The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

Swim Instructor In-Service Training Ideas

Do you find that after training your swim school staff and getting into your swim lessons that you or your instructors start having new questions on how or what to do in different situations?  

Do you even notice that certain techniques and strategies that were addressed in the original swim instructor training are still lacking by new instructors?

We do!  So at Swim Lessons University, we decided that the perfect solution to address these problems would be to hold an In-Service Staff Training session!  AND NOW–without traveling one mile—YOU AND YOUR STAFF can be a part of our amazing session!

In this brand new video—SLU Executive Director Jim Reiser answers 25 EXCELLENT QUESTIONS from his local staff, and he provides 25 simple and practical techniques to help every instructor improve their classes!

Here is a Small Sampling of the 25 Questions:

  1. How do I correct parents in my Parent & Toddler classes without appearing confrontational?
  2. How do I put the parent at ease about taking an infant or toddler underwater?
  3. What do you do in situations where you have a child who refuses to get in the water?
  4. What do you say to a parent who sends their child to the pool with goggles and they aren’t even putting their face in the water yet?
  5. Do you ever tell kids to close their mouth when breath holding?
  6. Do you let kids Doggie Paddle if they aren’t putting their face in the water?
  7. Do you have any tips on how to help students pick up the Freestyle Side Breathing easier?
  8. How do you get a child to flex both feet in breaststroke?

Again, these are just some examples of the 25 common questions asked by SLU swimming instructors….  As always, you will find this In-Service Swim Instructor Training Video to be information-packed, high energy and fast paced. You and your staff will be new and improved in 90 minutes or less–guaranteed!

Here is a 12-minute highlight video of the In-Service Training Poolside Seminar:

Order your copy today at

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.

The Swim Lessons University Instructor certification is an internationally recognized alternative to the Red Cross WSI.  AND when you utilize SLU, instructors can SPECIALIZE to teach specific classes and age groups OR they  can certify to teach them all!  Best of all, when you choose Swim Lessons University you can do all your training at your own facility or in the comfort of your own home, at your pace, and at a fraction of the cost!

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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September 14, 2016 at 10:38 pm Comments (0)

How Teachers and Parents Can Develop Healthier Students

The article posted on and posted on the USSSA Owners group by Ria Mackay, What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents is a fabulous article.  Every parent and teacher should read it…

I agree, with first hand experience, that many parents take it way too far–exactly as this article points out.  Sadly, when parents get involved this way, they drive great teachers, great age group swim coaches, and great youth coaches of all sports out of a vocation in which they were providing a wonderful experience to our children.   There are a very select group of people who are capable of being top notch teachers and coaches.  Unfortunately, as the article mentions, they get out of the field because unreasonable parents pretty much push them out.  Most of the time unintentionally, but sadly, sometimes it is intentional.

On the other hand, I do remember some great teachers that did grade so hard that it was unfair.   Kids, especially by high school,  are under tremendous pressure to make good enough grades to get into college.  So when teachers give tests that are almost impossible to ace, despite the fact that the student pays attention in class, takes good notes,  studies their rear-end off, and sometimes stay up half the night in order to make the grade!  In my opinion, these teachers are in the wrong too.

And the excessive homework, don’t get me started.  Kids should be able to participate in sports, etc., do extra curricular activities that are great for their health, well being, and development as a person.  In fact, sometimes we forget that many of life’s greatest lessons can be learned on a ball field.

One of my favorite passages of all time was shared in a John Wooden book in Mr. Roger’s style.  The author is actually “Unknown,” but it’s called, “A Parent Talks to a Child Before the First Game.”  Here it is:

This is your first game, my child. I hope you win.  I hope you win for your sake, not mine.  Because winning’s nice.  It’s a good feeling. Like the whole world is yours.  But, it passes, this feeling.  And what lasts is what you’ve learned. And what you learn about is life. That’s what sports is all about. Life. The whole thing is played but in an afternoon. The happiness of life.  The miseries.  The joys.  The heartbreaks.

There’s no telling what’ll turn up. There’s no telling whether they’ll toss you out in the first five minutes or whether you’ll stay for the long haul. There’s no telling how you’ll do. You might be a hero or you might be absolutely nothing.  There’s  just no telling. Too much depends on chance. On how the ball bounces.

I’m not talking about the game, my child. I’m talking about life. But it’s life that the game is all about. Just as I said.  Because every game is life.  And life is a game.  A serious game.  Dead serious.  But that’s what you do with serious things.  You do your best.  You take what comes.  And you run with it.

Winning is fun. Sure. But winning is not the point. Wanting to win is the point.  Not giving up is the point. Never being satisfied with what you’ve done is the point. Never letting up is the point. Never letting anyone down is the point. Play to win. Sure. But lose like a champion.

It’s not winning that counts. What counts is trying.

So yes, as both a parent, coach, and instructor with a master’s degree in Physical Education, I loved the article.  There are some really great points in that article.  I believe  both parents and teachers should be always evaluating themselves to ensure we are doing what’s in the best interest of the children, whether they are our own or the kids we teach and/or coach.  As a coach, I know my swimmers’ parents made me better.   Were they always right? No.  Was I always right? Of course not!  But when you TEAM UP with each other, parents and teachers, we have the ability to put the best students in the classroom and the best student-athletes on the field.

I love to hear your input!  Thanks for listening.

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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September 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm Comments (0)

Goggles for Swim Lessons?

I was dumbfounded this morning as I watched two former competitive swimmers, now swim instructors, do freestyle demonstrations with their eyes closed!  These were great age group swimmers. In fact, one of them was even a state champion!

Ironically, later this afternoon I received a call from the assistant superintendent of the school district, where we teach group swim lessons to over 1800 second graders every year.   He asked, “Jim, we don’t have a rule about not allowing goggles, do we?   We had a parent call and complain that one of the teachers told them they couldn’t wear goggles.”

After what I saw today, I had to laugh and shared my story.   I went on to explain when goggles are and are not appropriate for swim lessons.  After the following explanation, the professional educator responded:  “That makes perfect sense.”

Swim Lessons University Instructors are trained that if a child is comfortable opening his eyes underwater, he is welcome and encouraged to wear goggles.  If he is not, then we strongly recommend against them.

Why?  Because most accidental drownings occur when a child unexpectedly falls into a residential pool, lake, river, or some body of water and they are not being supervised.  If the child only sees himself as a competent swimmer when he is wearing goggles, what is going to happen?  You guess it!  Odds are that he will panic, and potentially be faced with a life or death situation.  On the other hand, if we teach the child to be comfortable swimming with his eyes open underwater first, and then allow goggles only after that comfort level has been obtained, we are doing the child a huge favor!  One so big that it could save his life!

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 19, 2011 at 2:04 pm Comment (1)

Swim Instructor Training

What is the most important component of a successful swim school or swim lessons program?   The swim instructors of course!  Without competent swim teachers, the swim lessons are a flop!  In many cases, the swim lessons are even a waste of time.  In some others, they are actually dangerous.

There are multiple factors that affect the bottom line, but none are more important than the quality of the swimming instruction.  Your swim instructors are the lifeblood of your business.  Your swim instructors are the reason a child enjoys learning to swim, or does not.  You swim instructors determine if you have repeat business, or not.  Most importantly, your swim instructors determine if the children learn to swim–or not!

What can you do to ensure that your lessons, your program, or your swim school is top notch?   Swim Instructor Training is the most important ingredient to your success.  If you’re a business owner, exposing yourself to as much as you can is extremely valuable.

One piece of practical advice I will offer you first off is: Don’t go broke doing it!  Children have been learning to swim for centuries.  There is no one magical method.  Most reputable methods work–providing the instructor “understands” the concepts and applications, has the right personality for the job, and is committed to being a great instructor.  One’s commitment and desire to excel conquers all, but a great training program will help you and all of your instructors be more successful.

We are all built differently.  Some styles and approaches appeal to some of us more than others.  You have to decide what program(s) appeal to you most.   There are many factors, including but not limited to:

  • Affordability– How much money can you afford to allocate to training your staff each year.  How much of your own paycheck are you willing to give up to train staff?
  • Practicality – How much paperwork will you need to submit (Again, plan for growth.  It may seem minimal if you have 50 students, but what if you grow to 500 students?)
  • Convenience – How convenient is it to train your instructors (once again, plan for growth.  It’s one thing to train 5 or 6 swim instructors; it’s another to train 25-30 instructors or even 50-60 instructors).  I would like to mention as of February 15, 2011, Swim Lesson s University will offer its’ training video courses, testing, and certification programs online in addition to the DVD’s and Online Testing programs currently offered.  So no matter where your teachers are, they will be able to complete this training as either a complement to what you are already doing or as a complete training program.
  • Effectiveness – How effective is the training?  Upon completion, will your new teachers be skillful swimming instructors?  Will they actually know what to do and how to do it?  Will the children love their classes?  Remember, the job your swim instructors do represents YOU!

As a swim school owner, I have exposed myself to nearly every program out there.  What has worked for me personally has evolved and changed over the years, inspiring the development of Swim Lessons University.   To this day, I can tell you every bit of training I have ever done, every clinic I have attended, every teacher and coach who I have worked with has helped me in some way, shape, or form.

Personally, I have a master’s degree in Physical Education with an emphasis in Motor Skill Acquisition.  Until going full-time with my swim school and Swim Lessons University, I was the Professor of Aquatics at the University of South Carolina for 12 years. As a former USA Swimming Club Coach, I developed numerous nationally ranked age group swimmers and led Team Carolina to back-to-back state championships in 2004 and 2005 (a team I literally started from scratch in 1994).

Having used multiple learn-to-swim methods, having taught beginners of all ages (infants through adults), as well as coached numerous elite competitive swimmers, I was inspired to develop Swim Lessons University.   I wanted to put together a training program that would be as practical as possible, one that would be easy to administer, one that would be affordable, and most importantly–one that would develop great swim teachers for children!  That’s what Swim Lessons University is all about.

There is so much great information out there, but most swim school owners tell me that they have so many responsibilities that they don’t want to reinvent the wheel.   So with Swim Lessons University, I have tried to combine my physical education background (which included training physical education teachers), as well as my learn-to-swim experiences (in and out of the water)–and create something special and unique.

Nevertheless, I would recommend that every swim school owner utilize many of the fantastic resources out there.  Here are some of my favorites:

World Aquatic Babies and Children is an amazing network for you to join.  Led by the National Swim School Association founder, Steve Graves, WABC has even endorsed Swim Lessons University training and WABC is our official partner.  WABC offers conferences in the U.S. every other year, and produces a phenomenal newsletter every other month.   In addition, the WABC website is full of resources for swimming teachers, including pod casts, articles, and much more!

American Swimming Coaches Association is the premier coaches association in the world.  Led by executive director John Leonard, I am their biggest fan.  I would not be the coach/teacher I am today without them.  I think so much of ASCA that I am a Lifetime Member.  I continue to attend the annual Swim Coaches World Clinics, as well as speak for their SwimAmerica and American Learn to Swim Teachers conferences.

United States Swimming, in which I served as one of their club coaches for 12 years here in South Carolina, has an unlimited number of resources.  Most recently, USA Swimming launched the “Make a Splash” initiative helping my local Swim Lessons Company reach a new demographic that we hadn’t been reaching before.  This awesome initiative creates opportunity for all economic and ethnic backgrounds.  I should also note that Swim Lessons University is an approved curriculum/program of Make a Splash, which is one component that can help afford you with the ability to be a local “Make a Splash” partner program.

United States Swim School Association is another fabulous swim school association, led by Sue Mackie, in which to belong.  You can take business courses through USSSA, infant-toddler training, and maybe most importantly, become part of a wonderful network of swim school owners and instructors just like you.  I often have the opportunity to serve as speaker for USSSA conferences, as I will this spring in Newport Beach, CA at their Spring Workshop. Hope to see you there!

As a business owner, I think you should try to take advantage of all these resources as I do.  I believe that swim school owners and directors who are new to the swim school industry should also network and find a really good mentor or three!  This has been invaluable to my own growth, so much that I try to give back in this area as much as I possibly can.  After mentoring dozens of swim school owners, and because my schedule has become so busy with Swim Lessons University, The Swim Lessons Company, and being a proud father of three young boys–I now help and share mostly through a very reasonable  “One-on-one” phone consultation service.  It is currently so reasonable (and I want it to be) that is probably less expensive than most of your private swim lessons!  I should also mention I can do these consultations “face-to-face” one the day before or the day after any Swim Lessons University Conference. My next Swim Lessons University Conference will be in Orlando, Florida on February 19, 2011.  Hope to see you there!  This will be the last “One-day SLU conference” of until next fall.

The way you train your swim instructors is up to you, of course.  I just hope that some of the suggestions and swim teacher training ideas that I have offered you today will help you.  After all, we’re all in this together, and we are providing a service that can not only make a difference a child’s life, the result of our service could save a child’s life!  What is more rewarding than that?

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December 28, 2010 at 3:18 pm Comment (1)

Remembering our Swim Team on my Wedding Anniversary!

This blog is meant to serve as a big thank you to Kristin Newman, who wrote the poem below for our wedding day, 11 years ago yesterday. My wife and I celebrated 11 years last night, and before we went out, I shared this poem with her.

At our wedding, my former USS club team, Team NCS, helped make our reception one to remember. They were such a big part of my life. During the reception, the kids took turns reading a poem that one of my swimmers, Kristin Newman wrote for us. Ironically, Kristin is now married and I just got a wedding invitation from her younger sister Elise. Elise not only swam for me then, she teachers for me now.

At any rate, I want to thank Kristin and all my former swimmers for helping make our wedding day a special one, and making 1994-2005 such an incredible time in my life. For old times sake, I am going to post the poem she wrote for 11 years ago:

by Kristen Newman

There are lots of things we’d like to say
On this very special day
We’d like to say you are the best
We know this is true because we’ve definately put you up to the test
We don’t mean to, but sometimes we complain
Until we nearly drive you insane
But we’ve learned that quarters add up real quick
So looks like that move was pretty slick
You make us work our tails off week after week
But in the end it has helped us reach the goals we seek
We swim, we sprint, we do VO2 Max
We’re trying to figure out why we don’t all have six packs

Do you remember the day, it was the end of the season
We pushed you in the pool, we had a good reason
You were kinda mad ’cause you had a hot date
We apologize to you, Heather, for making him late
We think she ended up like you just a little bit
Because when she met us she didn’t throw in the towel and quit
We are your job, your work, your team
If you think about it you’re accomplishing your dream
You have a growing swim team and today a wonderful wife
Who will be your friend and companion for life
We pray that God will bless you as your start your lives together
And we, Team NCS, love you both, Jim and Heather!

Signed by many of my swimmers who shared that special day with us:
Kristen Newman, Diana Marino, Laura Stoudenmire, Shannon Luckie, Emily Niehaus, Tyler Nixon, Amy Starin, Jessie King, Kristin Willoughby, Kate Niehaus, ManyAnn Pascuitti, David Pascuitti, Molly Starin, Catherine Wood, Virginia Roach, Elise Newman, Stephanie Johnson, Libbi Nixon, Shane Spraker, Amy Green, Raymond Balint, Jeremy Newman, Don Bunch, and Steven Luckie (by the way, I sang in Steven’s wedding this past summer, who married another former swimmer of mine, Nicholle Guess). How cool is that!

I miss all you guys and the hundreds of swimmers who I coached at NCS from 1994-2003, and then our state champion Team Carolina swimmers from 2003 – 2005. I miss you all, and you’ll always be like family to me. Thank you! And of course, like Elise Newman, Rachel Drafts, Blair Francis, Catherine Wood, Alyssa Smith, and I’m sure some others, I hope more and more of you will become Swim Lessons University Swim Instructors and teach for The Swim Lessons Company someday soon!

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November 14, 2010 at 1:42 pm Comments (2)

Swim Lesson Instructor Training

Make sure to check out our brand new home page video on Swim Lessons University. The video, also available on YouTube, is called What is Swim Lessons University?” In just over eight minutes, all your questions will be answered.

By watching this video you will learn all about Swim Lessons University. Whether you are a new start up business or an established one, a parent or teacher, whether you are a Red Cross, SwimAmerica, or Y program–you going to love the tips, ideas, and strategies you will discover at Swim Lessons University.

Maybe most importantly, you may be just looking for a swim instructor training program that is convenient and affordable. Swim Lessons University is a turn-key training program and you get to train all your swim teachers in house. You can adapt the entire Swim Lessons University system for your program or you can take bits and pieces. Whatever works for you! What’s most important to me is that we are all doing what we love to do—giving children a lifelong gift, teaching them how to swim and how to be safer in and around the water.

The Swim Lessons University system has been tested, tried, and proven. Jim Reiser’s approach has even been endorsed by
· Late, legendary, Olympic Swimming Coach Richard Quick
· WABC Executive Director and National Swim School Association Founder Steve Graves
· World renowned Author and coach Ernest Maglischo And many more

Call us Toll Free at 1-866-498-SWIM (7946)

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November 8, 2010 at 8:24 pm Comments (0)

Swim Lesson Basics

How to Teach Swim Lessons for Kids

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit
When it comes to teaching swimming lessons, there are some basic guidelines that every experienced swim instructor follows. Whether they do it knowingly or naturally, here are some swim lesson basics that should take place in the process. How to teach kids to swim:


  1. Safety first. Never turn your back on a beginner. Have a lifeguard or water watcher. Especially if you are teaching a large group, use lifejackets. If teaching a small class of preschoolers(4 or less), use a progressive flotation device).
  2. Show that you care. Warmly welcome every student. Hold their hand and walk them up to the pool. Hold their hand and walk them back to the parents. Tell mom or dad how wonderful they did. This is also a good safety practice, especially if the deck is slippery.
  3. Be prepared. “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” Always have a Lesson plan with both age appropriate skills and progressions.
  4. Always create a positive environment. First and foremost, the backbone of your approach be positive. Every class should be dominated by smiles and laughter, lots of praise and positive feedback !
  5. Use practical skill progressions. Skills should be broken down from easy to hard, or simple to complex. At Swim Lessons University, we include skill progressions that have been tested and tried right in the laminated swim lessons plans for you
  6. Sandwich “corrections” with complements. Complement, correct, complement. A great technique. At the very least, complement twice as much as you correct.
  7. Teach age appropriate skills. This is all about curriculum and having a good one. Far too often teachers get bored teaching a skill so they jump to something else. Big mistake. Learning is a process, not an event. Go through the progressions and be patient.
  8. Child focused first. Skills second. NEVER put mastering a skill ahead of the child’s well-being and happiness. A child must love to learn first, before he/she can learn to swim. By forcing skills or progressions on a child before he/she is ready, you may turn a child off to swim lessons all together.
  9. Use skill appropriate swim lesson equipment. Kickboards, for example, are wonderful tools. But for three and four year olds especially, you many want to substitute a noodle first and then graduate them to a kickboard once they mastered kicking with the noodle. Kickboards, noodles, and barbells are the primary learn to swim tools I recommend (along with some toys and props for our preschool swim lesson activities).
  10. For preschoolers, use more of an activity-oriented approach. Children 5 and under (especially 3’s & 4’s) NEED a different approach than what is traditionally done for older children. The key with preschoolers is to keep the lesson engaging and redirect their attention by making learning like play.
  11. Praise effort! Children aren’t always going to pick up a new skill. It’s extremely important that we praise effort as well as skill mastery. After all, when a skill comes naturally, children don’t learn lifelong habits like persistence and work ethic. On the other hand, if they have to work for it a little bit and don’t get discouraged, they do learn the invaluable characteristics of determination and perseverance.
  12. Make learning like play. Have fun! If it’s fun, your students will want to come back and develop a life long love affair with the water.
  13. Educate parents on the importance of learning to swim, and at the same time, stress that there is no such thing as drownproofing.
  14. Act like a professional. Dress for success, arrive early, stay on schedule, keep your equipment and props neatly organized on deck (don’t allow stuff to be floating all over the pool), and avoid talking about personal issues.

    Follow these Swim Lessons Basics tips for swimming instructors and earn the respect of everyone you encounter, while you teach a skill that could save a child’s life.

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October 2, 2010 at 2:11 pm Comment (1)