The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

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 www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com  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)

Halloween Swim Lessons Games for Beginners

Would you like a fun, breath holding activity for your beginners with a Halloween theme? Give this one a try!

While this a seasonal activity, it is perfectly adequate to utilize in the Breath Holding part of the Swim Lessons University Swim 101 Lesson Plan.

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 www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com  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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October 30, 2016 at 1:01 am Comments (0)

Halloween Swim Lesson Games

Halloween is just around the corner, so I wanted to share an activity I created called the “Haunted Island.”   I use it mainly during “In-line/prone kick” skill since it’s a simple skill that doesn’t require a lot of feedback.  In other words, when I get to the part of the lesson where we are working on the freestyle/front crawl (I combined a Swim 102 student with a Swim Strokes 201 student), I can get back to giving the children more specific, corrective feedback to ensure the class is both INSTRUCTIONAL and FUN!

I think that you will find that when you teach perpetual swim lessons (weekly lessons vs. sessions), theme-based activities and games are extremely valuable to keep the monotony out of the lessons.  Of course, it is equally important that you don’t lose sight of the skills that your students need to learn in the curriculum.

At any rate, here is an activity/game for the in-line kick that we call “The Haunted Island!”  I hope you and your students have as much fun with it as we did!

While this a seasonal activity, it is perfectly adequate to utilize in the In-line Kick part of the Swim Lessons University Lesson Plan.

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 www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com  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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October 28, 2016 at 3:48 pm Comments (0)

Private Swimming Lesson Ideas for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Have you ever taught a private swimming lesson? Have you ever needed a couple activities in your back pocket to add some fun and variety to the lesson?  Here’s a couple quick ideas that you could try in your toddler or preschool swim lessons:

While these aren’t regular activities that are part of our curriculum, they are certainly great “fillers” that can keep your private swim lessons fun and upbeat, or something you can throw in for a change of pace.  As you could see, this little toddler absolutely loved “The Motorboat Song” and the little tosses up in the air!

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 www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com  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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October 27, 2016 at 1:51 am Comments (0)

Breath Control Game for Swimming Lessons

Writing about this activity has  “I Saw Esau,”  playing over and over in my head, a song made famous by the Ames Brothers in 1956!  At any rate, if you’re looking for a fun breath control game for swimming lessons that will take the monotony out of your rhythmic bobs, your learn to swim students will certainly enjoy this one:

This is not an activity for true beginners, as children would need to have some basic air exchange skills as a prerequisite for this activity.   It would work perfectly, however,  in the Swim Lessons University Swim Strokes 201 or 202 Lesson Plan though for sure!

 

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 www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com  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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October 18, 2016 at 3:07 am Comments (0)

Freestyle Kick Games for Kids

Do your students ever get bored, or even lazy while you’re having them practice their freestyle kick in swim lessons? Here’s a fun little game you can incorporate called “Cat and Mouse” that has proven to be both MOTIVATIONAL and FUN! 

For more detailed instructions on “How to Teach the Freestyle and Backstroke,” check out our “SWIM STROKES 201/202/203” video course!

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

The Swim Lessons University Instructor certification is an internationally recognized alternative to the Red Cross WSI. And when you utilize SLU, you can even SPECIALIZE to teach in specific courses or you can certify to teach then all! Best of all, when you choose Swim Lessons University you can do all your training at your own facility or in the comfort of your own home, at your pace, and at a fraction of the cost!

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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October 5, 2016 at 2:38 am Comments (0)

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 www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com  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)

Swim Instructor Common Question: Fear of the Water

Dear Swim Professor:

I want to ask you how you deal with young children who have fear in water? I’ve heard about lots of different approaches. Some say put them underwater so they’ll be forced to learn to swim. Others say let them play and have fun until they feel ready. And with these children to you think it’s better to give them support aids like life vests so they can just play in the water? Or will that delay their learning how to swim and help them rely on support and lose confidence in their own ability to swim without support?

Thanks for taking the time to read my question! I’m hoping you’ll be able to answer quickly.

Thanks again,
Chavie

Dear Chavie,

I admire your dedication on teaching children how to swim. What is just as impressive is that you are taking the initiative to research the best way to do it. What I am going to do in this blog is give you my short answer, and refer you to other blogs that I have already written on your common, but excellent questions to give you more detail.

1. Always use a child-centered approach. NEVER force. The child’s enjoyment of the process is just as important as the outcome. In fact, it is more important.
2. While unstructured play is good and encouraged, you can and should also incorporate age-appropriate “activities” in your swimming lesson setting. In other words, you make learning to swim feel like play, though you are actually teaching the child how to swim. This is paramount when teaching preschoolers how to swim.
3. If you use one of the SLU approved “Progressive Flotation devices” CORRECTLY, your students will not only learn to swim faster, but swimming will be a more enjoyable experience (and a safer one).

Here is what I would recommend that you do:
1. Go to SEARCH BOX on the right side of this blog page and type in the following topics:
Fearful
            Flotation
            Swim 101
When you search these keywords, you will find more specific information AND more thorough answers to your questions. Many of them also include video examples as well.

2. The second thing I would recommend is that you consider taking our Swim Lessons University courses. All courses are video-based and you can take the certification exams online. Swim Lessons University training and certification is now being used by YMCAs, Recreation Departments, Swim Schools, Pool Management companies, and private swimming instructors in 31 states and 11 countries.

Based on your questions today, I would get started on these Swim Instructor Training courses:
1. Teach Like a Pro – The Foundations of Teaching
2. From Tears to Cheers – How to Help Children Overcome Their Fears (audio program)
3. Swim 101 – A Comprehensive Video Course for Teaching Young Children How to Swim

Once you go through the video course, then  go to Instructor Tools to take your online swim instructor certification exam. We also recommend 3 hours of practicum training per course with a Swim Lessons University certified Learn-to-Swim Professional.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at jreiser@swimprofessor.com or CALL us toll-free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

Warm Regards,

Jim Reiser

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 www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com  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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January 9, 2014 at 1:32 pm Comments (0)

Pop-up Breath for Beginner Swimmers

One of our Swim Lessons University Instructor-Trainers in Virginia sent this great question today:

Dear Professor Reiser:

We conducted training at Winchester Parks and Rec today for six prospective Swim Lessons University instructors for our staff.   A question came up.  In Swim 101, why not have the children take their breaths to the side instead of breathing forward?  The questioner observed that one of the children seemed to be getting too vertical when breathing forward.  What do you suggest?

Thanks for your insight!

Coach Bill

 

Dear Coach Bill,

Excellent question!  Having experimented with about every beginning swimming technique, our experience is that turning the head to the side is just too complex of a skill for a 3-5 year old BEGINNER in Swim 101.  I stressed beginner because once a child masters the “pop-up style breathing,” this front breath without hesitation will transfer effortlessly to the freestyle side breathing when the student is ready for the Swim Strokes 201 class.   When you start with the side breath for such a young child who is also a beginner, it is just too much for them both physically and developmentally to put it together right away in Swim 101.  And again, as you know, once the child is stroke ready we introduce the freestyle with side breathing in the 3-5 year olds Swim Strokes 201 course

The secret to success when teaching the 3-5 year old beginners is to keep the skill as basic as possible.  The less complex the better.  Then when the child masters the less complex skill, he/she will be ready to learn something more difficult like the side breath in the strokes class (progression principle). 

In regard to this particular child getting vertical, generally speaking our goal is to discourage any vertical body position in the water and we accomplish that in most cases by allowing the child to master the breath while keeping a narrow, fast kick with any given amount of buoyancy.  We don’t remove the buoyancy until they are successful.  However, on occasion there may be an exception where you accept what the child is doing at that point in time (A good example is that kid who is ready for the swim team, does all the strokes, but just doesn’t flex one foot out yet.  You don’t hold him back and keep him off the 8 & under swim team over something that is just going to take a little patience and persistence).

Back to the pop-up breath. One of the changes coming in the 2nd Edition of Swim 101 is that we believe it is so important that we don’t take away flotation too fast.  If the student is taking more than a second or so to get a breath or he looks distressed, you put a flotation pad back in.  You want the pop-up breathing skill to be automatic and comfortable. And regarding the video clip I believe you are referring to, McKenzie was very comfortable in the water but I agree she was getting a bit vertical on her first breath without the vest.  Today, 7 years later, I may or may not put the Power Swimr swim vest back on her.  Remember this:  That was literally the VERY FIRST TIME McKenzie EVER swam without her vest!  We just happened to get lucky and catch it on video!  She deserves a few chances to get it right providing there is no safety risk and she is happy and comfortable swimming without it vs. nervous or distressed.  I think you would agree she looks happy, comfortable, and confident!

Also please note:  In the 2nd edition of Swim 101 there will be even more video examples.  You’ll also see that we have COMPLETELY ELIMINATED the Paddle Stroke.  If the child isn’t putting face in, the new lesson plan will call for another set of in-line kick practice which makes the combined skill of first-time breath holding while kicking much easier.  It also give our students extra reps on the skill they need the most work.

Hope this helps!  The 2nd Edition of Swim 101 is coming in February.  For a limited time, it can be pre-ordered it at 20% off at www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com

SwimmingSafercerely,

Jim Reiser, Executive Director

Swim Lessons University

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December 15, 2013 at 2:03 am Comments (0)

The Art of Teaching Children to Swim

The art of teaching children to swim means that sometimes you have to be creative, independent, spontaneous, practical, and even rule-bending.  In the end, it’s about what works best, what engages your students  the most.  One of the easiest ways you can make learning fun for young learners is to tap into their imagination.  Research from the John Hopkins School of Education illustrates the significant benefits from tapping into the imagination as it also stimulates a calming effect on a child’s emotions.  How is this instrumental to those of us teaching preschoolers that are non-swimmers (Swim 101)?

This calming effect turns on more circuits between “the feeling and thinking brain,” and integrates the right prefrontal lobe’s direct responses to emotions with the left prefrontal lobe’s ability to regulate these emotions. This allows the brain’s CEO to do its’ job, helping the child:

•         better control his or her impulses

•         manage negative emotions such as fear and frustration

•         soothe or comfort his or herself

•         move out of defensive behaviors

When you teach the Swim Lessons University Swim 101 curriculum to young children, you will experience the beauty of this approach first hand.  And when you can make swimming lessons for young children more playful; when you have the children engaged and using their imaginations, you are creating an atmosphere where your students are bound to excel and experience the joy of learning to swim.

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 www.SwimLessonsUniversity.com  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 9, 2013 at 4:50 pm Comments (0)

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