Teaching beginners to swim in deep water

Utilising shallow water where children can stand is the ideal way to teach frightened beginners to swim. In this instance the child feels safe and in control as they independently progress through the water familiarisation stage. The shallow water environment also enables maximum practice time of all the swimmers. The teacher is not required to take children one at a time and can move all the children together as a group. But what should swimming teachers do when they don’t have access to shallow water? Laurie Lawrence has put together his top tips to help teachers make their lessons as efficient as possible.


Plan the lesson

Planning the lesson will be vital to ensure that you can achieve the best learning environment and progress the children as quickly as possible through the learn to swim process. During this stage think about; what skills the group needs to work on, what activities you should use to help develop their skills and how will you keep everyone safe?


Use teaching equipment

Organising teaching equipment before the lesson will be essential. Setting up your teaching space prior to the lesson with lane ropes and moveable teaching benches/platforms will help to make the class run smoothly.


Encourage independence

Establishing independent mobility like monkeying along a high wall and climbing in and out of the pool will help the class flow. If you teach the children to move around the pool space independently it will avoid you having to take the children one at a time.


Build skills slowly

It is important to build children’s confidence slowly and reward even the smallest success. Following a building block approach of water familiarisation, breath control, submersion and free floating will get the best results. If you rush these early learning steps children will not become relaxed and at home in the water.


Encourage exploration

Play outside of the formal swimming lesson will be essential for children to learn quickly. Explain the value of exploratory play to parents. They should know that not only will it help to progress their child but it’s also essential to teach children a respect for the water. The more children are exposed to the water the sooner they learn their capabilities and limitations.


To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

Laurie Lawrence


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Diving for Toys

Swimmers of all ages love diving under water during their swimming lessons. Children can have so much fun playing in the swimming pool, diving and retrieving toys from a ledge or the bottom of the pool. As swimmers mature and become more comfortable diving to the bottom they can also use this skill for dolphin dives in learn to swim and stroke development classes, as well as in open water and surf swimming.

There are many smaller aspects to the whole skill “diving for toys”. Many of these steps will be discussed in this article.


Swimmers shouldn’t try to dive directly to the bottom for their first try. Ledges or shallow steps should be used initially to introduce the skill. Once that has been mastered swimmers can graduate to a deeper area of the pool. Skills should be broken up into easily achievable smaller skills and put together once each step is mastered.


Swimmers will need to go from a horizontal floating position in the water to a vertical recovery. You can see in this video footage that Laurie shows Harper how to “pull down” where she moves her arms through the water and recovers to a standing position. Once again it’s important to build the skill so that activities are easily mastered and swimmer can continue to learn and develop their skills in the water.

Once swimmers have mastered recovery in shallow water they will eventually move on to the more difficult activity of swimming out horizontally, diving vertically and returning to a horizontal position to swim back to the edge of the pool. Swimming in different depths, recovering in the water, turning around and returning the way they came from are all difficult skills in themselves let alone putting all these skills together in one activity. Teachers and parents should be patient and celebrate every small success along the way.


Swimmers will initially need guidance to the bottom of the pool to pick up rings from the deeper area of the pool. There is no point in introducing this skill if swimmers are timid and scared in the water. Swimmers need to be comfortable under water holding their breath and floating. You can see in this footage that Harper is happy to float in the water with help from Laurie to take a breath. She is totally happy and relaxed in the water and is completely ready for help in diving to the bottom of the pool.


Laurie helps Harper to swim to the bottom by guiding between her shoulder blades. It is important to never touch a child on the back of the head. Swimmers will resist and try to move their head up for a breath if teachers or parents touch the back of the head. Even as adults we don’t like the feeling of someone pushing our head under water, as we feel powerless. Young children feel the same – they like to have the freedom and ability to lift their head and take a breath in their own time. You can see Laurie change Harper’s body position in the water so she is swimming down vertically in the water. Laurie doesn’t just push Harper under so her entire body goes to the bottom horizontally as she needs to learn to twist and move her body so that she swims down in a head to toe fashion.   Laurie is adjusting Harper’s body so that she can get the feeling of swimming to the bottom. Once she has a hold on the diving rings he then lets her go and she floats up using her body’s buoyancy. Harper is really enjoying this activity as you can tell by her squeals of delight. This is a fun game and she loves this bonding time with her Poppa in the water.

Laurie then introduces the mat as an extended activity. Harper crawls across the mat and then dives to the bottom by putting her face in the water and having the rest of her body follow. This activity can be performed from a ledge, the parent or teacher’s knee, side of the pool or anywhere that can give the swimmer a platform to go from a horizontal position into a vertical position down to the bottom.

Once these skills are all mastered swimmers can jump or push from the wall and change their body position in the water to swim down and retrieve toys from the bottom of the pool. Diving for toys is one of many skills that swimmers enjoy and will use in playtime out of the swimming lesson as well as learning and mastering within their regular class. If taught efficiently swimmers will enjoy every aspect of this skill and become very confident and happy swimmers in all depths of water.


To learn more about what you need to know CLICK HERE!

Laurie Lawrence


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Floating for babies

Floating is the most important skill in the learn-to-swim process. Floating is the basis of all learn to swim and gives baby the opportunity to feel their own buoyancy. Once baby feels that fun floating sensation and that feeling of weightlessness, they will become relaxed and at home in the water.

Free floating is also great for baby’s independence. There are many different types of free floating activities that parents and teachers can practice with baby. In free floats we should start off with free float and catch. Once baby is comfortable we can further advance the skill through to free float with an independent recovery where the baby pulls up on the adult’s t-shirt or pools edge. When introducing free floating onto the adults t-shirt it is easier for the child if the adult leans back and makes a shallow ledge with their body. Here the baby can easily grip and climb/crawl up the adults chest.

Do not attempt free floating until baby is totally comfortable with conditioning and submersion.

Free Floating To Adult

Baby’s first free float should be performed in open water to parent, where the parent or teacher counts two seconds and baby floats towards them. As baby’s breath control improves the time and distance in free floats can be increased.
1) Ensure baby is in the horizontal floating hold (this allows the water to run head to toe)
2) Get baby’s attention
3) Use the “trigger words” (child’s name ready go)
4) Lift, lower, submerge and release baby underwater (remember the lift acts as a kinaesthetic trigger)
5) Catch or let baby pull up independently
6) Celebrate free float

Free Floating Between Adults

Free floating between adults is a great skill as children become more confident and relaxed in the water. Now children get double the amount of floating time as they are passed back and forth between adults. Remember if baby resits floats in any way stop and go back to conditioning and submersion.

1) Adults stand and face each other (eg 1 metre distance)
2) Catching adult get down low in the water and stretch out arms
3) Passing adult hold baby in the prone side hold (remember to look at baby in the eye)
4) Passing adult use the “trigger words” (child’s name ready go)
5) Lift, lower, submerge and release baby toward catching adult
6) Catching adult, pick up or let baby climb up independently
7) Celebrate free float

Free Floating From Ledge to Adult

When introducing this activity start with playing on a shallow ledge so baby can learn balance and stability. If baby has been preconditioned don’t worry if they self submerge. But always stay in arms reach for supervision. Always be careful not to vertically submerge baby during any floating activity. If a child is vertically submerged they may experience water up their nose – an uncomfortable feeling at any age. We want baby to be in the horizontal swimming position at all times. Start with assisting baby off the ledge to you while using the trigger words ‘ready go’. Slowly build and gradually encourage baby to attempt independent floats out to you.

Once baby starts floating to you off the ledge by his or her own free will, they may not push off correctly. As a result, baby may submerge vertically. Gently guide baby toward you and praise all attempts. To help rectify this vertical submerging problem you will have to repeat assisted submersions over and over, encouraging baby to put their face down.  Never push a child’s head underwater.  Children need guidance and support in the water and may get scared if their head is forced underwater.

1) Sit baby on ledge
2) Use the “trigger words”
3) Lift, lower, submerge and release baby toward you (baby will soon begin to initiate free float, encourage this)
4) Pick up or let baby climb up independently
5) Celebrate free float

Free Floating From Adult to Ledge

Before performing this activity teacher/parent must ensure that the water level is shallow enough so baby can independently keep mouth clear of the water. If the water level is too deep, do not attempt this activity as baby is likely to ingest water.

As baby becomes stronger and more mobile this free floating activity can be partnered with free float from ledge to adult. Baby will grow in confidence and independence as they practice floating back and forth.

1) Ensure water level is suitable when baby is crawling or resting on hands and knees
2) Stand about a metre from ledge.
3) Put baby in prone side hold
4) Use the “trigger words”
5) Lift, lower, submerge and release baby to ledge
6) Give baby an opportunity to climb up independently, assist if necessary
7) Celebrate free float

This article has only touched on a few different types of floating activities that you can practice with babies. Remember floating is the basis of all learn to swim and therefore the teacher should experiment with many different floating activities during their swimming lesson. Warning, if baby resits floats in any way stop and go back to conditioning and submersion.  Learning to swim must be a positive experience for both parent and child.

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Water Safety and the Swimming Lesson

When planning and delivering a swimming lesson, water safety should always be a consideration. It is important that swimming instructors ensure the safety of the students in their class and conduct the lesson accordingly. It is also important that the activities or swimming skills that are implemented in the lesson plan have an element of safety to ensure swimmers are learning potentially life-saving skills – especially for preschool children.


How do you ensure your swimming lessons are safe?

  • Look at the number of swimmers in your class. Does the student to teacher ratio meet guidelines from aquatics industry leaders such as Austswim or Swim Australia? Check out www.austswim.com.au/AboutUs/IndustryGuidelines/Guidelines.aspx for more information.
  • Make sure you are aware of what your teaching area is like. How deep is the pool? What are the potential hazards? How can you minimise possible risks within the class?
  • Familiarise yourself with the emergency action plan and procedures of your workplace. Do you know where first aid or rescue equipment is located?
  • Ensure all qualifications are kept current. Have you updated your CPR, First Aid, Pool Lifeguard or other qualifications specific to your workplace?


What type of activities ensure a safety skills have been incorporated into your lesson plans?

  • Gripping – Swimmers need to be able to hold on in the event of an emergency. Early stages of the learn to swim process may include gripping a t-shirt or fingers. As swimmers grow and develop this skill will progress to holding a wall.
  • Turning – Initially swimmers learn to turn to parents, then to shallow ledges and eventually to high walls (all areas of safety).
  • Climbing out of the pool – Once swimmers are strong enough to pull themselves up onto, parents and shallow ledges, they can progress to climbing out of the pool all together.
  • Combining these three swimming skills is a great way for more advanced swimmers to practice safety activities where they jump into the swimming pool in deep water, turn around and climb out.



There are many activities within swimming lessons that have an element of safety. What water safety activities do you use and how do you incorporate them into your swimming lessons? Share in the comments section below.


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Engaging 2 year olds in swimming lessons

Working with 2 year olds can be challenging. They are increasingly independent in their day to day life as they navigate activities and tasks and explore their surroundings.  They can be strong willed and know their own mind.  Often 2 year olds will be easily distracted or totally focused on their favourite activity.  Being aware of these characteristics can help you in your swimming lessons as you plan your class strategies and swimming programs. While teaching a 2 year old to swim can present challenges, it is not without fun or reward.  If you tackle it correctly, it will feel more like fun and play time than a job.

Here are a few tips to help you engage the 2 year olds in your swimming lessons:

1.  Change activities frequently.  Using a wide range of activities can help keep swimmers interested in the task at hand.   For swimmers who are easily distracted or get bored quickly, changing activities often is a great tactic.  It is important to revisit activities to ensure swimmers are given enough time to practice and in-turn learn the swimming skills they are working on.  Circuits are a great way to incorporate lots of activities while still allowing for much needed repetition.

2. Adapt to student led learning situations.  This can be great for the toddler who is determined to do what they want, when they want.  Swimmers may point in a direction or vocalise what activities they are interested in.  By allowing this independent and exploratory type of learning, it can help you find out what your swimmers like and what motivates them in the water.  This is particularly helpful for future planning allowing you to prepare swimming classes that will engage your students.  Remember to guide activities so they still have purpose and focus on important swimming skills.

3. Control your voice to add interest to the class.  Varying the tone and volume of your voice can keep swimmers alert, interested and awaiting your instructions.  Remember lessons will often be in swimming pools where there are other aquatic activities or classes going on at the same time.  Keep instructions simple and gather the group close together if you are in a noisy environment.

4. Communicate with parents and guardians.  Tapping into the knowledge of those closest to your swimmers will enable you to find out their likes, dislikes and motivating factors much quicker.  Some swimmers may take longer to warm up to new faces and swimming instructors than others.  Knowing what motivates your students can help you build a bond fast and allow you to get to work on swimming skills right away.

Watch this footage of Laurie Lawrence and granddaughter Harper having fun while exploring the water in their swimming lesson together.  Harper is striking out independently in the water, and is clear in what she wants to do and where she wants to swim.  Laurie happily obliges and expertly guides the activities to ensure there is still learning value.  They work on breath control, turning, swimming varied distances, and controlled propulsive skills in a short space of time.

How do you keep 2 year old swimmers interested and engaged?  Share your ideas in the comments below.

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The Importance of Manipulation

When a child is learning to swim, more often than not, it will be a totally new experience. They will be using muscles in a different way and context to how they use them on land for sport and recreational activities.  As an instructor, how many times have you seen young swimmers use a “bicycling” motion with their legs when you ask them to kick in a swimming lesson?  Tens, hundreds, thousands of times?  This is just one of the reasons why using a hands on approach of physical manipulation is so important when you are teaching swimming.  At World Wide Swim School (WWSS) we subscribe to Laurie Lawrence’s methodologies where a huge part of the philosophy involves a “show – practice – show – practice” strategy.

Show – Practice – Show – Practice

Whether you are trying to teach basic floating skills or you are going into more detail with propulsive skills, it is vital that students are shown the correct technique as part of the “learn to swim” process.  Give them a good visual demonstration.  You may be required to do this yourself, or choose another student in your class whom you know can perform the skill with good technique.  Then gently guide the swimmer and show them what it feels like to physically perform the skill themselves.  Once swimmers have seen the skill and practiced it with some guidance from you as their swimming instructor, allow them to perform the skill unaided and practice it independently.  Ensure you watch your swimmers practice their skills to enable you to provide regular feedback to improve their technique.  Repeat this process over and over until swimmers master each individual skill they are trying to achieve. Don’t forget to use the skill name as you are physically showing swimmers what you want them to achieve.  Word action association is a powerful tool.

Word Action Association

In conjunction with the “show-practice” technique, it is important use words as you are demonstrate and manipulate.  Keep it simple and use key words or short phrases for the most effective results.  This is especially important in infant and toddler swimming lessons where they are not only learning to swim but learning new words a vocabulary associated with the swimming pool and their class.  Here are some simplified examples:

  • Say “kick, kick, kick” as you manipulate the swimmer’s legs up and down performing a fast flutter kick motion.
  • Say “paddle, paddle, paddle” as you manipulate the swimmers arms through the water performing a freestyle motion.

Using this simple technique can assist with helping to create neuro-muscular pathways to the brain.

Creating Neuro-muscular Pathways

Underestimating the value of manipulation may be detrimental to a swimmer’s development.  In the early stages of swimming development when children are first learning a new skill their muscles and brain are working in unison to hardwire or match the physical skills to their name or label.  It is important to be consistent with your words, demonstrations and physical manipulation techniques.  In doing so, you will help your swimmers learn each new skill correctly through muscle memory.  Allowing a child to repeatedly practice with incorrect technique can help build poor muscle memory and can be more difficult to correct as the swimmers get older.


Incorporate physical manipulation into swimming lessons over the next few weeks, month, or swimming block at your swim school.  Watch your swimmers improve over this time and enjoy the results. Remember, perfect practice makes perfect.


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Weekly Swimming Lessons

I love attending weekly swimming lessons with my daughter Harper, who is turning 3 this month. Not only does it give me special one on one time with her without any distractions, but it gives me some great inspiration and ideas for my own swimming teaching. This week I particularly enjoyed the lesson that our teacher Jane planned for the class. It was a great mix of fun, independence and skill building, with that important parental manipulation and reinforcement of swimming skills.

Class Background

To give you an idea of the class background, all of the children in the class have been swimming together since 4 months of age and some attend 2 lessons per week. There are 6 booked into the class but on this particular day only 4 were in attendance. We have a half hour lesson but because there were only 4 in the class we were able to fit more skills into the allocated time. The children are between 2 and a half to 3 years of age and are confident independent swimmers. They are all capable of popping up for a breath and many are capable of swimming and rolling onto their back for water safety skills. Mum or Dad is still in the water with their child to give one on one direction and encouragement.

Kicking on the Shallow Ledge

We started with warm up kicking on the shallow ledge. Here we alternated between independent kicking and manipulated kicks by the parent to reinforce the correct motor skills. This simple warm up is always the same, children thrive on routine and it makes it very easy for the parents and children to enter the water at their own time without class disruption. This is also an opportunity for the teacher Jane to greet all the children individually. This warm up lasts about 5 minutes in total and allows all class members to be ready to start by 10.05.

Bucket of Toys

Today Jane gets a bucket of toy donuts and empties them near the rope 3 meters from the shallow ledge where the children are sitting. The parent is instructed to stand at the rope (or a distance their child can swim) so that the children can independently swim to them on the ‘ready go’ cue. We are still enforcing the ‘ready go’ cue but now this is for safety as the child is learning to be invited into the pool. Once the child reaches the parent they can pick up 2 coloured donuts and hold these donuts as they return to the ledge in an assisted back float back.  The toy donuts are used for incidental learning as the parent talks to their child about the colour, but importantly it is used as a distraction for those children who are resisting back floating activities. Once the children get close to the ledge they are performing an independent recovery from the back floating position and pulling themselves up on the shallow ledge.  This activity continues until all the toy donuts are retrieved and takes approximately 5 minutes.

Square Circuit

The next activity requires the class to follow a square circuit with the parent travelling around the pool with their child to give direction and assistance. Circuits are great for children of this age group because the fast rotation of skills keeps the children engaged. Children at this age group do have a very limited attention span. The children are encouraged to crocodile under a tunnel on the shallow ledge. Jane wants the parents to ensure that the children are doing this skill correctly. If performed correctly the crocodile allows the children to practice long reaches which will help develop their paddling skills. It also keeps children in a horizontal position as they take a breath which assists in the pop up breathing action. Once children complete their crocodile they perform an underwater stingray. This underwater stingray is designed to teach children to swim along the bottom of the pool. The children are encouraged to crouch on the shallow ledge with their over, put their eyes in and bottom up as they push to the bottom of the pool. There are a variety of ability levels in this skill but the parent is there to assist and guide the child along the bottom of the pool. The children love this underwater stingray but it’s also an important water safety skill as the children are experimenting with buoyancy and learning their capabilities. The next step is a push and back float off the wall with parental support where needed. Again the children revise a previously introduced skill and perform an independent recovery to a shallow water table in the middle of the pool. The final part of the circuit requires the children to perform an independent swim back to the shallow ledge where they will start their crocodile again. Circuits take time and children should have at the very least 4 laps through the station. So make sure that you allocate enough time in your lesson plan, approximately 10 minutes.

Correct Kicking & Paddling

The next activity is designed to reinforce the correct kicking and paddling actions while teaching the children to work together as a group and follow instructions. Jane had all the children stand up on the shallow ledge and practice their paddles on the spot. The parents were at the rope 3 meters away also demonstrating the paddling action. The children were then instructed to swim out to their parents. Once the children reached their parents the group did 10 manipulated paddles on the parents lap before retuning back to the side of the pool. Once again the children are not only receiving good swimming instruction but incidental learning with the maths concept of counting. On the next wave the children focus on the kicking skill. We alternated this routine 6 times before moving on to the next activity.

Build on the Previous Skill Set

You should notice that all the activities in this lesson plan complement one another or build on the previous skill set. This next wave formation activity revisits the stingray skill as the children to swim through mum’s or dad’s legs. They return to the ledge by pushing off the parent’s legs. This is a vital step in their learning as many children need to learn the technique of pushing off correctly. I’m sure you would have regularly seen children who enter bottom first instead of pushing off properly with their eyes in. Again the focus is on toes over the ledge, eyes in and bottom up as they push to the bottom. The children are becoming more competent at this skill now because it has been practiced previously in the lesson plan. After practicing this skill about 4 or 5 times Jane introduces a class challenge which makes the parents and children very enthusiastic.

End of Class Challenge

The end of class challenge was for the children to climb out on the high wall, and perform a seated dive to the bottom of the pool to retrieve a sink toy. The climbing out skill is very important for safety, but the dive to the bottom is equally important. Being able to swim to the bottom of the pool opens up the world of exploratory play, this teaches children their capabilities in the water and also develops their understanding of buoyancy. While all the children are capable of climbing out of the pool independently many still require gentle assistance to reach the bottom of the pool. There is one boy in the class who is particularly skilled at independently swimming to the bottom but the majority of the others still require assistance. Jane instructs the parents to help them to the bottom if needed but allow them an opportunity to resurface independently. All the parents and children are thrilled with the activity and it’s a great way to end the class.

Goodbye Song

Now that our time is up Jane gathers the group for a goodbye song. This helps the children to realise that it’s time to hop out of the pool and allows Jane to eyeball all children and tell them what a great job they have done. We finish with a slow and then a fast teddy bear song that goes like this. “Teddy bear teddy bear up and down, teddy bear teddy bear swim around, teddy bear teddy bear to and fro, teddy bear teddy bear time to go”.

I hope this lesson plan has given you some food for thought. I love learning more and more about swimming teaching by participating and watching other instructor’s lessons. If you don’t physically participate in lessons with your own child I would encourage you to go and observe some of your fellow teachers. It really does open up new ideas and topics for discussion which will help to improve your swimming teaching.


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Dealing with an increased swim class size

The start of the swimming season always sees swim school numbers grow. This usually means that the student numbers need to increase to accommodate for the influx of new or returning swimmers. This increase will certainly change the dynamics of your class and make your job a little more challenging to ensure that everyone is receiving equal attention and maximum practice time in the swimming lesson. Here are a few tips to ensure that the season is off to a great start.

 1. Revise rules and expectations

Now is an ideal time to revise the class rules and set expectations with your swimming class. Children must learn to look and listen while you are talking. But remember you need to use simple instructions and key words with children otherwise they will get easily bored and loose their focus. Remember you want to instil rules and expectations that the children can actually meet. Be upfront with children about the consequences if they don’t follow the rules. You shouldn’t be mean or have to yell at children. But you must be consistent with your expectations and follow through with consequences because this will set the stage for future lessons. Positive praise for good work is always the best option.

2. Teach children to circle the lane

It’s important that children learn how to circle the lane so that you can ensure maximum practice time in the lesson for all swimmers. Teaching children to work together and encourage their friends to move over and go can help. Also using markers so that the children know when to go will help keep the flow of the lesson smooth. That way the children don’t have to wait on you to say ‘go’ all the time. Other formations like wave formation and circuits can also help to keep the group moving. Mixing up the teaching formations will also give variety to the swimming lesson and avoid boredom. Active children are well behaved children because they don’t have time to get distracted and cause disruptions.

3. Revise your program or lesson plan

Revising your program will be vital to ensure that it meets the abilities and needs of the new and existing students in your class. Even when children are grouped according to their ability level there will still be slight variations on how they perform certain skills. Lesson planning is the best way to ensure that you are providing the best possible lesson to all swimmers in your class. Once you get to know your class you will likely need to make adjustments to a lesson plan or program that was made previously. Think of lesson planning as more of a guide that needs constant review and reflection. Swimming teachers need to learn to be flexible and adapt to a variety of situations.

4. Assess your swimmers

Now is the ideal time to ensure that all your swimmers are in the correct class group. Moving children up or changing them to a more suitable class will not only help your teaching but will also help their learning. Sometimes the dynamics of the group just don’t work well together and sometimes an individual in a class will progress more rapidly than the others and need to advance. Communicating with the administration or the deck supervisor is essential. Speaking to the parent before a suitable class is arranged can cause frustration or embarrassment.

So now we’ve covered all our tips, it’s time to get our classes full and our children ready for a safe summer swimming season. Don’t forget to talk to the parents about water safety and encourage them to give their child lots of opportunities to play outside of the lesson to speed up the learning process.

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How do you class sizes in your swimming lessons? Comment below.

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Laurie talks with Brooke Hanson

Laurie sits down to talk with Brooke Hanson OAM, Olympian and AUSTSWIM Ambassador.

Brooke talks about her journey in swimming, missing the 1996 and 2000 Olympic games through to her success in the following Olympics and what were the important lessons she learnt through her mixture of disappointments and success!

What was it that drove Brooke to continue on with her Olympic dream, that inspired her to never give up until she made her dreams come true.

Brooke talks about why her role as AUSTSWIM Ambassador it is important to her and the near drowning’s she experienced as a child and the role her family plays in her love of swimming and drowning prevention.

Brooke talks about her move to the Gold Coast with her family and how being part of the lead up to the Commonwealth Games through her new city.

Watch this short video of Laurie talking with Brooke Hanson

Give us some of your stories after competitive swimming? Comment below.

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Building Trust in Swimming Lessons


Building trust is an integral part of the “learn to swim” process.

As instructors we need to be aware of the importance of building a trusting relationship with the babies, toddlers, and children under our guidance in a swimming lesson. In addition to building a great relationship with the swimmers themselves, it is essential to build the same relationship with their parents or care givers. Parents are the ones who put their faith in you to provide their children with lifesaving swimming skills and water safety, and a love of the water.

Parents and their babies have already created a trusting bond through their everyday activities.

Use this bond to your advantage in your swimming lessons – especially with swimmers who are new to your class and may be unfamiliar with your face, voice, or the swimming environment. Communicate with parents and guide them through activities, swimming skills and drills with their children in the water. This can help alleviate any stress the baby may feel in a new environment. It also gives you the opportunity to start working on building the trust of the parents. 

You can build a great relationship with parents by focusing on communication.

Talk to them about their goals and expectations for their child in the swimming lesson. Answer any questions and ease any concerns they may have and make it relatable and specific to their child. Ask them questions about their child to find out what motivates them and figure out the best way to help them achieve their swimming goals in a way that best suits their personality and individual needs. This will allow the parents to see you are dedicated to helping their child. It will provide you with information you will need to create appropriate lesson plans for the swimmers in your class, and a bit of background knowledge on the individual swimmer to help when building their trust.

Building a trusting relationship with the swimmers in your lessons will make teaching a breeze.  

By creating an environment where students feel safe and happy, you provide an atmosphere where swimmers will be eager to learn and please. Once they see their parents are comfortable with you they will be open getting to know you, following instructions and participating in the swimming lessons you conduct. Ensure you have fun with the students in your class, allow them to get used to your voice and tone, and make each individual feel special. Remember that trust is easier to break than it is to earn. Make sure you follow through with promises you make within your class. For example, if a frightened swimmer wants you to hold them for the duration of an activity and you agree make sure you do it!


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