimming is probably linked to the fact that 128 million Americans have water phobias, and 64% of adults are afraid of deep water! In general, the majority of adults don’t have strong swimming skills. With improved swim school programming, this may change over the years but not when kids aren’t staying enrolled in the instruction.

According to SAFE KIDS WORLDWIDE, we know the following:

  • Babies and toddlers under the age of 3 are drowning in bathtubs
  • Children between the ages of 3 and 5 are drowning in residential pools.
  • Children and adults ages 6 & over are drowning in OPEN WATER situations.

I think we should use these drowning statistics in our parent education to help parents better understand the measures that need to be taken to change them.

If more than half of the drownings of BABIES AND TODDLERS are in bathtubs, let’s learn from this statistic: STOP LEAVING CHILDREN UNATTENDED IN BATH TUBS! It’s that simple. If you have to answer the phone, get the door, whatever—take your child with you. Boys drown twice as often than girls in these situations too. Why? They like to play harder. They slip, fall, and hit their head. When anyone is unconscious face down in the water, they drown.

When a child learns to “swim like a fish” underwater most parents discontinue instruction for their child. While “swimming like a fish” is usually enough to get a child out of trouble in a pool and is a great start for a two or three year old, those skills are SELDOM ENOUGH for OPEN WATER situations likes lakes and rivers where conditions are more challenging. According to SAFEKIDS WORLDWIDE, more than half the drownings for ages 6 & over are occurring in open water situations. So the bottom line is we need to keep our children in swimming lessons UNTIL they master formal strokes, not just until they learn to “swim like a fish” underwater.

POOL/LAKE PARTY TIP: 90 Percent of drownings occur when the child was in the care of one or both parents. When you’re at your Memorial Day Lake or Pool party—you MUST have a designated “water watcher.” A technique designed by the Safer 3, a water watcher is someone who has no other responsibility other than watch the kids in and around the water. Drownings are so common at parties because parents start socializing and think the other person is watching the child. My wife and I wear a “Water Watcher Tag” so there is never a doubt about who is watching.

ADULTS: 700 adults drown last year due to drowning in boating accidents, most of which would have been prevented if a lifejacket were being worn. Of those 700 drownings, 9/10 were not wearing a lifejacket. You can be the best swimmer in the world, but if you’re unconscious, you will drown. You buckle up when you get in the car; wear a lifejacket in the boat! Boating and alcohol don’t mix either; alcohol is involved in nearly 50% of those accidents. When you drink, you’re actually NOT 10 feet tall and bullet proof.

A water safety DVD called SAFER KIDS and a water safety book called SAFER KIDS WATER SAFETY BOOK are available online for just $9.00 at All proceeds are donated to the Swim for Life Foundation and the SAFER 3 to go toward the fight against drowning prevention. A great investment for any parent, swim teacher, or swim school owner.

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June 1, 2008 at 3:20 pm Comments (3)

How to Teach Babies to Swim Safely

Whether you are a swimming instructor or parent, when it comes to teaching infants and toddlers to swim–PLEASE choose your approach carefully.   It is absolutely imperative that you really research the pros and cons of the teaching method before enrolling in an infant swimming program, especially one that may promise drown-proofing or mastering survival skills.  These approaches can be extremely dangerous and even life-threatening.  Simply put, your baby’s (or student’s) life and emotional well-being is in YOUR hands.

Teaching an infant or toddler to swim can be done successfully in a naturally progressive, child-centered learning environment.   One that is gentle and kind.  It is my professional opinion that this is the ONLY method any responsible person should consider for a baby.   We certainly want children to learn to swim for safety, but there is no iron-clad, guaranteed defense against drowning.  There is no such thing as drown-proofing.

In fact, the Broward County Drowning Prevention Task Force in Florida published a program called Water Smart Babies.  They created the program to help educate parents on how to best protect their children and keep them safer around the water.  Water Smart Babies stresses that the parent is the most important factor  and encourages parents to Follow the Safer 3, a layered approach to drowning prevention.

To keep infants and toddlers safer, parents should be taught to take every precaution when the child is in or around the water.  Never let your guard down no matter how many lessons a toddler has taken or how many times they have shown the ability to swim.  To keep children safer, we must combine learn-to-swim with as many layers of protection as possible, from touch supervision, to lifejackets, to fences, to self-closing gates, and pool alarms.

But you ask:  What about those infant-survival skills that  I’ve seen on YouTube?  I believe former NDPA Executive Director Kim Burgess hit the nail on the head in the position statement for the Broward County Drowning Prevention Task Force, “The water-survival skills program make compelling videos for the internet, but no scientific study has yet demonstrated these classes are effective.”

The report also concludes that these types of programs place inexperienced swimmers in what he perceives as life or death situations.”  If practiced repeatedly this places a child in a chronic stressful situation of “saving his life” every time he swims, which could detrimental to the child’s emotional and cognitive development.

Karen King, also referenced in the report, states:  “Putting babies in life or death scenarios is not an acceptable teaching practice in swimming or any learning situation. It’s like showing a child a busy street, putting him IN the road, and watching to see if he makes it to the curb.”  Do you see the cruelty and absurdity in this?

The bottom line is that the ultimate goal of teaching infant, toddlers and young children to swim is so that they love their swimming experience and learn to be safer in the water in the process.   Like any other worthwhile skills, skill mastery is a process–not an event.  Don’t be fooled!

Here is a short video example of what the Swim Lessons University “Parent & Tot” learn to swim program looks like.

Give a child a lifetime gift–teach a child to swim using a gentle, loving approach.   An approach that has proven effective for not only my own three boys, but for the thousands and thousands of students who have safely learned to swim with a Swim Lessons University certified instructor.

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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December 8, 2016 at 3:03 am Comments (0)

How do Children Drown : Reiser Interview on CBS WLTX

According to the American Institute of Preventative Medicine, DROWNING is the leading cause of accidental death of children age 5 & under, and 2nd only to automobile accidents to children age 6-14.  The number of children we lose every year to drowning is very troubling.  Especially when we know that in most cases–drowning is preventable.  One problem is that too many parents have the mindset that it can’t happen to them.

There are TWO REASONS for that:

  • Parents naturally OVERESTIMATE their child’s swimming ability.
  • Parents UNDERESTIMATE how quickly and quietly a child drowns.

While most people think that there would be water thrashing and a real struggle before someone drowns, that’s not how drowning looks or sounds at all.  It’s not like in the movies, children drown without a sound.  If a child can’t swim and doesn’t grab the wall, what would happen?  Like any other drowning victim, would have one goal:  Try to breathe.  What would he breathe if his face was submerged?  Water.  So you would hear nothing.  And in far too many cases, the toddler breathes in water, slips underwater, and within as little as 90 seconds he is unconscious.   In as little as 2 minutes, even with the best resuscitation efforts, the outcome is not good, i.e., a parents worst nightmare, brain damage, even death.

For more information on drowning prevention, water safety, and learning to swim, contact Jim Reiser at Swim Lessons University.

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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May 28, 2013 at 4:23 pm Comments (0)

“The Josh Project” Swimming Instructors are Swim Lessons University Certified

As fate would have it, I met executive director Tankeeya Butts of the “The Josh Foundation” in an elevator on the way to my hotel room at the National Drowning Prevention Alliance symposium earlier this year in Fort Lauderdale.  We quickly recognized each other and had a wonderful conversation.  After our talk, Tankeeya decided she was very interested in Swim Lessons University and they attended our post conference swim instructor workshop at the event.  Within days after the conference, The Josh Project became SLU’s latest learn-to-swim program to take advantage of our swim teacher training system.

On behalf of Swim Lessons University, I am humbled, honored, and proud to welcome our newest program which takes place at the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio–The Josh Project.  Led by Wanda and Tankeeya Butts, The Josh Project is now implementing the Swim Lessons University curriculum and swim instructor training and certification.  The Josh Project was founded in memory of John-Joshua Butts (Josh) who never had a swimming lesson, could not swim and drowned at the age of 16 on August 6, 2006.

I can’t end this blog without sharing the story behind “The Josh Project” which was also featured on CNN.  Ironically, I show this same video to my new swim instructor staff every year. Why? Because it communicates to our new swimming instructors that we do so much more than teach children to swim.  We are potentially saving lives every day. If this story I have embedded below doesn’t inspire you to teach with all your heart, to help you understand the importance of your job, to help you understand the difference you are making, nothing will…

Swim Lessons University Instructors and programs are now in 27 states and nine countries.  The state of Ohio and Florida have most recently adapted the Swim Instructor Certification and Training.

April 27, 2013 at 11:05 pm Comments (0)

Swim Instructor Conference Schedule

Swim Instructors, Water Safety Instructors, and Swim School owners can take advantage of the 3rd Annual Swim Lessons University Conference on Saturday, January 19th at the Crown Plaza in Sacramento, CA,  Saturday, February 23rd in Washington, D.C. at the Hamilton Crown Plaza OR Saturday, March 16th in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

We are also very excited to announce that if you would like to attend the conference in Fort Lauderdale, FL, the NDPA symposium has made the SLU Conference a post conference workshop!  While you aren’t required to attend both, it is certainly a great opportunity.  For more information and reasons why you should certainly consider attending the National Drowning Prevention Alliance Symposium, check out Both conferences will be held at the Double Tree by Hilton Bahia Mar.

The SLU Swim Instructors Conference will feature four information-packed, entertaining talks featuring BRAND NEW VIDEO FOOTAGE throughout the Swim Professor’s power point presentations.  The topics covered in those presentations are as follows:

Talk #1: Successfully Teaching Infant & Toddlers
Talk #2: How to Teach Young Children More Effectively
Talk #3: Tips & Tricks for Teaching Advanced Strokes
Talk #4: The Business Side: Using Social Media, Marketing, Scheduling, & More!

All four presentations will be held on Saturday!

Here is what some recent attendees had to say about the conference:

“Today I have been blessed. I am here at Jim’s Orlando Conference. I have already learned so much. Anyone who follows Jim on his website and through facebook gets to see great clips and I have always appreciated that, but to meet with him in a class you get to see that the love for kids and swim he speaks about is very sincere. Thanks Jim for the inspiration and confidence to be the “BEST” instructors. You have made me a better instructor and for that I will forever be greatful. What an awesome day at the conference! Thank you so much Jim for offering a “wealth” of information.”
-Michelle Smith, Instructor Swim School Owner
Orlando, Florida

“As an instructor and instructor-trainer for 25 years I thought I knew it all! It was very refreshing to sit among other professionals and share ideas and techniques. Your topics were right on, your videos were well done and I loved that you put “Father Forgets” in your presentation. It put into perspective the humanness needed in our lesson plans. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated your conference!”
– Sue Mueller, Aquatics Director
Kokomo Family YMCA-Kokomo, Indiana

Here is a short clip from a recent Swim Lessons University conference:

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October 11, 2012 at 2:39 pm Comments (0)

Jim Reiser’s Water Smart Program now taught in Every Charleston County Classroom

With the blessing and support of Charleston County School District Superintendent, Dr. Nancy McGinley, Swim Lessons University’s “Water Smart 101” curriculum is now being taught in every elementary school in Charleston, South Carolina since May 2012.

S.C. Representative Wendell Gilliard introduced legislation last year declaring May as Water Safety Awareness month in South Carolina.  The resolution urges every public school in South Carolina to spend at least one hour of water safety instruction during the month of May.  In the May 12th press conference, Gilliard stated that this one hour of instruction (Water Smart 101 Program) has very real potential to help save lives of our children.   According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, two children die every day from unintentional drowning.  Drowning is the second cause of accidental death in children ages one to 14.

Representative Gilliard went on to say how excited he was that the Charleston Country School District would be implementing the  “Water Smart 101 program,” designed by Swim Lessons University’s Jim Reiser, AKA “The Swim Professor.”  Gilliard praised the “Water Smart 101” program in which he has reviewed first hand, and stated, “our students will have the opportunity to learn from a program designed by a true expert, and the children will learn these important lessons about both the pleasures and risks of the water.”  Gilliard went on to say, “Charleston Country School District’s commitment to our youth by implementing this program should be commended.  In closing, Gilliard URGED all school districts to please follow this example.  He emphasized that simply by taking a few moments in the month of May to teach our children about water safety could make the difference in the life of a child.”

North Charleston Mayor R. Keith Summey then introduced Charleston County Superintendent Nancy McGinley.  She spoke, “This is not about just an event.  This is about children’s lives.  As superintendent of schools for the past five years, I must tell you that it is my saddest moment every spring when a tragedy occurs.   Two years ago, on the night before the last day of school, I got a call on my cell phone about 9:00PM.   One of our kindergarten students had drown, not far from here, in an apartment swimming pool.  I went to his classroom the next morning.  His teacher was in tears.   The teacher’s assistant was in tears.   The children were asking questions that no one wanted to answer.  And I certainly did not know how to answer.  They realized their classmate was gone.  It will be forever in my brain.”  They asked:  “What does drown mean?”  “Where did he go?”

The superintendent continued, “I asked the teacher if I could see some of his work.  The children had produced little end of the year booklets.  and she placed his booklet in my hand.  I opened the first page.  There was a crayon drawing of a swimming pool.  The sentence he wrote below was:  “I love to go swimming with my family.”   Superintendent McGinley said, “I don’t know about you, but that got to me like few other things had ever gotten to me in my career.”

Superintendent McGinley went on to say, “We are here today because as adults in this community it’s time we join together and prevent tragedies like that from happening in the future.  It is about preparing our children to be safe.  I love the water.  But I recognize the danger that the water involves for children who haven’t had swimming lessons OR learned precautionary preventative lessons like the ones that we’re about to implement in our schools (Water Smart 101 Curriculum) thanks to the Rutledge Foundation.  After our testing ends, all of our elementary schools will be using the Water Smart program, teaching children about how to stay safe, cautioning students about the dangers. Not scaring them, but teaching them the correct respect for the water.  I’ll be making a call to our 45,000 parents reminding them that this is Water Safety month.  And I thank Representative Gilliard for doing this for our children.  I agree with what Mayor Summey, Mayor Riley, and Mayor Swails said (all in attendance to support the water safety programs for Charleston’s students):  “Today is an important day in the history of Charleston County.  This is a day that we take yet another step forward in preserving our children’s lives and ensuring that they will enjoy this beautiful place we live without endangering themselves.  Thanks to everybody for making this happen.”

The one-hour “Water Smart 101” program consists of a DVD Video that school teachers play for their kindergarten and elementary school students, as well as a PDF bundle that includes a Lesson Plan, Water Safety Promise (homework assignment that involves parental participation), and a Water Smart Exam. Both the DVD and PDF Bundle can be found on the Swim Lessons University website.

Mark Rutledge, President of the Logan Rutledge Children’s Foundation, then took the podium.  “What became apparent a three years ago, to echo what Dr. McGinley said, is drowning has become a prominent thing in our community.  We researched that and we found that there was a big gap, a very large gap in safe swimmers and teaching them how to swim, especially as it pertains to children who are in underprivileged situations.   So we decided to focus our efforts on drowning prevention and learning how to swim.  So for the past few years and with Dr. McGinley’s approval we did a grant with Charleston Country School District of $20,000 to promote learn to swim programs thru the school. but only about half of the funds were being utilized.  One problem was that there was no formal learn to swim program.  So in doing our due diligence, we decided with the momentum of the school program we needed to create one.  So I consulted my good friend Shannon O’Brien, who has worked in the City of Charleston School District for many years, and is also the Elementary Athletic Liaison for the county.  Shannon began researching swim programs and spent countless hours outside her normal work schedule to find out what we could do to implement a program where we could also track numbers.  We wanted to find out how many kids were safe in the water, how many kids actually do learn to swim, and we wanted to implement a program in the county.  Well, right in our backyard is Jim Reiser from Columbia, who is the executive director of Swim Lessons University, a nationally acclaimed program.  So we have adopted his program, which is really the most incredible program as far as how children are progressed through an educational process from water safety to learn-to-swim, and actually if they reach this level, they can be “swim team ready.”  So we adopted this program, and as you can see behind me, we have already started the Swim Lessons University Learn-to-Swim program, which began on the first of April last month.  In 2012-2013, we should teach over a thousand kids how to swim, and our eventual goal is to hit the every elementary school in the whole county (45,000 kids).

Jim Reiser formally thanks the Low Country Aquatic Program (L.A.P.S.) and the Logan Rutledge Children’s Foundation for their support. President Mark Rutledge and Shannon O’Brien played a most significant role in bringing the Swim Lessons University LTS curriculum and the”Water Smart 101″ to Charleston. Reiser says, Mark and Shannon’s hard work and contributions to the program were instrumental, and because of them–thousands of children will learn to swim and be Water Smart!

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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May 17, 2012 at 4:28 pm Comments (0)

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