Swim Lessons: On-Boarding, Training, & Longevity Plan

  1. Hire them with an interview. Here are the questions I use.
  2. Set them up with a Swimming Ideas account and invite them to your team.
  3. Assign them the “Level Structure” and “Teaching Swimming” online courses.
  4. Assign them to an in-person Swim Instructor Training.
    • Follow the Lesson Coordinator Handbook Training Block Plan (Red/Pink Section).
  5. Evaluate their ability to peer teach
  6. Have staff shadow a veteran swim instructor for 2-4 lessons.
    • Shadows observe in the water with the instructor. They participate as they’re comfortable under the direction of their veteran instructor.
  7. Teach a lesson using the lesson plans printed on indestructible paper
  8. As mastery grows, they stop using lesson plans and come up with their own combination of Activity, Activity, Challenge that is appropriate to the level, age, and unique abilities of each class they teach!
  9. Instructors opt-in to Leadership Mentorship Program.
  10. They create a Goal, Tasks that attempt to achieve the goal, and have meetings in service of their goal and tasks.
  11. Evaluate the effectiveness of their tasks to the goal.
  12. Evaluate the goal.
  13. Promote candidates to Lesson Coordinator.
  14. Lesson Coordinators conduct training and oversee day-to-day lessons.
  15. Lesson Coordinators mentor aspiring swim instructor leaders.

Hire a swim instructor

Put up a job application somewhere online. The application should follow your hiring rules with a job description, expected work hours, pay rate, compensation, and typical activities.

Schedule an interview with your applicant.

I prefer to do things digitally and remotely because it lets me to a lot of meetings without having the extra hassle of in-person meeting.

*In-person meetings are the best! They really are, but they are more time consuming and mentally and physically draining. When you’re hiring 100 staff in 2 months you need to manage your time with everything else you’re working on.

Zoom / Teams / Google Meet with a booking system of some kind like Calendly, Bookings, etc. Do not play the “When are you free?” game. Put your calendar online and let people book when they can match your schedule.

Sample interview questions:

  • Employee name
  • Interviewer Name
  • Interview Date
  • Who referred you to this position?
  • Do you need a work permit?
  • Are you able to preform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation?
  • Could you describe a time you faced a difficult situation?
  • Could you tell me about a time you experienced failure?
  • Could you describe how you learned to swim?
  • Can you talk about a time you were responsible for something? Class, group, job, family?
  • Could you describe a time you were involved with a difficult person?
  • What will prevent you from working?
  • What questions do you have?
  • Notes

Enroll your new hire into your Swimming Ideas Team

New hire? Add them to your team.

Go to https://www.swimminglessonsideas.com/management/ and click on “Manage Team” next to your new team’s name.

Click “Add Team Member>”

This will take you to a screen where you can enter your new hire’s information.

The system will email the new hire their:

  • username
  • password
  • A link to the Swimming Ideas My Account page.

Have your new hire check their email, use the username and password to log in. They should see a list of their courses on that page.

Assign your new hire to online training

Your new hire will automatically have all the online courses available to them.

We assign:

  • Level Structure
  • Teaching Swimming

New hires must complete both online courses before they attend an in-person training.

Then, once complete the new hire must notify the Aquatic Manager or the Lesson Coordinators that they’ve completed the online courses and prove it with a copy of their certificates.

Certificates are auto-generated and available on the “My Account” page once the employees have completed the online courses.

You can see your certificates on the My Account page by clicking on the icon next to the “Complete” or “In Progress” line.

Alternately, Team Leaders (Lesson Coordinators) and the Aquatic Professional can go to the Organization and Team management page and see each employee’s certificates.

Select your team, scroll down.

Select the person you want and the course you want to see. Click “filter.”

You can see their final test score and the questions they got right and wrong, as well as the Certificate.

New hire should attend an in-person training: ~ 6 hours

You should conduct an in-person training day for your new hires to learn the nuances of teaching swimming and get practical in-person practice implementing the content of the online courses.

Follow the Training outline listed in the Pink/Red sections of the Lesson Coordinator Handbook.

Print version available on Amazon.com

Lesson Coordinator Handbook PDF

Available as a PDF download when you’re an All-Access subscriber, and available to all team members of a Team membership.


Follow the block plans “Training Activity 1, 2, and Challenge” for each section.

You’ll need to review and prepare the material before conducting a training.

The Lesson Coordinator Handbook is designed for your leadership team to use as a reference and guide for conducting swim lessons with a detailed look at the level structure, lead a training like a new hire orientation, and improve their professional development with guides on how to be a better leader in the Green sections.

Have the swim instructor shadow a veteran

Once your staff have completed the online courses, attended an in-person training, and on-boarded as an employee its time to have them get in the water and start practicing their skills.

We recommend that you create a shadowing system.

The new hire is a “shadow” to a veteran swimming instructor.

The “shadow” should have a printed on indestructible paper copy of the lesson plan that the veteran instructor is going to use. We recommend Terra Slate.

The shadow should follow along with the flow of Activity, Activity, Challenge and begin to participate in the lesson as an instructor as their comfort grows.

I want to stress: the shadow should be involved or not as they are comfortable with the guidance of the veteran teacher. This is a learning environment where they get to learn by doing and seeing.

Veteran instructors should have an opportunity to demonstrate your program’s standards and techniques and the nuances of the lesson plans to the shadow. It gives the veteran a chance to reinforce their teaching habits, adjust bad habits, and teach someone else.

Having a shadow also gives your veterans a chance to stand out as a potential leader, who might be ready for a promotion.

  • Shadowing can provide the new hire with greater clarity about the teaching practices and ideas for improving their teaching style.
  • Shadowing can promote inclusivity and diversity in the pool, as the new hire can learn from the veteran instructor’s experience and strategies for dealing with different types of students.
  • Shadowing can ensure the safety and well-being of the students, as the new hire can assist the veteran instructor in monitoring and supporting the students in the pool.
  • Shadowing can also provide the new hire with support and feedback, as they can ask questions and receive guidance from the veteran instructor.
  • Shadowing can improve the social interactions and collaboration among the staff, as the new hire and the veteran instructor can build rapport and trust with each other.

Begin teaching independently with lesson plans

Your new hire has done a lot of training. They’ve taken the online courses. They’ve shadowed a veteran instructor. They’ve used the lesson plans and have go through your in-person training.

Now its time for them to cut the apron strings and strike out on their own, but we don’t want them to fail.

Give your new instructor the waterproof lesson plan appropriate to the class they’re teaching.

Print out the lesson plans on the TerraSlate paper.

Let the instructor transition to the General Lesson Plans.

The general lesson plans are like cheat sheets where instructors can choose activities and challenges from a bank of level-appropriate options.

Then, once they’ve mastered putting pieces together, they can start coming up with their own flow of activities and challenges to meet the unique needs of their swimmers and classes.

Lead an Advanced Lesson and act as a Veteran instructor

We offer a few different types of swimming lessons:

  • Open swim lessons: anyone of any age and ability can attend. Participants enroll in a day/time.
  • Advanced swim lessons: anyone at least 5 years old and older and at least Level 3 may attend and register for a day and time.

When we conduct our Advanced Swim Lessons they serve as a bridge between swim lessons and our competitive swimming team. We want to help ease the transition between instructor-in-water lessons to coach on deck instruction.

We arrange the pool into lanes with the lane lines in. 1 instructor serves as the “lead instructor” or “coach.” And we have additional instructors in the water (if needed) to serve as lane instructors.

We purchased the EliteProjector Ultra Short Throw Projector MosicGO 1080p, 1500 lumins and coupled it with a Google Chrome Cast.

We can access the Swimming Ideas website and use the Lesson Plans on a giant wall.

The Lead instructor guides the class through the activities.

The lane instructors follow along with the lesson plans on printed sheets.

The swimmers get a swim team like lesson over 45 minutes that emulates what it would be like to participate on a Developmental Swim Team!

Rotate instructors into the Lead instructor role acting like a coach to gain more confidence in speaking to a large group and directing other staff in how to teach and behave.

Enroll in Leadership Mentorship program

We offer a comprehensive Leadership Mentorship Program through SwimLessons PRO, when you’re a Team or Organization subscriber.

Here is a possible generic guide for a swim instructor who wants to participate in a leadership mentorship program:

Leadership Mentorship Program for Swim Instructors

The purpose of this program is to help you develop your leadership skills and achieve a goal that improves the swim instruction department. You will work with a mentor who will guide you through the process of choosing a goal, planning and executing tasks, and evaluating your results. You will also create a portfolio of your work that you can use for future opportunities.

Step 1: Choose a mentor. Find a person who is experienced in swim instruction and has leadership qualities. This could be a senior instructor, a supervisor, a manager, or a coordinator. Ask them if they are willing to be your mentor for this program. If they agree, create a record in the “Leadership: Candidates” list with your name and your mentor’s name.

Step 2: Have your first meeting. Create a new entry in the “Leadership: 1st Meeting” list. At the first meeting, your mentor will explain the program and its benefits. You will discuss your interests and areas of improvement in swim instruction. You will brainstorm four potential goals that you want to achieve. A goal is a broad objective that is challenging but achievable, measurable, and relevant to swim instruction. For example:

  • Improve the quality and consistency of swim lesson evaluations.
  • Increase the retention and satisfaction of swim lesson participants.
  • Develop and implement a new curriculum or module for swim lessons.
  • Enhance the safety and emergency preparedness of swim instructors.

Your mentor will give you homework: Refine the goals into concise statements. Eliminate any unnecessary words and make them as clear and specific as possible. Your mentor will document the meeting details and the four brainstormed goals in the “Leadership: 1st Meeting” record.

Step 3: Choose a goal. Choose one goal that you want to focus on for the rest of the program. Make sure that you are interested and motivated by the goal, and that your mentor agrees with your choice. Update the “Leadership: Goal” list with the title of your goal using concise language. You will use this goal in every subsequent meeting to link your work to your objective.

Step 4: Plan and execute tasks. Create a new entry in the “Leadership: Task” list. A task is a specific action that you do to achieve your goal. It should be aligned with your goal, realistic, and time-bound. For example:

  • Create a rubric for swim lesson evaluations and train other instructors on how to use it.
  • Conduct a survey of swim lesson participants and analyze the feedback.
  • Design a new curriculum or module for swim lessons and pilot it with a group of students.
  • Review and update the safety and emergency procedures for swim instructors and conduct a drill.

You will come up with three tasks that will help you reach your goal. You will work on one task at a time, and document your progress and challenges in the “Leadership: Task” record. You will also have regular meetings with your mentor to review your work, get feedback, and plan your next steps.

Record your meetings using the “Leadership: Meetings” list. Each meeting should be linked to a task and a goal.

Step 5: Evaluate your results. When you have completed all your tasks, you will evaluate your results and your goal. You will assess whether you achieved your goal, what you learned, what you improved, and what you can do better. You will update the “Leadership: Goal” record with your evaluation and a summary of your work. You will also email your mentor to print all the related materials for you and your mentor. This will serve as your portfolio that you can use for future job interviews. For the swim instruction department, it will serve as evidence of your leadership skills and your contribution to the improvement of the department.

Apply for Lesson Coordinator

Here is a guide for applying to be a Lesson Coordinator:

  • A Lesson Coordinator is a leadership role that oversees the training and development of swim instructors, as well as the quality and consistency of swim lessons.
  • To apply for this position, you must have proven your competence and understanding of Swimming Ideas level structure, skills, and method and delivery of fun and effective instruction. You must also have completed at least two tasks in a Leadership Mentorship program, such as shadowing a Lesson Coordinator, leading a staff meeting, or creating a training plan.
  • To prepare for the application process, you should review the Lesson Coordinator Handbook PDF, which contains valuable information on how to run a training session, how to evaluate and give feedback to instructors, and how to solve common problems in swim lessons.
  • You should also be ready to answer some sample questions, such as:
    • What are the objectives and goals of a swim instructor training session? You should be able to explain how a training session aims to provide participants with clear expectations, practical skills, and constructive feedback. You should also be able to describe the framework of Activity, Activity, Challenge, and how it works to enhance learning and engagement.
    • How would you demonstrate and teach a specific skill, such as streamline, to a group of new instructors? You should be able to use clear and concise language, visual aids, and physical demonstrations to explain the key steps and components of the skill. You should also be able to check for understanding, correct common errors, and provide positive reinforcement.
    • How would you handle a situation where an instructor is not following the Swimming Ideas standards, such as using wrong holds, giving poor feedback, or being distracted? You should be able to use effective communication skills, such as active listening, open-ended questions, and assertive statements, to address the issue and provide constructive criticism. You should also be able to offer solutions, resources, and support to help the instructor improve.
  • Prepare for the interview. After you submit your application and portfolio, you will be invited for an interview with the swim instruction manager and/or director. The interview will be an opportunity for you to showcase your leadership skills, your knowledge of Swimming Ideas standards, and your passion for swim instruction. You should prepare for the interview by reviewing your portfolio, practicing your answers to common questions, and dressing professionally.
  • Impress the interviewers. On the day of the interview, arrive early and greet the interviewers with a smile and a handshake. Be confident, courteous, and enthusiastic. Answer the questions clearly and concisely, using examples from your portfolio and experience. Ask relevant questions about the position and the expectations. Thank the interviewers for their time and follow up with a thank-you email.

Better swimming.
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