Team Work Doesn’t Seem Work

I often hear from swim school operators that they have difficulty building staff morale and fitting in staff training. Well guess what? It doesn’t have to be a chore, it doesn’t have to be a big event and it doesn’t have to take weeks of planning. Within your swim school I’m sure you already have a wealth of knowledge to share between you. My suggestion is that you start by having weekly brainstorms with your team. Throw ideas out there and give people the opportunity to share what they know. Initially the swim teachers may be reluctant to participate but after a while everyone will be eager to throw ideas around or suggests topics to discuss. Having these open lines of communication is vital for building staff morale and making a workplace where people feel like they are valued and can contribute.

Below I have listed 6 topics and my thoughts to get you started with these brainstorm sessions.

Laurie’s thoughts on positive reinforcement
The most powerful tool a teacher or parent can possess is positive reinforcement. Congratulate your little swimmers for every achievement no matter how small. This will make them more likely to try the particular skill again. Make sure that you are genuine with your praise. Don’t just say good boy or good girl. Be more specific, “I love those fast kicks”. Even very little babies will react positively to a smiling face and a happy voice. What are they types of positive reinforcements that we, as swimming teachers can use?

Laurie’s thoughts on the types of learners
It is important to understand the different types of learning. Generally children fall into one or more of the following categories; visual learners, auditory learners or kinaesthetic learners. Visual learners learn through seeing, auditory learners learn through listening and kinaesthetic learners learn through moving, doing or touching.

Good swimming teaching requires parents and teachers to communicate using a combination of the learning styles. We must always;
1. Show the child what we want
2. Let the child practice
3. Correct any mistakes

What strategies do you use in your swimming lessons to ensure that you are meeting the different learning styles?

Laurie’s thoughts on being knowledgeable
It is important that as swimming teachers we make the swimming lesson fun, stimulating and educational. This can be easily done by becoming knowledgeable on the growth and development of babies, working at the child’s pace, and communicating your knowledge and excitement to the parent and child. If you share your knowledge the parent is less likely to become bored with the swimming lesson and will place greater value on the activities that you are doing during the weekly swimming lessons.

It is my belief that the water is the main stimulant in the swimming lesson. However toys and equipment can be incorporated as long as it has a swimming related purpose. For example climbing up on a floating mat and performing swim out to the parent has many benefits for the child. This activity will help to develop the child’s balance, co-ordination, strength and muscle tone. It is a prerequisite skill for learning to climb out on a high wall which is an important safety skill. Swimming off a floating mat can stimulate a different entry into the water prepare them for if they fell in. Do the parents in your swim class know all this?

What activities are we using during the swimming lesson and what are their benefits?

Laurie’s thoughts on maximum practice time
Maximum practice time is essential for skill acquisition. Maximum practice time is best achieved by grouping the children homogeneously by ability level or having parental involvement during the swimming lesson for one on one attention and manipulation.

Pool design, ledges, teaching equipment and teacher positioning will also help to achieve maximum practice time. What strategies can we employ to help achieve maximum practice time in the swimming lesson?

Laurie’s thoughts on lesson planning
Every class we teach is unique and therefore requires practice and development of different swimming skills. Lesson planning is important because it allows us to identify the needs of different classes and create a lesson that suits those needs. Every activity that is planned in the lesson must have a purpose.

Planning in advance, deciding on a goal for a lesson and writing down the skills and drills that you will use to achieve that goal, will not only make your job easier as a teacher but will also have many benefits for your students. It will make the lesson fun, keep the lesson interesting, challenge students, and importantly keep the class achieving and improving different swimming skills.
Can you share your lesson plans with the team to make sure we are all working on the same goals?

Laurie’s thoughts on class control
To provide a safe and secure learning environment we must maintain class control. This often means setting rules and regulations to ensure the safety of those participating in the lesson. Gaining class control requires respect from both children and parents. So, show respect to parents and children and expect the same in return. Remember, if we establish these ground rules early we will create an environment that is conducive to safe and secure learning.

What are the rules and expectations of your class and how are you reinforcing them?

These are just a few brainstorming ideas to get you started with your staff. Once you establish open lines of communication ideas will start flowing and your staff will work together as a team to solve problems and educate each other in the work environment. Don’t be afraid to share your knowledge it only create more valuable teachers, excited parents and a good quality swimming program.

To learn more about a good Swim School program


FREE 3 Part Video Series…

Watch Laurie take a group of frightened beginners for their first class Now!!!!

Get it FREE Now

Australian Swimming History

Australia has a rich history in swimming. Swimming is Australia’s most outstanding Olympic sport, with 58 swimming gold medals out of our 135 gold medal count.

Australia was first represented at the Paris Olympics in 1900 by Frederic Lane who won two individual gold medals. Women’s events were added during the 1912 Olympic Games where Fanny Durack and Whilhelmina ‘Mina’ Wylie represented Australia and won gold and silver in the 100m freestyle.

Laurie Lawrence made it onto the ASCTA coaches honour list in 1982 for his success as a swimming coach. His coaching achievements boast 10 gold, 11 silver and 12 bronze medals from swimmers he has directly assisted with a combined 23 world record holders.

Swimming Australia Ltd is the peak body for competitive swimming in Australia. They are responsible for accrediting coaches and assists more than 900 swimming clubs throughout Australia. Visit their website for fantastic information on swimming history and information on the Australian swimming team.

FREE 3 Part Video Series…

Watch Laurie take a group of frightened beginners for their first class Now!!!!

Get it FREE Now

Swimming and Water Safety Professional Development for AUSTSWIM

Laurie Lawrence bought his granddaughters Evie 6 and Harper 2.5 years to Melbourne Saturday to demonstratevital swimming and water safety techniques to more than 100 AUSTSWIM teachers.

The swimming teachers were able to observe learn to swim teaching progressions for babies and toddlers. Harper displayed her ability to independently swim while being supervised within arms reach of her mother.

The AUSTSWIM teachers were versed on how to educate parents to
– relax with their baby in the water
– build independent swimming skills
– understand swimming progressions
-understand the value of participating in swimming lessons

6 year old Evie displayed her confidence and competence in swimming freestyle and backstroke. The AUSTSWIM teachers were able to observe the learn to swim progression as each stroke was broken down into basic components of water familiarisation, breath control, submersion, floating and propulsion.

During the professional development “Master Class” Laurie emphasised his Kids Alive do the five message.

The AUSTSWIM teachers were introduced to the new water safety resource pack for early learners. The water safety pack which is supported by the Australia Government looks at water safety education messages for the farm, beach, pool and home environments. These resources go hand in hand with swimming lessons to help teach children a respect for the water. Parents are encouraged to go online to to access FREE water safety animations, music and games to enjoy with their child.

Kids Alive with other water safety bodies have seen the national drowning statistics for under fives down to an all time low of 20 last year. To view reports go to

Laurie Lawrence

FREE 3 Part Video Series…

Watch Laurie take a group of frightened beginners for their first class Now!!!!

Get it FREE Now

Love the Leadership!

Since John Bertrand came on board Swimming Australia has gone from strength to strength.

Bertrand better known in the Australia psyche as the man who unbolted the Americas Cup at new York Yacht Club.

After a disappointing result for Australian swimming at the London Olympics John has concentrated on reigniting the pride in being an Australian Dolphin.

There is such a tradition in Australian Swimming and John wants all Australian swimmers to be proud of this tradition and proud to be a dolphin.

At the Rio Olympics, performances of the Australian Dolphins Swim Team will be closely followed by the country.

I totally agree with John embracing the challenge of converting the 1.2 million children who are taught to swim each year into club participants. My feeling though is if we want to be the best in the world we in learn to swim land must tech children correctly so that when the move on they have the skills to move to Dolphin representation if they want,

At a recent open water event Chelsea Gubecka (seventh) and Simon Huitenga (eighth) finished inside the top ten in a tough international field and John welcomed them along with Kareena Lee and George O’Brien to the 2015 Australian Dolphins Swim Team.

A number of our Paralympic swimmers began their IPC World Championships preparation with the Berlin Open in Germany Blake Cochrane, Sean Russo, and Brenden Hall set new world records for their classifications and Madeleine Scott set a new Oceania record in the S9 category. Great signs for the year ahead and for Rio.

Rio is fast approaching and coaches and swimmers are all doing their best to do Australia proud.

Well done coaches and swimmers but a great thank you to President John Bertrand for great leadership.

To read the president’s message shared by Swimming Australia

Laurie Lawrence

FREE 3 Part Video Series…

Watch Laurie take a group of frightened beginners for their first class Now!!!!

Get it FREE Now

Swim School

Team of Experts

Operating a swim school can be very challenging. You need safe, clean and warm water, specifically designed teaching spaces, swimming equipment, qualified staff, operation guidelines, business support and staff training the list goes on and on.

Laurie started his first swim school in 1966, in Townsville, tropical north Queensland. He started off as a Physical Education Teacher but an illness saw him return to Townsville where his father managed the famous Trobruk pool. From here he started teaching swimming and after a short while his swimmers were getting great results at State Championships. This saw not only his coaching career take off but also his learn to swim business thrive. Many teachers and coaches start off just like Laurie, with very little business skills but mostly teaching knowledge and find themselves owning or operating a swim school business which need lots of knowledge and support.

Laurie realised early on that he needed to surround himself with an expert team of people if he was to live up to his mission statement. His mission, “to be the best provider of swimming services by promoting water awareness and water safety in a clean, friendly and safe teaching environment with highly qualified staff”. Over the years Laurie has teamed up with other experts within the aquatic industry to help him manage his business and we thought we’d share with you his go to people so you can manage your business better.


Over the ensuing years, AUSTSWIM developed a core AUSTSWIM Teacher of Swimming and Water Safety™ Course and registration process. The AUSTSWIM training and accreditation is recognised by industry as the core to the development of personal aquatic survival skills and as the minimum standard to teach swimming and water safety. AUSTSWIM accreditation requires teachers to maintain their skills through regular professional development, teaching and minimum CPR standards by renewing every 3 years with AUSTSWIM.

  • AUSTSWIM trains and accredits 10,000 Teachers of Swimming and Water Safety per year, has trained over 170,000 Teachers since inception and has currently over 29,000 active, accredited teachers on its records.
  • AUSTSWIM, The Australian Council for the Teaching of Swimming and Water Safety, was formed in 1979 with the objective of developing a consistent and better quality training of Teachers of Swimming and Water Safety across Australia. AUSTSWIM consists of a National Council which has members from The Royal Life Saving Australia, Surf Life Saving Australia, Swimming Australia Ltd, YMCA, ALFA and from AUSTSWIM State Advisory Committees from each state and territory of Australia.

Swim Australia

Swim Australia’s mission is to help all Australians become safer, smarter and stronger through swimming. This is primarily achieved by developing and empowering our swim school network through the delivery of world’s best practice guidelines, professional development programs, growth opportunities and business support. It’s also about fun, and knowing Aussies are safer in and around water, as a result of their Swim Australia Registered Swim School experience, and their resulting knowledge. Swim Australia registers Swim Schools teaching swimming & water safety that meet the following criteria:

  • Consent by Government Authority to operate
  • Program is supervised by an ASCTA accredited teacher or equivalent
  • Agree to abide by National guidelines as determined by ASCTA


Poolwerx founded in 1990 is Australasia’s largest pool and spa maintenance network. With over 300 territories made up of retail stores and mobile vans, Poolwerx have the best people and latest technology available to take care of commercial swimming pools. Poolwerx are on hand to advise and support you to ensure you have a healthy pool that your staff and clients can enjoy. Their services also include chemical sales, safety and fencing inspections, pool services, and pool and equipment maintenance. They are ready to advise you on any specific needs your swim school may have.

Kirby Swim Equip

The Kirby swim equip vision is ‘to make high quality and affordable swim teaching aids that raise the performance of swimming coaches, teachers and their swimmers.

In response to the lack of user-friendly products in the swim teaching aids market, Kirby Swim Equip proudly developed, produce and promotes Turnmaster Pro and Swim Teaching Platform (STP) – the swimming products and aquatic teaching and training aids that are high quality, affordable, effective and durable.

Kirby Swim Equip is an independent family business operating from Perth, Western Australia, offering unparalleled service coordinated by Bill Kirby OAM, Australian Olympic Gold Medallist and Bill’s father Bob Kirby who has international manufacturing and distribution experience.

Designed by Bill Kirby, swimmer, teacher, coach and swim school operator and Bob Kirby with expertise in materials and manufacturing, Kirby Swim Equip products improve the performance and profitability of your swim school, club squads and individual swimmers.

Kirby Swim Equip products are used throughout Australia, America and China and by Bill in his own swim schools.  Thier products dramatically enhance and improve swim teaching and training programs.  The Swimming Teacher’s Association  has been successfully using the Kirby Swim Equip Swim Teaching Platform (STP) whilst the Kirby Swim Equip Turnmaster Pro is promoted at regional and national events by the British Swimming Coaches & Teachers Association (BSCTA).


Vorgee, an Australian owned and managed company, was established in 2005 to fill a gap in the aquatics market – the need for a ‘holistic’ aquatics company, one which offered products for those getting into a pool for the first time through to the competitive swimmer.

Made up of an experienced team, Vorgee set out to do just that – create a product for everyone, regardless of whether they purchase for style, performance or price. The passion and desire of the Vorgee team to make high quality swimming products and swim gear accessible and easy to understand for all, has led to Vorgee becoming one of Australia’s leading and most preferred aquatic brands. Their products include accessories and bags, caps, goggles, training equipment.

D&D Technologies

D&D Technologies, makers of the MagnaLatch magnetic, self-latching gate latch and TruClose, self-closing hinges, is committed to supporting efforts to prevent drowning world-wide. The company has been awarded the “Kidsafe Product Award” for Australia from the Child Injury Prevention Foundation, for our award winning pool safety products and drowning prevention efforts. D&D’s products can be purchased through fencing contractors, and in most popular Hardware outlets throughout Australia.


FREE 3 Part Video Series…

Watch Laurie take a group of frightened beginners for their first class Now!!!!

Get it FREE Now

Unintentional Drownings

I would like to share an email sent to me by one of our members, who has taken it upon herself to self-educate about water safety.

Thank you Jasmine for sharing your story and the important links contained below, if anyone else would like to share their story and share some information they have found please send through to us via

Laurie Lawrence


As a mother, it’s difficult to get excited about warm weather without thinking of all the dangers that come with it, especially as my kids get way more physical in the summer. This year in particular has been very difficult as my sister’s daughter fell into a pool (that was covered for the winter) and sustained a concussion. She’s doing ok now, but it’s put me on a mission for pool safety. I have a pool in my yard, and it’s become my worst nightmare as I think of all the ways in which things could go wrong. As someone who’s dedicated herself to making information accessible – starting with students, but really extending through the public at large – I feel very strongly about empowering people with knowledge. I’ve been gathering resources on pool safety, which I’m sharing below. I’d like to ask you to please share these with your audience (perhaps here: {}?).

Pool Safety Toolkit

Lifeguard Skills for Pool Owners

Swimming Safety Tips

Parent’s Guide to First Aid

Guidance for Safety: The Pool and Spa Safety Act

Pool Safety Products Protect, Prevent, and Rehabilitate

If you’d prefer I not reach out in the future, please do reply and let me know (and sorry!). However, my hope is that these resources help your audience, and that together we can make a difference.

All the best,



FREE 3 Part Video Series…

Watch Laurie take a group of frightened beginners for their first class Now!!!!

Get it FREE Now

Swim FEST 2015

SwimFEST – April 2015 on the Gold Coast

acstaCONVENTION and Expo

presented by Swim Australia and ASCTA annually

More than 700 swim school operators, teachers and coaches and swimming community members attend this event annually – which is described as the best swimming convention in the World. Eight days, over 60 presenters, 30 exhibitors.

World Wide Swim School and Kids Alive have a exhibitors table over the 3 days, 27th – 29th April and would love to catch up with you there to discuss professional development training for your Swim School and teachers as well as the Kids Alive Water Safety message.

We will also be promoting the PoolWerx Kids Alive Learn to Swim Week, looking to encourage swim schools to signing up for the week long event from Monday 27th September to Friday 2nd October 2015.

If you are attending the SwimFEST or even on the Gold Coast be sure to drop by and talk with Ben.

FREE 3 Part Video Series…

Watch Laurie take a group of frightened beginners for their first class Now!!!!

Get it FREE Now

Swim School

Continuity within a Swim School

World Wide Swim School has been designed to help Swim Schools learn the Laurie Lawrence philosophy of teaching swimming. When people enrol at Laurie Lawrence Swim School they are not being taught by the man himself, they are being taught by any number of fabulous teachers. When it boils down to it, the biggest thing that Laurie Lawrence Swim School has in its arsenal is continuity. Continuity within a Swim School is very important particularly for children’s learning but also for customer satisfaction. If you have worked in administration within a swim school I can guarantee you’ve dealt with feedback from parents relating to student progression and teacher performance.

Consistency of teaching is extremely important for a swim school to grow. Sure having one fabulous teacher is great but what happens when that teacher is away or when children have to move to a different teacher. Sure you are still going to have customers who only want to go with ‘Jane’, but it makes it much easier when your clientele know that all teachers within your swim school are capable of delivering quality, coherent lessons with clear progressions for all students. The ideal scenario here is that your clientele are not just boasting about one teacher at your swim school but all the teachers they have had at your swim school.

Having continuity within your program really gets down to one thing, STAFF TRAINING. It is important that everyone follows the same philosophy and everyone is on the same page and World Wide Swim School helps you to do that. WWSS is not about stifling teacher’s personality or taking their creativity or knowledge away. It’s about building on their knowledge base. By sharing information Laurie intends to develop his swimming teachers so that they are capable of developing and delivering lesson plans that meet the individual needs of the children within all their classes. WWSS does offer lesson plans to help beginner teachers but as all experienced teachers know that great teachers must learn to be flexible and  know how to adapt.


Laurie’s tips for continuity within a Swim School

  1. Establish a philosophy

Establishing a philosophy is about developing attitudes, ideas and beliefs around teaching swimming and water safety. The Laurie Lawrence philosophy centres around ideas like maximum practice time, parental involvement in the lesson, following a building block approach to teaching, using positive reinforcements and team work. If everyone in your Swim School understands and is on board with the philosophy then you are off to a great start.

  1. Design a curriculum

Developing a curriculum is much more specific. It is about establishing clear goals and setting a purpose for each program with the intent for swimmers to achieve specific outcomes.  For example, in the Laurie Lawrence Curriculum we start with a Level 1 class. This class is designed for children over the age of 4 who are total non swimmers and are often scared of the water. The objectives for this class are to get children comfortable in and around water and establish floating patterns. Our curriculum then sets a list of specific skills and drills that children must learn within that group. Once children have mastered those goals and objectives they can then progress to a new level. While Laurie is very specific in the curriculum in terms of what children learn, how they learn it becomes more flexible. Here teachers can develop lesson plans that are suitable to each individual class while meeting the parameters of the curriculum.

  1. Regularly assess all swimmers

Regularly assessing the swimmers in your program helps to ensure that all children are on track. Are the level 1 children who swim with Jane, the same as the level 1 children that swim with Kate? At Laurie Lawrence Swim School the individual teacher is responsible for progressing students in their class to the next level. Of course this will differ at everyone’s swim schools. However to assist with this process at LLSS we encourage team work and teachers get a second opinion from their colleagues before children progress to the next level.

  1. Regularly assess all teachers

Regularly assessing teachers is a means to give positive feedback and establish open lines of communication. By assessing teachers, Managers can identify areas that people are excelling in and give guidance on areas that need improving or strategies that may assist their class.  These assessments may also help to assist Management in determining staff training topics. For example after observing all staff you may notice that all teachers could benefit from discussing behaviour management strategies or effective teaching principals. Managers must ensure that these assessments are seen as a positive way to improve everyone in the team.

  1. Continual Staff Training

Staff training builds a culture, sets expectations, creates open lines of communication, promotes job satisfaction, helps with staff retention and helps to establish a successful work team. Staff training can be difficult to organise, can be stressful for managers, is hard to fit in but it is easy with World Wide Swim School.

FREE 3 Part Video Series…

Watch Laurie take a group of frightened beginners for their first class Now!!!!

Get it FREE Now


How to Conduct a Feedback Observation Session

The person carrying out the feedback observation session must be appointed by the Owner/Manager. The person carrying out the session should be completely familiar with all policies, teaching methods and terminology used at the Swim School.

• Firstly begin by informing the instructor that he or she will be partaking in a feedback observation session.

E.g. “Steven, today I will be watching your class at 3.30 pm and I will complete a feedback form for you. Later we will go though the form together”.

• During the session be sure to situate yourself in a position where you will be able to see and hear the instructor involved without causing any interference to the lesson.

• Be professional. Try to position yourself away from parents and be discrete with your recording procedure.

• Follow the format set down on the feedback form, making notes or expanding on points.

• Discuss the feedback form with the instructor. Be sure to go though the feedback form in a place that will not cause any embarrassment to either party.

• Photocopy the feedback form and give a copy to the instructor involved. Place the other copy in the staff record book.

• The instructor will also be provided with a blank lesson plan and will be requested to record a lesson plan for the same lesson next week. This is to be collected and discussed prior to next weeks’ lesson. The lesson plan is then placed in the staff record book.

• The feedback form should not be seen as an assessment of a persons’ teaching ability, but rather a constructive means of providing POSITIVE feedback to all teachers at the Swim School.

• The feedback form will help everyone become highly qualified teachers through continual training, retraining and POSITIVE feedback.

To download a PDF with these instructions and Evaluation forms click Feedback Observation Session


FREE 3 Part Video Series…

Watch Laurie take a group of frightened beginners for their first class Now!!!!

Get it FREE Now

No Crying Policy

Learning to swim should be a positive experience for both parent and child. Swim Schools should adopt policies which revolve around positive teaching and learning techniques. No child should be subjected to a fearful or intimidating environment when learning to swim. Aggressively forcing children to perform learn to swim activities, for example back floating, while they are crying and in distress is totally inappropriate.

Crying during the swimming lesson can be very worrying and stressful for parents. In fact it can even turn parents off swimming altogether. Babies and young children can cry for a variety of different reasons and Swim Schools must give parents positive strategies to cope in these situations. Swim Schools should reassure parents that if they persevere in a loving caring environment, and learn to respond to their child’s cues, then very soon the child will be swimming happily and confidently.


Crying Baby

Babies communicate their needs and problems through crying. In some instances babies become tired, hungry even or cold during the swimming lesson. The astute parent will soon learn to recognise the different types of communicative cries given by their baby. Once parents recognise what is upsetting their baby it is easier to rectify the problem.

Swim Schools should encourage parents to:

  • Choose an appropriate time to swim, e.g. not during nap time and not during feed time
  • Arrive early to lessons to ensure that there is a calm and relaxed setting before the lesson starts, a rushed parent can be a stressed parent
  • Relax because baby’s read their parents body language, if the parent is nervous or stressed then the baby will be too!
  • Hold the baby softly and let them feel buoyancy, once baby experiences floating they become more relaxed in the water


Crying Toddler

As children grow with age they begin to form their own opinions, ideas and fears. Very often toddlers develop a fear of the water particularly if they haven’t had early exposure to the water. Toddlers can also be very emotional little people and sometimes they may not be in the mood to participate. If Swim Schools have scared or uncooperative toddlers, it is important that parents be encouraged not to force or hurry them. Forcing or hurrying the children will only make it more difficult the next time the parent brings them to the pool. Swim Schools do not want to get into situations where children are distressed before they even entre the learn to swim environment.

Swim Schools should encourage parents to:

  • Arrive early so that toddlers can watch other children enjoying swimming lessons
  • Give children adequate warm up time to relax, ideally in shallow water where they are in control
  • Set small realistic goals for their child
  • Use positives praise to encourage desired behaviors
  • Use parental demonstrations to help children relax


Settling crying children in the pool

At Laurie Lawrence Swim School we are lucky enough to have access to shallow water or specifically designed teaching ledges. These ledges are the perfect spot for a frightened or scared child to relax and be in control. Very often children become scared or upset when they are not in control. Parents are encouraged to use these shallow water environments to give their child space to calm down and then play little games to help them relax and re-engage them into the lesson. If children become upset during the lesson, it can be disruptive to the entire class. If parents are well versed with positive strategies and know what to do if their child becomes upset, it is much better for the entire group dynamics.

It is important that parents understand the importance of settling their child in the pool. We do not want to create a situation where the child thinks that if they cry then they can avoid their lesson. We also do not want to end the lesson on a negative note. This will make it harder when the parent and child return the following week. Swim Schools should encourage parents not to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable if their child becomes upset during the lesson, they should remind parents that this is a natural behavior and easy to overcome.


Laurie Lawrence

FREE 3 Part Video Series…

Watch Laurie take a group of frightened beginners for their first class Now!!!!

Get it FREE Now