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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 096: Finding Motivation after a Summer burn

Swimming Ideas PodastSep 23, 2023

SIP 096: Finding Motivation after a Summer burn

SIP 096: Finding Motivation after a Summer burn

With all of summers insane madness Are you ready to push through into fall and winter programming? That's right with all the rush, activity, intensity, and pure energy that comes with the summer months where do you find the motivation to continue working on aquatic programming and hiring.?


We're gonna take a look at how to set realistic and specific goals for yourself.


Celebrate your achievements and reward yourself by for hitting specific milestones that you may have set in the spring


Seek feedback and support from staff that may have left already, are still in high school and remaining in town, or veterans that have made a career with you. Seek also your peers and surrounding areas and find out how things went with them. Debrief with your team and any other members of the aquatic community that use your facilities.


Set goals for trying new things and to improve your own experience like new courses, new training, or new opportunities.


Take vacations!

Sep 23, 202317:18
SIP 095: Repeatable Parent Tot Lesson Plan

SIP 095: Repeatable Parent Tot Lesson Plan

Why we have a single sheet for repeating parent tot classes.

What we used to do:

- Follow the lesson plans based on day.

- Challenges

○ People missed classes

○ Parents have VERY drastically different abilities, interest, and involvement.

○ New instructors not as familiar.

- Have to find which day, which lesson

○ Different ability levels and ages in the classes; why are we resetting for advanced people for the new?

What we did:

- Used the same lesson plan online using a TV on the deck

- Safety and state certification removed the TV from the deck

What we're going to do

○ Projector inside against a large white wall

○ Bluetooth music on QR code on the lesson plan

Why the repeatable lesson plan works:

- Establishes habit

- Each activity is narrow and very deep; lots of opportunity to do it in different ways from beginner to master.

- Songs still involved

- Additional skills.

Sep 18, 202334:19
SIP 094: Lesson Plans & Swim Instructor Struggles

SIP 094: Lesson Plans & Swim Instructor Struggles

We review the swim lessons plans found at and see how our swim instructors use them including their success and struggles.

Sep 10, 202320:19
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?

  1. Set up a system.
  2. Wear face coverings the entire time you're coaching or teaching.
  3. Space participants apart with a good distance.
  4. Have regular airflow across the pool surface and expel it.
  5. Limit your exposure.
  6. Ask your staff what they're comfortable with.
  7. Screen your participants.
  8. Require parent involvement.
  9. 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:

  1. Knowledge dump. Learn all the      things.
    1. Exposure
    2. Repetition
    3. Mastery
  2. Guided focus
    1. Pay attention to       this one thing.
    2. Drills that highlight       specific elements
    3. Do it wrong so you know how       to do it right
    4. 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:


  1. Provide information and experience staff needs to do their job.
  2. 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:


  1. Introduction, recap of recent week.
    1. (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")
  2. Any new information that is simple, easy, and relevant to many people.
    1. "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."
  3. Announcement about what you're going to be doing in the training today.
  4. 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