The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

Have You Seen that the American Academy of Pediatrics UPDATED their Guidelines?

Pediatric Drowning Prevention Guidelines Updated

By Chris Emery, Contributing Writer, MedPage Today
Published: May 24, 2010
Reviewed by Zalman S. Agus, MD; Emeritus Professor
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and
Dorothy Caputo, MA, RN, BC-ADM, CDE, Nurse Planner
Action Points  

  • Note that the American Academy of Pediatrics has updated guidelines to prevent childhood drowning.
  • Explain the risks involved with inflatable and portable pools to interested parents.

With summer around the corner, the American Academy of Pediatrics has released updated information and recommendations on water safety and drowning prevention for children.In a new policy statement and technical report published online May 24 in Pediatrics, an academy committee suggested a range of precautionary measures, including child-proofing of backyard pools, enrolling children in swimming lessons, and installation of devices to prevent children from becoming entrapped by pool and spa drains. The new guidelines were accompanied by a technical report that provided more detailed background information.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has decided to revise this policy statement because of new information and research regarding the World Health Organization’s classification of drowning, drain-entrapment and hair-entanglement injuries, dangers of inflatable and portable pools, and the possible benefit of swimming lessons for young children,” Jeffrey Weiss, MD, and other members of the AAP committee wrote.

To read the rest of the article, go to Med Page Today.

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May 24, 2010 at 7:36 pm Comments (0)

Is Your Swim School Participating in the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson?

Tomorrow, Thursday, 5/20/10, is your last chance to register your swim school to participate in The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson.   What a great way to get your local media involved in promoting swimming lessons as one of the most important ways to prevent drownings.   Make no mistake about it, drowning prevention requires  layered approach . . . but you know as well as I do, swimmers are much less likely to drown than non-swimmers!
The Swim Lessons Company and our Swim Lessons University certified staff will be part of this awesome effort by WLSL.   WLSL has will provides you with fantastic materials and press releases, not to mention they will send your local market interviews with Rowdy Gaines and Janet Evans talking about the event to help you promote your efforts through your local TV News Media.
Don’t wait, enroll today!  Here’s a sample email blast that I sent my local swim lesson parents about the event.   Because schools are still in session, we are focusing on the younger children and will teach 26 children at 10:00AM (WLSL minimum is 25):
Dear SLC Families & Friends:
I would like to have 26 students (max. of 26 spots) join me and 8 of my instructors as we’re are going to be part of The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson™ Thursday, June 3rd at 10:00AM.   In a nutshell, The Swim Lessons Company (PAC Lexington location) will be one of over a hundred swim schools around the globe teaching a swim lesson simultaneously and attempting to set a new Guinness World Record!
As always, our classes will be strictly limited in size so your child will get a great class and may even be on TV.   I’m sure there will be national coverage on the event with Rowdy Gaines being the national spokesperson!   Locally, I already have WIS and ABC-25 interested in covering The Swim Lessons Company’s local contribution to the record.  The class is FREE but YOU MUST secure your child’s spot online at as all classes are strictly limited in size.
Here is how I tentatively have the course set up:
10:00AM – 10:15AM Jim will give an engaging Water Safety Presentation to all
children and families.  PLEASE arrive
by 9:40 AM!
10:15AM – 10:45AM The following schedule is online and you MUST register in advance, BUT THE CLASS IS FREE!   And again, please arrive by 9:40AM.
Section 1:   Parent & Me Small Group (Coach Jim Reiser and/or Coach Jody Langdon) –  6 spots
Section 2A: Swim 101 Trio (Coach Michelle Brown) – 3 spots
Section 2B: Swim 101 Trio (Coach Sara McCart) – 3 spots
Section 3A: Swim 101 Trio (Coach Drew Clark) – 3 spots
Section 3B: Swim 101 Trio (Coach Annie Flick) – 3 spots
Section 4:   Swim 102 (Coach Jason Jacobs &  Marin Peplinski) – 8 spots
* Coach Michelle Klaus  – floater

You can learn more out about the program at
BUT you must register on ours at
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May 19, 2010 at 6:32 pm Comment (1)

Did You Hear Colin Cowerd’s Rant about Coach Disrupting Chemistry?

When I have a chance I really like to listen to “The Herd” on ESPN radio.   In fact, now that I get it on cable I will record it and even watch it when I’m winding down at the end of a long day.   Recently the radio show’s host Colin Cowerd talked about how the Utah Jazz coach made a mistake by disrupting the team’s chemistry in the middle of what was appearing to be a big comeback.   Utah was making this comeback with a group of back-ups who were playing really well together.  However, once a starter or two went back in the game, the comeback died.  Very interesting, I thought.

How does this apply to our swim schools?  Do you have a staff that works well together? Or have you ever had a staff where you had one or two “bad apples” that brought the rest of your team of instructors down?  Or cause friction?  Or jealousy?

I almost had that this year myself.   I had two teachers that were causing problems within their first month of employment.  My solution:  Get them off the schedule as quickly as possible!   How can you not?  They can literally destroy the continuity of your staff, set precedents you don’t want set, and give you a summer full of headaches you don’t need, or even ruin that BIG COMEBACK you were about to make!

Let me tell you about my two “bad apples:”

Employee #1, we’ll call Logan.  She was actually doing a good job teaching.  She had a strong work ethic and the children seemed to like her.   So where was the problem?  For one, she “thought” she was the best thing since the invention of the light bulb.  She thought she was irreplaceable and could do no wrong.  By the way, we all have some terrific employees, I know I do and when they leave I absolutely hate to see them go—but they can all be replaced.  I can go back through the years and give you numerous examples of employees for every year that I have been in business that I loved and hated to see them move on.  I wanted them on my staff forever.   But I can also tell you about employees that I have right now who are every bit as fantastic.

Back to Logan.  To put the icing on the cake, she was so “above” everyone else including me that she actually refused to call me to discuss her summer employment plans because “school came first” and she was busy studying.   This all started when she replied to a text I sent her and she said that she needed at least 30 hours or she needed to look for a second job.  Red flag #2!   Where is her commitment level at for the lessons I was about to schedule her for thru mid June?   So I simply asked for a contract thru at least June 15 so that I could have the peace of mind that when class started, the children would have a teacher.  When I asked for the commitment, she replied “I love this job” BUT “I’m still looking for another job” via text message.  I replied, “I want to talk to you so I can get a better feel where we stand.”  Again, another text, I can’t talk.  I’m in the library studying for a test.   I replied, “I need 5 minutes.”  I was leaning toward giving her the benefit of the doubt if I could hear what her plans with the other job were and knew we had an understanding. So I sent her another text, “I am putting Summer One classes online at midnight tonight and I need to talk to you before I do that.”   No call.  Can you believe she was shocked when she wasn’t on the schedule?   I hope she found that other job she wanted!  When you have an employee not willing to call you back to discuss their commitment, it spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E!  No matter how well she teaches, you’re business and team of instructors are better off without her.

Employee #2, we’ll call Judy, was doing a decent job teaching BUT was as LAZY as they come.  In training just a few weeks ago, I stressed to my staff that if they did not have a class, they needed to at least “look busy.”  Help another teacher with their class, hose the deck, organize the equipment, etc.   The week after training she was sunbathing while on the clock.  I reminded her of what we went over and she said she understood.   One week later, same observation, and then the next week, complaints about her started coming in from my other employees including the deck supervisor.  Not to mention a few weeks earlier she agreed to work to help clean up the pool, do a little light landscape work, etc. as we prepared to open our outdoor pool.   I had 6 different teachers helping that day.  She stood out as being one who didn’t want to be there (though she wanted the pay), did as little as possible, and the jobs she did do were well below average (to be nice).  Where do you think she is working now?  I don’t know but I can tell you this, it’s not with us!

The truth is I really don’t like to “let go” of teachers.  To me, it’s a very difficult thing to do.  But when your gut tells you there’s something wrong and it’s only going to get worse, you have to do what’s best for your family and your business.  Before you “let someone go,” make sure you know the laws.  Make sure you have clearly explained your expectations in a training session and manual, and be certain to record the problems as they begin to occur.  As an employer, you need to protect yourself.   Make sure to do background checks.   Know the type of people you are hiring to the best of your ability.  I just heard of a business owner in my hometown that fired a guy and the guy who got fired turned around and set his home on fire and burned it to the ground!   Obviously that is an extreme case, but there are some mean, cruel people out there who really don’t care about you or your family at all.  Hopefully that guy will get locked up for a long time!

Hiring, selection, and training programs is a critical part of your business.   Hope some of these stories and tips help you.

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May 12, 2010 at 6:38 pm Comments (0)

My National Drowning Prevention Symposium Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


About the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA)

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

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