The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

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First-time Submersion and Breath Control: Child Development Milestones & Teaching Implications

As professional swimming instructors, we would be ignorant not to spend some time understanding, learning, and embracing the developmental characteristics of the students we teach. Why? If you look at them, you will see that there are significant teaching implications based on the generally accepted milestones experienced throughout the childhood years.

Children of the ages of 3 and 4 are experiencing what are known as the “magic years.” The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that 3 and 4 year olds love “Fantasy” and “Pretend Play,” as our young student’s imaginations are running wild. Early childhood educators also agree that by age three, children are becoming more independent, both physically and emotionally. One teaching implication is to give them time to ‘get things right’ or do it for themselves.

This research-based advice also should remind swimming instructors to never forget that patience is one of your most important teaching tools. For first-time submersion, one teaching implication would be to allow your students to decide when “they” want to go underwater, while providing lots of encouragement, praise, and support .

Here is an example of an activity where both children are benefitting from the recommendations just mentioned:
1. The 4-year old girl is being given time to get it right for herself without being pressured.
2. Both children are enjoying the activity that can be individualized for first-time submersion and breath control as “pretend play” is being utilized to make learning fun.

Hope you enjoyed today’s blog!

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!

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November 11, 2013 at 3:30 pm
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