Swimming Ideas Podast

A closer look at swimming lessons, swim team practices, swimming games, and why coaches and swimmers do the things they do.
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Swimming Ideas Podast





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Jul 9, 2018



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.  

Jun 24, 2018

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

Jun 11, 2018

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 4, 2018



Dr. Alan Goldberg,

Getting parents to work with, not against you.


Blog post about day 1 handout.

Day 2 handouts:


Be proactive. How to teach your parents on your swim team. Learn how to interact with your swim lesson parents in a healthy way.

Be proactive, take the first step, and be bold with giving information.

May 21, 2018

Recap from Dr. Alan Goldberg and Josh Davis. 

May 14, 2018

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 7, 2018

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. 

Apr 30, 2018

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 23, 2018

Lots of talk about breath; on land, in the water, in small groups, and over short distances.  


Most effective initially with short distances, and constant discussion about it. Some level of attenuation.  


Lean what we do in dryland, and in our small groups to progressively move through breathing on land to maintaining the breath in the water. 


Struggle how to keep it relevant and enforce it: how to make it habit? 


How to tell if doing it? Enforcement.  


Variations on Standard Techniques for better swimming: 


SIP 069: Foundational Breathing Method for swimming: 


Apr 16, 2018

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 9, 2018

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 phone number dedicated and scheduling software 
  • When you're available. Define days and times and stick to them. Do not spread yourself thin; if they want lessons they'll work around your schedule. Clear boundaries. 
  • Lesson duration 
  • Lesson type: group vs private 
  • Scheduling by week, day, session 
  • Level structure or progression. 
    • Intimate understanding of where you're going and how you're going to get there. 
  • Toys and props 
  • Make up lesson policy? 
  • Rain policy 
  • Cancellation policy 


During lessons: 

  • What about parents? 
  • What language will you use to teach? Scripts 
  • Skill focus 
  • Time and place for games? 
  • Misbehaving? Consequences? 
  • Refund policy 
  • Trial time?  
  • Parking 
  • Showering  
  • Towels 
  • Swim suit requirements 
Apr 2, 2018

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.


Mar 23, 2018

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, start with having them look up and pouring water on the back of their head.


Bake a Cake:


Use the hula hoops and make a cake or a pizza. Make sure you really sell this game as they'll love it and get into it with you. This is another round of opportunities to go underwater at their comfort level.


Throw a toy and get it:


We send our floating toys on a journey with kicks or splashes and then do front glides to go get them.




"Do you want to go underwater?" Yes or No, and then follow through. Have them hold your hands and then you can control the depth they go when you do the jumps.



Treasure Hunt:


We piled all the toys on the kickboards and then had a "storm" and splashes to knock some off then they got them. Awesome game.


Want a full game list? Check them out here:


What do you do with your 3 year old classes? Comment below or on social media.



Mar 19, 2018

Finding deliberate practice in your swim lessons and on swim team. Learn how to integrate it into your program and make it the foundation for all instruction.


Finding deliberate practice in swim lessons and on developmental swim teams.


What is it:


James Clear:


Deliberate practice refers to a special type of practice that is purposeful and systematic. While regular practice might include mindless repetitions, deliberate practice requires focused attention and is conducted with the specific goal of improving performance.


From <>


In swim lessons:


  • Rotation Method
  • Activity, activity, game (resetting interest and play vs. thoughtful time)
  • High volume, constant feedback; always be talking
  • Fun and effective games; approaching practice sideways
    • Games that have a challenge require thought to accomplish task, may be linked to swimming skill, but fun will trick them into trying harder.
  • Standard language
  • Trust
  • Few skills, but deep skills
    • Glides / streamline
    • Crawl, but side breathing


Swim team:

  • 3 x SL + something
  • Repetition
  • Focus keys: 3 things for sl, 3 for position 11, 3 for better swimming; goals.
  • Excellence with feedback
  • Looking for thumbs ups.
  • Challenges beyond skill demonstration; question of the day -> engagement
  • Strive for perfection
Mar 12, 2018


Daily dryland program for the first two groups / considering integrating it into swim lessons as a supplemental class/course.
10-15 minutes
Draws heavily on SIP 064: jeff Grace games, and SIP 061 and Foundations of breathing
General routine
Our "flow"
Lay down on your belly, hands underneath your shoulders
Push up into plank 3x
Chaturanga / Super challenge mode
Down dog
Walk into Lazy puppit or forward fold,
Position 11
1 free
1 free
11, Y, Eat, 11
Game / activity

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Mar 4, 2018

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

Jul 24, 2017

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 19, 2017

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.





Jun 12, 2017

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 4, 2017

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
  • US Masters Swimming Level 1-3 Certification Instructor
  • US Masters Swimming Learn-to-Swim Certification Instructor

Dominic’s straight to the point scientific approach helps you learn safe and efficient swimming technique. SwimBox's endless pool technology allows him to be able to stop you mid-stroke and make any needed corrections/adjustments. He’ll tell you exactly what needs to be done with your swimming to become more efficient, get faster, and swim injury free.




Check out Wim Hoff:


Dominic and I have a great conversation about challenging a core swimming concept: engage your core. Should we be focusing on pulling our belly buttons into their spine? Why did we even start doing that? Functionally, we want to have the core strong and stable to promote the body rotation and the spinal axis being still to maximize the force.  But can you maintain a strong core the whole time? Can you squeeze your belly for more than a 50? Maybe we're approaching the result from the wrong way. 


We talk about how when you use diaphragmatic breathing it fills or expands your waist using the same muscles that you would with "squeezing your core" but you can maintain it for a longer amount of time. Listen to how Dominic talks about learning to breath on land by expanding your pant's waist. 


He also talks about how you should rest in between breaths, and that you shouldn't start to exhale until your face exits the water. This will have a shallower breath, and because you're doing that, you should breathe to the same side to keep your oxygen at it's optimal level. If you're doing one breath every 3 or 5, you're going to have a deeper breath and a less engaged core as a result.


We are getting people stronger in their core through their breath.

Listen to the results SwimBox is getting focusing on breath. 00:28:00


For beginners, it is better to teach the "exchange of air" and learning that breath is an important part of swimming. I tried this with my developmental swimmers on deck first. We worked on big belly breaths, and small belly breaths. We did exercises where we got close to a mirror and touched the mirror with our belly buttons but not our nose or other body parts using our breath. This was to teach wide waist breathing and using your diaphragm to breath.


Evaluating your own coaching and meditation

We talk about how to distill down your feedback and your guidance to building into a better swimmer, or move into the next swim lesson. Dominic talks about how he can take your basic freestyle and in 5 lessons make you a better swimmer overall. In about 3.5 hours, he can give you a series of instruction that cycles through the 5 focus protocols for improved swimming. 

How do you know which of the many different components of swimming to focus on? Dominic and his team at SwimBox have come up with lesson plans and what they call "protocols" to teach swimming effectively. I think this echos Swimming Ideas and our level structure for beginning swimmers. We focus on the essential swim skills to get overall better results and improvements in swimming.

It is easy to see all the different things that are wrong with the swimmer, but what is the most important thing to focus on first?

I really like how Dominic looks at a swimmer and says, "what is going on with the core, and what do I know about improving posture. Let's work on that first, then we can move on to the legs. 

Use other people's language

Dominic and I are of the same mind here. Steal from other coaches and use their language to get the effect. Sometimes we teach and coach and our participants are not responding to our words. Swimming Ideas uses scripts and specific key words to emphasize points, but if they're not working we encourage you to change some of the phrasing. 

In the same way, we discuss how it totally makes sense to take the words other coaches use to describe an activity in a different way to get your participant to change.


Effective Coaching

USA Swimming sports consultants give coaches the "effective coaching" presentation. Take advantage of this now; it will change your coaching style and life for the better. 


Learning a new motor skills and the Redemption Game

Remember that when you learn a new motor skill you can only do it for 15-20 seconds. The "redemption game" is basically during your timed swim you get 1 chance to breath wrong, but the next time you breath it needs to be correct, or you lose the game. It ties into meditation because you're training your brain to be aware of your actions, recognize when you don't do it, and then make a change. 

We use short distance skill training in the pool to achieve the same goals here. Remember that when you learn a new motor skill, you can only maintain doing it for 15 -20 seconds. We do 3 x streamline + [new motor skill] in our swim lesson and our developmental swim team to achieve this exact time limit. We give our swimmers 5 chances in short 10-15 second bursts to do the skill well. In addition, we give immediate feedback to the swimmer right after their attempt.  Check out our complete program for more information.


Endless pools

SwimBox uses the Endless Pools to teach their swimming. There are many advantages, and you should check them out here:


May 15, 2017

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 can write up a clear scenario and allow teams to fully act out in a real way as possible the procedures they'd follow to provide care.


When training for specific skills you can be more creative. If you want to do an activity for scanning, you can put someone in the lifeguard chair, and another person behind them. Blindfold the lifeguard in the chair and have the person behind him throw objects into the pool. The lifeguard then has 20 seconds to scan and see if any object is on the bottom.


Follow this formula for the activity:


  1. What do you want to focus attention on? What skill?
  2. Can you isolate that skill?
  3. How can you stimulate that skill, or use that skill to accomplish something?
  4. Can you put a roadblock up that the skill might be useful in overcoming? Or by not using the skill you'd fail at?
  5. How do you use multiple people?


Explain why


 when you are done, explain why you did everything.  "We played the scanning and the blindfold and throwing game so you could see how difficult and important it is to scan using three-d triage. Remember, the bottom of the pool is the most dangerous because it is hardest to see and most fatal.

May 2, 2017

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! 

Apr 24, 2017

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 17, 2017

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.

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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.

Guides for coaching and instruction

This is a reoccurring theme in these interviews: focus on the one thing. Karis Mount from episode 055 talks about 'the one thing' and how her coach gave her a specific thing to work on at practice. Meighan Julbert is talking today about the 2 or 3 things that you need to be successful. We're seeing this crop up again and again: be concise, be direct, and limit your directions to 1-2 items. When your swimmer is behind the blocks or on the bench about the do an activity, guide their focus on the one or two most essential things. Avoid overloading them with a wide range of details that are not important. My coaching go to: kick. We talk about a strong focused kick, and I aim their mind and moving their legs. I do this because I know they have the habits of streamline, flip turns, and breathing down.  Meighan validates how we should acknowledge the effort and the response to challenges on an individual athlete basis. Make note of how she talks about the 'riptide.'

Pay attention to when Meighan talks about how as teachers we need to remember that our athletes are people first. That each individual athlete is at a different level and requires a unique approach. 

Our challenge, our difficulty as Aquatic Professionals is how do we keep those simple things entertaining and interesting?

That is the primary goal of Swimming Ideas; how do we train our staff and our coaches to teach simple difficult specific swim techniques in a fun and effective way?

Communicating with the 21st-century athlete and their parents

"The parents just don't get it." We need to be proactive evangelists of our goals and coaching. I ask Meighan how we can handle difficult parents, and her answer is really about how we should be dealing with all of the parents involved in our swim programs. The answer is simple:

Communicate early and often with the parents.

Meighan mentions how the parents are extremely influential in their swimmer's success, and in the presence of a void (no coach or instructor communication), the parents will fill it with what they think is correct. They may be working against your plan and against your flow because they don't know any better. If instead, we set up a parent meeting at the beginning of a season, at the beginning of swim lessons we can fill in those gaps with information we want the parents to have and act on. 

We talk about how the coach's and instructor's voice should be present and consistent. We recommend that you engage your parents using the medium that they are most responsive to. Some audiences will be email focused, others will use facebook or twitter. Find the avenue that gets the most response and gets in front of the most eyes, and use it.  Meighan suggests that you follow a regular pattern whether it is every week, two weeks, or monthly and stick to it. Provide consistent communication with your athletes and parents and you'll provide a cohesive directed teaching environment that will be reinforced by the parents. 

Thank you Meighan Julbert, MS from The MindSide

You can reach Meighan at:

She said that if anyone has questions about anything we talked about or just wants to reach out you should. Go to Meighan's page and fill out the contact form. 

Connect with Meighan on twitter: @meighanjulbert  


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