The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

Swim Instructor Feedback Mistakes

Far too often, I have found myself making the mistake of giving specific, corrective feedback first, and then using the student’s name.  The problem with this is that if you’re working with more than one student–your students really don’t know who the feedback was intended for, not to mention that your student may have not been truly listening to what you said.  By the time you say their name, well, quite frankly it may be too late.  On the other hand, if you call their name first, then give the correction–your student would immediately pay closer attention to your corrective feedback or tips.

For our complete certification course on the Foundations of Teaching and MUCH MORE specifically on Feedback Techniques, check out our “Foundations of Teaching” course on the Swim Lessons University website.

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 was 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).


March 27, 2017 at 12:43 am Comments (0)

How Swimming Instructors Should Interact with Their Students

How should swimming instructors interact with their students?  One of the most difficult aspects of teaching, especially for a new teacher, is to find the best way to interact with students.   Some young teachers err in the direction of trying to make students “like” them. The role of the teacher is not that of a “friend.” Teachers should act in a student’s best interest from the perspective of an adult. At the other extreme, some beginning teachers are so concerned with losing control of their class, they are often reluctant to communicate their humanness to students. Students want a relationship with an adult that is supportive and guiding. They want to know that the teacher cares about them and about what they do.

Teaching is largely about affect: Adults who are caring and concerned professionals who have a responsibility to (1) help students learn and (2) promote students’ personal growth.

Through the manner in which they interact with students, teachers can communicate a professional and supportive relationship with their students that says. “I care.” At Swim Lessons University, I always train instructors to follow our proven lessons plans, use our lingo, use the step-by-step progressions, etc. But while doing that, I remind them that even while there is a specific way we want you to do things, that DOES NOT CHANGE your personality. I can’t teach personality. Each of you are unique individuals and you’ll find your own way of sharing yourself with our young swimmers to promote their own growth.

Here are some ideas that should be considered:

1. Learn your students’ names and use them.

No matter how many students you teach, an essential and minimal form of recognition for students is that you know their name. Using your class roster each class really helps. But please make learning names a priority.

2. Be enthusiastic and positive about what you are doing.

Enthusiasm is contagious. Many people assume that enthusiasm is a personality trait of very outgoing or “bubbly” people.   But enthusiasm doesn’t necessarily always have to be such high-energy behavior. Students will know by the tone of your voice and the manner in which you approach a class how enthusiastic you are about what you are doing.

3. Project a caring attitude toward all students.

Caring is projected primarily through a genuine interest and recognition of each of your students. Caring is projected by an instructor through a sensitivity to the feelings of students and the significance your students place on their interactions with you. Caring swim instructors tune in to the child. Caring swim instructors do not condone misbehavior, but in dealing with misbehavior they do not undermine the integrity of the individual child as a person.

4. Reinforce basic values.  

I’m talking about honesty, tolerance, respect, and effort by modeling these behaviors, as well as reinforcing them in your swimming classes. According to Good and Brophy, 1990, when you teach a responsibility for developing prosocial behaviors, you can create personal growth. Prosocial behaviors are simply the behaviors stated above and ones that demonstrate a responsibility for helping people without being prompted by external rewards.

5. Discipline.

Do not reinforce behavior destructive to self or others by doing nothing about it. Students learn acceptable ways of interacting with each other not only by what you do, but also by what you don’t do. Values, tolerance, and respect for others are learned. Swim Instructors must find ways of communicating what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.

 6. Treat all of your students fairly.

Make it a practice to intentionally treat your students impartially. It is easy for teachers to gravitate to the more skilled students or even to the students who the teacher believes will threaten their class control. Attention to all students can be facilitated if you make a conscious effort to consider each student, and make it a point to give attention to students you may have been unintentionally slighting.

 7. Learn to be a good listener and observer of student responses.

We can easily become more attuned to our students by listening to and observing the subtle meanings of their messages communicated by the manner in which they interact with you, each other, and learning skills. This is one that I have really had to work on, and I am still not as skilled as my wife, Coach Heather. I am always stunned when she observes my classes and later points something out that I never saw. So we all have things we need to improve and while we may never be perfect at everything. Personally, I think there’s a lot of fun in the challenge to improve on something which is a weakness.

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 was 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).

February 16, 2017 at 3:04 am Comments (0)

Swim Instructor Tips Daily on Twitter!

For the first time ever–you and your staff can get FREE SWIM LESSON TEACHING TIPS each and every day simply by following me on Twitter @SwimProfessor!  Here are five examples of upcoming TIPS OF THE DAY:

    • Teach implicitly by utilizing analogies. What are your favorite analogies?
    • Praise in public. Criticize in private.
    • Want better office décor? Ask your learn-to-swim students to draw you a picture!
    • Learning to swim is a process, not an event. Reassure parents that their child is progressing well!
    • Can you embrace something to like about EVERY STUDENT? You will enjoy teaching much more when you do!

So those are just a few of more than 200 TIPS OF THE DAY that I have already written!   In addition, if you and your staff follow me on twitter–you will also get updates on BLOGS OF THE WEEK, sWIM PROFESSOR YOUTUBE VIDEOS OF THE WEEK, and SWIM LESSONS UNIVERSITY FEATURED PRODUCTS OF THE MONTH which will be DISCOUNTED at 20% OFF!

I sincerely appreciate your follows, likes, and @mentions! I promise it will be worth your while!

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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December 16, 2016 at 5:37 pm Comments (0)

5 Life-Saving Tips All Parents Should Know

Unfortunately, official statistics speak about more than 600 children drowning on a yearly basis in the U.S. alone. Drowning is the number one cause of accidental death in children ages 1 to 4 according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Done the right way, prevention can help save lives, even the lives of your own children. As a parent, it falls under your direct responsibility to make sure your small ones are safe and sound 24/7, especially when around a pool area or even inside the bathtub.child swimming

While the majority of tragic drowning accidents occur in a backyard pool, there is no telling what could happen at the beach or around the house. It is, therefore, critical to learn some life-saving tips related to being in and around the water and constantly being aware of the drowning perils around us and our children.

Tip 1: Always Keep A Close Eye On Your Children While In The Water

Be it a public swimming pool, your own swimming pool at home, a hot tub or the ocean, it is imperative to keep a constant eye on your children. In only takes 25 seconds for a child to drown, no matter how shallow the water, according to Lois Lee, an emergency-medicine specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital. Children are not experienced swimmers and they require continuous surveillance whenever they are near water. You or another responsible adult should permanently supervise their behavior and stay within touching distance so you can immediately assist them in case of emergency. Children can easily panic, get tired while swimming or playing in the water or remain stuck underwater. Do not assume you will hear your child yelling for help on a crowded beach, while playing your favorite game of poker or reading some fresh casino reviews.  In reality, children drown quietly and without making any loud noise.

Tip 2: Put Your Phone Aside

We all tend to get lost in endless Instagram scrolling sessions and ignore what is happening around us whenever we can. As a rule of thumb, never pull out your phone when at the sea or at the pool together with your kids. Make sure you place it somewhere where you cannot access it easily so you are not tempted to check any incoming emails or text message. The few seconds you will spend replying to a text could lead to a tragedy. Do carry a fully charged phone on you so you can use it to call the authorities in case of an emergency. Memorize the address of the public swimming pool or whatever water you may be swimming in.

Tip 3: Put A Parent On Lifeguard Duty When Babysitting More Children

Going swimming with a group of children is a common occurrence in the life of most parents. When this happens, make sure you designate a parent as a lifeguard since most parents will tend to get distracted and look away from the swimming pool or the sea. You could also hire a professional lifeguard for more protection or have each of the parents take turns watching the kids every quarter of an hour.

The designated water watcher will be responsible for solely watching the children swim or play in the water. Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages when part of such a surveillance group.

Tip 4: Get Swimming Lessons For Your Children

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, all children ages 4 and over can take swimming lessons. Just make sure you do not mistakingly believe that simply because your kids are learning to swim, you will no longer need to carefully supervise them. Toddlers and preschoolers need a caregiver who can keep a close eye on them when going swimming.

Tip 5: Do Not Rely On Inflatable Toys And Water Wings

Keep in mind inflatable toys are not meant to act as life preservers. If your child cannot swim at the moment, have them use floating toys, but make sure you are with them while they do it. Beware of floating toys that could potentially trap your kids' legs and keep them underwater. Only opt for Coast Guard-approved life jackets and remove all floaties from the pool when not in use so your kids are not attracted into the water.

Encourage your children to befriend older kids at the pool and make sure each child knows where their buddies are at all times. This, however, should not be used as a means of replacing adult supervision at the pool.

June 16, 2016 at 9:18 pm Comments (0)

The Swim Professor needs your help to win the “Best Twitter Feed – Swimming 2011 Reader Choice Awards” competition

The Swim Professor needs your help to win the “Best Twitter Feed – Swimming 2011 Reader Choice Awards” competition.   As a contributor to, I’ve been honored as a finalist in their Swimming 2011 Readers Choice Award.

By casting your vote online , you can help me “reach for the wall”  in their Best Twitter Feed competition.  I give my best effort on a daily basis trying to contribute useful tips and info. through my twitter feeds and facebook posts.   I’m hopeful those contributions will pay off by you casting your vote! 

The race is close, and it looks like its going to come down to the last stroke!

Thanks for your business and for your loyal support.

Vote Swim Professor today!


Jim Reiser, M.S.

The Swim Professor

Swim Lessons University

February 21, 2011 at 6:31 pm Comments (0)

Private Swim Lessons

What do I think about private swim lessons (one-on-one)?  Are they the most beneficial for kids swim lessons?  Over the past 25+ years, I have taught thousands of swim lessons.  From private swim lessons (one-on-one) to large group swimming instruction (taught beginning swimming classes of up to 25 college students from 1993-2005 at the University of South Carolina) and everything in between, and every age group category.

So in today’s article, Private Swim Lessons, I’d like to share my thoughts and experiences on private swim lessons.   Let’s take a look at the pros and cons, as well as a number of very important considerations:

  • The Number of Lessons & Student; Instructor Integrity
  • The Frequency of Corrective Feedback the Child Receives.
  • The “Missing Peer Learning” Factor
  • The Feedback Factor
  • Practice Time Factors.
  • The Cost / Profit Factors.
  • Scheduling Factors.
  • The Water Safety Factors

The Number of Lessons AND Student; Instructor Integrity

The number of private swim lessons that a child is going to receive with the same instructor is a very significant factor when determining whether or not private swim lessons are the best alternative.  In other words, a child may improve faster in a private lesson than in any other lesson format, however, I believe that rapid improvement is limited to a subjective number of lessons.  What is that time period?   If you watch closely enough—you will know!

So why is this?  First and foremost, the instructor-student integrity tends to naturally break down over time, very similar to why it’s difficult to teach your own child in one-on-one situations.  The same dynamic develops over time with your child’s swim instructor as the child gets to know the instructor and his/her comfort level with the teacher increases.  So when you are teaching a “one-on-one” lesson, you eventually lose that “teacher-student” integrity.   Why?  For starters, in order to keep the lesson enjoyable and fun, you have to be the child’s friend (so to speak).  When this occurs, there is naturally a break down in the child’s focus on the task at hand.  It does vary some from one child to the next, and even from one teacher to the next, but eventually it does happen.

The Missing “Peer Learning” Factor

The other dynamic that hinders the benefit of private lessons is the missing peer learning dynamic. Not only do children benefit from having at least one other child in their lesson for social reasons and to make it more enjoyable (it gets boring), but children also tend to work harder too.  Even if they’re “not competitive by nature,” it’s still “human nature” to work a little harder when you’re around your peers.  I’m sure you can think of a dozen examples.

Practice Time Factor

Practice is the “mother of learning,” and this factor certainly is a consideration that comes into play when determining the best class format, i.e., private lessons, semi-privates, trios, quads, small groups, etc.    In addition, there are a number of factors that will affect practice time in any of the previous mentioned formats, including but not limited to age, swimming ability, the instructor’s training and experience, etc.  Even with the least experienced of teachers, sufficient practice time will likely be achieved in a private lessons setting.  However, with well-trained and experienced teachers, private lessons are certainly not required to achieve the practice time goal.

The Feedback Factor

As you may know, my graduate work is in Physical Education and Motor Learning / Motor Skill Acquisition.  One very interesting study that I will never forget was about feedback.   The study shows that TOO MUCH FEEDBACK (more than 50% of the time) CAN HINDER LEARNING.  The reasoning too much feedback hinders learning is that the learner becomes dependent on the feedback.  I would also add the fact that “Kids Just Want to Have Fun!”   It’s not that they don’t want to learn, but you will drive most any child up the wall if you are correcting them every time they swim across the pool.

The Cost / Profit Factor

Ironically, while the cost of the private lesson is significantly higher than other formats, it also gives the swim school the lowest rate of return (unless the other class formats don’t fill up).   But business aside, my genuine professional advice to any parent who wants their child to become a better swimmer is to pay less (go with semi, trio, quad, etc.) and get more (lessons).  In fact, I can prove that philosophy to be true.  You can ask anyone who knows me or has seen me teaching my own children and they will tell you that I have always have my children in either semi’s, trios, or even quads.   In terms of which specific class I would choose, i.e., semi (2 on 1), trio (3 on 1), etc., it really depends on the child’s age and ability level of the child.

As a swim school owner, I want and need to do whatever the customer’s preference is, yet I like to educate them on the pros and cons and help them make an educated decision on what is best for their child.   From a business standpoint I know one thing for sure: profit cannot exist if you’re not true to your customers.  Show your customers (through your actions) that you care first, and the revenue with naturally follows.

The Scheduling Factor

For a start-up swim school without a sound scheduling/class placement plan, private lessons are certainly the easiest to schedule. You don’t have to predetermine the course needed because the individual’s ability level always determines your lesson plan or progressions.  However, if you have a solid placement system in place, you can make the scheduling issue a “non-factor” as we have since 1989!

The Water Safety Factor

From a drowning prevention standpoint, it is difficult to have a safer situation than one-on-one supervision.   Nevertheless, I encourage every parent no matter how small the class is to watch your child closely anytime they are in or around the water.  There’s no such thing as too much supervision when it comes to our child’s safety in a swimming pool.

Of course for beginners, especially those who can’t touch the bottom, I always favor using a progressive flotation device that clearly adds a safety component to the class.   And if you are teaching a large group of beginners, say 7 students or more, then I would prefer a Coast Guard approved Life Jacket, at least until the student has developed some swimming fundamentals and can touch the bottom.

When it comes to choosing an instructor, you want to choose one who has a philosophy that is child-centered.  There are plenty of unsafe practices could be dangerous for a child if a task-oriented approach is taken by the wrong instructor.  Of course Swim Lessons University Instructors are trained to use a child centered approach that includes safe, natural swimming progressions.


There is definitely a time and place for private lessons, and there are instructors, like my close friend Katrina Ramser Parish, who just loves teaching private lessons.   There is nothing wrong with that!  You do what you love to do!  If you’re not happy and enjoying what you are doing, then what’s the point?

So there are exceptions for every rule.   I personally prefer something different in “most” situations.   What is that something different?  Semi-private lessons, trios, and quad classes, and if the situation is right, i.e., student’s age and ability, teacher’s experience and training, etc., there is a place for small group swim lessons as well.

I hope you have enjoyed this blog, and be on the look out for a related blog that will discuss Semi-private Swim Lessons, Trios, and Quads!

February 4, 2011 at 6:04 pm Comment (1)

Who will “The Swim Professor” pull for in the Super Bowl?

Well, I loved this, so you’ll figure it out, LOL!

Tom Brady, after living a full life, died. When he got to heaven, God
was showing him around. They came to a modest little house
with a faded Patriots flag in the window. ‘This house is yours for
eternity, Tom,’ said God. ‘This is very special; not everyone gets a
house up here.’

Tom felt special, indeed, and walked up to his house. On his way up the
porch, he noticed another house just around the corner. It was a 3-story
mansion with a Black and Gold sidewalk, a 50 foot tall
flagpole with an enormous Steelers flag, and in every
window, a Terrible Towel

Tom looked at God and said ‘God, I’m not trying to be ungrateful, but
I have a question. I was an all-pro QB, I won 3 Super
Bowls, and I even went to the Hall of Fame.’

God said ‘So what do you want to know, Tom?’ ‘Well, why does Big Ben
get a better house than me?’

God chuckled and said ‘Tom that’s not Big Ben’s house, it’s mine.’

February 2, 2011 at 10:53 pm Comments (0)

Hiring Swim Instructors

When I hire swim instructors, I am looking to hire “classy” people.

Look for someone you believe is not just clean in appearance, but also clean minded. Classy people know when to talk. Most people talk without thinking. Classy people don’t. Even little things like good manners say a lot about a person. I admire people who always show consideration to others even when they don’t show it back. Classy people don’t use foul or derogatory language. Did you know swearing was something Coach John Wooden and Coach Tony Dungy never did around their players?

Positive behavior always gets someone further with me. When researching this subject, I read “classy people never cry broke!” I recently mentioned to someone that my enrollment was down and blamed the “off-season” and the economy. Now I am thinking that wasn’t very classy of me. We need to keep our chins up always make others think you have money, students, etc. without deceiving them (never lie, just avoid or redirect).

Look for people with integrity. Look for people with positive outlooks. Look for people who are winners in life. With the Swim Lessons University Swimming Instructor Training Program, you can take any person with these characteristics and a little class and turn them into a brilliant swimming instructor and asset to your swim school! An applicant can have all the experience and technical knowledge in the world, but if they are not a “class” act—keep looking!

October 30, 2010 at 9:34 am Comments (2)

Washington Swim Teacher Thanks “The Swim Professor” and Shares Some Cool Ideas of Her Own!

Dear Swim Professor,

Thanks for checking in. I was thinking about emailing you on our progress. My first three students all wanted private swim lessons and the first child (a nine year old boy who did not know how to swim at all) was doing freestyle with side breathing on the third lesson. I have decided to give the parents the option of once or twice per week because I really want the kids to learn to swim. Most choose twice per week and the kiddos are learning very quickly. I have a total of four students and that number will go up to 10 in November when soccer ends.

The parents have all told me they really like the progression style teaching ( Swim Lessons University Lessons Plans) and that I spend a lot of time with each child, which is something they did not see at the bigger swim schools in the area. One thing that the children have really enjoyed that I do is “I find out what each kid really likes and make the lesson fit the child.” Example: one of my 4 year olds loves Indiana Jones. So each skill is on that theme. Instead of “get your motorboat out of the mud”, we get “Indiana’s Jeep out of the quicksand.” (Great example of how you can take the Swim Lessons University Lesson plans and add ideas of your own to make your lessons unique). Another idea I had that the children love is that I also am able to provide token coins that the kiddos earn as they master skills and then can cash in at my treasure box at the end of each lesson.

All in all I am having a great time with all of your Swim Lessons University training products you sent me!

Thanks you so much!

Coach Jimmesue
Camas, WA

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October 26, 2009 at 5:49 pm Comments (0)

Lifeguards!!! Can you hear me?

Teach swimming lessons and make more cash!


How much money do you make an hour?  $8 – $10 per hour?  Lifeguarding is a nice summer job.  You get tan, you’re around lots of beautiful people, and the spirits around the swimming pool are usually great!

But wouldn’t you rather make $80 to $100 per hour than $8- $10?  Of course you would!  And you probably can!

In this article, I’m going to get you started with 5 simple steps to making a bunch of money next summer!

Now onto the FUN STUFF!

Step #1: Prepare Yourself NOW in the off-season.

If you want the buzz among parents at the pool to be what an incredible teacher are–then you have to do your homework now!

The easiest way to become a Professional Swim Instructor is to visit Swim Lessons University and order the DVD videos that will show you EXACTLY how to teach swimming.  From baby swimming to butterfly, you will find it all here.   Not only will you get to see how the pros do it, but you can also get these DVD’s for no more than $35.00 per DVD course!  You will make that in your first half hour of teaching!

Step #2: Make Yourself Marketable!

On your flier, you want to be able to include credentials that will give parents confidence to hire you in the first place.  Here are several I’d recommend:

  • Swim Lessons University trained
  • Member & Certified Coach by American Swim Coaches Association
  • Member of United States Swim School Association
  • Member of World Aquatic Babies & Children’s Network
  • Certified in Life guarding, CPR, & First Aid

You don’t have to do all of these, but swim association memberships, swim instructor training, and swim certifications sure looks great and they will all help you in the long run.

Step #3: Show that you are “proven” through testimonials.

If you go to The Swim Lessons Company website, you will see a whole link dedicated to “Parent Testimonials.”  When you go to the Swim Lessons University website, you will see a page dedicated to “Expert Endorsements.”  Does it establish a rapport?   Of course it does!  These are real comments by real customers!

So you ask, what if I never taught before?  No problem.  You know someone who has kids right?  You’re good with them right?  That’s all parents need to know to get you started!  Tell the parent what you’re doing and ask the parent to write 2 or 3 sentences on “how well you work with their daughter or son.”   When I interview teacher candidates, I often have them play something or teach something to my son.  To me, it’s very easy with the Swim Lessons University DVD’s to train someone to teach who is great with children.   And that’s what parents want to know too when they are considering hiring you!

Step #4   Start your summer job search in January!
This is critical because you need to have time to explore all your options.  Some jobs are going to be more attractive than others depending on the employer.  But what you most likely want to do is look at all area country clubs (there are other options) and secure a lifeguard job where they permit you to teach on the side in addition to your regular lifeguard hours.

Step #5   Dive in!  Let the fun begin and the money come in!

Promote yourself, your schedule, your rates, and determine how you will collect your fees.  I have tons of personal experience I could lend you here.  For example, at the first country club I taught at they let me put my flier in every newsletter.   All I had to do was stuff’em!   Put together and decide on whether your customers will have to sign up for a session or if they can sign up for one at a time.   Decide what size classes you are going to offer, i.e., privates, semi-privates, trios, quads or a combination.

Congratulations—you are an entrepreneur!  It’s a profitable, fun, and rewarding experience. Nothing is ever the same and you will always be growing and changing with the times.   If you would have questions or would like some personal advice, you will be excited to know that during my off season (August thru January) I offer a very reasonably priced “One–on-one Personal Consultation Service.”  You can call me toll free at 1-866-498-7946 or enroll online at I look forward to helping you and sincerely wish you all the success!

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October 15, 2009 at 3:06 pm Comments (0)

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