The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

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Butterfly Teaching Tips and Wetsuits for Swimming Lessons

Today’s blog is in a Q & A Format, as I answer questions from a North Carolina Instructor:

N.C. Instructor: When you are manipulating a student’s arms on the “Butterfly-Inchworm” stationary drill (as seen in the Butterfly 301/302/303 Instructor Certification Video Course),  are your legs squeezing the child’s left leg, or both legs? I worry only slightly because I know that there are some parents who might be uncomfortable with their child in this position with a male teacher. Am I being really weird worrying about this? I will have 3 male swim instructors on my staff. The rest are female.

Swim Professor:  Great Question.  In the stationary drill, I do have the student wrap his legs around one of my legs.  I do this in order to isolate part of the skill so their is less distraction.  However, I do advise male instructors especially to AVOID this technique  for the same reasons you mentioned.  Even though our instructors are not alone with the students and their parents and other spectators can see that this is a teaching technique, it is not worth taking the chance that the instructor’s intentions would even be debated.

N.C. Instructor:  I’ve always just had the kids stand on the pool bottom while I manipulate their arms on a butterfly stationary drill. I guess it isn’t as good as in a horizontal position since the kids aren’t really able to “feel” the proper recovery and body dolphin motion in a vertical position.

Swim Professor:   There is certainly nothing wrong with having the students stand to practice the recovery phase of the stroke as part of the learning progression.  But yes, the more realistic the position the better going forward.  In other words, you may find that going through the movement while the student stands on the bottom of the pool is very valuable to introduce the skill.   But as you repeat that in future classes it may lose some of it’s value, and you may find that it is more important for them to start “feeling it” while in the actual swimming position.

 N.C. Instructor:  My last question is: What kind of wetsuit do you wear while teaching? I like yours that you wear in the videos. It looks comfortable and warm, but not too constricting.

Swim Professor:  I personally prefer the Henderson 3mm Front Zip Shorty.  I got mine from Diver’s Supply for $120.00.  Not cheap, but the front zip is much more comfortable for teaching than a traditional rear zip you would use for scuba diving.  For your students, you can find wetsuits for as little as $30 online at  We really like the Konfidence Warma Wetsuit for children.  There are several wetsuit styles available that are great for swimming lessons, including wetsuits for babies and wetsuit shorties for kids.


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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November 6, 2013 at 1:59 pm
  • January 3, 2014 at 2:36 amJacqueline

    Hi! I’ve been following your weblog for some time now and finally got the
    courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Dallas Texas!
    Just wanted to tell you keep up the fantastic job!

  • January 7, 2014 at 5:10 pmJim Reiser

    Thank you!

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