Swimming Lesson Plan – Adult Lessons

I’m not doing it, you can’t make me.

You can see our updated guide to teaching adults and teens here: [button text=”Adult and Teen Guide” url=”https://www.swimminglessonsideas.com/2016/02/19/new-swim-instructor-guide-teach-adults-teens/” background_color=”#2dcb73″ text_color=”#ffffff” style=”lt_flat” size=”default” icon=”” open_new_window=”true” rounded=”true”]


To teach Adults how to swim requires first assessing what their ability level is.

Follow these steps:

  • Do they go underwaterIf yes then continue, otherwise focus on this first.
  •  Float: Stomach and Back Look for: 1) Face held stable, looking down or at ceiling. 2) Body flat; legs straight 3) Arms still. 4) Shoulders Still
  • Front Crawl (Freestyle)  1) stable, still body 2) Head held in downward position. 3) Hips roll with the arms and shoulders 4) Maintain a strong line with body 5) Arm pull focusing on “front quadrant” of the stroke 6) End arm pull at the hips 7) High elbow recovery with a wide arm recovery. Do not recover with hand near the body
  • Back Floats  1) Chin pressed back into the neck / spine 2) Hips held to the surface 3) Kick with straight pointed toes just below surface 4) Head remains still
  • Breaststroke 1) Kick: feet touches suit, feet flex, then make a circle and squeeze. 2) Arms: make an I, then Y, then scoop and shoot. Breathing should be done during the Scoop, kick begins during the shoot back to “I”. 3) Glide after every kick at least 2 seconds for beginners.

Use the preceding list to assess the ability of the adult swimmer. When you hit a point where they are no longer able, assess the next heading. For instance, if the swimmer can’t do breaststroke kicks, don’t ask them about the arms. The kick in Breaststroke is the most important.


Here is a sample teaching progression for an adult class:

  • Underwater
  • Float (back or front)
  • Float and Kick
  • Float and Kick with movement. Any forward motion will allow the body to be pushed to the surface; the motion pushes the feet to the surface and promotes good body line
  • Streamlines. Similar to above but pushing off the wall.
  • Swimming with arms NO breathing. Give specific number of strokes to swimmer to accomplish.
  • Swimming with arms and breathing. Give goal # of breaths and # of arms.




Swimming with adults:

1)      Assessment

a.       Underwater?

b.      Float- maintaining a stable body position?

                                                              i.      Face held stable, looking down

                                                            ii.      Body flat; legs straight

                                                          iii.      Arms still

                                                          iv.      Shoulders still

c.       Front crawl

                                                              i.      Stable still body

                                                            ii.      Head held in downward position; unmoving

                                                          iii.      Hips rolling with the arms and shoulders

                                                          iv.      Maintaining a strong line with body

                                                            v.      Arm pull focusing on “front quadrant;” downward forearm

                                                          vi.      End arm pull at the hips

                                                        vii.      High elbow recovery with a wide outward sweep (snow angel)

d.      Back floats

                                                              i.      Chin pressed back into neck / spine

                                                            ii.      Hips held up to surface

                                                          iii.      Kicks with a straight pointed toe

                                                          iv.      Head remaining still; eyes pointed to ceiling.

e.       Breast stroke

                                                              i.      Kick: up, out, around. Keep knees inside the shoulders

                                                            ii.      Arms: always in front of the body, elbows don’t come past shoulders

                                                          iii.      Glide: hold long reaching streamline getting head back underwater

2)      Teaching

a.       Progression

                                                              i.      Underwater

                                                            ii.      Float

                                                          iii.      Float and Kick

                                                          iv.      Float and kick with movement (any forward motion will allow the body to naturally float on the surface; the motion lifts the legs up and makes the good body line easier).

                                                            v.      Streamlines

                                                          vi.      Swimming with arms NO breathing

                                                        vii.      Swimming with arms AND breathing

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