The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

Swim Lessons Results are Dependent Upon Effective Communication

So last night my wife Heather and I were winding down and watching reruns of “King of Queens” and she fell asleep on the couch.  I decided to head to bed and let her sleep.  Well a few hours later, our five-year old Nolan goes downstairs and decides to curl up on the couch with her in the middle of the night.  He then proceeds to wake her up and asks:  “Can we go upstairs and sleep in your bed?

Heather says: “Okay, but just for little bit.  Then you need to go back to sleep in your bed like a big boy.  You go ahead up and warm the bed up for us and I’ll be up in 5 minutes.”

Nolan responds: “I have no idea what you’re saying to me!” LOL!

This leads me to our choice of words and lingo when teaching young children to swim.  Too often we try to impress the parents and use advanced terminology.  While it may sound good to the parents, more often than not our young students don’t understand what we are trying to convey to them.  In my 5-Year old Nolan’s words:, “I have no idea what you’re saying to me!”   If they don’t understand what we are telling them, learning will be hindered.  On the contrary, if a Swim Instructor uses the K.I.S.S.  technique (Keep it Simple Stupid), children will learn to swim faster.

If you’d like to learn the teaching cues and terminology we have tested and tried specifically for children in our Swim Lessons University courses, visit our website and learn more about our Swim Instructor certifications, DVD and Online video courses, and swim lesson plans today!

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January 19, 2015 at 11:05 am Comments (0)

American Camp Association Swim Lessons Provider

The American Camp Association has added Swim Lessons University as one of the ACA’s nationally recognized Learn-to-Swim providers. Says Rhonda Mickelson, ACA Director of Standards, “we are pleased to announce Swim Lessons University is now an officially recognized provider for ACA swim lessons programs and swim instructor certification.”

Swim Lessons University makes training swimming instructors more convenient and affordable. Through video-based instructor training and online certification testing, many organizations are looking to Swim Lessons University for their services. Barb Limbo, Aquatics Specialist and Supervisor for Rapid City Recreation in South Dakota says, “The ease of training staff is great. The videos not only show the instructors how to interact with the children, they show real classes and real teachers using the actual skill progressions. Executive director Jim Reiser is wonderful and has been great to work with on the switch at our facility–making our transition much easier.“ Teri Gotro, Recreation Director in El Dorado Hills, California, posted her thoughts and video samples of her instructors using the SLU curriculum on her YouTube page.

If you would like to learn how to become a Swim Lessons University Certified Swimming Instructor, or how to implement the SLU curriculum at your facility–visit the SLU website or call the SLU National Office toll free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946).

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January 30, 2013 at 11:03 pm Comment (1)

Swim Instructor Training Manual

Swim Lessons University, in cooperation with the World Aquatic Babies and Children (WABC) Network, is now accepting applications for Instructor-Trainers.   SLU has also just released its brand new Learn-to-Swim IT Manual, which contents includes: How to administer the SLU Course at your Facility, Course Administration and Application Process and Fees, Swim Lessons Level Descriptions, How to Conduct Skill Sessions, the Practicum and Mentoring program, Acknowledging Course Participation, Swim Instructor Certification Requirements, Evaluating Teaching Skills, Safety Recommendations, Class Sizes, and Supervision.  The appendixes also include an Instructor Assessment/15 Point Analysis as well the Learn-to-Swim Professional License.

Swim Lessons University would like to offer a SPECIAL THANKS to the facilities and program coordinators who have been serving as the “living laboratories” while additional components were being developed.

Barbara Limbo, Rapid City Recreation – Rapid City, South Dakota

Shannon O’Brien, Charleston Country Schools / L.A.P.S. Program – Charleston, SC

Anne Marie Boehlert, City of Shelton Recreation – Shelton, Connecticut

Teri Gotro, El Dorado Hills Recreation– El Dorado Hills, California

In addition, the following aquatic programs are now proudly utilizing the Swim Lessons University curriculum and instructor training materials:  City of Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, City of Sparks, Nevada, Helper City, Utah, City of Columbus, Nebraska, City of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, City of San Carlos, California, City of Manhattan Beach, California, City of Natchitoches, Louisiana, City of Manitou Springs, Fox Valley YMCA, Springfield YMCA, Sarasota YMCA, Southern Alabama University, Surburban Seahawks, Newton Square, PA, I Swim U.,  Safety Before Skill Swim School, AZ, Montana Swim School, Orlando Metro Gymnastics & Swim School, Orlando, FL, Swim Kids, FL, Sparkling Pool Services, NJ, NY & PA, and many more private swimming instructors, swim schools, pool management companies, and Y’s. Swim Lessons University sincerely thanks you for your support and loyalty.

For more information on how you can offer the Swim Lessons University at your facility, contact Swim Lessons University today at 803-665-8709 or email

Here is Recreation Supervisor and Aquatic Director, Teri Gotro of El Dorado Hills, CA–speaking about her experience with Swim Lessons University AND sharing some video highlights of her SLU Certified staff in action

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December 24, 2012 at 3:30 pm Comments (0)

Swim Instructor Mentoring Program

When using the video-based Swim Lessons University Instructor Training and Certification program, we also advise that SLU programs incorporate a mentoring program for new swimming instructors.   In addition to the invaluable opportunity to train by watching the courses actually being taught, we believe nothing ever can truly take the place of real experience.  This is where the mentoring program comes to play.

At the Swim Lessons Company, I require my teachers to shadow either myself and/or several of our senior instructors.   I like to have our swim instructor candidates shadow four different experienced Swim Lessons University instructors on four different days for a total of 12 hours.  That 12 hours of practicum work, of course, is in addition to their 24 hours of classroom video-based training and online swim instructor testing.  This gives the new teacher “hands-on” experience with not only four different instructors teaching from the same lesson plans and curriculum, it also gives them experience working with a variety of children, personalities, levels, and age groups.

Here is an email I send to my Senior SLU Instructors when the mentoring program is about to begin.  This way they know what is expected of them as the new teachers participate in their practicums.

Dear Staff,

Please note that I have begun scheduling new teachers at various locations to do their practicums with many of you.  If for any reason you have to reschedule a class—please remind me if you are mentoring a teacher that night so we can let them know too.

READ INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY.  The following is a set of guidelines for how you should help break in our new teachers.  Your influence on developing their teaching skills is an instrumental part of preparing them to represent us well and deliver the superior product that SLC parents in Columbia have come to expect.

  1. Introduce the teacher to your class and tell children that he/she will be helping you today.
  2. The first time you teach any particular level, begin to show them the various supports and manipulating techniques we do and let them try it with your guidance.
  3. Without taking away from your class, comment on the names of the exercise and on the cues we use, BUT for the most part you are demonstrating how we do it AND the teacher-in-training is just “shadowing” you.  Don’t overteach them, let them watch and learn and be a little “hands on.”

Once the teacher candidate has settled in, so to speak–take turns with them starting the children.  You always present the new exercise or activity, give the cues/instructions, give the start signal and give feedback AND THEN let the teacher candidate try it for the second practice trial.  REPEAT for each exercise or activity that we do.

* For the Parent & Me swim classes— you teach the class, however, get teacher candidate involved in the holds, passes, safety skills, etc.


If you have any questions please let me know!  Thanks you!

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February 9, 2012 at 3:58 pm Comments (0)

Swim Instructor Certification Alternatives

As the American Red Cross raises it’s fees for swim lesson programs and it’s Water Safety Instructor certification, the interest in an alternative swim instructor certification is on the rise.   One of those alternatives is the Swim Lessons University Swimming Instructor training program.

Barb Limbo, Aquatic Director for the Rapid City Aquatics Recreation Department in South Dakota comments, “We have adapted the Swim Lesson University program. The ease of training staff is great. The videos show the instructors how to interact with children, not just show the progressions of the strokes.   Swim Lessons University is wonderful and has been great to work with on the switch at our facility–making our transition much easier.”

There are several real advantages, in addition to it being more cost effective solution for recreation departments, YMCA’s, and swim schools.   To name a few, all training can be done in-house.  SLU training features video-based courses so swim instructor candidates get to learn from watching real learn-to-swim classes and expert instructors vs. the traditional textbook approach.  Swim Lessons University training is also very convenient as swim teachers do all their testing online.

Former USA Olympian, 1988 Silver Medalist, and swim school owner Beth Barr speaks of Jim Reiser and Swim Lessons University:

“Your appreciation and knowledge of the sport, your business sense and your understanding of children and how they learn is revolutionizing the swim lesson industry.   Your efforts have not only given me the confidence to start BARRacuda Swim Works, they have also reminded me of the critical importance of our profession. Your passion is apparent and catching – it is important to teach children and their parents how to enjoy the water, safely, and to help them develop a skill they can enjoy their entire life.”

Jim Reiser, Swim Lessons University’s Executive Director, just received the President’s Award for his contributions to learn-to-swim world wide at the World Aquatic Babies & Children Conference.   The conference was held in Clearwater Beach, Florida at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort where 17 countries were represented.

For more information on adapting the Swim Lessons University curriculum and Swim Instructor certification program, contact Jim Reiser at or call 803-665-8709.

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October 26, 2011 at 3:17 pm Comments (0)

Swim Lessons University Conference Review

Well our Swim Lessons University Swim Instructor Conference is Las Vegas in the books, but the New Orleans Swim Instructors Conference is just around the corner!  Of course if you missed these, we will hold two more conferences this spring, one in Orlando in February and one in NY in March.

As in the years past, Las Vegas was a great success.  We had a group of swim teachers from Eunice’s Swim School in Canada make the trip, as well as swim instructors from Georgia, Arizona, Texas, California, Utah, and of course Nevada.

Here are a few reviews we’ve received lately on the Swim Lessons University Conference:

“Hi coach Jim…thanks. loved the conference btw…let me tell you, this whole week things have been different at work for us. we’re all working a one big team now. so thank you!”   _ Sally P. – Eunice’s Swim School, Canada

I loved Jim Reiser‘s conference last year in Las Vegas. Don’t miss his conference coming up in New Orleans in a few weeks! I have used many ideas that I learned from Jim over the past years, and the kids and parents enjoyed how they become better swimmers and safer in the water through fun and play. I loved how he helped me learn to be a better child centered teacher! – Gina, Katy, Texas

I’ll bet everyone is GETTING EXCITED about the SLU Conference in New Orleans! The host hotel is in the heart of the French Quarter (at an amazing rate, I might add), and it’s a great way to improve and/or sharpen your skills, meet amazing people who share your commitment to teaching and water safety… And in NEW ORLEANS? Need I say more? One of the MOST AWESOME cities anywhere!   – Sue H., Rockledge, FL

“It is your willingness to treat everyone like your most important customer and your commitment to sharing your knowledge to help us be better aquatic professionals that ensures the you will continue to be a resource throughout the aquatic community to many for many years!” – Victoria C. – Middle Georgia Little Swimmers

I want to extend my sincere thanks to all the learn to swim teachers and aquatic directors who have attended our recent swim instructor workshops.  I look forward to seeing you again and meeting more great people who share the same passion as we do.  “Do what you love, love what you do.” How could you feel anything else when you can make a difference in a child’s life?  Helping children develop a lifelong love affair with the water is the best feeling in the world.

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September 16, 2011 at 2:51 pm Comments (0)

Swim Instructor Online Training

Swim Lessons University training videos, testing, and swim instructor certifications are now available online!

  • Have you ever had trouble getting your entire staff of swim teachers together for training?  In other words, you would have 2 or 3 instructors not show up, resulting in YOU having to teach the entire training session over just for those few that were absent?


  • Would you like your current Red Cross Water Safety Instructors, Lifeguards, SwimAmerica coaches, YMCA Swim Instructors, etc. to further their background, add to their credentials, and improve the quality of your learn to swim classes?

Swim Lessons University can help and we now feature online videos and online testing in addition to the actual DVDs.   Not to mention, you can pick which SLU courses you want your swim instructors to take!  Pick one, two, three, or all seven–that’s up to you!  You’re the boss!

Up until March 1, 2011, we were basically able to offer the DVD course to purchase, and then after showing it to your staff, you would send them to the Swim Lessons University website to take the online tests for just an additional $10.

But now you have a CHOICE!  For smaller swim schools, you may still find the previously mentioned method of training and testing the most feasible.  However, if you have a large school or you simply like the convenience, you can have your swim instructors purchase the online video and test for $35.00.

Check it out today!  Here’s a link that will show you the options for ordering the TEACH LIKE A PRO Instructor’s Course, for an example.

Questions!  Email me for a FREE phone appointment at

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March 3, 2011 at 12:32 am Comments (3)

Swim Lesson Myth: Children should close their mouth while in the water.

“Close your mouth!” Many parents (and even swim teachers) remind their children when taking swimming lessons.  I assume they are afraid that their child will choke on the water, or worse . . ..  But truth be told, while you may not want your child swallowing the pool water to reduce the risk of a water born illness (see Noteworthy at the end of the article), getting water in one’s mouth comes with the territory of swimming.

Take a look at the underwater photo of my 19-month-old Jeb and me on the Swim Lessons University homepage. We’re both smiling, and our mouths are actually open.  Neither Jeb nor I am choking on the water!  Amazing?!?!  Not at all . . . We can all have water in our mouths, and without even thinking about it, not allow it to enter the throat/pharynx.  So when your child has his/her mouth open above or underwater, it’s simply a sign that he or she is relaxed, and instinctively, he/she will likely not choke on or swallow the water.

What if you or a child does swallow a little water?  Is he/she at risk of drowning?  Of course not!   It’s no different than taking a drink.  As the water enters the throat/pharynx, the epiglottis closes and prevents the water from entering the respiratory pathways and the lungs, and it enters the stomach instead.  Here is a  good video clip to illustrate how it works.

So if your child or student has their mouth open, he is simply at ease and very relaxed. He is not going to “consciously” breathe the water into the throat, which may cause him to cough.  This usually occurs because a little panic sets, but usually the younger the child, the less common this occurs. The older the child, or the more aware the child is of what is going on, the more common it is for a child to panic and cough a little on the water.  This is why by age three, Swim Lessons University Swim Instructor Training teaches instructors to make sure children are choosing to go underwater at their own will, and to never force an involuntary submersion on a child.  They will go under happily when they are ready!

When you or a child coughs or chokes on a little bit of water, while it may be a little scary, it is not dangerous.   If you ever see a swim instructor “laugh it off” instead of coddle and bring more attention to it, the swim teacher is not being insensitive.  Rather, the swim instructor is redirecting the student’s attention vs. bringing more unnecessary attention to it.   This is also the reason why parents and teachers shouldn’t point out to a child that his mouth is open and instruct him to close it as if he is in serious danger.  Why scare him and make him nervous over something that’s not worth being nervous over? You would be literally un-teaching what you want to teach.  Of course the purpose of this article is to give you a better understanding of the facts, so that you can help your young swimmers have  happy swim lesson experiences!

Noteworthy: Experts do agree that you should avoid swallowing pool water.  Chlorine does kill waterborne germs, but chlorine levels fluctuate in pools, especially busy, crowded pools.  And germs are not equally susceptible to chlorine–some germs take longer to destroy than others.

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January 26, 2011 at 9:50 pm Comments (2)

Swim Instructor Training

What is the most important component of a successful swim school or swim lessons program?   The swim instructors of course!  Without competent swim teachers, the swim lessons are a flop!  In many cases, the swim lessons are even a waste of time.  In some others, they are actually dangerous.

There are multiple factors that affect the bottom line, but none are more important than the quality of the swimming instruction.  Your swim instructors are the lifeblood of your business.  Your swim instructors are the reason a child enjoys learning to swim, or does not.  You swim instructors determine if you have repeat business, or not.  Most importantly, your swim instructors determine if the children learn to swim–or not!

What can you do to ensure that your lessons, your program, or your swim school is top notch?   Swim Instructor Training is the most important ingredient to your success.  If you’re a business owner, exposing yourself to as much as you can is extremely valuable.

One piece of practical advice I will offer you first off is: Don’t go broke doing it!  Children have been learning to swim for centuries.  There is no one magical method.  Most reputable methods work–providing the instructor “understands” the concepts and applications, has the right personality for the job, and is committed to being a great instructor.  One’s commitment and desire to excel conquers all, but a great training program will help you and all of your instructors be more successful.

We are all built differently.  Some styles and approaches appeal to some of us more than others.  You have to decide what program(s) appeal to you most.   There are many factors, including but not limited to:

  • Affordability– How much money can you afford to allocate to training your staff each year.  How much of your own paycheck are you willing to give up to train staff?
  • Practicality – How much paperwork will you need to submit (Again, plan for growth.  It may seem minimal if you have 50 students, but what if you grow to 500 students?)
  • Convenience – How convenient is it to train your instructors (once again, plan for growth.  It’s one thing to train 5 or 6 swim instructors; it’s another to train 25-30 instructors or even 50-60 instructors).  I would like to mention as of February 15, 2011, Swim Lesson s University will offer its’ training video courses, testing, and certification programs online in addition to the DVD’s and Online Testing programs currently offered.  So no matter where your teachers are, they will be able to complete this training as either a complement to what you are already doing or as a complete training program.
  • Effectiveness – How effective is the training?  Upon completion, will your new teachers be skillful swimming instructors?  Will they actually know what to do and how to do it?  Will the children love their classes?  Remember, the job your swim instructors do represents YOU!

As a swim school owner, I have exposed myself to nearly every program out there.  What has worked for me personally has evolved and changed over the years, inspiring the development of Swim Lessons University.   To this day, I can tell you every bit of training I have ever done, every clinic I have attended, every teacher and coach who I have worked with has helped me in some way, shape, or form.

Personally, I have a master’s degree in Physical Education with an emphasis in Motor Skill Acquisition.  Until going full-time with my swim school and Swim Lessons University, I was the Professor of Aquatics at the University of South Carolina for 12 years. As a former USA Swimming Club Coach, I developed numerous nationally ranked age group swimmers and led Team Carolina to back-to-back state championships in 2004 and 2005 (a team I literally started from scratch in 1994).

Having used multiple learn-to-swim methods, having taught beginners of all ages (infants through adults), as well as coached numerous elite competitive swimmers, I was inspired to develop Swim Lessons University.   I wanted to put together a training program that would be as practical as possible, one that would be easy to administer, one that would be affordable, and most importantly–one that would develop great swim teachers for children!  That’s what Swim Lessons University is all about.

There is so much great information out there, but most swim school owners tell me that they have so many responsibilities that they don’t want to reinvent the wheel.   So with Swim Lessons University, I have tried to combine my physical education background (which included training physical education teachers), as well as my learn-to-swim experiences (in and out of the water)–and create something special and unique.

Nevertheless, I would recommend that every swim school owner utilize many of the fantastic resources out there.  Here are some of my favorites:

World Aquatic Babies and Children is an amazing network for you to join.  Led by the National Swim School Association founder, Steve Graves, WABC has even endorsed Swim Lessons University training and WABC is our official partner.  WABC offers conferences in the U.S. every other year, and produces a phenomenal newsletter every other month.   In addition, the WABC website is full of resources for swimming teachers, including pod casts, articles, and much more!

American Swimming Coaches Association is the premier coaches association in the world.  Led by executive director John Leonard, I am their biggest fan.  I would not be the coach/teacher I am today without them.  I think so much of ASCA that I am a Lifetime Member.  I continue to attend the annual Swim Coaches World Clinics, as well as speak for their SwimAmerica and American Learn to Swim Teachers conferences.

United States Swimming, in which I served as one of their club coaches for 12 years here in South Carolina, has an unlimited number of resources.  Most recently, USA Swimming launched the “Make a Splash” initiative helping my local Swim Lessons Company reach a new demographic that we hadn’t been reaching before.  This awesome initiative creates opportunity for all economic and ethnic backgrounds.  I should also note that Swim Lessons University is an approved curriculum/program of Make a Splash, which is one component that can help afford you with the ability to be a local “Make a Splash” partner program.

United States Swim School Association is another fabulous swim school association, led by Sue Mackie, in which to belong.  You can take business courses through USSSA, infant-toddler training, and maybe most importantly, become part of a wonderful network of swim school owners and instructors just like you.  I often have the opportunity to serve as speaker for USSSA conferences, as I will this spring in Newport Beach, CA at their Spring Workshop. Hope to see you there!

As a business owner, I think you should try to take advantage of all these resources as I do.  I believe that swim school owners and directors who are new to the swim school industry should also network and find a really good mentor or three!  This has been invaluable to my own growth, so much that I try to give back in this area as much as I possibly can.  After mentoring dozens of swim school owners, and because my schedule has become so busy with Swim Lessons University, The Swim Lessons Company, and being a proud father of three young boys–I now help and share mostly through a very reasonable  “One-on-one” phone consultation service.  It is currently so reasonable (and I want it to be) that is probably less expensive than most of your private swim lessons!  I should also mention I can do these consultations “face-to-face” one the day before or the day after any Swim Lessons University Conference. My next Swim Lessons University Conference will be in Orlando, Florida on February 19, 2011.  Hope to see you there!  This will be the last “One-day SLU conference” of until next fall.

The way you train your swim instructors is up to you, of course.  I just hope that some of the suggestions and swim teacher training ideas that I have offered you today will help you.  After all, we’re all in this together, and we are providing a service that can not only make a difference a child’s life, the result of our service could save a child’s life!  What is more rewarding than that?

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December 28, 2010 at 3:18 pm Comment (1)

Online Swim Teacher Training available through Swim Lessons University & WABC!

In addition to membership discounts for your new WABC (World Aquatic Babies & Children Network) membership or membership renewal,  your staff will soon be able to use the Swim Lessons University ONLINE TESTS based on the SLU DVD’s.    For just $10 per teacher, your teachers will be able to take a 25 question test and get a Certificate of Completion endorsed by SLU and WABC.

While your teacher must score 100% pct.  to receive the certificate (multiple choice),  they will not have to retake the entire test.  Instead, the questions they missed will pop up for them to answer again.  Once all the questions are answered correctly, the certificate will appear with their name on the certificate and the authorized signatures of Jim Reiser and Steve Graves.

The “Teach Like a Pro” Certification Test will be available in the next couple weeks with others coming soon, including: Parent and Me, Swim 101,  Swim Strokes 201, Breaststroke 301, and Butterfly 301 all to follow this year.

Feel free to email me with any questions at

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February 11, 2010 at 1:00 am Comments (0)