If you are operating your own swim school, you will understand how much thought and planning goes into programming and running a successful learn to swim program. Making sure you are providing your customers with a great, effective service is top priority. Parents or caregivers are paying good money for you to teach their children to swim and you want to make sure you deliver the goods.
One of the best ways to ensure you deliver is to stress the importance of commitment and consistency when learning to swim. Ask your customers to think about what they did when their child was learning to walk. Did they help them once or twice per week for 30 minutes? I bet the answer is, “No, I helped my child every day (more than once) until they could walk.”
The reality with swimming lessons is that most children will only attend one (maybe two) 30 minute lessons per week when they are learning to swim and parents wonder why it can sometimes be a slow process. Work it out. If your centre is closed for 4 weeks out of 52 in the year, and your swimmers attend EVERY lesson without missing that is 24 hours of swimming per year. That’s one day out of 365 each year. That’s nothing! That doesn’t consider public holidays, student illnesses, taking the winter months off or that they might want to attend a birthday party instead of their lesson one week. When you look at it like that, is it any wonder learning to swim can take some time?
Knowing this, and knowing how much practise is required to learn to swim and be good at it, it is important to offer programs and advice that will help boost your success when teaching children swimming and water safety. Try incorporating the following ideas into your swim school program to assist with success rates and speeding up the learn to swim process for your clients.
- Encourage customers to attend at least two swimming lessons per week. The more opportunities children are given to practise the faster they will learn. If time, clashing activities or money is an issue, suggest that parents get in the water to play and explore with their children as often as they can or when they have spare time. Encourage them to swim in home pools, visit friends or neighbours who have a pool for a splash around or head down to your local council pool to give young learners the opportunity to practise.
- Encourage winter swimming lessons. Not everyone has the commitment and motivation to swim year-round. Often as the weather starts to cool down numbers will drop and customers will say, “see you in summer!” However, winter can be the best time to attend swimming lessons. Class sizes are often smaller giving children more individual time with instructors. There are also fewer opportunities to practice outside of lessons in winter as home pools may not be heated to the toasty temperatures of a learn to swim pool. Communicate the benefits of winter swimming to your customers and the importance of consistent swimming to maintain and improve on the current swimming and water safety skills their children have achieved. It can be disheartening to start from square one when summer rolls around, but this is a real prospect if swimmers take a break over the winter months.
- Offer intensive swimming programs. School holidays are the perfect opportunity to offer intensive programs to fast track improvement. Swimmers can attend lessons every day for a week or two to boost their progress. Swimming every day for a week is the equivalent of a months’ worth of lessons if a child is used to swimming once per week. You may not have to wait for school holidays to run intensive swimming programs. If you have available staff and pool space, why not run intensive programs in conjunction with regular lessons? This could be a great add on for swimmers in your program who are struggling and may need a boost to advance them to the next level.
Have you found other effective ways to fast track improvement for swimmers in your programs? Please share in the comments below.