The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

Swim Instructor Feedback Mistakes

Far too often, I have found myself making the mistake of giving specific, corrective feedback first, and then using the student’s name.  The problem with this is that if you’re working with more than one student–your students really don’t know who the feedback was intended for, not to mention that your student may have not been truly listening to what you said.  By the time you say their name, well, quite frankly it may be too late.  On the other hand, if you call their name first, then give the correction–your student would immediately pay closer attention to your corrective feedback or tips.

For our complete certification course on the Foundations of Teaching and MUCH MORE specifically on Feedback Techniques, check out our “Foundations of Teaching” course on the Swim Lessons University website.

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).


March 27, 2017 at 12:43 am Comments (0)

How Swimming Instructors Should Interact with Their Students

How should swimming instructors interact with their students?  One of the most difficult aspects of teaching, especially for a new teacher, is to find the best way to interact with students.   Some young teachers err in the direction of trying to make students “like” them. The role of the teacher is not that of a “friend.” Teachers should act in a student’s best interest from the perspective of an adult. At the other extreme, some beginning teachers are so concerned with losing control of their class, they are often reluctant to communicate their humanness to students. Students want a relationship with an adult that is supportive and guiding. They want to know that the teacher cares about them and about what they do.

Teaching is largely about affect: Adults who are caring and concerned professionals who have a responsibility to (1) help students learn and (2) promote students’ personal growth.

Through the manner in which they interact with students, teachers can communicate a professional and supportive relationship with their students that says. “I care.” At Swim Lessons University, I always train instructors to follow our proven lessons plans, use our lingo, use the step-by-step progressions, etc. But while doing that, I remind them that even while there is a specific way we want you to do things, that DOES NOT CHANGE your personality. I can’t teach personality. Each of you are unique individuals and you’ll find your own way of sharing yourself with our young swimmers to promote their own growth.

Here are some ideas that should be considered:

1. Learn your students’ names and use them.

No matter how many students you teach, an essential and minimal form of recognition for students is that you know their name. Using your class roster each class really helps. But please make learning names a priority.

2. Be enthusiastic and positive about what you are doing.

Enthusiasm is contagious. Many people assume that enthusiasm is a personality trait of very outgoing or “bubbly” people.   But enthusiasm doesn’t necessarily always have to be such high-energy behavior. Students will know by the tone of your voice and the manner in which you approach a class how enthusiastic you are about what you are doing.

3. Project a caring attitude toward all students.

Caring is projected primarily through a genuine interest and recognition of each of your students. Caring is projected by an instructor through a sensitivity to the feelings of students and the significance your students place on their interactions with you. Caring swim instructors tune in to the child. Caring swim instructors do not condone misbehavior, but in dealing with misbehavior they do not undermine the integrity of the individual child as a person.

4. Reinforce basic values.  

I’m talking about honesty, tolerance, respect, and effort by modeling these behaviors, as well as reinforcing them in your swimming classes. According to Good and Brophy, 1990, when you teach a responsibility for developing prosocial behaviors, you can create personal growth. Prosocial behaviors are simply the behaviors stated above and ones that demonstrate a responsibility for helping people without being prompted by external rewards.

5. Discipline.

Do not reinforce behavior destructive to self or others by doing nothing about it. Students learn acceptable ways of interacting with each other not only by what you do, but also by what you don’t do. Values, tolerance, and respect for others are learned. Swim Instructors must find ways of communicating what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.

 6. Treat all of your students fairly.

Make it a practice to intentionally treat your students impartially. It is easy for teachers to gravitate to the more skilled students or even to the students who the teacher believes will threaten their class control. Attention to all students can be facilitated if you make a conscious effort to consider each student, and make it a point to give attention to students you may have been unintentionally slighting.

 7. Learn to be a good listener and observer of student responses.

We can easily become more attuned to our students by listening to and observing the subtle meanings of their messages communicated by the manner in which they interact with you, each other, and learning skills. This is one that I have really had to work on, and I am still not as skilled as my wife, Coach Heather. I am always stunned when she observes my classes and later points something out that I never saw. So we all have things we need to improve and while we may never be perfect at everything. Personally, I think there’s a lot of fun in the challenge to improve on something which is a weakness.

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).

February 16, 2017 at 3:04 am Comments (0)

Swim Instructor Tips Daily on Twitter!

For the first time ever–you and your staff can get FREE SWIM LESSON TEACHING TIPS each and every day simply by following me on Twitter @SwimProfessor!  Here are five examples of upcoming TIPS OF THE DAY:

    • Teach implicitly by utilizing analogies. What are your favorite analogies?
    • Praise in public. Criticize in private.
    • Want better office décor? Ask your learn-to-swim students to draw you a picture!
    • Learning to swim is a process, not an event. Reassure parents that their child is progressing well!
    • Can you embrace something to like about EVERY STUDENT? You will enjoy teaching much more when you do!

So those are just a few of more than 200 TIPS OF THE DAY that I have already written!   In addition, if you and your staff follow me on twitter–you will also get updates on BLOGS OF THE WEEK, sWIM PROFESSOR YOUTUBE VIDEOS OF THE WEEK, and SWIM LESSONS UNIVERSITY FEATURED PRODUCTS OF THE MONTH which will be DISCOUNTED at 20% OFF!

I sincerely appreciate your follows, likes, and @mentions! I promise it will be worth your while!

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 16, 2016 at 5:37 pm Comments (0)

Learn How To Get Rid Of Aquaphobia!

As we grow up we understand mroe about the world around ourselves. We see that there are certain situations that are clearly dangerous, while some others are definitely more pleasant and safer. We can distinguish different situations because we got to experience them in person or because someone else told us about them. And the result is that we tend to avoid to be in situations that our brain identify as “dangerous“.

Is Deep Water Your Biggest Fear?swimming pool

All this mental process is spontaneous, it happens by itself and we are barely aware of it. However, certain dangerous situations might become fears over time. That’s why so many people develop their own fears. For example, many people are scared to take a plane, while some other people are literally frithened of deep water.

Deep water is actually one of the most scaring natural elements that, at some point, many people get to experience. Either you fell in water as a little child or you were almost to sink in the ocean due to a big wave, you might seriously develop a psychological fear towards deep water, which has consequences on your life.

To overcome a fear of deep water can translates into a fear of swimming – which holds you back from learning to swim for all of your life. Probably, you won’t believe it but there are several worldwide popular gold-metal winners who were actually afraid of swimming as a child. They could overcome their fear thanks to good teachers and to all of their strength of will.

Here’s What You Have To Do – Your Basic Exercises

If you are in a similar condition and you really want to get rid of your fear of swimming, you are already half way there! In fact, there’s nothing more powerful than your own decision to overcome all fears.kick-the-water exercise

Now, you have to focus on a few steps that will gradually take you to the point of feeling good when swimming in deep water:

  • You need to take some confidence with water, first. You should re-create the ideal conditions where you feel fine with water. So, asl a good teacher to help you get your feet in the water and try to go deeper with him/her by your side. Try also to stay relaxed as much as possible.

  • Once you can stand in the water, try to splash some water on yoru shoulders, neck and face. It’s a funny game to play in water which allows you to feel more self-confident. A smart tip: imagine positive things or think about past happy moments while splashing who learns to swim

  • The third point is about breath-holding. Try to hold your breath for a few seconds, then breathe again and repeat for several times. Now, do this in the water: hold your breath and breathe out into the water, like if you were bubbling. This is another funny game that you can play to establish a relationship to the water.

  • It’s important to be able to move your arms and legs while in water. So, try to hold the side of the swimming pool and try to move your legs, like if you were kicking a ball. Keep your body stretched out while kicking. For this exercise it’s essential that you feel enough relaxed and peaceful. If you feel scared of doing that, just ask your teacher to help you or just stop for a while, have a break and then try again to kick in water.

Become Friend To Water By Playing Smart Water Games!

As you can see, many exercises to overcome the fear of water are nothing but games to play. It’s important that you feel happy while working out in water, funny exercises are a strategical choice for all teachers in this field.

Often times, the fear of water might depend from lack of occasions to stay in contact with water. So, let water become your best friend now on! If you want to go deeper in the topic, follow swimming events on TV or online. Bet on Sport on is also a good choice to become more acquainted to water sports, like diving or swimming. If you live in Middle East, you might have so few occasions to follow international water games (that are often played outside Middle East). That’s why Halal Casino comes helpful to everyone who wants to enjoy sports through online sports betting:

You can win exceptional bonuses and become the next winner!

July 15, 2016 at 9:43 pm Comments (0)

5 Life-Saving Tips All Parents Should Know

Unfortunately, official statistics speak about more than 600 children drowning on a yearly basis in the U.S. alone. Drowning is the number one cause of accidental death in children ages 1 to 4 according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Done the right way, prevention can help save lives, even the lives of your own children. As a parent, it falls under your direct responsibility to make sure your small ones are safe and sound 24/7, especially when around a pool area or even inside the bathtub.child swimming

While the majority of tragic drowning accidents occur in a backyard pool, there is no telling what could happen at the beach or around the house. It is, therefore, critical to learn some life-saving tips related to being in and around the water and constantly being aware of the drowning perils around us and our children.

Tip 1: Always Keep A Close Eye On Your Children While In The Water

Be it a public swimming pool, your own swimming pool at home, a hot tub or the ocean, it is imperative to keep a constant eye on your children. In only takes 25 seconds for a child to drown, no matter how shallow the water, according to Lois Lee, an emergency-medicine specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital. Children are not experienced swimmers and they require continuous surveillance whenever they are near water. You or another responsible adult should permanently supervise their behavior and stay within touching distance so you can immediately assist them in case of emergency. Children can easily panic, get tired while swimming or playing in the water or remain stuck underwater. Do not assume you will hear your child yelling for help on a crowded beach, while playing your favorite game of poker or reading some fresh casino reviews.  In reality, children drown quietly and without making any loud noise.

Tip 2: Put Your Phone Aside

We all tend to get lost in endless Instagram scrolling sessions and ignore what is happening around us whenever we can. As a rule of thumb, never pull out your phone when at the sea or at the pool together with your kids. Make sure you place it somewhere where you cannot access it easily so you are not tempted to check any incoming emails or text message. The few seconds you will spend replying to a text could lead to a tragedy. Do carry a fully charged phone on you so you can use it to call the authorities in case of an emergency. Memorize the address of the public swimming pool or whatever water you may be swimming in.

Tip 3: Put A Parent On Lifeguard Duty When Babysitting More Children

Going swimming with a group of children is a common occurrence in the life of most parents. When this happens, make sure you designate a parent as a lifeguard since most parents will tend to get distracted and look away from the swimming pool or the sea. You could also hire a professional lifeguard for more protection or have each of the parents take turns watching the kids every quarter of an hour.

The designated water watcher will be responsible for solely watching the children swim or play in the water. Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages when part of such a surveillance group.

Tip 4: Get Swimming Lessons For Your Children

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, all children ages 4 and over can take swimming lessons. Just make sure you do not mistakingly believe that simply because your kids are learning to swim, you will no longer need to carefully supervise them. Toddlers and preschoolers need a caregiver who can keep a close eye on them when going swimming.

Tip 5: Do Not Rely On Inflatable Toys And Water Wings

Keep in mind inflatable toys are not meant to act as life preservers. If your child cannot swim at the moment, have them use floating toys, but make sure you are with them while they do it. Beware of floating toys that could potentially trap your kids' legs and keep them underwater. Only opt for Coast Guard-approved life jackets and remove all floaties from the pool when not in use so your kids are not attracted into the water.

Encourage your children to befriend older kids at the pool and make sure each child knows where their buddies are at all times. This, however, should not be used as a means of replacing adult supervision at the pool.

June 16, 2016 at 9:18 pm Comments (0)

Step-by-step Guide To Start Your Swimming Pool Company

Installing a swimming pool and starting a business around it might be your best investment strategy if you hire expert professionals who can guide you and support you right through the process. It’s without a doubt that such a huge investment is an exciting decision for your life, as well.

team of expertsGet The Right People Around You

When you start up a business of your own, you are basically saying “goodbye” to being a regular employee, which is great if you are looking for more space for your own decisions and business management skills, but it might also mean for you will carry a lot of stress and mental fatigue, beyond the financial uncertainties and more complex taxation. That’s why you need expert people around you to support your decisions and help you consider aspects that you may easily underestimate.   You can’t expect to actually be a know-it-all genius!

Having the right team of people to work for your project is essential not only during the preparation of planning documents and installation of your swimming pool but also once the project is ready to welcome your first customers. The concept still stays the same. You need to choose the right people to work in your swimming pool business. So, make sure to hire only expert people who are qualified for their specific job.

Your Best Head-start On Your Business

After all, a swimming pool company doesn’t differ that much from other kinds of investments in the commercial field. Either you are working to start a restaurant or a sports company, you basically have to accomplish similar tasks and commitments.

First of all, consider our list of steps to move as a basic vademecum for all the necessary actions that you will have to take care of on your business venture:

  1. Find a place
    Before you even start with documents and other legal papers, it’s essential that you have a clue of “where” you want to base your new activity. Of course, avoid places where there is already a well-established swimming pool, as an example. Focus on places where your swimming pool won’t have any competitors nearby, but at the same time watch out from places that are way too far from residential areas, otherwise, you won’t have any customers insight.

  2. Commercial equipment
    A swimming pool needs a series of commercial equipment and structures. For example, make sure to install advanced commercial doors, fire alarms, fireproof doors, and security alarms. You may request these services from a local locksmith who is qualified for commercial locksmith services, or you may want to contact an all-inclusive locksmith company like On-Time Locksmith which offers a 360-degree palette of locksmith assistance in several fields, including car and vehicle locksmith services as you can see at

  3. Define a business planbusiness plan
    All new business ventures require a specific business plan, including a study to determine how profitable your swimming pool business can be in the area that you chose for it. The business plan should also include a financial study about the required funds with a projection about your return on investment and profits. Hire expert people to make a good business plan.

  4. Swimming pool activity
    It’s useless to tell you that you should have a deep insight and knowledge into what a swimming pool business does. Your responsibility goes far beyond building the structure, it involves more tasks like for example relationship with your customers or maintenance / enhancement works over time. You should also check the chemical compound of the swimming pool water and make sure that the cleaning and draining of the pool takes place regularly.

  5. Define your target audience
    This is another very important step to include. Make sure to understand that your target market is different from your business plan, because in a market study there are multiple subfields that you have to fulfill. Just to give you a clue, consider that you should study your area and the people who live there to determine if your swimming pool can have a good chance of success and growth. For example, if it’s an area under development, you are surely going to have good possibilities with new homes being built, new families with children coming to live there.

Keep in mind staying strong during the first months of work, because you’ll have to comply with a series of legal requirements before going into business, but then you will be largely appreciated by customers.  If you come with all the papers to prove your legal accomplishments, they will trust you straight away.


March 16, 2016 at 6:15 pm Comments (0)

5 Quick Swimming Tips For Adult Beginners

If you are thinking that it would be great to be able to swim like a dolphin in the waves, you are certainly one of the thousands of people who may want to start learning swimming as an adult.

It’s never too late to learn something – swimming included.

adult swimmersSwimming As An Adult Is Possible!

Although most people learn to swim when they are little children, adults can also have their advantages in learning this important physical activity.

First of all, adults have a completely developed neurological system, whilst children aren’t fully developed yet. This aspect makes things much easier for adults, who can coordinate their movements in a smoother way than any children.

That’s only a quick example to show you that you can easily learn swimming as an adult and recover the opportunity that you missed as a child.

In addition, consider that even the smartest child feels strange in the water at first – so, if you fear that you’re going to feel that way, relax and take a breath as you will easily overcome all of your fear with little time. It’s actually important to take confidence and gain self-esteem when in the water. A good trainer is therefore essential to break the ice and start to enjoy feeling the water.

What About A Nice Swimming Pool In Your Garden?pool cleaning service

Nobody can know if you will soon become a great swimmer. Probably, you won’t access national competitions because you are of age, but you will surely have a great time swimming in your free time or in the lake or sea when on vacation!

And, who knows? you may also want to get an inground swimming pool installed in your garden – so you won’t have to reach a lake to take a swim. It sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it? And the good news is that today you can find professional workers and handymen online – take a look at the Prosco platform, you will easily find numerous professionals in your proximity who can build and install a swimming pool in your garden. Prosco is actually the US largest contractor hiring platform of professional workers, technicians, and handymen all through the States. Take a couple of minutes to make your research and compare prices and other details.

Practical Tips To Shorten The Curve Of Learning

Here we are with a useful bunch of tips that will give you a clue of what you have and not have to do as an adult beginner who is learning swimming. First of all, find a good structure where you can find qualified swimming trainers and an overall comfortable environment for you. Then, focus on these aspects, too:

  1. Avoid deep water
    If the pool has a shallow end, that’s the ideal place where you should start to move your body in the water at first. Keep in mind that you have to gain confidence in the water and overcome the typical fear of deep water of almost all beginners. In the shallow end of the pool, you can stand in the water and practice breathing exercises under your trainer’s guidance.

  2. Use goggles
    In the beginning, you’d better use goggles to avoid water into your eyes and to go underwater with your head for advanced breath exercises. You can open your eyes and see underwater, which will facilitate your first approach to swimming.

  3. Spend time in the watertrainer and adult learner
    We’ve just mentioned that you have to gain confidence in the water. And to achieve this goal you necessarily have to spend time in the pool. Obviously, the longer time you can spend in the water, the better and quicker you will learn to swim – that’s an ever-valid rule of thumb!

  4. Face in the water
    It might look uncomfortable, but as a beginner, you’ll be taught to swim keeping your face in the water. That’s anyway another thing to make your learning process quicker. Moreover, you will overcome anxiety and fear all at once. Remember that getting comfortable swimming with your face in the water is basically a matter of feeling and of confidence.

  5. Freestyle
    Professional swimmers make freestyle look like a simple movement but the truth is that freestyle consists of multiple movements that have to be perfectly coordinated. When learning freestyle, focus on each part of your body involved in the stroke, for example, wrist left leg and right leg individually, then also your arms individually, your neck and head and your back.

Our final tip is to have patience and to follow your trainer’s lessons feeling happy at each learning stage!

October 21, 2015 at 5:13 am Comments (0)

Sweden, A Swimmers’ Haven

Sweden is not only world-famous for its 29 national parks, luxurious nature drenched in mesmerizing lakes, majestic mountains, imposing forests and rich fauna, but also for being one of the best places to live in if you happen to be a swimming aficionado.

How Popular Is Swimming In Sweden?swimming

The country is known to be a swimming nation and it does not only counts lots of successful swimmers that have won swimming titles in important competitions but also a lot of people who take on swimming as a hobby or a means of exercising in an enjoyable manner. In fact, swimming is so popular in the Scandinavian region in general that Trader Joe's, one of the biggest American chains of grocery stores, has started manufacturing and selling Scandinavian Swimmers candy, also available in the Super Sour Scandinavian Swimmers version.

Swedish children are taught the importance of swimming from an early age when they receive free swimming lessons in school. The swimming lessons are mandatory for children of all ages and they are useful for introducing them to a healthy lifestyle for the upcoming years while promoting and improving their current health.

Even people who are visually impaired and who would like to swim will soon benefit from a special program that is currently being developed in Boson, at the Swedish Sports Federation’s development center. The invention is expected to rely on sensors placed inside pools that will assist swimmers with improving their individual turns, making their experience smoother for them. The program is also meant to eliminate the need to use the regular tappers that visually impaired swimmers need to rely on to know when they have reached the end of the pool. Tappers come in the form of poles that are covered in soft-tipped ends used by personal swimming assistants for tapping the swimmer once he reaches the wall at the end of the pool. This, in turn, will act as a real-time notification that the swimmer will use to turn.

The upcoming product, as well as the program it is a part of, will be called Breaking Swimming Barriers and its main purpose is to help these swimmers enjoy a higher degree of independence, as well as pay less for their swimming hobby, since they will no longer need to use a personal assistant while inside the pool.

Famous Swedish Swimming Champions And Championships 

Sarah Fredrika Sjöström is a Swedish competitive swimmer who specializes in the sprint freestyle. Sarah is also the first female swimmer in the country to win an Olympic gold medal in this sport. Her titles include the Overall Swimming World Cup in both 2017 and 2018. She has also won ten individual World Championship gold medals and she currently holds the world record in no less than five different long or short course freestyle or butterfly competitions.

Gustav Hökfelt has won the 50-meter backstroke long course in June 2019 and conquered the Sette Colli Trophy in Rome, Italy. He also won the 100m backstroke Swim Open Stockholm competition held in Stockholm in 2018. Johannes Skagius won the World Championships at the 50mbreatsstroke competition held in Budapest, Hungary in 20917.

These are just a few of the many Swedish swimmers who have won impressive titles over the years, proving this people's incredible talent at this sport. Their status in the sports sector in Sweden is extremely high and there are also lots of people who are interested in keeping an eye on swimming competitions on TV or streaming them online. Most of them also choose to place bets on their favorite swimming athletes or swimming competitions. In fact, the number of swimming bettors in the country is higher than in many other European countries. If you are looking for a safe place online where you can wager on your favorite Swedish swimmers, check out the Svenne Casinos page on sports betting and find out how to get started.

The Swedish Swimming Federation counts around 300 member clubs, hosting around 12,000 swimmers, all licensed. The oldest swimming club is Upala SS founded in 1796 and it enabled women to receive swimming education. It is also the club that initiated the first swimming competitions in 1910. The country has also organized the third FINA Short Course Swimming Championships in 1997, when it won three gold medals. There are also biannual Swedish Youth Swimming Championships for young swimmers ready to compete.

July 9, 2015 at 2:33 am Comments (0)

The Swim Professor needs your help to win the “Best Twitter Feed – Swimming 2011 Reader Choice Awards” competition

The Swim Professor needs your help to win the “Best Twitter Feed – Swimming 2011 Reader Choice Awards” competition.   As a contributor to, I’ve been honored as a finalist in their Swimming 2011 Readers Choice Award.

By casting your vote online , you can help me “reach for the wall”  in their Best Twitter Feed competition.  I give my best effort on a daily basis trying to contribute useful tips and info. through my twitter feeds and facebook posts.   I’m hopeful those contributions will pay off by you casting your vote! 

The race is close, and it looks like its going to come down to the last stroke!

Thanks for your business and for your loyal support.

Vote Swim Professor today!


Jim Reiser, M.S.

The Swim Professor

Swim Lessons University

February 21, 2011 at 6:31 pm Comments (0)

Private Swim Lessons

What do I think about private swim lessons (one-on-one)?  Are they the most beneficial for kids swim lessons?  Over the past 25+ years, I have taught thousands of swim lessons.  From private swim lessons (one-on-one) to large group swimming instruction (taught beginning swimming classes of up to 25 college students from 1993-2005 at the University of South Carolina) and everything in between, and every age group category.

So in today’s article, Private Swim Lessons, I’d like to share my thoughts and experiences on private swim lessons.   Let’s take a look at the pros and cons, as well as a number of very important considerations:

  • The Number of Lessons & Student; Instructor Integrity
  • The Frequency of Corrective Feedback the Child Receives.
  • The “Missing Peer Learning” Factor
  • The Feedback Factor
  • Practice Time Factors.
  • The Cost / Profit Factors.
  • Scheduling Factors.
  • The Water Safety Factors

The Number of Lessons AND Student; Instructor Integrity

The number of private swim lessons that a child is going to receive with the same instructor is a very significant factor when determining whether or not private swim lessons are the best alternative.  In other words, a child may improve faster in a private lesson than in any other lesson format, however, I believe that rapid improvement is limited to a subjective number of lessons.  What is that time period?   If you watch closely enough—you will know!

So why is this?  First and foremost, the instructor-student integrity tends to naturally break down over time, very similar to why it’s difficult to teach your own child in one-on-one situations.  The same dynamic develops over time with your child’s swim instructor as the child gets to know the instructor and his/her comfort level with the teacher increases.  So when you are teaching a “one-on-one” lesson, you eventually lose that “teacher-student” integrity.   Why?  For starters, in order to keep the lesson enjoyable and fun, you have to be the child’s friend (so to speak).  When this occurs, there is naturally a break down in the child’s focus on the task at hand.  It does vary some from one child to the next, and even from one teacher to the next, but eventually it does happen.

The Missing “Peer Learning” Factor

The other dynamic that hinders the benefit of private lessons is the missing peer learning dynamic. Not only do children benefit from having at least one other child in their lesson for social reasons and to make it more enjoyable (it gets boring), but children also tend to work harder too.  Even if they’re “not competitive by nature,” it’s still “human nature” to work a little harder when you’re around your peers.  I’m sure you can think of a dozen examples.

Practice Time Factor

Practice is the “mother of learning,” and this factor certainly is a consideration that comes into play when determining the best class format, i.e., private lessons, semi-privates, trios, quads, small groups, etc.    In addition, there are a number of factors that will affect practice time in any of the previous mentioned formats, including but not limited to age, swimming ability, the instructor’s training and experience, etc.  Even with the least experienced of teachers, sufficient practice time will likely be achieved in a private lessons setting.  However, with well-trained and experienced teachers, private lessons are certainly not required to achieve the practice time goal.

The Feedback Factor

As you may know, my graduate work is in Physical Education and Motor Learning / Motor Skill Acquisition.  One very interesting study that I will never forget was about feedback.   The study shows that TOO MUCH FEEDBACK (more than 50% of the time) CAN HINDER LEARNING.  The reasoning too much feedback hinders learning is that the learner becomes dependent on the feedback.  I would also add the fact that “Kids Just Want to Have Fun!”   It’s not that they don’t want to learn, but you will drive most any child up the wall if you are correcting them every time they swim across the pool.

The Cost / Profit Factor

Ironically, while the cost of the private lesson is significantly higher than other formats, it also gives the swim school the lowest rate of return (unless the other class formats don’t fill up).   But business aside, my genuine professional advice to any parent who wants their child to become a better swimmer is to pay less (go with semi, trio, quad, etc.) and get more (lessons).  In fact, I can prove that philosophy to be true.  You can ask anyone who knows me or has seen me teaching my own children and they will tell you that I have always have my children in either semi’s, trios, or even quads.   In terms of which specific class I would choose, i.e., semi (2 on 1), trio (3 on 1), etc., it really depends on the child’s age and ability level of the child.

As a swim school owner, I want and need to do whatever the customer’s preference is, yet I like to educate them on the pros and cons and help them make an educated decision on what is best for their child.   From a business standpoint I know one thing for sure: profit cannot exist if you’re not true to your customers.  Show your customers (through your actions) that you care first, and the revenue with naturally follows.

The Scheduling Factor

For a start-up swim school without a sound scheduling/class placement plan, private lessons are certainly the easiest to schedule. You don’t have to predetermine the course needed because the individual’s ability level always determines your lesson plan or progressions.  However, if you have a solid placement system in place, you can make the scheduling issue a “non-factor” as we have since 1989!

The Water Safety Factor

From a drowning prevention standpoint, it is difficult to have a safer situation than one-on-one supervision.   Nevertheless, I encourage every parent no matter how small the class is to watch your child closely anytime they are in or around the water.  There’s no such thing as too much supervision when it comes to our child’s safety in a swimming pool.

Of course for beginners, especially those who can’t touch the bottom, I always favor using a progressive flotation device that clearly adds a safety component to the class.   And if you are teaching a large group of beginners, say 7 students or more, then I would prefer a Coast Guard approved Life Jacket, at least until the student has developed some swimming fundamentals and can touch the bottom.

When it comes to choosing an instructor, you want to choose one who has a philosophy that is child-centered.  There are plenty of unsafe practices could be dangerous for a child if a task-oriented approach is taken by the wrong instructor.  Of course Swim Lessons University Instructors are trained to use a child centered approach that includes safe, natural swimming progressions.


There is definitely a time and place for private lessons, and there are instructors, like my close friend Katrina Ramser Parish, who just loves teaching private lessons.   There is nothing wrong with that!  You do what you love to do!  If you’re not happy and enjoying what you are doing, then what’s the point?

So there are exceptions for every rule.   I personally prefer something different in “most” situations.   What is that something different?  Semi-private lessons, trios, and quad classes, and if the situation is right, i.e., student’s age and ability, teacher’s experience and training, etc., there is a place for small group swim lessons as well.

I hope you have enjoyed this blog, and be on the look out for a related blog that will discuss Semi-private Swim Lessons, Trios, and Quads!

February 4, 2011 at 6:04 pm Comment (1)

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