The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

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Learn to Swim Progression for Infants and Toddlers, Stage One

At Swim Lessons University, we take infants and toddlers through a child-focused, individual and naturally paced progression. Here is Stage One of the “Surface Swim,” where you can watch me help 21-month old, Saylor get comfortable with this first step in the learn to swim process.

There are two topics that are critical that I would like to point out:

First watch how I go under water, wearing my favorite Finis goggles, and keep my eyes on Saylor’s face to ensure she is happy throughout the process. I never let her go, nor do I take her under the water. Humans swim at the surface. Therefore, when you introduce swimming to young infant and toddlers, it is especially important that you avoid taking them under the surface or and avoid dunking them. You gently place the face in the water after giving a 1-2-3 start command.

Secondly, watch how I bring Saylor up for air as soon as I sense she is ready. Don’t overstay your welcome. Their facial expressions and their body language tells you everything you need to know in order to keep the task child-focused.

Once your student becomes comfortable enough with stage one, you take them to stage two where you actually let them go and let them propel themselves through the water. Nevertheless, you are underwater with your goggles on and ready to help them to the surface as soon as you see they are ready. All three stages can be found in Swim Lessons University’s  comprehensive video course for training and certifying swimming instructors, “Parent and Tot” – How To Teach Toddlers 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  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 24, 2012 at 1:56 pm
  • June 10, 2013 at 3:19 pmCarrie

    Hello Jim,

    I’m interested in learning a swim lesson approach for babies and/or young children that is not forceful, or cause tears, but rather works with children’s natural curiosity to explore the water.

    As an example of what I don’t want: My daughter at age 3 was super excited about the water, and naturally taking risks and dunking herself. Then she began swim lessons through the cite, that claimed to be a great approach, Red Cross certified, etc that forced the children to be dunked. It was traumatic for her just seeing the other children crying. She wanted to rescue them all, and was stressed that she wasn’t allowed to help them. She also was very afraid of being dunked. It was quite the ordeal. I discontinued the lessons. They were getting in the way of her natural inclination to explore the water; making something natural become traumatic.

    On the other hand, she was just fine jumping away from me in the pool, which inevitable led to her “dunking” herself. However, when she dunked herself, it put me in the role of “rescuer” rather than “dunker”. I’d pull her up, she’d cough, and be ready to jump away again. Allowing her to take “parent supervised risks” on her own terms, kept her wanting to explore the water, and in a mater of weeks she’d lost her fear and learned to hold her breath under water.

    Is there a method you could suggest that facilitates this nature curiosity in children and is gentle? How might I go about getting certified to teach small parent/child lessons from my pool or the pool of other families?

  • June 19, 2013 at 3:27 pmJim Reiser

    I will send you an email 🙂

    Jim Reiser

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