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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Now displaying: June, 2016
Jun 15, 2016

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 6, 2016

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.