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Ask the ALTS Experts

Ask a lead ALTS instructor

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Answers to your trickiest Adult Learn to Swim questions, by USMS-certified lead ALTS instructor Dominic Latella:

Some of my students have physical limitations that make the competency test a real challenge. What is the best way to deal with this?

It’s always a good idea to have an initial interview with your clients and ask them about any injuries or limitations they may have. This way, you know early on if you need to make some adaptions for them. Once you have identified any limitation, you can prepare to adjust their competency test. For instance, if someone cannot pull themselves out of the water, they’ll need to be at a pool that has access to a ramp or a ladder.


I get lots of questions about swim “toys.” What are some of the best pieces of equipment for new swimmers and why?

It’s most helpful to use equipment that is available to your swimmers when they’re not working with you. This way they’ll feel comfortable enough to practice on their own. Fins are one of the most helpful pieces of equipment for new swimmers. Fins help support buoyancy and will help strengthen muscles used for swimming. Another “toy” that’s good for new swimmers is a snorkel. A snorkel helps people who struggle to take a breath gain confidence with the act of swimming. This will help them focus on becoming more comfortable in the water before going back to focus on working on the breath.

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