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)

Learn to Swim Progession for Infants and Toddlers, Stage Two

As the young toddler demonstrates his confidence is increasing, he is becoming more relaxed in the swim, and his kick is beginning to provide some propulsion, it is time then to move to Stage Two of the Surface Swim progression.  This stage will help take his level of competence to another level.  This doesn’t happen overnight, and be prepared to give plenty of child-focused practice opportunities in all stages of learning, always putting the child’s happiness and willingness to perform the skills FIRST.

“CHILD HAPPINESS FIRST–TASK MASTERY SECOND!”  All Swim Lessons University Instructors are trained using this philosophy as the cornerstone of success for the child first, and the program second.  At SLU, we believe toddlers and young children can learn to swim and be safer in the water without a forceful, negative approach.  The approach can be progressive, but children should progress at their pace so they not only learn to swim, but that they learn to both respect and love the water.  Now back to Stage Two…

During Stage Two as seen in the video below, you can see that the INSTRUCTOR GOES UNDERWATER HIMSELF wearing goggles so he can  OBSERVE THE TODDLER EVER SO CLOSELY.   The moment the toddler appears that he is ready to come up for a breath (in this case the 24 month old lifts his head on his own), the instructor calmly and gently assists him so that he can easily get his breath, avoiding the chance of him taking in any water.   This is Stage Two and plenty of time should be spent on it before moving to Stage Three where we introduce the “Pop up Breath.”  Since this child demonstrated he is capable of lifting the head for a breath after swimming with the face down for several seconds, this is a great indicator he is ready to move to Stage Three and learn the Pop-up Breath.   If the instructor needs to assist the child from the face down position, it may be better to continue with stage two since he simply may not be physically strong enough or skilled enough to start on stage three.

I sure hope this video and blog help you and or your staff!  But please know these are just glimpses of the footage and instruction you will see in the 2nd Edition of the new Parent & Tot Instructor Training DVD

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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September 26, 2012 at 3:25 pm Comments (0)