View Full Version : teaching swim lessons

amber pigman
June 18th, 2003, 11:29 AM
I'm a lifeguard and would like to teach swim lessons because I'm currently getting paid a little over minimum wage but swim lessons run about $5 for every session, 30 minutes. I was a competitive swimmer for 4 years and now I just swim at lesuire but have never taught others before, I think its something I would really enjoy, but eventhough I'm a good swimmer myself, I'm not really certified to teach anyone else. If anyone out there teaches swim lessons, I thought maybe you could give me some pointers on what to do, what not to do. Thanks, Amber

June 18th, 2003, 03:07 PM
Amber, My suggestion is that you contact your American Red Cross office. If you are not a certified Water Safety Instructor they can advise you where and when to attend classes. You will learn the techniques for teaching all of the strokes. I was a water safety instructor(red cross certified) for many years . It really helped add lots of income to my lifeguard wages. Have fun teaching!!

June 18th, 2003, 04:43 PM
I second that. Getting your WSI will give you more confidence that you're teaching the strokes properly. Maybe not exactly like competitive strokes but much better than just going by what seems right based on your own swimming. Red Cross swimming is taught in levels and your students will be able to go on to other instructors who will provide consistency in instruction.

amber pigman
June 20th, 2003, 09:30 AM
o.k. but how much does it cost? i feel like i could teach someone how to swim well since i was a competitive swimmer for 4 yrs. and none of the other lifeguards at my pool that teach swim lessons are certified to do so. i was kind of wanting pointers b/c more than likely i'm not going to go through all the trouble of being certified to teach them when noone else is either, especially if getting certified means $ and time, which are 2 things i'm a little bit short of these days, if u know what i mean.

June 20th, 2003, 10:48 AM
Amber - You should get certified. Experience as a swimmer doesn't make you a good instructor, teacher or coach. It helps, don't get me wrong, but teaching is also a skill. Just as your previous swim coaches helped you refine your skills as a swimmer, a Red Cross or YMCA course will help you develop teaching skills.

Here are a couple of more reasons to become certified. A certified instructor can charge more than a non-certifed instructor.
A certified instructor will get more students. If you had to choose between two mechanics, one "certified" and the other not - who would get your business?

Call the Red Cross - They will tell you how much it costs. In many places there is a definite shortage of Certified guards and instructors so classes are offered at a reduced cost or they are subsidized. You should also call your local YMCA. The Y also offers courses and a certification program. I have known YMCA's that will give you the course and then employ you for the summer as a summer camp guard or instructor.

Good luck - make some calls. It will be worth your time!!


June 20th, 2003, 11:56 AM
Hi Amber,

I think you should definitely look at getting some formalized training. My experience is with the Red Cross - a WSI (Water Safety Instructor) course will cost around $150 and 40 to 60 hours of your time (depending on how much thought you put into the class). Several things you'll gain other than a piece of paper with a signature on it.
1. The books are pretty good in developing a basic understanding of swimming principles.
2. Learn other techniques - it seems like everytime I teach a WSI course I learn a new / innovative way of how to teach a stroke (anyone wants to know how to explain the sidestroke armpull by pretending your at a strip club let me know).
3. Networking - if the instrcutor is the Aquatics Director / Supervisor, we are usually always on the lookout for potential new hires.
Another way to help get more bang for your buck is check your local college (if they have a pool) chances are they offer a WSI class so not only do you get a marketable skill but you can get some college credit too. Just think of taking the class as an investment that will make you a more marketable.


Matt S
June 20th, 2003, 12:09 PM

I would certainly acknowledge that getting you WSI certification is one way to go. It will equip you to teach swimming competently, and provides a credential that is widely recognized.

I would also point out that WSI, and the Red Cross method for swimming the various strokes, is one of many schools of thought on how to swim. (The YMCA course of instruction for children is another school of thought, and another option.) It depends on what you want to do.

If you are interested in teaching people how to swim COMPETITIVE freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke or butterfly (as your background seems to suggest), I would argue that the Red Cross or YMCA programs are a bit off the mark. What you want is a reference oriented more towards coaching competitive swimmers, even if you never make it out of the sections on how to coach relative beginners.

If you are inclined more towards the competitive bend (and you know better than we do what would interest your prospective students/customers), there are a number of resources out there. First, there is the American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA, www.swimmingcoach.org), which offers both reference material, and an actual certification process. Second, there is the Total Immersion school of thought for teaching swimming (www.totalimmersion.net). They specialize in methods for teaching people without a competitive swimming background how to swim competitive strokes more efficiently (e.g. runners and bikers who want to become triathletes). They also offer a program for becoming a "TI certified instructor."

Based on my experience, what would I personally recommend to a budding swim instructor on a budget? Spend the $20 on Swimming Made Easy from Total Immersion. It has a lucid explanation of their theory. It has a good set of drills for each of the 4 strokes. I have used it with success, both in my own USMS swimming and coaching a summer youth league team. Moreover, I have shared it with one of my fellow coaches, who is an experienced YMCA swimming instructor. She likes the drills, and has used some of them in her YMCA classes. The cost of the book is modest, and the method really does work. Some folks have criticized TI for being a marketing schtick for TI products. Yes, you can spend a lot of money on seminars and videos, but you don't have to.

This is not to say you should definitely use TI, or anything else, instead of the Red Cross program. I am merely mentioning this to let you know of some other options.


June 28th, 2003, 12:17 AM
A strip club image to learn to swim side stroke, how interesting Jeff. I think that learning the non-competitive strokes are interesting as well. I learn to swim under the Red Cross system of the 1960's. And I think that learning both the sidestroke and elementary backstroke as a kid also help develop me toward breaststroke since they also used the frog kick.