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What makes a good swimming teacher?

What you may not know about me is that I am a qualified Level 2 Swim England Swimming Instructor and ex-competitive swimmer. I am a swimming teacher part time and thought it would be helpful to share what I think a good swimming teacher looks like.

When you have finally decided that you want to learn how to swim or improve your swimming technique, the next thing to do is to find a good swimming teacher. But how exactly can you tell if you have found a ‘good’n. 

In this post I list the qualities you should look for in a good swimming teacher to help you develop on your swimming journey. 

Positivity 

You should get the vibe that your swimming teacher wants to be there and that they they get enjoyment from helping you to swim. They are not just there for the money, they are there because they want to help and have a clear passion for swimming that is (hopefully) contagious.

Expertise

You should know within the first 10 minutes if your swimming teacher has a wealth of knowledge from the swimming specific terminology they use and their full body demonstrations. They may use layman terms to help aid your understanding (for example ‘rocket shape’ rather than ‘streamlined’) and explain the reasons behind why you do certain motions in the water as this often helps to bring about correct technique, better safety in the water and more empowered student. Knowledge is power after all.

Patience

This is especially important for students that are slower to get the hang of things, who struggle more with body coordination and those that have water phobia. A good swimming teacher will notice when a student is taking longer than usual to adopt correct swim techniques and will try different approaches to see which way works best for the student. They will never rush the student and will go at their pace.

Understanding

As well as being patient, a good swimming teacher will listen carefully to what you would like to get out of your swimming lessons and your main swimming goal(s). They will adapt their teaching to work towards your shared goal(s). They will not try to diminish your legitimate concerns or fears of the water, however they will help by empowering you with knowledge about how swimming is different to any other sport and how it can be a hard sport to master at the beginning, but with practice and dedication it can become the most enjoyable and worthwhile (as well as being a potential life saver).

Supportive

An encouraging swimming teacher will tell you ‘great work’, ‘keep doing that’, ‘your doing great’, ‘your nearly there’. They will fill you with never-ending verbal support as well as appropriate support in the water, which may include holding a float whilst you hold it too, holding your hands whilst you swim on your front or supporting your back using their arms whilst you attempt to do a star float or swim on your back. 

Honest

In addition to being supportive, they will set realistic expectations and give constructive criticism where needed. They will never tell you that you have mastered something if in reality you haven’t. They will be honest and let you know where you are going wrong and how you can get better. If they think you will need more time to develop an aquatic skill they will let you know and give a realistic idea of how long it can take to achieve it. 

Analytical

An experienced swimming teacher will be able to quickly spot faults in your technique and quickly alert you to what you need to do to improve. They won’t let you continue to keep practicing the same faults as they will know that muscle memory plays a big part in swimming technique. Instead they will stop you, show you what you were doing and then show you what they should practice to be better. This way good technique is what is practiced and good swimming becomes part of your muscle memory and eventually you will be swimming correctly without thinking. 

Responsible

A good swimming teacher will be able to control the lesson and for the main part stick to what they had planned, whilst being flexible if extra time needs to be spent on mastering skills before moving onto the next skill. They will be a comfort to the student to know that if they got into any trouble in the water that they would be there to help them immediately. Students learning how to swim put a lot of trust in their swimming teacher to look after them and help them be the best they can be, and a good swimming teacher will not take this trust for granted. They will treat the student with the respect they deserve to earn and keep their trust. 

There are many qualities of a good swimming teacher, but these are the ones that spring to mind. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post.

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