The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

Swim Lesson Objectives


Does your swim school experience this problem?   Of course it’s not only a problem for swim school business, it’s a very serious problem for the child’s safety.  I would like to share with you today a couple ideas I have when it comes to SWIM LESSON OBJECTIVES.

Number one, I have created a motivational awards bracelet system that includes a safety component: Water Safety System.

Number two, I have developed a set of Benchmarks/Swimming Proficiency Test Questions to help swim parents understand not only the importance of learning to swim, but what  children are capable of and should learn at a variety of given ages.  Here they are:

Would your child survive?

Only automobile accidents take more lives than drowning for children ages 1-14.   How well does your child swim?    Would your child survive an accidental fall into the water?

Can your child pass the following swim tests?

1 – 2 years olds: Can your child comfortably hold his breath and swim a short distance for up to 5 seconds?  Pass / Fail

2 – 3 years olds: Can your child get back to the side of the pool from a standing entry?  Pass / Fail

3 – 4 years olds: Can your child swim with the face in the water and get a breath when needed for at least 15 feet?  Pass / Fail

4 – 5 years olds: Can your child swim 30 feet of backstroke and freestyle with side breathing?  Pass / Fail

5 – 6 years olds: Can your child swim 25 yards of backstroke and freestyle with side breathing?  Pass / Fail

6 – 8 years olds: Can your child swim 100 yards using a variety of formal strokes?  Pass / Fail

Your child is capable of the above Swim Lessons University ™benchmarks.  Help reduce your child’s risk of drowning by helping your child achieve those benchmarks, using the Note & Float ™system, and following the “Safer 3!”

Learning to swim saves lives.  Give your child a life-time gift–teach him/her to swim!

Of course there are children who may accomplish these objectives earlier, and some who enroll later.  Nevertheless, this gives your new parents of young children especially a set of reasonable Swim Lessons Objectives or benchmarks for their child.

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August 11, 2010 at 1:26 pm Comments (2)

“Developmental characteristics of a 2 year old” and applications

Each child is certainly unique,  and according to the McKesson Clinical Reference Systems, it is difficult to describe exactly what to expect at each stage of the child’s development.  However,  I thought you would enjoy me sharing some of the common trends in development for two year olds.  Socially, these are some common characteristics:

  • Imitates with considerable realism
  • may have an imaginary playmate
  • enjoys playing among, not with, other children
  • does not share
  • claims everything is “mine”
  • may scratch, hit, bite and push other children

Emotionally, the “terrible twos” get upset and are not very patient.  Especially when they are frustrated or not understood.  Often the two year old will strike out or show anger by crying.    They want their own way, they assert themselves by saying “no!”   It’s important, from a practical standpoint as we teach and or parent, that we understand what is going on developmentally at this age.   One thing we know we can do as a “preventative” is to keep a routine.   When the routine changes, that is often a trigger for the sharp mood change.

Physically, two year olds, especially boys, like to be in constant motion.  By implementing strategies to keep them active, we are much more successful.    The most challenging part as a teacher or parent is that mentally two year olds are in the “do-it-by-myself” stage.   This can be dangerous, of course, because they will attempt to do things they may not be ready for, i.e., jumping in the pool without your spot, going down the steps without holding on to the banister, or jumping off furniture!

You can’t do much “reasoning” most of the time, so you have to determine what your little one can and can’t do from a safety standpoint, let alone from a behavior standpoint.  You do have to teach them boundaries and there place in society, in the family, etc.   They have to learn it one way or the other.  As my two year old’s pediatrician said, if your two year old doesn’t throw a tantrum now and then–you are way to easy on him!

For more on teaching and parenting the “terrible two’s,” check out  my recent podcast.

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July 15, 2010 at 5:37 pm Comments (0)

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)



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)

Will I see you at the National Drowning Prevention Symposium?

I will be heading up to my home state of Pennsylvania next weekend to attend the 9th Annual Drowning Prevention Symposium on April 26th and April 27th.  Many of my friends know that I am a Johnstown, PA native and did my undergraduate work at California University of PA, not to mention that I spent half my youth at swim meets in Pittsburgh!  At any rate,  I’m looking forward to visiting my family and friends on Friday and Saturday before heading to the NDPA event on Sunday.

If you are attending I look forward to you visiting with me.  I will have all my Swim Lessons University DVD’s, as well as my new Swim Lessons Awards Progression & Water Safety Bracelet system available at my exhibit. Mention this blog and I will give you an automatic 10% discount on any of the Swim Lessons University educational tools!

Hope to see you at the Sheraton at Station Square!

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April 16, 2010 at 5:00 pm Comments (0)

Safety & Swim Lessons: SAFEKIDS teams up with Swim Lessons University Instructors


SAFE KIDS Midlands, led by Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital, teamed up with The Swim Lessons Company’s Swim Lessons University Instructors today and gave some 70 children a free swimming lesson! Coach Reiser shared safety tips with the parents as well and talked about The Swim Lessons Company’s new “Make a Splash Program” which seemed to draw lots of enthusiasm.

Today’s event was held at The Swim Lessons Company facility at Palmetto Athletic Center in Lexington, SC, while the same event will be offered again next Saturday, April 17th in Northeast Columbia at Chesterbrook Academy.

WLTX (CBS Columbia)interviewed Coach Reiser on the Mid Day News earlier in the week, while Stephany Snow of WGCV 630AM interviewed Reiser live on the radio Friday.  WIS-TV (NBC Columbia) actually came out to the event and did a story on both the 6:00PM AND 11:00PM  newscasts.

SEVEN RULES to REMEMBER by Water Safety Expert, Jim Reiser:

1.   NEVER leave your infant or toddlers unattended in a bathtub.

2.   CONTINUE swimming lessons with a qualified instructor until your child masters the formal strokes (underwater swimming is not enough!)

  1. WATCH your child with active, “eagle eye” supervision at all times when in or around the water.

  1. UTILIZE the Water Watcher Tag system.

  2. REQUIRE your child to wear a coast guard approved life jacket when boating, or even playing around lakes, rivers, or other open water situations.

  3. SECURE your residential pool with proper fencing, self-closing gates and latches, and pool alarms.

  4. LEARN CPR so you are qualified to respond in case of a life-threatening emergency.

No other accident claims more lives each year than accidental drowning for children under the age of five.  Drowning is second only to automobile accidents in children ages 6 to 14.  I

About Children’s Hospital

Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital was the first children’s hospital in South Carolina and has more than 30 pediatric subspecialties including pulmonology, cardiology, surgery, oncology, neonatology, anesthesiology, radiology, endocrinology, infectious diseases, critical care and others. A major pediatric referral center for children from all 46 counties in South Carolina, Children’s Hospital treats more than 82,000 children each year. For more information, or to subscribe to our quarterly e-newsletter, visit

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April 11, 2010 at 12:44 am Comments (0)

WHY NOT 1X Swim Lesson per Week?

Listen, 1x per week of swimming lessons is clearly 100% better than ZEROx per week, and 1x per week is a great way to maintain swimming skills over the winter and certainly make some improvement.

However, IF you increase the frequency of swim lessons/practice from 1x per week to 2x per week you will CLEARLY see a significant difference in the speed/rate of improvement.  STUDY AFTER STUDY clearly suggest when you increase frequency, you increase the learning rate.

As a parent of two young children (and one on the way:)–I UNDERSTAND HOW NICELY ONCE PER WEEK fits  in our busy schedules and I am okay with that in the fall and winter.  But when spring time comes, it’s time to increase the frequency. LEARNING TO SWIM is so important for the safety of our children.

Soccer, Karate, Basketball, Gymnastics, Dance, etc. are all skills that are TERRIFIC for young children to be exposed to and learn.  But if your child is going to master a musical instrument, excel at a sport, or if you are just trying to stay fit– do you really think once per week is enough?  How much weight will you lose if you diet and exercise once per week?

Summer is coming and coming fast!  In fact, if your child starts swimming lessons on March 15th and goes 2x per week until June 1st–you will get 22 lessons in before summer.  On average, it takes a 20-30 lessons for a 3 – 5 year old to learn to swim across the pool without a flotation device or assistance from a teacher.

So WHY NOT 1X PER WEEK?  I suppose you know now:)  If you live in the midlands of South Carolina–enroll your child in a swimming class today at The Swim Lessons Company.

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February 3, 2010 at 7:57 pm Comments (0)

What does it mean to Learn to Swim?

My Definition of Swimming and Swimming Skill Benchmarks

What does it mean to learn to swim?  In an effort to help my “swim lessons parents” understand what a child can potentially learn at a variety of ages, I developed a list of “Swimming Skill Benchmarks”  for infants, toddlers, and young children.  Because the question, “How long will it take my child to learn to swim” is asked so often, I thought it would be helpful to define swimming in terms of a child’s reasonable capabilities at a variety of ages.   This, of course, is assuming the child is being instructed by a swimming professional (not your local pool lifeguard).

While I don’t believe it is necessary or even a good idea for children should  to be enrolled in swimming lessons 12 months out of the year, I do believe that learning to swim should be TOP PRIORITY and even take priority over other activities (if necessary).   To clarify further, my own children participate in a variety of activities for both fitness and skill acquisition, i.e., soccer, basketball, karate, and gymnastics to name a few.   Nevertheless–it is my professional opinion as both a physical educator and water safety professional every child should be able to swim freestyle and backstroke across a pool (5 year old benchmark below) by 6 years of age.  AND I don’t think that spending month after month in other activities INSTEAD of learning to swim, for example, is a good idea.  Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children age five and under for a reason, and while  learning to swim should never replace Constant Adult Supervision–it does save many more lives than t-ball, soccer, dance, etc.

It is very important to me that the following set of benchmarks be used to help parents understand what their child is capable of doing in terms of swimming skills, but this list should NEVER be used as a critique of any kind.  Children should be allowed to progress at their own pace in a child-friendly, child-centered environment.  FOR YOUR CHILD’S SAKE–KEEP THESE SIMPLE GUIDELINES IN MIND:

  1. Encourage and complement your child on what he/she is doing well.
  2. Leave the constructive criticisms to the teacher.
  3. Love and support your child unconditionally.

You want your child to develop a life long love affair with the water.  Allow him/her to progess at their own pace.   With that in mind, here are my SWIMMING SKILL BENCHMARKS:

3 months: Baby is capable of happily having water gently poured over the head using our conditioning method (as shown in my Bathtub Baby 101 DVD available on our website for just $19.00).

6 months: Baby is capable of performing a “brief underwater pass” with our Parent & Me class experiences.

12 months:  Baby is capable of a “brief underwater swim” with our Parent & Me class experiences.

18 months: Toddler is capable of maneuvering himself thru the water for 3-5 seconds using the legs for propulsion (independently from mom/dad to the teacher) with our Parent & Me class experiences.

24 – 36 months:

  • Toddler is capable of getting back to the side of the pool from a sitting entry with our Parent & Me class experiences.
  • 30 months: Toddler is capable of swimming with face in the water for 7-10 feet with our Parent & Me class experiences.
  • 36 months: Toddler is capable of getting back to the side of the pool from a standing entry with our Parent & Me class experiences.

3 ½ years: Child is capable of swimming with the face in the water and breathing as needed using a “pop-up breath” or “roll-over breath” with our Swim 101 class experiences.

4 years: Child is capable of swimming freestyle with the face-in-the-water for 20 feet with our Swim Strokes 201 class experiences.

5 years: Child is capable of swimming Freestyle with side breathing and Backstroke for 30 feet with our Swim Strokes 201 class experiences.

6 years: Child is capable of swimming a 100-yard individual medley (25 yards of each stroke:  butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle) competently with Advanced Swim Strokes 301 class and our entry-level swim team class experiences.


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 Online Swim Instructor Certification  and curriculum, make sure to visit us at

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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January 17, 2010 at 10:45 pm Comments (0) publishes “Should Flotation Devices be used in Swim Lessons?”

I received an angry phone call from a parent (the parent was not at the swimming lesson): “My son is on a swim team and doesn’t need a life jacket. Why does he have to wear a life jacket during swimming lessons?”

Read my answer and insight on whether or not flotation devices should be used. View my entire new article just published on

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December 28, 2009 at 5:21 pm Comments (0)

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