The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

Swim Lessons Parents

Last night my wife overheard a swim instructor tell one of her swim lessons student’s parents that “he was not listening very well today.”  She could be mistaken, but she believes that was pretty much the beginning and the end of the conversation.   The swim instructor, in my opinion, is otherwise fabulous!   But I want every one of our swim instructors to remember  that PARENTS WANT TO HEAR GOOD THINGS ABOUT THEIR CHILDREN TOO!  By no means am I saying that the parent doesn’t need to be aware of a behavior issue, but they also need to know that YOU (the instructor) still enjoy teaching their child and that you recognize the positive things about their child too.

In our swim instructor training, we train our teachers to do three things with our young students every class:

1.  Warmly greet your students, hold their hands,  and walk them up to the pool.

2.  Teach Like a Pro!

3.  Walk them back to mom or dad, and ALWAYS tell the parents about something good, i.e.,  any improvement, something funny their child said or did, or simply how proud you are of them.

These three simple steps go a long way in establishing customer loyalty (your students will come back to take more swim lessons with you).

I also want to challenge instructors to do the following when you have a behavior issue:

1.  EVALUATE YOUR APPROACH!  Were you clear on your “START SIGNALS?”  Did you keep children moving and limit downtime?  Did you communicate your expectations clearly?

2.  ASK FOR HELP!  If you are struggling with behavior issues, have a senior staff member or manager observe your class.  Sometimes another set of eyes can give you a different perspective.  My wife still does this for me all the time even when I don’t ask for her opinion, LOL!  Although I’ve been teaching for 30 years, her insight always makes me better.  In fact, she’s the one who inspired this blog.

3.  TALK “WITH PARENTS” vs. “AGAINST” THEM!  If you come across as confrontational(especially this day and age),p arents will be quick to defend their child.  If you come across as “someone who really cares and is looking out for the best interest of their child,” they will love you for it.  Say something like this:   “Nolan’s skills are really improving.   I am just amazed by his progress.  I did want to ask you though, do you have any advice for me?  Sometimes I feel like I could be doing more to keep him on task… any suggestions?”  And then listen.   Then say: “Thank you so much.   That is helpful.   I can’t wait to see him next class!”

I hope today’s blog will help you and or your staff!   OH!  One last critical tip:  ALWAYS keep your conversations on the professional level.  Avoid talking about personal matters at all costs!  Also, when a parent asks you how you are doing, always respond something like:  “I’M GREAT, THANK YOU!” NEVER RESPOND: “I’m making it or I’m getting by.”   If you’re having a bad day, never wear it on your sleeve.  As the saying goes, “fake it until you make it!”

Thank you for visiting our blog page!

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).


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May 4, 2012 at 4:42 pm Comment (1)