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Swimming Ideas Podast

Swimming Ideas Podast

By Swimming Ideas, Jeffrey Napolski

Fun and effective strategies for swimming lessons, teams, and Aquatic Professionals.

Listen to best practices and interviews with other members of the swimming community to get the most out of your swimming program.
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SIP 093: Three weeks with COVID-19 group swimming lessons

Swimming Ideas PodastOct 25, 2020

SIP 093: Three weeks with COVID-19 group swimming lessons

SIP 093: Three weeks with COVID-19 group swimming lessons

What has it been like? What is our procedure?

How do we teach?


Getting swimmers moving.

Handling difficult swimmers.

Coaching and commands.

Resilience of children and adaptability.

Tools: Lesson plans and TV for website lessons.

Oct 25, 202023:56
SIP 092: Are you comfortable teaching?

SIP 092: Are you comfortable teaching?

What should you do if you are comfortable? What should you do it if you're not comfortable?

Covid-19 and the coronavirus pandemic is real. We just saw this week that the president got infected and foolishly hosted events without face coverings that subsequently infected many other people at a White house event. I know. This is insane. Right?

If the white house can't stay safe, how can we expect to remain safe while teaching swimming lessons?

We live in a world that requires us to go to work. Aquatic professionals need to bring in revenue. We need to have people taking lessons, using the pool, and participating in our programs.

How can we make ourselves feel safer?

Set up a system. Wear face coverings the entire time you're coaching or teaching. Space participants apart with a good distance. Have regular airflow across the pool surface and expel it. Limit your exposure. Ask your staff what they're comfortable with. Screen your participants. Require parent involvement. Kick people out that don't follow your rules; be unapologetic about your own safety.
Oct 05, 202022:25
SIP 091: Swimming Ideas' Levels
Sep 14, 202035:42
SIP 090: Teaching Swimming, Method and Delivery

SIP 090: Teaching Swimming, Method and Delivery

Today is all about the online course, Teaching Swimming, that comes with the companion PDF of the physical book available on Amazon.

This training course covers the crucial skills your teachers need to begin having effective instruction. When your staff is confident, in command, and clear they can expand on having fun.

We're going to review the basics of each section and give you a brief overview on how to be a better swim instructor.

Aug 31, 202031:53
SIP 089: Safe children that LOVE swimming with Julia Johnson

SIP 089: Safe children that LOVE swimming with Julia Johnson

Teach better Parent Tot, Parent and Infant classes with Julia Johnson.

Show notes here:

Julia Johnson grew up in Michigan where she learned to swim during summer swim lessons by going to beaches and pools. 

She swam competitively in high school and then completed a few aquatrathons, sprint triathlons and a 5k swim in the years after graduation. 

Julia studied mental health and social work in college and realized that her passion was building mental health through swimming and coaching. 

Over the last 17 years she has worked for country clubs, community education programs, schools, athletic clubs and finally found her way to the YMCA of Memphis and the Midsouth. 

During the last 17 years she's been coaching and leading staff, program design, launching new programs, teaching swimmers 3month-adults in their 90s, adaptive lessons, coaching middle school, age group swim team, and masters. 

Julia is passionate about the physical and mental benefits that evolve from swimming and especially enjoys helping the youngest of our learn to swim participants and their parents. 

Want more information about Julia? Email her here:

Aug 24, 202001:04:44
SIP 088: Teaching Breaststroke Kick to Beginners

SIP 088: Teaching Breaststroke Kick to Beginners

Breaststroke kick is difficult to do. It is an unnatural motion for many swimmers. There will always be that small subsect of people that have learned how to do it on their own and in fact prefer it to the flutter kick motion. I believe these are people that pushed the water in the "breaststroke way" when they were learning and stuck with it because it makes them move.

Spent a lot of time watching children swim. For a long time I've been a proponent of "nurture over nature" and that genes are actually an expression of nurture over a longer timeline. Swimmers experience stuff in the water, and they build on what they've felt and experienced. Their swimming is a reflection of their trial and error experiences in the water.

We need to replace lots of their habits with better ones through repetition, time, and guidance.

Teaching breaststroke kick to beginners is one of the worst things about teaching swimming; its difficult, its hard, its frustrating, and it is the clearest example of a boring struggle to get kids to do something they don't understand, can't feel, and don't like to do.

We're going to make it easier.

A segment of people have natural breaststroke kick.

These are people that have learned intuitively the powerful force breaststroke kick can provide. You won’t really need to “teach” breaststroke kick to them beyond refinement and gliding after each kick.

Most people struggle with breaststroke kick. This progression will make it easier.

Teaching the breaststroke kick, or the whip kick, is a slog, a long press through swampy struggle that will take significant patience, repetition, and focused feedback and refinement.

Do not be discouraged.

We’ve made it easier.

Begin with “flex.”

Want to see the progression and pictures? Get the book online or join the online course:

Physical print book from Amazon:

Aug 17, 202033:38
SIP 087: "How can I improve?"

SIP 087: "How can I improve?"

I feel like one of the best ways to improve my coaching and teaching is to ask myself, "how can I improve?"

We tell our swimmers to self-evaluate during their swimming. This is essentially what meditation is.

Ask a question:

Meditation is training your brain to recognize it's doing something you don't want it to do and realigning it to your will.

If we're good at meditating, then we're going to be better swimmers if we know what to look for.

It is the coach and swim instructor's job to inform and guide the swimmer's thoughts so they can improve their swimming during a practice or lesson.

We do this through feedback and attention focusing.

There is two components:

Knowledge dump. Learn all the      things. Exposure Repetition Mastery Guided focus Pay attention to       this one thing. Drills that highlight       specific elements Do it wrong so you know how       to do it right Mantra's, habits, and       allowing mistakes.

Did that practice go well?

Did it meet the objectives I had in place?

What should I change?

What were the elements that I struggled with? What are elements of it that my participants struggled with?

Be brave to admit failures. If we ask our swimmers to fail and be comfortable in it we should be too. Make small changes to adapt to your swimmers.

Are you getting upset with the swimmers, the children, in your lessons or practices? Its's your fault. How can you reset to give yourself a chance to evaluate and reorient?

Write it down.

Make changes live on website.

Make your own lesson plans.

Give your staff training opportunities to be self aware.

Do it wrong. Give them a teaching task,      but put limitations on it. Can't say the word "okay" or get      swimmers to Streamline without saying streamline. Put a time limit on number of      attempts.

Build confidence in your staff and yourself by making changes on the fly and allowing freedom in lessons (contradictory to doing things a certain way. Fences with broad leeway inside those fences).

What do you do to self evaluate?

Questions? Ask a question:

Aug 10, 202037:19
SIP 086: Training Summer Swim Lesson Managers

SIP 086: Training Summer Swim Lesson Managers

What are the essential skills you should be teaching your lesson managers?

You can find information at

Under the Level Description guides. They details the specific needs of each "level" and what to look out for including guidance for lesson managers. 

Criteria for an effective swim lesson manager: 

- Understanding of level structure, essential skills, and how to teach them.

○ How do you hold a child for supported front and back glides

§ Why is this so important?

§ Need to enforce and teach others how to do it.

○ Be outgoing and not afraid to give feedback. 

§ Through training

§ Can still be an introvert and anxious. Must overcome through mentorship and direction

○ Familiar with your program's nuances. 

- Confident enough in own ability to communicate your programs specifics and procedures to parents. 

- Mature enough to make safe and rational decisions in a changing environment. 

Ways you can train your lesson managers. 

Teaching Swimming Online Course and Wordbook.

Prove mastery. 

Information dump and gathering. 

Review the Discussion questions with an Aquatic Professional.  (found in the print version and PDF).

Have a management training where the aquatic professional directs lesson managers in how to be a leader amongst their peers.

- How to run an effective meeting.

○ Have one main speaker. 

○ Avoid the "chime in." 

○ Be clear with your objective. Stick to the task at hand without tangents. Teens are adults when it comes to learning. 

○ Engage as many people at the same time as possible.

§ Small groups with repetitive training exercises. 

§ Delegate leadership to trusted staff with specific tasks

□ Be clear in instruction, and be clear with expected feedback and expected actions. 

® "run these scenarios, make sure everyone gets a turn, and ensure that everyone gets a chance to participate and get feedback. Focus specifically on this [one thing].

- How to give effective feedback to your instructors

○ Should you intervene in a lesson?

○ Followup before and after the swim lesson

○ Give training materials. 

- How to organize swim classes

○ What criteria do you use to group like-level swimmers?

○ Consider location

○ Program specific routines

- How to communicate with parents.

○ Lean on your expertise 

○ Remind manager that they are experts in this field and parents are not. They paid to send their kids to swim lessons. 

○ Talk to parents frequently. Meet them. Introduce self, and follow up during the lesson.

○ Give updates on what their specific swimmer is doing. Avoid generalities. 

Mentor your managers. Guide and groom them. 

Check in on them and make sure that they understand you're there to support them and get them to improve. You're both on a team, you're not there to punish them when they fail; which they will. 

How do you make sure they're doing a good job?

Aug 03, 202040:07
SIP 084: Why "Challenges" have replaced games.
Jul 25, 202035:42
SIP 085: Finding Deliberate Practice Opportunities at Swim Lessons and Practices

SIP 085: Finding Deliberate Practice Opportunities at Swim Lessons and Practices

What can you do at your swim practice and swim lessons to promote Deliberate Practice, and how does mediation teach you to be a better swimmer.

What is deliberate practice:


While regular practice might include mindless repetitions, deliberate practice requires focused attention and is conducted with the specific goal of improving performance.

From <>

The role of Coaching!

How the challenge format promotes deliberate practice: they are specific opportunities to train the brain through stimulating "challenge" to accomplish a task using deliberate though to achieve the goal.

Carryover into what we're doing.

High volume coach interaction.

Constant feedback during lessons

Getting the format out of the way (use scaffolding or routines).

Encourage self guided activities whenever possible.

Jul 25, 202028:59
SIP 083: Writing swim practices during Covid-19

SIP 083: Writing swim practices during Covid-19

We're running our swimming during covid in a small 4 lane indoor pool.

Fans Open doors 7 at a time 2 in each lane on opposite       ends. 1 in the ada staircase lane. 1 coach; now 2 coaches 2 lifeguards Line up outside and walk them      in with a coach chaperone They have their own 6 ft      distant places for stuff. Come in their suits Come wearing masks Coaches wear masks throughout      the practice Write practices in advance on      website. Use TV screen with Fire and      internet to show. Practice format: Philosophy: Moving Self guided On rest intervals Aerobic conditioning Challenging fun Socializing from a distance Warmup Swim, Kick Challenges End. Walk out a separate exit      like a one way street. Repeat hour after hour.
Jul 06, 202027:01
SIP 082: Teaching Private lessons during Covid-19

SIP 082: Teaching Private lessons during Covid-19

How should you protect yourself and others when you're teaching swimming lessons to individuals or duos?

Today we're listening to a user submitted question and answering it after a brief unrecorded phone call. 

Rowenna and I spoke on the phone and we reviewed much of the same things. Her favorite games are Treasure hunt and diving games with multicolored toys labeled with numbers. I'm a huge fan of Treasure hunt too, and you can see a list of relevant swim games and challenges here:

Things to consider:

Remain distant if you can. 

Teach from the deck or the water remaining far enough away that you're not going to get any droplets on your face or nose. Have the parent interact physically with the swimmer. Use a dummy, or doll, or practice CPR device to demonstrate how to do your supported front and back floats/glides. 

Teach both the swimmer and the parent how to do your typical routines. You'll be like a music teacher talking and guiding but not moving the swimmer's fingers for them.

If you can't remain distant, wear a face shield. You can wear one like this:

It'll stay fog free, will bead water off the outside and redirect your breath droplets down and shield you from participant's spray. Stay distant when possible and do your best to realign your swim lessons to encourage more independent movement. 

This works best in shallow pools with lots of space where the swimmers can move in chest or shoulder deep water. Have them do glides and repetitive skills like streamline and kicking from two points back and forth. Intersperse your 6 x [something] activities with challenges. You can find a list here:

If you're teaching at a deeper pool see if you can use platforms or benches for younger swimmers to stand on. For more info take the Teaching Swimming online course:


Jun 29, 202015:59
SIP 081: Sun Protection for Swim Instructors

SIP 081: Sun Protection for Swim Instructors



This is the most essential product you can buy. I'm talking about sun tan lotion. Sun block. We use this gallon jug. You can use this too. I suggest making it mandatory for all swim instructors to wear the lotion before they start their first lesson. When they're done teaching each class, they should get out of the pool, talk to parents, dry off, and lube up with sun tan lotion again. This is the number one best thing you can do (aside from not going outside) to protect your exposed skin from the damaging effects of the sun. Put your sun tan lotion on often. Recommended reapply rate is once every hour if you're in the water. To creatively make sure your staff is wearing sunscreen, bake it into your routines and culture. Put the sunscreen on together before your first lesson after your daily meeting / debrief. Offer 45 minute swim lessons starting on the hour. After each class have a 15 minute break, and at the :55 get together for a group sun screen circle making sure to get everyone else's shoulders and back. Use the pump lotion or the spray-on. Make sure you're dry so it stays connected to the skin.

Rash Guard

You can check these out,, but I recommend going to swim outlet for something more like these: Wear them to cover more skin, but still provide mobility and comfort. They are effective because the fabric will block the skin. Make these optional for your staff and cover the cost if they're used. i don't have a good recommendation to get teenagers to wear these, but if you do please comment! Maybe an end of the year bonus if you buy one and use it daily?


wow. We had these type of hats available to us when I taught swim lessons, but very few people wore them. They looked weird, and only the most confident, most bold were willing to wear them. At the time that was not me. You can wear these hats to protect your face and head from the damaging effects of the sun while you're teaching swimming lessons. Pair this with good sunglasses and you have total protection for your eyes and head.

Change lesson times.

The worst time to be under the sun uncovered is between 10-4pm. The absolute worst between 11-2pm. Change your swim lessons to be earlier in the morning done at 11, and later in the evening starting at 4pm. That way your staff misses out on the worst of the sun. Your swimmers, often children, will benefit too from the decreased intensity of the sun. it might be a little colder, it might be a little more cloudy or uncomfortable, but you'll be protected and you'll be doing right by your teenage staff that, like me, will resist wearing sun screen.  

Jul 09, 201821:40
SIP 080: Brief Autism Overview

SIP 080: Brief Autism Overview

Brief guide on Autism from American Red Cross Swimming Water Saftey book

Jun 24, 201826:00
SIP 079: Do you need to license a swim program to be successful?

SIP 079: Do you need to license a swim program to be successful?

No. Most parents don't care what your swim program system is. They care about three things:


1) Will their child learn how to swim?

2) Does it fit into their schedule?

3) Is it within their budget?


They're more worried about making the most out of their time and effort to bring their kid to swim lessons. They want progress, they want success, but they don't really care how you order your level structure. It isn't important to them. 

That isn't to say you shouldn't have a structure or a plan, but you don't need to drop thousands of dollars licensing a swim program to be successful. 

Jun 11, 201830:19
SIP 078: Central States Clinic Part 3
Jun 04, 201834:25
SIP 077: Central State swim Clinic Part 2

SIP 077: Central State swim Clinic Part 2

May 28, 201832:29
SIP 076: Central States Swim Clinic 2018

SIP 076: Central States Swim Clinic 2018

Recap from Dr. Alan Goldberg and Josh Davis. 

May 21, 201839:20
SIP 075: Swim team tryout script

SIP 075: Swim team tryout script

Ok. The first thing is to get in the water.


The second thing to do is to touch the bottom with your hand.


Easy? Easy peezy?


Now we're going to swim front crawl or freestyle with side breathing from here to there. (one length).


Well done. Can you touch the bottom, here?


Where did you learn how to swim?


Ok. Now we're going to do back stroke all the way back. When you get to the other end I'll go like this it means stop. Ready? Okay go.


Well done. Do you know how to do breaststroke kick? (demo) ok. Do whatever you know to me (1/3 of the way) stop when you get to me.


Ok. Turn around, now we're going to do butterfly kick. Stand with your hands at your side, and put your face in the water and wiggle like a dolphin.


Well done, hop out, lets get out of the water, we're all done. You did very well. Let's go talk to your parents.

May 14, 201831:50
SIP 074: A quick update and reminder about structure

SIP 074: A quick update and reminder about structure

i'll be interviewing a person about how to teach swimming lessons to autistic kids. She is an expert in adaptive physical education for special needs children and will be an excellent resource. 

I'm hoping to connect with Nitro tash to get her take on her new swim lesson format with her pool in Perth, Australia.

Look for updates to and a new resource to take beginners from no program to a thriving successful one including. I understand that a lot of the material assumes an intimate knowledge of swimming lessons that not everyone has. I hope to address this in the future.

Routine works. It does. i struggled with giving my swimmers too much freedom in their swim practices and it lead to chaos. now, falling back on the tested and true routine and structure we've had massive success and improvement. 

Think of your routine as your framework. It is the brick wall of your instruction. The format (each brick in its place) is the same, but the choice of bricks change. Like a wall, not all bricks are identical and you can sprinkle your flavor of skill, drill, and activity to match the pace and goal for the cycle, but throughout your following the same structure and framework so your pieces all align. 

May 07, 201822:22
SIP 073: What to do when veteran staff suck

SIP 073: What to do when veteran staff suck

Correct your teachers that aren't performing like they should!


Give initial feedback.

Restrain anger and disappointment.

Immediate debrief and followup.

Frame things in the future. next time do this.


Deal with it in private.

Apr 30, 201826:47
SIP 072: Breathing for two weeks
Apr 23, 201842:08
SIP 071: Activity, Activity, Challenge

SIP 071: Activity, Activity, Challenge

Get ready to experience the next supplemental guide for better swim lessons!

We've been refining the general format of our swim lessons. Ever forward, and ever working on refinement we've been teaching lessons using this new take on an old favorite.


For a long time we've incorporated the "learn something, learn something, play a game format." you can see it in the lesson plans that you can buy on the website.


The last two weeks I distributed the first version of the General lesson plan guide for Level 2 and Level 3.


I've  been writing these lesson plans out for the last year on white boards for my veteran staff that might not want to think too hard at lessons and are more comfortable being told what to do. They might know the way to do it, and how to give feedback, but lack the experience and confidence to come up with a solid progression of skills to get the best results.


These lesson plans accomplish that. Here is an example of level 3 general guide.



Look a the picture. It gives instructors an easy visual cue how to set up their lanes and run their lessons.


The left side is the meat and potatoes. It has a range of activities drawing from the most important and should serve as a building block to iterate off of.


The Challenges are likewise level specific, but should serves as a general guide for lessons. You can read off the script, or make small changes to create you own personal challenges specific to your group and your pool.


The bottom has the level criteria. When in doubt, make it a quick reference for the teacher so they know what they should be working towards.


Finally in the middle are the specific language the instructor should use for that level. Take note this isn't the scripts for glides and backfloat, but more careful specific words to use in order to get the best results quickly.


"Start immediately in SL" means that you don't push off in 11, or like a wild person head first then do the streamline. It is deliberately crafted words to indicate that while the child is pushing off the wall it should be in streamline with no space between wall and water without it.


The instructor tips aim at general reminders for teachers of that level. It is like having the manager give those gentle reminders on the paper; like a whisper in the ear.


Apr 16, 201840:23
SIP 070: What you need to start teaching swimming

SIP 070: What you need to start teaching swimming

Get the basics for your new swim program. If you're already established, take these ideas and see if you're already doing them.


Question from John from the UK. He asked me very generally what he could do to get started. He had bought the swimming ideas lesson plans which you can get here: 


But he was uncertain in how to start teaching swimming lessons. It made me think about what the key things someone would need to begin. Like what if you'd never taught swim lessons before!  


I've always assumed that someone that was going to start teaching their own program had done what I did: work at their local pool as a teenager and over time and apprenticeship learn how to be a good teacher.  Most of the content on is driving at how to run your swim lessons as either a private instructor who wants to hire some new staff, or as an Aquatic Professional that knows how to teach already and is looking to manage a large staff  like a park district.  


I intitially wanted to direct john to the SLI Swim Instructor Training workbook; on Amazon. It is awesome. It takes you through the 15 essential swim skills which we build off of for our lesson plans. But it isn't comprehensive for a beginner. I think it needs to be.  


I'm working on that. 


Then I figured that there was a ton of content in the blog section of that he could read, but it was more designed around people that already know swimming; it is guides to help those already established.  


There are plenty of articles under the Swim Lesson Guide category: 


More in the Lesson plans: 


And the most distilled in the resources: 


But that wasn't enough. I'm working on a walkthrough for total beginners to get you moving on your swim lessons. This episode is for the starter who has not taught swim lessons before, and has nto been in a large program but knows how to swim. 


Essentials to teaching swim lessons. 


Before you start: 


Pool or water to teach out of  Liability insurance  Bank account  Website with a way to register or a
Apr 09, 201836:34
SIP 069: Foundational Breathing Method for swimming

SIP 069: Foundational Breathing Method for swimming

Dominic Latella from stops by to talk about his online course about breathing and to follow up on his sensational comments.

We talk about a lot of different things regarding swimming.

Dominic lets us know some details about his most recent training trip to the Bahamas, and who makes the best eggs in his family. I believe that my eggs are awesome in my house. :)


I get a chance to ask Dominic to explain some of the parts of the Foundational Breathing Method for swimming. I've gone through this course, I've put it into practice, we use it in our developmental swim program and you can too.


Apr 02, 201801:12:31
SIP 068: Is it okay to just play games with 3 year olds?

SIP 068: Is it okay to just play games with 3 year olds?

Take a look with me at the 3 year old class I've been teaching for the last 6 weeks. Look at the games we play and how I've been successful getting them in the water when half the class was crying and terrified the first few lessons.

Yes! It is okay to play games with 3 year olds, and I would even say that you should be playing mostly games and singing songs with your youngest participants. When they're comfortable enough to trust you with going underwater, smiling, and having more fun than the wide eyed scared hesitation you can start layering in front glides, back glides, and other horizontal progress skills.


This is an overview of the last six weeks of swim lessons I've taught with a group of 3 year olds and the transition we've seen from crying on the side of the pool crawling into their parent's arms, to smiling and laughing as an active participant in the water.


*I recorded this episode on Friday, and on Saturday before posting taught the last class. Only one of the initial crying kids cried again this final lesson, but a few minutes later she was smiling and laughing in the water with the rest of the kids playing games and doing front and back glides with ease.


Of note, the girl got splashed by an overzealous participant and cried. I wiped her face with her, told her she was okay, had the girl apologize to her, and then when she persisted, I said in a stern voice, "Sally, no more crying. You're fine." She stopped immediately. I was so shocked I couldn't believe it worked! Sometimes the youngest participants need a firm reminder that their reaction is over and it is time to move on.


Games we play:   Floating Toy and Sinking Toy:

Get 1 of each, and sit on the side of the pool. Put your feet on the floating toy and hold it underwater.


Put your sinking toy on top of your floating toy. Use kicks to push it away from you without letting the sinking toy fall off.


Buckethead, Bucketshoulder:

My favorite game obviously. Let them choose what to do you to, Bucket shoulder, or bucket head. They only rule is they have to say, "bucketshoulder" or "buckethead" when pouring the water on you.


You then give them the choice which one they want, BucketShoulder or bucket head. Then you do it to them. If they choose head, st

Mar 23, 201842:45
SIP 067: Deliberate Practice

SIP 067: Deliberate Practice

Finding deliberate practice in your swimming lessons and swim team.
Mar 19, 201844:19
SIP 066: Dryland for swim lessons

SIP 066: Dryland for swim lessons

In depth look at our dryland program for beginning swim team or a level 4 class.
Mar 12, 201842:04
SIP 065: 2018 Update

SIP 065: 2018 Update

Update for 2018! Wow. We have a lot of new material and action ready for you in the next year.

Mar 04, 201841:59
SIP 064: Finding balance through Yoga for swimming

SIP 064: Finding balance through Yoga for swimming

Jeff Grace

Check out his online videos here:


I really enjoyed talking with Jeff from Excel with Grace. I loved how he gave specific examples and connections to the more ethereal mind and attention to specific swimming techniques and learning. One of my first questions to him is how we can connect the mind, and attention to the physical expression of swimming. Jeff answers this question so well and his mastery of this concept comes out clear in how he frames his responses.

How do we connect mindful to physical. Jeff talks about how people always think that yoga is about clearing the mind of thoughts, but that isn't true. It is about recognizing your deviant thoughts and then finding an anchor for your attention. Allow those thoughts to happen, but notice them, and then move away from your mind using your breath as a focus point, or anchor for your attention.

In swimming, we want to achieve this same goal with our beginner and elite athletes. We want them to focus on a specific skill and improve it while they're swimming. We know as coaches and instructors that people will not be able to do a physical skill perfectly immediately, or every time. So we use tactics like Dominic Latella's Redemption Game to aim that attention for short spurts of time. We want to focus that attention on our intended skill, and meditation is a way to flex that attention muscle.

Jeff talks about easy speed, and how meditation allows you to achieve that 100% speed at 95% effort where you remove the tension of forced swimming at maximum effort.


Shivasssana Game: teach a few poses, have everyone do it for a few seconds, then yell, "Shivassana!" and everyone has to lay down and pay attention to three of their breaths. Jeff then gets everyone up and has them pretend like they're trees. While some people are acting like trees, then others are acting like bees and breathing like bee's while moving around the trees.

Golden nugget of quality swim instructors: diverse range of experience and pairing it to the audience. Interesting, fun, and challenging while maintaining a specific goal.

Advice for Developmental coaches:

Teach listening Teach Streamline Make them want to come to swimming.

Madness time at the flags and act as rowdy as possible within reason, but then Jeff would yell, "Listening position" and time how long they got back to paying attention.

When you're starting your own yoga for swimming a good place to start is in table top pose; hands and knees on ground, raise left hand, and lift right leg straight. Then slowly build on it.

Progressive posture and pose, like all swim lessons is to gradually step by step increase in difficulty.

What is it about Yoga that makes it so good for swimming?

Jeff says he could go on for another hour about this one thing, but he distills it down nicely into "Balance."

You have the ability to give the athlete an opportunity to train the body overall and the mind to physically and mentally improve. Yoga provides power, strength, flexibility, increased range of motion, reduce anxiety for poor meet performance, and better body awareness.

His answer is excellent and I highly encourage you to make sure you listen to this portion near the end of our conversation.

Jul 24, 201759:22
SIP 063: "Failure" for the last two weeks

SIP 063: "Failure" for the last two weeks

And how it has been fun and full of healthy improvement.


Preface: I run safe and encouraging practices. I get along well with my swimmers and their parents. I can't think of a time I was upset with a parent that knew me or has watched a practice.  We fill our time building up our swimmers by giving them regular feedback. They experience more than 10 interactions per practice of one of the coaches saying something they did well, and something they need to improve upon. We take particular effort in praising effort as followup to previous instruction.


We've been doing "Fail" practices inspired by episode #061 with the Swim Box and Dominic Latella.


Here's what we've done, and why you can do it too.


The basic premise:


Give a chance to do something well. Give specific feedback with a "success" or a "fail" thumb up or down. Have a reward, and a consequence. Do multiple rounds that build on themselves (introduce easy first, and get harder) Make rewards fun, make punishments learning related. Be kind in your delivery.





Jul 19, 201730:29
SIP 062: My big swim lesson mistake

SIP 062: My big swim lesson mistake

Today is a short podcast about how I failed when taking a child underwater.


I went to the beach with my friend and his family and while swimming with their 3 year old, I did the motorboat game, and dunked her to disastrous results. 


Find out the three things I did wrong!

1) Trust

2) Expectations

3) Appropriate activity


Learn why I made this colossal mistake, and how you can avoid it in your lessons with your swim staff this summer.

Jun 12, 201719:10
SIP 061: Provocative breathing, mediation, and better coaching

SIP 061: Provocative breathing, mediation, and better coaching

We want to make swimmers better. 

I had so much fun talking to Dominic Latella from SwimBox. He said multiple times that making swimmers better is his primary goal. He wants to help people and work with others that share that goal. You can see it shine through everything he says in our conversation. Dive into this episode and share his enthusiasm. 

Breathing well on land is a demonstration of a good athlete.

I don't think you realized it, but you said, "breathing is not fundamental," and I would say, breathing is the foundation of swimming.


The Swim Box


Swim Easier after just one lesson.

SwimBox brings together technology and expertise to give you the best swim lesson experience available. The core of our protocol is injury prevention, and our dream is that everyone know how to swim. We work towards that by providing you with the safest swim lessons you can find.


Dominic Latella


In addition to his love for the sport, Dominic has been in the swimming world for over 14 years, and not just as a coach. Take a look at some pieces of his resume:

The only Level 4 US Masters Swimming coach in Virginia and DC (the highest level of certification available) Head swim coach for Adaptive Swimming at Walter Reed 2 time coach at USMS High Performance Camp 10 yrs coaching experience working with swimmers of all ages and ability levels
Jun 04, 201701:14:06
SIP 060: How to run effective training

SIP 060: How to run effective training

The summer is almost upon us and you're going to start running training classes for your summer and seasonal staff. Slap on the sunscreen, wear a floppy hat, and get those kids moving!


This is our guide to running effective training sessions.  We are going to assume that you are a park district or a large program that has hired a decent sized staff and are running either lifeguard, swim instructor, or all staff training sessions. Your goal is to both create a team and a culture with these people (integrate old and new) and give out a wide range of information that the staff will need to know.


We have two ultimate goals in our staff trainings this summer:


Provide information and experience staff needs to do their job. Foster team culture: working together


There is a wealth of information about "running a good meeting" and some of the key points are essential for you the manager or the aquatics professional. Remember our two key goals: provide information the staff needs to do their job, and creating a team culture.  Those will drive all things, but we'll separate out our guide into three different categories to make things easier for you to plan, execute, and evaluate.




When I worked at my outdoor pool over the summers every Friday we had a meeting at 9am. Every week the whole staff got together for an all staff meeting and training session. Before you get in front of your staff the most important thing you need to do should already be done: know what you're going to say and do.


Have a plan. Sit down or pull up last year's trainings and review what exactly you're going to accomplish in your meeting and training. Know exactly the things you are going to focus on and distill down to the most basic items what the staff needs to learn, know, or take away from your meeting.


Know what you want your staff to take away from the meeting.

Know what you are going to do exactly at the meeting to get that result.

Prepare any necessary materials or flyers before your meeting to distribute or use as props.




I recommend you write up an agenda, or a timeline, or a guide for yourself. Write something down like a list that will keep you on track and provide a guidepost if you take too long on one item or forget something.


In general with all staff meetings I prefer to follow this formula:


Introduction, recap of recent week. (The "You must take a shower" person will now be stationed at the end of the walkway so they can also see the deck and remind people not to run") Any new information that is simple, easy, and relevant to many people. "Today we're going to review CPR, then split into groups and play a few games. Our goal today is getting better at communicating during swim lessons and we're going to focus on that. Then we'll regroup and I have you'll have a chance to ask questions about anything going on this week." Announcement about what you're going to be doing in the training today. Stick to your timetable. If you took too long to setup, allow some time to actually do your activities, but keep things moving. Avoid prolonged tangents or time wasters.




We want participation. Remember our goal is to both provide relevant information and training, but to also provide a team building environment so participants feel closer to each other.


I recommend small group activities with clear goals and instructions. You can see our training modules here:


For CPR you

May 15, 201733:25
SIP 059: Preparing at home swim lessons

SIP 059: Preparing at home swim lessons

Safe Splashes Swim School in Arizona with Teresa Stewart


Teresa has been teaching swim lessons most of her life. She uniquely finished her lesson program while young and they made her a co-teacher to give her something to do while at lessons.  She has contributed to the Swimming Lessons Ideas website, and has two posts you should check out too:

Freestyle Kick drill: Motorcycle


How to teach treading water:


In this conversation, we talk about how Teresa is a planner. She runs a successful swim lesson program over the summer from May through August teaching 6 hours a day in her backyard pool.  She has two main goals that define her lessons:


#1: Be a positive voice in the child's life.

#2: Teach young to survive when they fall in the water.


These two goals permeate Teresa's lessons and shape how she crafts her lesson plans and determines her purpose. She mentioned that there was a point where each week they'd hear about four children dying in pools. Teresa's goal is to do all she can to stop drowning through fun effective instruction.


We go in depth on the following topics:


Assessing new swimmers Using American Red Cross levels as a guidepost for early instruction Using games to teach skills and introducing new skills without fear How Oriental Trading can provide low-cost prizes to encourage learning and effort. How positive confidence boosting enhances your lessons Insurance needs for small business out of your house At the end, Teresa shares a bunch of great games with us


My favorite parts of our conversation are where Teresa talks about updating her lesson plans and adjusting mid week for each child she works with. I'm also fond of her wealth of games and activities she reviews at the end. 

Thank you, Teresa Stewart! 

May 02, 201701:21:25
SIP 058: The One Thing

SIP 058: The One Thing

Episode 057 with Meighan Julbert: "Focus on the 2-3 things totally essential for swimmer's success." 


Episode 055 with Karis Mount: "My coaches focused on the one thing that would make me improve. We were focused."


Episode 054 with Jennifer Butler: "When giving feedback, focus on the one thing that will help them the most."



Effective Teaching from USA Swimming:

One thing at a time Break every move down into "chunks" Aim for perfecting one 'chunk' each practice Make your INTENT and OBJECTIVE absolutely clear "This is your focus, this is your goal" "When we do this, I want you to think about: x

Strong direct immediate feedback: That ties into the focus, the goal.


Avoid breaking bad habits, give new ones.


Give effective feedback in your lessons or on your swim team.

Apr 24, 201727:21
SIP 057: 'Failure' to succeed and parent education

SIP 057: 'Failure' to succeed and parent education

Meighan Julbert is a Mental Skills Consultant for The MindSide who brings a passion for understanding how to gain competitive advantages as part of early athletic experiences, through proper structure and coaching of athletes. As a former competitive athlete, Meighan understands the need for proper mental skills training from program implementation, instead of waiting until athletes feel it is needed.

Meighan earned an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Auburn University, where she worked with the men’s basketball program, from coaches to athletes and administrative personnel. She went on to earn a Master’s in Science degree in Sports Psychology and Motor Behavior from the University of Tennessee, focusing on foundations for elite mental performance among athletes across the life span. During her time in Tennessee, Meighan worked with the men’s golf team. She also served as a coach for two girls teams for a local preparatory school, applying her training as a mental coach with that of serving as a coach to maximize performance and athletic development.

Meighan is passionate about coaching development and program implementation, as well as developing the athlete’s competitive mindset. From her own experiences as a competitive athlete to serving as a coach to her educational background with the principles of human performance, Meighan will help those athletes who are looking to gain a mental edge.

From <>

Check out Meighan on YouTube:

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from her videos:

"Everything you do determines how well you're going to play."

"Be prepared for the times you're going to struggle."

How Failure leads to success

Meighan talks about challenges and specifically how at practice physically and mentally is what helps you learn to compete. How we teach our beginners and our elite athletes should be "what is the mental state like at practice?" Meighan talks about how those small skill work and details that go into perfect swimming and perfect practice is never as fun or interesting as competition or racing. She suggests that we use fun challenging yet achievable tasks to build interest and excitement for those small detail repetitive activities. This ties perfectly into the last episode of the Swimming Ideas Podcast, Episode 056 where I talk about using challenges inside of lessons to reset mental interest. However, Meighan is suggesting that we use challenges to help teach those specific skills like streamlining.

Maybe we add point values to successful streamlines and the lane with the most points at the end of a set get a reward. Add a layer of competition or difficulty to your activities to help boost engagement.

We also talk about how failure and struggling are some of the best opportunities for an individual to learn. We review how we can allow it to happen in a trusting safe environment during practice and how the coach can handle failure during a swim meet.

We look at praising the effort and Meighan gives us some guides on how to phrase our words for disappointed athletes.

Praise the effort. Praise the mental preparation. Meighan talks about Michael Phelps and his struggle with water in his goggles. He used envisioning techniques to prepare for the possibility of a championship event and having water in his goggles.

Apr 17, 201701:01:39
SIP 056: Challenges in Swim Lessons
Apr 10, 201722:29
SIP 055: "The one thing," the BR chair, and games

SIP 055: "The one thing," the BR chair, and games

Karis Mount grew up in Minnesota, graduated high school in North Dakota, and is currently in school for Supervisory Management. She swam all 4 years of her high school seasons and was on varsity. She continues to swim at alumni meets. Karis taught swim lessons and was a Head Lifeguard at her local YMCA where she was involved in adaptive lessons and helped coach 5-9 year olds. One day she would like to run her own swim school.


As you listen to Karis talk you'll pick up on her enthusiasm and excitement about swimming. She has some clear ideas on what she liked both as a swimmer (that the coaches did) and mentions three really important points. I like how Kari's gets in the water and is visual with everything. She demonstrate and shows before asking her swimmers to do something. 


The One Thing


We talk about how one of the best things you can do as a swim instructor or a swim coach is to focus your feedback on the "one" thing. This is perhaps one of the best pieces of advice to glean from our conversation. Avoid 'over-coaching' your swimmers at swim meets. We talk about how behind the blocks some coaches can go overboard with telling the swimmer to do 10 different things in order to have a good swim. Remember that swim meets are an expression of habit with adrenaline and anxiety about performance. Instead of overwhelming your swimmer with too many things to think about pick the one single thing that will get you them the best results. It will be different for everyone; know your audience! You can see a more detailed look at this concept on this blog post:



In Karis' words: "Giving a swimmer too much information can overwhelm their brain. A good coach will encourage and help, not distract or make things more complicated and difficult.


Karis shares some brilliant ideas:


Her swim team used the Swimmer of the Week concept, and had a special unique kick board that only the Swimmer of the Week would use during kick sets. The simple different item set that person apart and made them proud to be the Swimmer of the Week. I think it is wonderful because it is a constant reminder in a daily practice setting that sets someone apart and rewards the individual for exceptional behavior. Karis talks about how you don't get swimmer of the week for being the fastest or the best, but maybe one week you really struggled and the next week you made changes and significantly improved; the coaches took notice and rewarded that effort.  See our guide about praising effort in this blog post:


"Following the Arms"


@48:00 We talk about how Karis progresses from a swimmer that can just go underwater to swimming freestyle. She follows a standard, glide off the wall, scoops, and floats with assistance. She recommends that you take your kids to the deep end in a safe manner, just to expose them to it early on. Put a noodle on them and expose them to the deeper water.  One of my favorite tactics she shares is the "following the arms" activity.


Following the arms: Your hand is the paintbrush. Tell the swimmers to "paint the ceiling and pick your favorite color. Then paint the ceiling with your hand as you move it over your head. Dip your brush in the water as you scoop, then paint the ceiling with your hands.


And towards the end, we move into a list of really interesting swimming games.


Games discussion starts @31:00


Fireman pole


Get a 4" or 5" PVC pipe and hold it upright light a fireman's

Apr 04, 201741:42
SIP 054: Merging preschool teaching with swim lessons - An interview with Jennifer Butler

SIP 054: Merging preschool teaching with swim lessons - An interview with Jennifer Butler

Jennifer Butler of Roots Aquatics is awesome. She is an experienced preschool teacher, swimming veteran and expert swim instructor. Jenn is the Aquatic Coordinator at Roots Aquatics and Fitness Center where she trains lifeguards and swim instructors, teaches lessons, does the schedule, and writes a staff only blog. This summer she'll be running the camp swim lessons for  all three Roots locations.

Jennifer has taught swim lessons for 11 years and has had a lifetime of aquatic experience; swimming in middle schoo, high school, and college. She taught preschool for 7 years, and began her swim instruction at the YMCA where she blended American Red Cross and YMCA lessons into one.

In this podcast we go in depth into the Roots Aquatics program and discuss things that Jenn and her staff do to engage their students.

There are some wonderful moments that I want you to be aware of:

Otter Toddler Class: New  class for Roots where they start by themselves at 2 1/2 if a teacher recommends them into the class. This fills a gap in their levels and lessons. The class is for kids that move on their own, or with floatation devices and have outgrown their  "mom and tot" class, but aren't quite ready for the group lessons.

@ 13:30 Free Swim Lesson: 3 month to 6 month. This is a brilliant idea that might be the next big thing in swimming lessons. Much like the current online website formula Jenn and Roots Aquatics are offering a free class that they hope will serve as a hook for their classes. It is limited in scope (3m - 6m) and when it is done well, the parents and kids will be motivated to stay with their program for the rest of their swimming career. In this class they read a book to the kids, and do an activity with each line in the book. One example is reading a  book about a pig that is painting. They get a paintbrush and "paint" the kid's with the paint brushes in the water. Gives an activity that allows interaction and a doorway to going underwater and floating.

Kiefer Noodle Rockets: http:/

Pat the Dog activity to teach sculling and the beginnings of backstroke and breaststroke. uSwim, level 3, skill 3 - how to teach pat the dog or back kicking, swimming lessons

Foam Puzzle Shapes: Not exact, but close:
Maybe this

Hiring and Training:

Jenn employs the "shadowing" or apprenticeship mode of training where new hires will get in the water with a veteran instruction and learn how to teach in the classes. After about 40 hours of training, they gradually move into doing single skills under the guidance of the veteran instructor.


Brilliant Book Games:

At [time] Jenn goes into detail about some games that they play with books for their beginning level classes.


Mar 27, 201701:06:18
SIP 053: Calling Podcast Guests

SIP 053: Calling Podcast Guests

You can join the podcast as a guest by submitting a form here:



Swimming experience Currently teaching or running swim lessons Swim Coach Involved in swim lesson management or administration


We want to hear your story. What unique things do you do in your swim program that set you apart from the crowd? Every person has their own unique story facing the challenges and obstacles in their lives. What have you chosen to improve or develop that you're proud of?


I want to talk to yo. I want to hear your story. Spend an hour of your time getting your word out and share your success with the world. We get about 100 listeners a day to the Swimming Ideas Podcast: share your story with the world.


Questions? Email Jeff

Twitter: @swimmingideas

Facebook: Swimming Ideas


Mar 24, 201720:40
SIP 052: Swimming is a Habit
Jun 20, 201627:41
SIP 051: Go to Games for swim lessons

SIP 051: Go to Games for swim lessons

Today we're going to look at the "staple" games for swimming lessons. These are the go to games I use for most swim lessons.


Once you get a group of swimmers with you more regularly where they know you and are used to your system and routines, you can start playing more inventive and dynamic games.


For beginners, for summer temporary staff the best games are the staples, the basics, the go to games.




Fun, first game we teach swim instructors. The easiest game to play, requires fun and energy which are often in high supply for beginners who are often younger.  Gives lots of opportunity to bond in a positive trust earning way with swimmers



Bake a Cake




Assisted, unassisted, and different types of jumps. Most successful when given a certain number of attempts each time. The clearer you are with instructions, then the more benefit.


Typical uses: refreshing or resetting when doing a lot of work with specific skill focus. When you're doing a lot of repetitive glides and arm stroke work, break up the monotony with jumps.


Effective for getting used to going underwater, effective for learning how to recover after falling in.  Let participants hold your hands, and control the depth to which they fall in.


Make additions to the jump using clear instructions. For example: jump in, swim to instructor then streamline back to the wall with a boost. Or jump in, roll over on back, then kick on back to wall. 


Physical challenges:


varying options and dynamic category of games instead of just *one* game.

Poses, flips in seconds, body position challenge, contest




Every game in this podcast can be created on the fly using the formula found in the book, How to Create Fun and Effective Swim Games. You can get a copy at amazon now!




Jun 15, 201625:45
SIP 050: Lesson Plans for swim lessons

SIP 050: Lesson Plans for swim lessons

The importance of lesson plans.


Lesson plans are not necessary for everyone. Veteran and highly experienced teachers can do without them. However levels, move up criteria and overall progression planning is necessary.


You have to know where you want to go before you start moving forward.


Majority of swim instructors are inexperienced.


Park districts hire 15-22 typically, often employee's first job. Temporary job, part time job, no long term growth, few continue teaching lessons past college age.


Small population of professional instructors.



Lesson plans provide the experience of veteran professional instruction to novices.


Swimming Ideas is an accumulation of 20 years of swim instruction experience and refinement.  The levels and testable skills point to swim teams. Underwater, body position, glides, arms, breathing, then outward to competitive strokes.


There are layers of complexity within the lesson plans:

Overall goal: swim well Level goals: which order to teach in Skill progressions: incremental steps to cross promote skills and maximize effort and time Scripts and repetition to reinforce essentials. Distill down the essential basics for each skill Games and fun to practice skills



Novice instructors don't have the "vision" for the life-cycle of the swimming participant. They typcially think in objective based narrow vision. They see swimmers that can't do front crawl or go underwater and can creatively work towards that goal while ignoring other things, or over teaching and overwhelming young swimmers.


Teaching exact hand position and high elbow recovery to children that can't keep their body straight or kick and move arms at the same time. Foolish and wrong time.


Start broad and then narrow focus.


Underwater (broad) > Glides and body position (posture, line, balance) broad > arm circles (more narrow) > turning head to the side to breathe (narrow) > arm recovery target; return to position 11 (narrow) > high elbow recovery (extremely narrow).


Without lesson plans the instructor may know all these steps but do them out of order or skip some entirely. More efficient and successful in less time to follow the progression.



Lesson plans also follow generally this "planning wheel from:




From <>




We warm up by going underwater, introduce our lesson: "We're going to practice front glides."


We demonstrate.


Then we practice with repetition to learn the skill: 3 x streamline + kick


Push each individual to next step of progression based on their personal ability.


Play a game or do another skill that incorporates learned skill just done.



Lesson plans provide guidance. Standardize language. Allow for opportunity of games and deviation. Not designed to follow blindly forever. Generally designed for Skill, Skill, Game and each skill builds on itself and progresses in difficulty.


End objectives are the Level goals or testing criteria. Each step in the lesson plan drives towards that goal and gives multiple opportunities to practice, or test those skills.



Jun 06, 201626:02
SIP 049: Ring the Bell

SIP 049: Ring the Bell





Swim RVA



Fitness and swimming pool in Richmond VA


I follow them on Facebook and Twitter and their "ring the bell" concept is amazing.


Loud, physical, tangible thing to do announcing to everyone and yourself that someone has succeeded in something.


We don't do anything similar. I want to install something like this.


They follow Swim America and thus, use the stations to progress. There are 10 so there are regular intervals of success built in if participants show up.


Makes success prominent, gives participants something to do outside of the pool. Works very well for younger swimmers.





May 29, 201613:59
SIP 048: The science behind progressions

SIP 048: The science behind progressions

USA Swimming has this article linked to their Learn To Swim page at



We're going to look specifically at this portion:



  Moving and Learning

Recent neurological research links movement to learning and memory.  Since neurologists now agree that active movement is scientifically linked to intellectual development, how early should movement training begin?   


Babies are born with most of their neurons, billions.  But they have few interconnections (synapses) between the neurons.  As a baby moves and interacts with his world, the impulses flowing through his neurons stimulate the cell fibers to grow more branches and twigs reaching out to other neurons. When neurons are stimulated through movement, they develop interconnections (synapses). The more interconnections, the more capable the child is of learning (Whitehead).   


Interaction or communication between the neurons is necessary for learning to take place. Neuroscientists at University of California at Irvine discovered that active movement activates the release of BDNF, a brain-derived neurotrophic factor (Kinoshita 1999). BDNF is a protein that acts on certain neurons in the brain; it supports the growth, function, and survival of these neurons and synapses in the hippocampus, cerebral cortex, and the basal forebrain.  These are areas of vital learning, memory, and higher reasoning (Whitehead).  


Every time a synapse is used, it becomes stronger and easier to send messages in the future. Every time a movement is repeated, less energy is used to repeat it in the future. As an infant repeats movements, the brain groups those movements together in a neural memory. A newborn has very few memories stored in his synapses. As he moves and interacts with his world, his nervous system accumulates more neural memories (Ayers 1991).   


A child has neural memories for everything he can do. These sensory/motor memories create an internal picture of the body. This body image is stored in the child's nervous system. The child's brain refers to this internal picture to plan his movements. The more accurate the internal body image, the better able a child is to navigate unfamiliar movements (Ayers 1991). By giving a child many varied sensory experiences like the active movement in swimming, his movement experiences become more plentiful and diverse, resulting in a more developed internal body picture. However without this information, the child would not know where the parts of his body are or how to spontaneously move from one place to another without conscious planning.



Varied movement in swimming produces automatic responses later. If we practice repetitive motions in different and varied ways, when we go to move through the water that motion will be done quicker, better, and automatically without thought: automatic response when under duress, or a "fight or flight mode."


We use progressions of increasing difficulty so when we go to do the activity it is done well without conscious thought.


Free play

Kicking motions

Position 11

Front glides supports

Back glide


#1 take-away from the article? Loving, slow, fun environment is significantly be

May 15, 201620:10
SIP 047: Three cures for terrible training sessions

SIP 047: Three cures for terrible training sessions

You're likely getting ready for your summer lifeguard trainings this month. You have returning staff and new hires eager or reluctantly attending your mandatory trainings.


These are critical hours you have a captive audience. Here are 3 things you can do as an instructor or facilitator to make sure your participants aren't leaving after your two day session saying, "well that could have been done in 2 hours."


With these three cures you'll have effective and efficient trainings where your participants will learn, be active, and be engaged.


What democracy doesn't have 2 presidents? What company doesn't have 2 CEOs? Ditch the Co-instructor format and have one lead instructor and multiple aides.

You must have a clear lead instructor. If you have aides teaching, do not interrupt them or "add" to their discussion in front of the group. Lead instructor is responsible for being prompt and clear with what is next, avoiding unnecessary downtime, and keeping everything moving.



Utilize small groups whenever possible. At some point working with a lot of people turns into just herding sheep.

Randomize the groups, switch up the groups regularly Don't use silly names for groups. Simple 1, 2, 3 is most effective than trying to remember random animals or colors. Rotate aides and instructors for each group and topic so participants get different styles and interaction with each manager/instructor Small groups are more effective at discussion, getting things moving, and speed up the process. Use a large group debrief to share what small groups talked about and to swap stories.


Have a specific agenda before you start teaching.

Know what you are teaching, how much time you'll spend teaching it, and what you are going to do next in as much exact detail as possible. Avoid forcing people to sit and wait for you to figure out who is going to decide what to do next, when, and where. Write it out and distribute it to all participants. At this time we're doing this, at that time we're doing that. Be clear, be specific, and pad things with a little extra time. Participants will appreciate early release over excessive time. 
May 10, 201625:51
SIP 046: Two scripts for teaching swimming

SIP 046: Two scripts for teaching swimming

Front glides, back glides


Put your shoulders in the water Put your arms out in front of you Put your face in the water Push off to me


Back glide script:


Stand up straight Turn away from me Put your shoulders in the water Tilt your head back Push off to me


Why they're important

What each phrase does.


How they're integrated into incremental progressions and swim lesson plans.

Apr 25, 201620:41
SIP 045: Importance of Routine

SIP 045: Importance of Routine

Set up systems for better success


Look in your favorite search: importance of systems in business


You'll find a huge list of why you need to have systems. What is a system and why is it important for swimming lessons or swim teams?


I think of a "system" as a template or a guide for how to proceed with a certain action.


If I hired someone, the system would be the paperwork I needed to fill out, and who to turn it in to. The order I did that paperwork and when is the "system."


In a large sense, how a participant signs up for your classes, what they fill out to register, and who and how much they pay is all part of your marketing and registration system.


Systems simplify making money. They simplify "how to do stuff."


Swimming Ideas offers a "system" to teach swim lessons.


For us, it is the general format of a class, which we further break down into ability levels and activities.


We follow logical progressions to get to desired goals and do things with the same language because we're following the system.


General activity system: short distance skill work with high volume, specific target goals, feedback, and incremental progression.


We move short distances (most of the time).

We do something a lot.

We give a few key goals (look down, lock thumb, squeeze ears).

We give feedback based on those goals.

We challenge by adding the next incremental step of difficulty.


Success comes when you can flow into this system with any person in your program with any teacher and just pick up where they left off.


Swimmers expect the routine of your system, and flourish under it. Systems remove the unique "what do you mean" moments that waste time.


Systems create trust in your swimmers.  Fear and hesitation are a huge element to swimming with the potential to not breathe. We can earn trust through our systems because participants know what to expect.


Do you have a system? Do you follow ours? Let me know in the comments, or on facebook, or twitter.

Apr 19, 201627:52
SIP 044: Resetting when plans don't work

SIP 044: Resetting when plans don't work

Learn when it is time to stop an activity and move on.


When you feel you're forcing it When participants are distracted by something else Loud reset When goofiness takes hold Use a distraction skill: my go to is "jumps" When participants are not "getting it." Reteach, or explain better Too complex for intended group


Is it better to try something new and fail, than it is to only do what you know works?



Failure leads to success:


Article about school that grades character instead of using homework and standardized tests.


When you persevere, make attempts, fail, and then are corrected with help and direction success is earned and learned.


The process is important.


Swimming is so much easier than just "learning overall" we have a specific body motion goal we are working towards.


We can get there by making learning attempts for our participants. 


Come up with interesting ways to provide the following key elements:

Specific skill/body motion Multiple attempts Challenging or fun activity to work on chosen skill Sometimes challenge and fun is simply in act of doing it (streamlines can be fun - they're fast).  Pulling super boost example Consistent opportunity for feedback from instructor in a non-disruptive way.


How do you reset your instruction? Do you do it often? (goal is infrequent, but when you're trying new things you need to know when to reset).


Let us know in comments below or on facebook or twitter.

Apr 11, 201623:03
SIP 043: Interrupt your flow

SIP 043: Interrupt your flow

Why we would interrupt a skill progression to play a game, and why it works for swim lessons and better retention.


General swimming lesson information.


Typical swim lesson plans:

Enter Underwater Front glides Free swim Breathing Free swim Back glides Back arms Back swim Jumps Games Done.



Swimming Ideas lesson plans:

Entry Underwater Front glides Game Arm circles Freestyle swim Back glides Game Back arms Back swim Jumps Front glides with arms


We insert games, and jumps to recapture dulling attention.


Most everything you do in the water should be moving your swimmers to better ability in the water. Sometimes the best way to do that is with a game or a song.


We are essentially teaching "body control" in very specific restricted movements. But that comes with it some requirement to know what the "feel for the water" is.


Basic premise:


Repetitive learning.

Set up similar systems for participant expectations.

When it gets boring, play a game, sing  a song, do alternate activity.

Return to system.



Apr 04, 201616:43
SIP 042: Revisiting Streamline

SIP 042: Revisiting Streamline

What are the 3 things to streamline?

Lock thumb Look down Squeeze ears


What common problems do these commands/goals/specific words correct:


Head lifted and looking forward Arms not tight against head Hands wavering Body not straight Hands at 11 Arms bent and slow The "fake" streamline Short streamlines The bad crawl position


By doing all 3 things, it addresses almost every single bad habit in streamlines.


Why do we do it at all? Why do we do it with beginners?


Streamline is the most efficient and best way to move through the water. Every stroke moves from streamline into movement. It is the easiest horizontal motion we can do. It is the starting point. The base.


With beginners we are less strict with the 3 goals, and they can do it on the surface. We still enforce the looking down. We encourage the squeezed ears, and the locked thumb..


As we progress through levels we initiate the

Mar 29, 201625:49
SIP 041: Underwater First

SIP 041: Underwater First

Level 1 and Parent Tot.


Our primary focus is going underwater.


When you can go underwater then you can do everything.


The only thing you can do without going underwater is supported activities (being physically held up at surface) and backstroke.


One must learn how to go underwater. They should learn how to react when submerging, how to hold breath, blow bubbles, and not to panic when not able to breathe underwater.


We do that by repeatedly giving opportunities to go underwater to the participant. We build into almost every activity some chance to put the face in.




Bobs Rings Superman through hula hoop Supported Front glides Kicking Arm circles Bake a Cake Jumps Monkey walks


Level 1 testable skills:

Go underwater completely on own Supported front glide with face in water
Mar 21, 201621:23
SIP 040: Multiple levels in the same class?

SIP 040: Multiple levels in the same class?

Can you teach level 2 and level 3 in the same class? What about 1 and 2?


We go into some in-depth discussion on what each level requirements are, and how you can integrate them into one class.


Is it ideal?


Why even have levels in the first place?


Example of last class taught: level 2/3 and how I taught the class to each individual.


The beauty of short and long distance skill work, and why the short distance cheat sheet is a framework of success.


General Short distance framework:


3 x [something] + [something else]



Mar 14, 201629:27
SIP 039: Revisiting Position 11

SIP 039: Revisiting Position 11

How we use it in swim lessons and how we use it at swim practice.


What is it:


Position 11 is:


A drill we do to establish a good quality body position and long reach. Something we do every day in every lesson Used in every stroke



 Go here for a free preview:


How do we do it in lessons?

In Level 2:

On the deck we do Streamline into position 11 We review what it is and the three things you use it for We do it with a noodle, or a kickboard WE talk about it as the target or goal body position arms should travel through on FREE and Back We use it when teaching Breaststroke When teaching butterfly When doing short distance training


How do we use it at swim team?

Every day we do 2 x 25 position 11 where we review all the steps and goals. And the 3 thin
Mar 08, 201623:43
SIP 038: 2016 and Language

SIP 038: 2016 and Language posted an article about External and internal focus for optimal learning.


Basically: external focus is better. Using golf, darts, and balancing a board, researchers have shown that when you focus your attention on doing SOMETHING to something, you get better results.


This applies to swimming lessons because it gives us an insight into how we frame our language to get the best results.


Why do we say:


"Squeeze your ears, Look down, lock your thumb.


"Keep your arm straight, look down, and stay on the surface


Are these effective? Or are these internal cues.


Swimming and moving in the water is a highly personal thing and we often think about telling someone to do something by guiding their body. We assume they are attempting to move their body in a certain way, and they are!, but it may be more effective to give them a target, instead of giving a path.


Perhaps this is why "11, Y, scoop and Reach" is so effective.  It isn't a "reach your arms up, keep them straight, sweep out, then shoot forward quickly." It is instead, providing a visual target, or an external cue that swimmers need to externally achieve by moving their bodies toward!


How can we use our language as swim instructors and coaches to use these external cues.


We tried it at swim practice


Point your fingers to the walls when you do your back stroke Aim your face to the lane lines when you breathe Aim your nose Shoot a laser out of your nose to the lane line when you breathe Hit the target over your shoulder on the surface with each arm stroke before you do

"zombie" and pull during freestyle

For breaststroke we said, "shoot your arms forward like a bullet" and "throw your hands at the target over your head."














We drew these on the board.




We tried it in swim lessons:

Reach your arms as far forward as you can Place them on the surface gently Look at my toes underwater Reach for me when you push off


It really works well when you do two benches facing each other:

Go 5 times from bench to bench. Your goal is to get to the other bench while still in streamline, or still in position 11


Specific swim lesson activity


Swimmers stood on the bench, and were told to keep their body in a soldier position: straight back, straight head, arms at side. We held a noodle just at the limit of their arm's reach and asked them to make windmills with straight arms and "slap" the noodle each time they came around This was for a long straight reach out in front for when they swim. Moved the noodle "just" outside of reach, and asked to do again, encouraging hip rotation to reach the noodle for the "slap"
Feb 24, 201626:04
SIP 037: Problem then Solution conundrum

SIP 037: Problem then Solution conundrum

Locked doors, headaches, and intellectual need | Affording Play



Mathematics, and how to teach both old and new math, and how to program.


The concept of the "locked door, and the key."

I have a door that is locked. How do I get through it? You use a key. How do you respond when you are presented with another locked door the next time? You search for the key.


We want to teach our swimmers to have the keys to their success :)


Introduce a "problem" and then offer a series of solutions to solve that "problem"


You can swim like an Olympian some day. We can get you there. Here is a video that shows you what it looks like.


Watch the video, then attempt to swim like this.


Can't swim exactly like an Olympian? We can get you there:


Do these drills:


Head Lead Balance with Rotation

One arm only Free

6 kick switch: 3 strokes free, then 6 kicks on your side. We do 18 kicks on side usually then 3 strokes.


Now swim Freestyle again and attempt to swim like Olympian


These drills should help you swim better.


Introduce your locked doors before you offer the solutions.


In swimming: define where you want to go, and then offer solutions to how you get there.


Position 11:  3 things that you need to focus on to do it well:

Arms straight Stay at the surface Look down


Problem? How do you do position 11 well? You do those three things.


(we talk about position 11 in our first podcast: SIP 001)


Problem: Position 11 is really difficult!!! How can we make it easier?

Breathe Quickly Kick faster when you breathe Keep your body straight.


** Why do we do position 11 at all during swimming? Every stroke moves through position 11. Freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly. Each arm stroke of every competitive stroke at some point moves through position 11.


Layers of problems, and offering multiple actionable solutions to fix them.


How do we provide self directed motivated learning in swimming? One of the steps of How to be an effective swimming lesson instructor is to inspire and motivate our swimmers to want to get better themselves; to be internally motivated.

Nov 16, 201521:55
SIP 036: 100 Point Game at Swim Practice, Success? or Failure?

SIP 036: 100 Point Game at Swim Practice, Success? or Failure?

You can find the website post about this game here:


We played this game about 10 times in the last few months. I have played it with swimming lessons with more advanced abilities and with our developmental swim team. For our pre-competitive group, who have mostly been swimming on the team for more than 1 year, it was an excellent great game. I found there to be a high level of engagement, reception to improved quality and of highest importance a huge boost in peer learning. The swimmers helped each other improve using language I would use as a coach on each other. In every instance of this game, there was at least one group that would band together and help each other out.


We did a general IM Set when we played the game:


4 x 50

4 stroke Fly then Fly kick the rest / Backstroke x 25

1st 25 is 4 strokes fly swim then Fly kick the rest of the length. Second 25 is backstroke swim.

4 x 50

Backstroke / Breaststroke x 25

Back down, breast back. Work on streamlines and open turns.

4 x 50

Breaststroke / Freestyle x 25

Do underwater pullouts, long glides, 2 hand touches, and good streamlines. Turn head to the side when breathing.


We offered the following reward for winners: 5 minutes to do whatever they wanted to do at the end of practice. The winning team could choose as a group what the whole team would do for the last 5 minutes of practice: game, set, anything.


The losing teams had to do either 100 free kick or 10 sit-ups and 10 push-ups.


What I liked and what I didn't  like about it :


Good: Effective at first  engaged everyone as a group in each lane 


Okay: High quality swimming faltered as the game went on 


Bad: Easy to really punish people which is not good for self esteem


Bad: Can single people out


Good and Bad: Coaches are extremely subjective when dealing out point subtractions. It is really easy to arbitrarily single out swimmers and punish them.  Be careful. On the good side, it is easy to manipulate the points to make it a close game and more fun. Or to reward favorites, which can also be dangerous.


Good: Can be fun and team building 


You can create great games like this when you get the book, "How to Create Fun and Effective Swim Games."  Find that book on amazon now! How to create fun and effective swim games: Invent your own swim games on the fly following this tested formula

Nov 02, 201523:19
SIP 035: What makes a good swim coach?

SIP 035: What makes a good swim coach?

Coach I work with talking about job history, philosophy of coaching


Fixed mindset, change mindset


Work hard and you will fail


Coach's role: games? No. Respect. Yelling doesn't earn it. Don't be feared.


Expectation of hard work and care.


Clarify and reword what head coach doesn’t address or explain well.


What makes a good swimmer? 

Instill and teach your swimmers to have a change mindset. They're going to fail. It will happen. How can we mentally and physically prepare them for that reality, and give them tools they need to do well. 

Constantly evaluate what swimmers are doing in the water and provide opportunities to recognize, adjust, and create new habits that lead to time and swimming success.

Create personal connection to inspire. Connection to swimmer to allow them to feel safe to say when they don't understand.

A good coach fosters a change mindset and provides the culture and environment that reinforces it. 

Hard work doesn't always = success. Real world lessons. Hard work doesn't always mean swimming success.  Coach effort. Coach excellence and get to failure and train that.


How to balance focus on times as rewards and effort.

Oct 26, 201525:52
SIP 034: Bringing Meditation Techniques into swimming

SIP 034: Bringing Meditation Techniques into swimming

How did I arrive at it?

Podcast: Art of Charm




What exactly am I talking about?

Encouraging swimmers to "think" about swimming as they do it

Promote "attempts"

Promote awareness of what you're doing, acknowledge difference and attempt change.


How does this connect to meditation:

Not stillness

Acknowledgement: Breathe with eyes closed, focus on breathing. When you become aware of yourself thinking of something else, make a note "Hey, I'm thinking of something not my breathing. Then go BACK to thinking about breath.


Same with swimming. I'm attempting what the coach said to focus on, I'm attempting to do something. When you realize you're NOT doing that. Think, "ahah! I'm not doing that." Then, attempt to return to focusing on what the goal is.


Appropriate for all ages? No.

Used more in a swim team or pre-swim team setting where you can hold the attention for longer. No harm in attempting it with younger swimmers, but games and play is better for beginners, or those between 3-7.


What do you think? Have you done it?



We have an arch or a theme for our swim team right now, a macrocycle if you're familiar with it. That theme is "Balance, Line, and Posture" and how that fits into swimming. Our goal is to be mindful and aware of those three things throughout our practices.


We did this set at practice:

Oct 19, 201525:19
SIP 033: What do you think of "side glide?"

SIP 033: What do you think of "side glide?"

Side Glide:


What are the benefits? Are there even good examples of side glide that effectively teach freestyle breathing?


If you can do a streamline, do that first, then roll over on your side, put your top hand on your hip, and stack your hips. Rotate your hips and your shoulder to lean on your side. Breathe, and then put your face in the water and do it again.


The idea, is that you rotate your body to breathe which later on in swimming is generally the goal: connect your hips and your arms as they move on freestyle to have the best swimming. You should breathe by connecting your head rotation to the side with your hips. Breathe when your hips rotate.


Side glide is a good tool to use to teach safety only: learn how to breathe the easiest? Or quickly while staying at the surface when you have no understanding of swimming freestyle well.



Promotes head up, chin away from the body at the surface. This requires a lot of retraining later on when we're attempting to correct the head up, chin away from your body position. This makes the body sink, legs will fall down, and the head will raise up while swimming. Does not effectively teach face down position. This requires retraining when teaching freestyle correctly: body straight, face looking straight down where the crown or top of the head pushes the water, not the face.  When side glide is taught first, swimmers will lift their head and raise their chin away from their body causing their feet to sink, and make it more difficult to swim. When actually doing side glide, it promotes (and it encouraged by the teachers) to doggie paddle in order to breathe.  This actually encourages the participant to struggle on the surface. If you've head SIP 024 Why we never let participants struggle, you'll remember that this loses trust and confidence in the instructor and is one of the absolute worst things you can do as a swim instructor. Never let the participant struggle, and absolutely never encourage struggling to breathe. It does not directly correlate to good swimming posture.  Side glide is based off of the Head Lead Balance with Rotation drill.  We have an awesome video/post on our website already! :       This is a great drill for advanced swimmers, and appropriate for beginners when done on the back. We only introduce this when swimmers know how to swim well already. It is a drill to reinforce hip and body rotation and keeping the head still, unless breathing. It does NOT work and is NOT effective when swimmers get out of alignment.  Because this is a difficult drill to do well as an advanced swimmer, it makes absolutely no sense to introduce it to beginners. Beginners need to have proper body line and posture before attempting this drill, because when the head comes out of alignment, then the drill loses its benefit. When you struggle at the surface and when you lift your chin to breathe, the drill loses its entire purpose: reinforce body rotation and balancing at the surface.


Our goal is to teach swimming well. #1 focus is to have a safe swimming, and have all our swimmers get in a pool or water of any type and be competent enough to swim at will and then exit the water. We want all participants to be able to leave the water on their own. To survive. Side glide will teach someone to struggle to breathe and maybe survive for a little while longer, but it does not teach how to swim freestyle well. With Swimming Ideas, we want to teach swimming well, and when you can swim well, you are comfortable enough and strong enough to get to the side quickly well, and to struggle well enough to save y

Oct 12, 201525:08
SIP 032

SIP 032

What do you do with new staff that have been trained, but still need some practical experience before they start teaching classes on their own?


Do you like the new format of this podcast? Do you like it? Leave an honest review on iTunes, or on this website page.


Step one should be to go through a training session. We use the SLI Swim Instructor training workbook, which is a three day course where they are walked through all the 15 essential swim skills, then we review HOW to actually teach. They learn what waves are, the rotation method, and how to use command language.


Topic: Training new staff with "assistants" or teaching a large class with Assistants.


Large influx of new teachers. How do you train them? Give them the SLI Swim Instructor Training Workbook, online video supplement, finish their training with shadowing.


Shadowing lasts for a full class session. Stick with the same teacher and the same class for one full class (typically 3 weeks worth of lessons)


Main teacher dictates all activities, explains focus.

Main teacher does activity with each class member

Assistant does activity with each class member and reiterates/repeats what the main instructor said.


The shadow should take initiative and engage with the class mimicing what the


Co-Teach: switch off: not ideal not clear who is in charge. Not feasible for beginners: they don't know what to do.

Too many cooks in the kitchen.


How long do you have someone shadow? What circumstances?


1 full class length, or 1 month.


When you have difficult swimmers, sometimes better to keep together than to split the class.


Returning instructor is the "Instructor" and new people are "assistants"

Oct 05, 201524:15
SIP 031: Does sidestroke deserve to "go away?"

SIP 031: Does sidestroke deserve to "go away?"

I can think of three reasons to use sidestroke:

Use in lifesaving.

Survival swim.

A teaching tool to illustrate what NOT to do when teaching breaststroke kick.


When you teach swimming lessons we want to make an effort to teach swimming strokes that our participants are going to use. 


Sidestroke is an archaic swim stroke that is often glossed over and ignored today. We only mention sidestroke two different times. 


1. During lifeguard classes when we are reviewing how to rescue someone without a tube. 


2. When we are teaching breaststroke kick in swim team and participants do a side stroke instead of the correct breaststroke.


Have you taught sidestroke to anyone? If so, why? what was the intent?


What do you think about sidestroke and whether we should keep or ditch it?

Sep 09, 201514:24
SIP 030: Treating your staff as a culture

SIP 030: Treating your staff as a culture

Everyone is responsible, do not set one person as an outlier. Everyone is accountable. It is a cultural thing. Safety.


How do you create a culture?


Work as equals


Managers help out and "get their hands dirty"


Shared accountability

Encourage others to call their coworkers if they don't show up

Encourage friendships


Team building

Outside of the job place


Give regular reviews where you focus on improvement not hostile negatives


Have regular meetings where you give productive and useful tools to succeed


Play favorites selectively

Recognize the leaders on your staff and encourage them to motivate others

Give them more authority or responsibility


Mentor your staff


Foster an apprenticeship system where new members are brought into the fold by an older more experienced team member


Be social

Say hi and learn about everyone else


Be consistent and clear with rules and discipline. Make it clear and transparent



Sep 09, 201529:12
SIP 029: Using drills to teach beginners?

SIP 029: Using drills to teach beginners?

Do you use drills in your level one and two swim lessons? If so how do you do it?

We look at the key body posture drills and skills for teaching young participants how to start swimming.


Beginner drills:


Side glide? Has a place when done well: need to have core strength to keep body straight without lifting the head to breathe

Position 11


Kickboard in position 11

Roll over from front to back: move on belly, roll over, take a breath, roll over again, continue.

1 arm kickboard on side

Catchup drill with kickboard

Catchup drill in position 11

Almost position 11 (reduced time in position 11)

3 strokes 18 kicks on side.



Strong emphasis on kicking and using it to create propulsion.

Aug 03, 201528:34
SIP 028: What is your first day of swimming lessons workflow?

SIP 028: What is your first day of swimming lessons workflow?

Swimming Lessons Ideas Program:


Print out rosters

Check existing participant database against current roster

Verify level and group

Assign to instructor

New participants:

Interview parents to determine ability level

Use age as an indicator (avoid putting 5 year olds with 10)

Assign to instructor based on confidence, parent interview, age

Observation during the lesson

Managers and instructors verify the correct placement of swimmers in classes.

If participant needs to switch a class to be more appropriate we move them immediately on the first day


Program A


Print out rosters: Camps

Line up all participants on the side of the pool.

Have 5 -6 swim instructors in the water ready to test swimmers

1-2 managers with a binder on the deck, watching each participant do a swim test

Test: Go underwater, freestyle, backstroke, free breathing, fly swim, breaststroke swim

Take all data from first day and that evening separate into classes for Day 2.


Program B


Registration based on levels specific to certain days/times:

Level 1: Monday 3:00pm

Level 2: Monday 3:30pm

Level 3: Monday 4:00pm

Jul 26, 201521:53
SIP 027: Do you use social media to promote your swim lessons?

SIP 027: Do you use social media to promote your swim lessons?






 What are some things to watch out for?

 Do not photo requirements

 Automatic waiver unless specified

 Inappropriate pictures?

 Who are you targeting?

 What is the purpose of your social media strategy?


 Get the word out

 Website traffic

 Email list


 Who is in charge of your social media accounts?

 What is your update schedule


Jul 20, 201533:20
SIP 026: Using Imagery to teach Swimming

SIP 026: Using Imagery to teach Swimming




Giraffe Neck for a long neck

Brontosaurus neck for a long neck on freestyle

Trampoline Soldiers for bobs

Carrot with leaves spinning for breaststroke kick in position 11

Giant toothbrush running in circles being chased by a tiny toothpaste bottle for brushing teeth in morning.



Use Images to create memorable associations. Images hold more information than lists or rote mantras.



Jul 13, 201518:39
SIP 025: Purposeful Practice

SIP 025: Purposeful Practice


Key points:


 A swimming coach is or should be:

Knowledgeable Organized Sympathetic 


From <>


Swimming coaches should be organized and well prepared. Swimming is a sport that depends upon developing a base and following a purposeful progression throughout a season and career. 


From <>



A coach can learn, develop and enhance these qualities. Some of these skills may already be well developed; others may need improvement.  


Jul 06, 201524:09
SIP 024: Why you should never let a participant struggle

SIP 024: Why you should never let a participant struggle

Why we never let participants struggle to swim


Erodes trust


Not helpful teaching technique


Creates fear and distrust


Positive bank. What hurts you doesn't make you stronger, just pulls away from your positive bank 🏦


Encouragement and support produces healthy swimming longer term. Be kind and supportive to teach.  Fear is worse than respect and love.


We can get results by being harsh instructors but it is not effective teaching techniques, it creates bad emotional associations with swimming. It creates negative feelings with water.




Best option is challenging support. Give clear commands and always lift or be there as a safety of needed. Never walking away or letting a swimmer struggle. 

Jun 29, 201520:05
SIP 023: Long course training for developmental swimmers

SIP 023: Long course training for developmental swimmers

Focus on distance training

What about technique? Do you sacrifice skill work for endurance?

Emphasis on free and backstroke

What about BR and FLY?

Is there a place for short distance skill work when 50 meter pool time is limited?


What is an acceptable amount of kicking? Should you do any?


How many meters is ideal for beginners?


How do you prepare for long course with your beginning swimmers?




Specific steps we take:

-Gradual increase in yardage in 4 weeks before we switch to outdoor pools

More emphasis on free and backstroke: long body line Additional Kick sets Strong focus on glide and reach in br Decrease in fly arm stroke work Increase in fly kick work


Continue with about 1/2 short distance skill work, but lean more to endurance training (aerobic training).

Jun 23, 201529:16
SIP 022: Level 2 Day 4 Alternate lesson plan walk through

SIP 022: Level 2 Day 4 Alternate lesson plan walk through

Why we do what we do in this lesson plan. Found inside Swim Lesson Starter Kit and SLI Complete Lesson Program



Jun 15, 201533:14
SIP 021: Private lesson pay rates
Jun 10, 201523:22
SIP 020: Philosophy of Horizontal Forward Motion

SIP 020: Philosophy of Horizontal Forward Motion

Why we teach front glides and back glides immediately instead of doggie paddle.



Glides are face in

Glides are easier to move farther with less effort

Glides when done correctly have same body position as all other strokes, Fr, bk, be, fly

Proper glides have arms in same position as swimming the strokes

Requires one body position to do well, position 11 or soldier.



Requires face in the water, first difficult hurdle, may keep from progressing.

After initial push low mobility

Difficulties changing direction

No emphasis on breathing

No emphasis on arms making propulsion at first.


Doggie paddle swimming, survival swimming


Can learn how to breathe

Any direction relatively easy

Head can stay above water

Survival swim

Can teach palms pushing against water makes you move




Requires bad body position unrelated to any stroke

Difficult to keep head above water

Inefficient movement to energy expended.



Considering those things, we focus on glides and ignore doggie paddle and discourage its use entirely.

For safety, we feel that bobbing or rolling onto backstroke glide is more effective than teaching head up doggie paddle

We teach palms pushing and arm motion as an addition to glides to create extra movement and use plat to teach palm pushing for movement.


Jun 01, 201532:34
SIP 019: How we train our Staff

SIP 019: How we train our Staff


How we train new staff




Training manual Visual with pictures and descriptions Scripts for skills Skill list by level Primary focus is on front glide and back glide Follow specific lesson plans so not overwhelmed with deciding what to do. Visual Swim Skill Sheets - Starter Kit, and SLI Lesson Program Training Video: Steve Hoffler Generally very good Excellent position 11 Repetition Get in the habit of seeing children swimming and being taught to swim In water demonstration Free swim lesson for select children
May 25, 201526:58
SIP 018: Does Active Floating Play actually Work?

SIP 018: Does Active Floating Play actually Work?


What is White and Red?


Two introductory groups or levels for Starfish aquatics




White Trust and Comfort


Red Body position and air recovery






Fundamental philosophy of teaching swimming: struggle for air better than good technique.




Red mirrors much of level 1 in the SLI world.




They do lots of life jacket instruction. Okay, but needs a purpose, or at least guidance on how to integrate it into your program.




May 18, 201521:01
Swimming Ideas Podcast 017: Using a quick "Bark" to Correct Unwanted Behavior

Swimming Ideas Podcast 017: Using a quick "Bark" to Correct Unwanted Behavior

Changing your tone of voice to quickly and sharply bark at a child to correct misbehavior.


Establish a positive environment where you constantly give directions and positive reinforcement. Make it clear that a "Bark" is not you being mad at the swimmer, but desiring a different outcome.


Sometimes you can achieve the desired result by shaking your head in a "no" motion.


Sometimes you can just, "Stop that"


Or just say their name in a different tone.


OR "Unacceptable." "stop now."


Move on, and continue with positive reinforcement immediately after you achieve a desired result.



May 11, 201516:26
Swimming Ideas Podcast 016: Removing "Okay" from your Teaching Vocabulary
May 04, 201520:08
Swimming Ideas Podcast 015: 11 Reasons to Start Swim Lessons

Swimming Ideas Podcast 015: 11 Reasons to Start Swim Lessons




USA Swimming promotes learn to swim as an introduction to the activity of swimming, but more importantly we believe all children need to learn to be safe in the water. Swim lessons can begin a lifelong the progression of aquatic activity.


This section introduces parents to Make a Splash, the water safety initiative of the USA Swimming Foundation and links to providers who are partners in this effort.

Water Safety Education for Children Ages 1-4

Drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4 in many places in the United States, including Broward County, Fla. To proactively attack this problem, the Broward County Drowning Prevention Task Force has initiated numerous programs and campaigns to raise awareness about drowning. One effort is to spread the need for water safety education. Research shows that children who learn water safety skills also reap benefits in overall cognitive, physical and emotional development…and it may also save their lives! However water safety education must be done correctly, following established skill upon skill development taught in a loving, fun and positively reinforced environment.

From <>



 2 Life skill

 3 Open opportunities - swim with friends, boating, beaches, pools

 4 Weightlessness good feeling

Water's buoyancy accommodates the unfit as

Apr 27, 201522:03
Swimming Ideas Podcast 014: Teaching Adults to Swim

Swimming Ideas Podcast 014: Teaching Adults to Swim


Be patient




Ask where they are comfortable, drop down the checklist:


Go underwater? Face, eyes, blow bubbles Front Glide? With Face in Back Glide? Relaxed ears in water Hips near surface Legs kicking Front Crawl Back Crawl




Remember be patient Start slow, be gentle and give clear incremental directions.






Doing a front glide Common issues: Fear of falling Fear of not being able to breathe Fear of not being able to stand up
Apr 20, 201522:15
Swimming Ideas Podcast 013: Level 1, Day 1

Swimming Ideas Podcast 013: Level 1, Day 1

We take an indepth look at the first day in a Level One class. Our goal for this class is teach the swimmers to:

Go Underwater on their own Supported Front Glide with putting their own face in the water Supported Back Glide comfortable with ears in water.


In this episode I take you through each step of the first day in level one giving you a step by step explaination on each activity and why we do it in that order.

Our primary goal is to attack those three points to grow a swimmers confidence and competency in the water.


You can Download a Free Lesson Plan including this Day 1 sheet by joining our mailing list!

Apr 09, 201525:55
Swimming Ideas Podcast 012: Using Mirrors

Swimming Ideas Podcast 012: Using Mirrors








Swim Mirror






Excellent for seeing body line and hand travel.




Use in Swim Lessons:


Excellent for encouraging looking down Perfect for front glides Especially body straight Stack them up and go longer distances See front crawl arms Watch hand travel underwater Excellent to focus on Long reaches, full arm extension




Participants get immediate personalized feedback and can SEE what they're doing.






Keep eyes down to look at image
Mar 30, 201515:22
Swimming Ideas Podcast 011: Using Progressions

Swimming Ideas Podcast 011: Using Progressions

Utilize these progressions in your swim lessons! Buy the Premium Swimming Lesson plans here, and follow our guides and scripts to get your students to master complicated advanced swimming strokes.


Incremental progressions


How to use them in your swimming lessons


Front Glides


Stand close to the swimmer and let them hold you

Take one step back and make them jump to you, then support them

Take 2 steps back from next to swimmer, and then support when they get to you

Teach how to get to you without jumping UP in the air


Back glides


Head held on shoulder

Head held in hand

Head held by fingertips


Jumps from the side


Seated slide in the pool with help

Standing jump with help, not going underwater

Standing jump with help, face in, but not completely under

Standing jump with 1 hand held help, going underwater completely

Standing jump unassisted until after in the water

Standing jump no assistance, returning to wall.



How to use them in your swim team developmental group


Everything should be built on a foundation of streamline, or soldier position.

Mar 23, 201531:37
Swimming Ideas Podcast 010: How to Hire Summer Lifeguards and Swim Instructors

Swimming Ideas Podcast 010: How to Hire Summer Lifeguards and Swim Instructors

Start Early

Be Everywhere

Online Job boards Craigslist Monster Career Builder Company website

Interview Early and Often

Start now in your interviewing process. Earlly interviews mean better canidates because you can be more picky and precise in who you hire. Don't delay and get stuck with mediocre canidates.

Screen for summer availability, forward planning (do they know what they are doing?), and work priorities.

Group interviews

Leadership qualities Group environment testing Peer interaction Troublemakers

Individual Interviews

Nervousness Specific questions

Create a Culture for your program to spread word of mouth advertising. Your culture will define the people that show up at your program. Culture helps mentor new employees and keep existing ones engaged and on task.

What do you do to promote team culture?

What do you require for summer hiring? Contracts? Limited number of vacation days during summer months?


How do you handle teaching swim lessons? Required by all?

Mar 17, 201515:51
Swimming Ideas Podcast 009: Water Motion for Elderly and Overweight
Mar 09, 201527:01
Swimming Ideas Podcast 008: How a Child Perceives Swimming Lessons

Swimming Ideas Podcast 008: How a Child Perceives Swimming Lessons

This week's podcast is about those pain points where a child might start crying on their first day of swimming lesosns. Sometimes a child might cry when starting lessons for a number of reason and we go in detail through the first few obvious and not so obvious ones.

Prior to the Lesson:

New Pool or Location Have they ever been to that location before Prior Expectations Have they had swim lessons before? Have they been to that pool before? Lessons full of people their age? Are their peers there? Same age? What have the Parent's expectations been? Have they created any fear points of their own and imparted them to the child?

The Start of the Lesson:

Swim Coordinator calling the child's name for attendance Being introduced to their teacher Entering the Water for the first time The First activity given to them by the instructor The First CHALLENGING activity Implied authority

Remember a few important items:

Children pick up on a the parent's feelings of apprehension. As a parent,

Remember, parents, keep your goodbyes brief. Lingering my make the whole process more painful for both the child and the parent.

If a parent needs to walk their child in, let them, but do not let them stay. The parent should walk them to the edge, then once the child is engaged or distracted they should back off to outside of a window, or farther away from the edge.


Take a look at these links for some more info:

If you're looking for details on what to do once you've gotten the child into the lesson, check out our Premium Lesson Plans!

Mar 02, 201529:37
Swimming Ideas Podcast 007: Teaching Platforms for Pool
Feb 23, 201528:23
Swimming Ideas Podcast 006: Songs for Swimming Lessons

Swimming Ideas Podcast 006: Songs for Swimming Lessons

SIP 006 is all about singing songs! Here are some great songs you can use in your swimming program to help teach going underwater, getting your face wet, and doing front and back floats.

We review what you can do during each song to turn it into a teaching moment. Learn what you can do during "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" to calm a crying  child.  We'll also review how you can use the "A,B,C Song" in swimming lessons.

The following songs will be covered in detail:

Twinkle Twinkle Its Raining Its Pouring Alphabet Song Row Row Row your Boat Itsy Bitsy Spider Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes If you're Happy and You know it

A huge Thank you to Noelle Shearer, for singing the songs and providing them online.

We have a list of songs and their lyrics you can sing or play in your program here:

Parent Tot Songs

Two Bonus songs!

Humpty Dumpty:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.

Play this game while having your child sit on the side of the pool. When you either finish, or when you say "had a great fall" hold the child's hands and pull them into the water into your arms. You can play this game at the beginning of your swimming lesson too. Have everyone sit on the side and then sing the song for each participant. Pull them in or let them jump into your arms when you finish the song each time.

I'm a little Teapot

I'm a little teapot,
Short and stout
Here is my handle here is my spout
When I'm all steamed up
Hear me shout
Tip me over,
And pour me out!!!

Alternate version of the song:

I'm a little teapot,
Short and stout,
Here is my handle, here is my handle....
Wait a minute... I'M A SUGARBOWL!

During the lyrics of the song, you should pantomime the different characteristics of the "teapot"

For "spout" and "handle" put your arms to your side: spout to your hip, and other arm out to the side. When you play the Sugarbowl version, put both hands at your hips.

You can further amplify this song by pouring water on the swimmers in your group at the end of the song. When you get to, "pour me out" pour a bucket of water over your participant's heads. You can also give them each their own buckets or pails and sing the song as a group. When you get to the end, everyone pours their own water out!

Feb 16, 201529:08
Swimming Ideas Podcast 005: The 4 Best Games for Swim Lessons
Feb 09, 201532:39
Swimming Ideas Podcast 004: What Parents Should Expect from Swimming Lessons

Swimming Ideas Podcast 004: What Parents Should Expect from Swimming Lessons

In episode 004, What should parents expect from swimming lesson, we review the 3 things that parents should demand from a swimming program. We'll look at what parents and swim directors should expect to see on day one.

I will answer the following questions:

How long until my child learns to swim? What is the timeframe to get better at swimming? How many swimming lessons should we attend each week? Is one lesson a week enough?


You will also hear in this episode discussion on how the instructor will establish TRUST in their swimmers, and why that is important to learning.

Here are the graphs and images on Learning Retention and the Forgetting Curve:


Feb 04, 201531:12
Swimming Ideas Podcast 003: Short Distance Skill Work

Swimming Ideas Podcast 003: Short Distance Skill Work

You'll take from this episode a huge range of possibility for your swimming program. This technique works wonderfully for both swim lessons and for swim teams and their developmental programs. If you're working on new drills or turns, you can use this for teaching advanced swimmers!


Here is what we'll cover:






How to set up your pool for short distances How it works during a lesson What the instructor should be doing How to explain what you're doing Everyone goes 3x streamline + … Everyone does this, rotation style How to give feedback Once they get to instructor On the way back to start place What the swimmer gets out of it Walk through their individual journey What are instructions What should focus on Attempt 1 feedback Attempt 2 on return (or not) What do they do while waiting for their turn
Feb 03, 201534:18
Swimming Ideas Podcast 002: Streamline
Feb 02, 201533:16
SwimmingIdeas Podcast 001: Position 11

SwimmingIdeas Podcast 001: Position 11

I go in depth on what Position 11 drill is, how we use it at practice and in swim lessons, and what the benefits are. Find out what the 3 things each swimmer should focus on while doing the drill, and what three easy steps you can take to make it easier. I go over some common modifications for the drill, and talk about how you can use it in your program.

Feb 02, 201525:39