The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

Do You have the Thunderstorm Blues? Swim Lessons, Swim Safety, and Customer Service

One of the most frustrating things for parents, swim teachers, and swim school owners to deal during Summer Swim Lessons is thunderstorms.  Parents get mad when we cancel, parents get mad when we don’t.  As a parent, I am certainly sympathetic.  I know how hard it is to get my three children in the car, go to the pool, and then have to disappoint them that they can’t swim.

I often encourage parents to take lessons with us in the fall, winter, and spring when thunderstorms are less likely.  Mornings and early evening time slots (before 6PM) prove to be less likely to have storms than the later evening times.  My personal experience over the years is that storms tend to roll in between 6-6:30PM most often, and July seems to be the biggest month for thunderstorms.  If I was a gambler and could win lots of money predicting storms, I think I would head to Las Vegas and retire young.  I am not a gambler, though.  I am a swim teacher.  I am a swim school owner, and my family depends on you taking swimming lessons with us (even in July)—so please don’t stop enrolling!

I have been in this business for over 20 years and I experience it every summer.  There is no full proof solution for the problem, including the weather channel and forecasts and even radar, which are right some of the time and wrong some of the time, and we are looking at them when we are trying to make the right decision.   We recently had to cancel class when there was an isolated storm that hung over just one of our 8 locations, and to make matters worse that happened two nights in a row for the 6:30 class.  According to the local weather the night before, the chance of thunderstorms was 0%!   Then there are days when the weather calls for an 80% chance of storms and we get nothing.  While there are few exceptions, we can only occasionally make a decision to cancel for the night an hour or so before classes start based on the weather forecast.

As teachers and swim schools, we can’t control “mother nature.  Fortunately many summer thunderstorms pass over quickly.  For instance, last night by 7:15 pm the storm that had me cancel my 6 & 6:30 class had passed and I was able to coach my swim team kids without a problem.  That’s why on many evenings it’s better to  take a “wait and see” approach the storms often pass over when it seems like there is no hope.  But there’s no way to know how long.  Sometimes it’s 15-20 minutes, sometimes it’s 45 minutes, others it’s an hour or more.

You can also go to most any summer league swim meet and see similar “wait and see” approaches being taken because these storms do pass, and kids will be all over the deck.   You see this often too at neighborhood and residential pools.   What’s most dangerous is being wet on the deck without shoes and not under cover.   Yet I’ve seen countless pools over the years where guards get kids out of the pool but they’re hanging around the pool in bear feet, sometimes even near the side splashing the water.  This is clearly unsafe.

My research tells me the best thing to do if lightning is near is to seek shelter and clear the pool deck which is what we do.   By the way, as far as I know there has never been a person stuck and killed in an indoor pool. I can’t find statistics specifically on outdoor pools.  According to the National Lightning Safety Institute, lightning studies from NOAA over a 35-year period are not detailed and show only generalized activities or locations of lightning victims as below:

  • Open fields/ballparks = 26.8%
  • Under trees = 13.7%
  • Water related (fishing/boating/swimming) = 8.1%
  • Golfing = 3.9%
  • Driving machinery = 3.0%
  • Telephone-related = 2.4%
  • Radios/antennas = 0.7%
  • All others/unknown categories = 40.4%

Statistics also show that one’s chances of being struck by lightning are .34 in one million.

Back to what we do as a swim school when it comes to cancellations, thunderstorms, and customer service.

First we have a cancellation hotline set up which is 803-561-0226.  The moment we decide to cancel classes at a given location I announce it on the hotline.  I usually also announce the make up schedule.   On occasion, if we have multiple cancellations, I will refer our parents to our website for the make up schedule.

As far as make-ups and rescheduling, etc., we offer the following options:

1.  A scheduled make-up class at the same time on a designated day of the week, i.e., Friday, which we currently keep open for make-ups.  In fact, in our outdoor locations, we keep Thursday and Friday open because of the likelihood of cancellations.

2.  If that doesn’t work out, our customers can schedule make-ups just prior to the second week or back half of a session once we are done actively registering new students.  I want to always maintain the integrity of the student: teacher ratios and that’s why we’d need to wait until the back half of the session.

3.  Our customers can take a credit that has no expiration date and use it against any future swim class, including the fall and winter when storms are as not likely to occur.

The last thing we want to do is risk anyone’s safety.  Again, this is the reason we send children and parents to their cars at our outdoor locations to take cover.  We don’t allow anyone on the pool deck if there is a storm close

If we cancelled lessons every time there are isolated or scattered storms in the forecast, no one would ever learn to swim.   We would literally lose half the summer.   Fortunately, most of these storms come and go.

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, I want every parent to know this:  YOU HAVE EVERY RIGHT, AND I RESPECT WHATEVER DECISION YOU MAKE, WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR CHILD’S SAFETY.  I RESPECT A PARENT’S DECISION 100% if they decide that he/she doesn’t want to put their child back in the water after we determined a storm has passed.  I am always happy to honor a make-up, reschedule, etc.  Any of the alternatives I mentioned above.

I am in the business of water safety and have been my whole life.  It is my passion to make children safer in and around the water.   When we decide to get back in the water because the storm has appeared to have passed, nevertheless, it is still a judgment call, and your judgment for your child is the only one that matters.

But I will leave all my readers at this.   My rule of thumb is to make the same judgment call for my customers as I would for my own children.

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July 26, 2010 at 7:20 pm Comments (0)

“Holds” for Infant-toddler Swim Classes

How to Hold Your Baby in the Swimming Pool

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Have you ever wondered if you were holding your baby incorrectly in the swimming pool? Or if some holds are better than others? In this article, you will learn the holds that are the most effective.


  1. Use the hug hold. The hug hold is the foundation of all the holds outlined in this article. Why? Because it is the hold that your baby feels most secure. Use it when getting in and out of the pool, use it while your baby gets acclimated to the water, and use it any time your baby needs a little TLC!
  2. Try the face-to-face hold. The face-to-face hold is one of the most versatile holds a parent or teacher can use. To perform this hold, simply place your hands under the baby’s armpits with your thumbs wrapped around his/her shoulders. Not only is it great for kicking exercises, it also allows the teacher or parent to make sure that the baby’s face is always out of the water, preventing any accidental facial immersions which can be dangerous if they happen repeatedly.
  3. Practice the modified face-to-face hold. This hold is performed like so: Simply place the infant or toddler on your chest while your hands are positioned just below the baby’s knees. The advantage to this hold is that as you walk backwards around the pool, you can manipulate the child’s legs as you cue: “kick, kick, kick.” Now the baby/toddler gets both verbal and kinesthetic feedback which promotes learning skills. It is recommended that you alternate the face-to-face hold with the modified face-to-face hold, so that the infant-toddler learns what you want when you give him/her the cues.
  4. Use the pass hold. The pass hold is another really effective hold but it is also one that must be used with caution when utilizing it for kicking exercises. When you use the pass hold, you are holding the baby to your side, with your left hand under the child’s left armpit and the right hand under the child’s right armpit. While this can be a great position to have the child in to practice his/her kick, it is critical that you keep a constant eye on the child’s mouth in relation to the water. Once again, you do not want a baby to have multiple accidental facial immersions because they could take in water, which can be dangerous, not to mention at the very least, it could create a bad experience and cause the baby to become upset and water-shy. It is really good to use this hold on two year olds who also have a noodle under their chins when performing kicking exercises. In addition, it is an awesome way to spot the baby (using a pass hold) for safety skill entries and drills (as seen video below).


Watch Jim Reiser, Swim Lessons University founder and instructor, in some highlights from his Parent & Me 101 class.

Copy and paste this link into your browser:


  • Consult with your pediatrician before participating in learn to swim programs.
  • Consult with your pediatrician or a swimming professional before using any of the techniques described above.

Things You’ll Need

  • Swim noodle

Sources and Citations

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Hold Your Baby in the Swimming Pool. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

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November 27, 2009 at 8:13 pm Comments (0)

Aquatic International Wanted Me to Invite YOU!

I want to make sure all my Swim Lessons University members, water safety professionals, and swim school friends know about Aquatic International Connect. Make sure to visit AI Connect at:

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November 12, 2009 at 3:51 pm Comments (0)

How Parents Should Choose a Swim Instructor or Swim School

How to Choose a Swim Instructor

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit
Do you know what to look for in a swim instructor or swim school? Because of the safety issues involved, your swim instructor or swim school choice is absolutely critical. Here are my 10 RULES of THUMB:


  1. The instructor should be a member of at least one of the following organizations: US Swim School Association, World Aquatic Babies & Children’s Network, American Swim Coaches Association, and/or United States Swimming.
  2. The instructor takes a “child-centered” approach vs. a task oriented approach.
  3. The instructor is knowledgeable and can help the child improve skills, but more importantly, positively reinforces things the child does well. Positive reinforcement will give the child confidence to improve and make corrections.
  4. If your child is under the age of 3, the instructor uses a pool with a minimum water temperature of 87 degrees. If the child is between 3 & 5, the water temperature should be at least 85 degrees, and if the child is between 6 & 12, the water should be at least 83 degrees for swimming instruction. Competitive swimmers (usually age 6 and over) can practice in water as cool as 78 degrees (although 80 – 82 is ideal) because they are working harder, getting their heart rate up, and will actually even sweat in the water from the intensity of the workout.
  5. The instructor SHOULD use Lesson Plans.
  6. The instructor should promise a particular teacher; student ratio. Here are some excellent guidelines: 6 – 36 months: Parent & Me format, up to 6:1 ratio is okay since parent is in the water. 3 – 4 year olds: No more than a 4:1 ratio IF a buoyancy device is being used. Without a buoyancy device, no more than a 2:1 ratio. 5 – 6 year olds: Up to 6:1 ratio if a buoyancy device is being used. No more than 4:1 ration if no buoyancy device. 7 – 12 year olds: Up to 8:1 ratio if the children can stand and/or have a buoyancy device.
  7. YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO WATCH EVERY SECOND OF EVERY CLASS! If the instructor says you can’t watch, you need to find another program. I would NEVER leave my child alone with anyone. PLUS–you are an extra set of eyes making sure your child is safe in the water. Constant Supervision is one critical aspect of drowning prevention.
  8. In general, you would want a teacher who is at least 18 years of age (there are exceptions).
  9. If the instructor has a “no refunds” policy, you better do some extensive observation of the instructor before hiring him/her. Find out what they will do if you miss class due to illness. If a make-up isn’t offered, a credit for a future class is a good option.
  10. Make sure the water is tested regularly for appropriate chlorine and PH levels. No chlorine is your biggest concern, and low PH will actually cause the eyes to get sore. Tip: You can buy a test kit at Walmart and test the water yourself. It’s as easy as 1-2-3!


A sneak preview of the author’s information library of DVDs and lessons on Learn to Swim and Water Safety.

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Choose a Swim Instructor. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

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November 10, 2009 at 12:46 am Comments (0)

How to Become a Professional Swimming Instructor

How to Become a Professional Swimming Instructor

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit
Do you want to be considered a “Swimming Professional?” In this article, you will learn some simple steps to becoming a pro!


  1. Become a member of at least one reputable, nationally recognized organizations. Here are the ones I belong to: American Swim Coaches Association, United States Swimming, United States Swim School Association, National Drowning Prevention Alliance, and the World Aquatic Babies and Children’s Network.
  2. Become safety certified. At the very least, get a certification in CPR. If you’re teaching only children, you can get a specialized certification in Infant CPR and/or Child CPR. A First Aid certification is also important, and a Lifeguard certification is strongly recommended, but not required.
  3. Become a certified teacher or coach. The American Sport Effectiveness program has terrific courses you can take right online. The American Swim Coaches Association has similar home study courses that you will find extremely beneficial. There are others as well, including but not limited to SwimAmerica (one of ASCA numerous programs), Starfish Aquatics, the American Red Cross,the YMCA, etc.
  4. Commit yourself to continuously educating yourself and taking advantage of all the tremendous resources available today. You can make up to $100 per hour if you do a great job. YOUR PERFORMANCE DETERMINES THE BOTTOM LINE. If your students are learning and loving your class, if their parents love the way you work with their children–your client list will grow AND FAST! If you do a bad job on the other hand, the word will spread 10x AS FAST!
  5. Use Swim Lessons University. Swim Lessons University will give you a blueprint to success! Not only does Swim Lessons Univ. make it easy, it’s also an affordable way to get a competitive edge. You can order DVD courses for $35 or less where you can see real classes with real students! You can even see FREE SAMPLES of the videos right on the website so you can see the quality of the DVD instruction before ordering, and they all come with a “satisfaction guarantee.” Go to


  • Visit for instructional swimming DVDs.
  • Email for more advice and tips.

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Become a Professional Swimming Instructor. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

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November 4, 2009 at 7:50 pm Comments (0)

New “Teaching Babies Better” video NOW IN STOCK!

If you have already purchased your copy of the new “Teaching Babies Better” DVD, it will be shipped this week!

One of the 22 Success Strategies  in my brand video that I think you’ll really enjoy watching is how you can prevent your new infants and toddler swimmers from becoming  upset.  As you know, keeping your water babies happy is the key to a stress-free Parent & Me swimming lessons class!

In “Teaching Babies Better,” you learn how to take advantage of an often small window of opportunity to be successful.   Keep more of your young students happy . . . order your copy of  “Teaching Babies Better” today at

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November 1, 2009 at 10:02 pm Comments (2)

Tips from the new Butterfly 301 DVD

How to Teach the Butterfly Stroke

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit
If you would like a creative way to teach Butterfly to young children (ages 4 – 12), this article is for you! Jim Reiser, “The Swim Professor,” will share a few creative, and easy steps from his brand new DVD on teaching butterfly to get you started.


  1. Have your young student(s) lay on their stomach on the deck. Their arms should be at their sides, thumbs down, pinky side of the hand up.
  2. Say to your students, “I want you to pretend you are a “caterpillar.” We’ll call this position (with their arms at their sides) the caterpillar position.”
  3. Say to your students, “Now I want you to slowly move your arms forward, keeping, your thumbs down, and pretend that you’re changing from a caterpiller into a butterfly.”
  4. Say to your students, “I want you to stop moving your arms when they get in front of your shoulders which is where the arms enter the water.”
  5. Practice this movement several times until your students have a clear understanding of what the stroke/recovery of the arms should feel like. Then you can teach the pull.
  6. The late legendary Olympic Swimming Coach Richard Quick would have advanced swimmers do the same drill while lying on a kickboard in the the water. After watching his video with older, more advanced kids, I started using a similar technique with younger swimmers learning the butterfly.
  7. Because the kickboard doesn’t work well with young children because they have a hard time balancing on the board without it popping out, I started using a Swim Ways Power Swimmer (buoyancy device) on my young swimmers that laces up the sides so it can’t slip out from underneath them.
  8. Then I have my young students practice the arm recovery and pull with the buoyancy and it really works well. Why? Because the child can concentrate on the technique without worrying about staying on top of the water.


Things You’ll Need

  • SwimWays Power Swimmer
  • Butterfly 301 DVD by Jim Reiser

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Teach the Butterfly Stroke. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

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October 30, 2009 at 4:53 pm Comments (0)

Baby Swimming to Butterfly

I just submitted my final edit on Teaching Babies Better to my editor.  If you already ordered your “Teaching Babies Better” DVD, I should be able to ship it out sometime late next week!  Of course the video is now available at Swim Lessons University, my online library of instructional swimming videos,

For those of you who have been asking about when my Learn to Swim Butterfly DVD would be produced, the answer is now!  I have already shot all the footage and have written most of the production.   Starting this weekend I will start piecing it together.  I see no reason that it shouldn’t be ready before the holidays!

If you don’t already get my Swim Lessons University newsletter, go to and sign up today!  I will be sending out a special early buy discount on the Butterfly 301 DVD to all my customers soon!

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October 29, 2009 at 7:17 pm Comments (0)

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)