Notes on the Lesson plans

Encourage movement by the children as much as possible.

Use names, numbers or sex to work in waves, striking a balance between your ability to observe each swimmers and maximising movement.

A great deal of stroke tuition relies on on the pupil acquiring timing and skills through practice, supported by accurate and timely teaching points. In breaststroke particularly “perfect”practice is critical to effective learning.

Try to avoid practicing movements that they cannot perform correctly. Learning motor skill is a problem solving, trial and error exercise for the body. The secret is to practice something the body CAN do not something it can’t.

Too much error can be so discouraging that any enthusiasm to learn can drain away.

Easily mastered basic skills become the springboard for more advanced skills.

The only way to make sense out of the wilderness of skill building is a step by step system of learning and practice that is organised to take the students through it.

“How was your swimming today? Did you have fun?”

The first words every parent says to their child after a lesson.

The kids must enjoy your lessons.

Introduction Activity

Beginners, Tadpoles and Backstroke have an introduction activity. Frontcrawl and breaststroke do not, they go straight into the warm up.

Most of the activities focus on blowing bubbles, but also gets kids moving immediately, close to you.

Warm up

The detailed plan is here. The order that it runs is important, please learn it. Consistency at each main pool level with an added element of difficulty makes change easier for the kids as they move up.

The warm up includes key elements that need to be attained for the awards.

Main Themes

The order of progressions is as follows:

Tadpoles. An introduction to the main pool, primary aim is safety in the deep section.

Backstroke Refining the backstroke, introducing basic frontcrawl, mastering the somersault.

Frontcrawl. As it says, main aim breathing to one side, no head lift. Simple stroke action. It will be advanced later. Improve diving and inversion skills.

Breaststroke. Other than a perfect breaststroke, kids must be able to dive.

Butterfly  Mostly in the deep, main theme is fly to ASA standard, advanced stroke technique and block diving.

Contrast Activities

Tadpoles always do Underwater Tea Party in the deep section takes TEN minutes if done correctly, so allow plenty of time. Backstroke and front crawl follow a six-week progressive diving plan towards learning freestanding dives. Breaststroke follows the same plan with slight variations.


Unless you have pressing issues, play with the kids. It is likely that this is the only time they get to play in the water and its important that they get the message that learning to swim is fun. You will bond well if you play well.

After teaching….

Of course you have tidied up, checked with reception for any changes you need and updated Swimsafe.

Now consider the lessons, how could they of gone better…keep asking others, especially the old teachers. Everyday is a school day.

Simple tips for new teachers

Know their names. Use nicknames to help (and entertain them). Anything that sort of rhymes: Hairy Harry, Floppy Freya, Isabella Mozzarella.

Have a plan. The great beauty of any plan is that it can be changed. But you must have a plan for every lesson, short and long term.

Prepare the lesson area, your goggles, spare goggles, nose clips, flippers, notes, plans, sinkers, play floats.

Use your imagination…. Integrate current themes to the lesson  such as Fireworks night,  Halloween, sports events, superheroes, stars from kids movies etc- entertain the kids. 

Use simple questioning techniques to keep them engaged. For example:

“When we are learning to swim are we trying to like a bird or a fish? A fish. Does a fish swim in the air or the water? The Water. So, where should our legs be, in the air or the water? The Water. Fast little kicks in the water. Fast like a cheetah, not big like an elephant!”

Establishing an effective communication between you and the kids is critical. 

Keep everything simple, avoid long monologues, detail about high elbows, fast legs or squished fingers.

When setting a task remember that children remember the last six words you say.

Try and use positive reinforcement, it can be so powerful. 

Learn to “pretend” to be angry. If you ever actually lose your temper, you have lost the class.

Timing the lesson is a constant challenge. 

ALWAYS finish with playtime, never sacrifice it or use as a threat to be withdrawn if they don’t “listen”.

When you finish teaching, think hard about how the lessons went.

Whatever happened, it will ultimately be the teacher’s responsibility. How would do it next time? Better planning? Different activity?

Constant Analysis will improve your teaching.

Thinking swimming teachers make for a  happy swim school.