What does a Swimming Instructor do?

Cassie L. Damewood
Cassie L. Damewood
A swimming instructor.
A swimming instructor.

A swimming instructor teaches all types of swimming strokes and water safety rules to a diverse student base. His students typically range from infants to seniors. He may work for a private club or public facility. If he is self-employed, he may offer private lessons at home or public swimming pools. A considerable number of people in this profession work at summer camps or educational institutions.

A swimming instructor sometimes specializes in certain types of training.
A swimming instructor sometimes specializes in certain types of training.

Instilling confidence in his students is typically a major part of a swimming instructor’s job. Some of his pupils may be fearless and willing to participate in all water exercises and swimming rituals, but a significant number may have a fear of water in general or phobias related to submerging their heads in water or being in water deeper than their height. A competent swimming instructor traditionally uses a wide range of approaches to these students, as each one responds to different stimuli to overcome fears and apprehensions.

While a swimming instructor may be competent in teaching all ages of people, if he teaches groups or classes, he typically categorizes them by level of expertise. This enables him to concentrate on teaching specific skills to a group without being distracted by the needs of less experienced students. Students also generally benefit from being part of a class populated by peers at their level of competence.

A swimming instructor sometimes specializes in certain types of training. He may only work with physically or mentally challenged students or specialize in teaching lifesaving techniques to aspiring lifeguards. Experienced swimmers frequently seek instruction in perfecting a certain stroke, a service offered by some swimming instructors. Middle and high school athletic departments may employ a swimming instructor to coach their swim teams.

Since there are no established curriculums or guidelines for swimming instructors, most have unique approaches. If a particular tactic or method proves successful, a swimming instructor commonly incorporates it into his teaching practice. Regardless of the basis on which the program is based, most swimming classes concentrate learning basic strokes, breathing techniques and water safety.

To be qualified to be a swimming instructor normally requires certification by a nationally or internationally accredited organization that teaches swimming strokes as well as lifesaving classes. Certification through these groups normally requires being recertified every few years to ensure the instructors’ skills are sharp. Swimming instructors at educational institutions are frequently required to be certified physical education teachers. Those seeking employment at other youth-oriented facilities are sometimes required to have experience in working with young people in educational or recreational environments.

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Discussion Comments


@KoiwiGal - I can understand the frustration you feel, but I think you have to make allowances for kids just being kids.

I mean these are students who are so committed to swimming in their team that they've got up at the early hours of the morning in order to get to the pool. This is an age group which is famous for not wanting to get up early in the morning.

Then, they are hanging out together from different schools, so it might be one of the only chances they really get to see each other during the day.

The swim instructor probably does the best he can, but kids will be kids and in these circumstances I'd be surprised if they didn't get up to a little bit of mischief.

If they're being seriously disruptive though, you should ask the instructor about it, or maybe even go to the pool staff to complain if you have to.

I wish our local swim instructor would instill a little bit more courtesy into his swimmers.

I go swimming every morning at our local public pools and I try to get there by 6 AM or so in order to avoid the crowds that are generally there by about 8 AM or so.

Which would work perfectly, except that three lanes out of the six are always taken over by the swim squad made up of student from local schools.

I wouldn't mind, except that they can be very disruptive for people in the other lanes. They might as well be taking over four lanes, not three.

I know that they are training for competitions and maybe their instructor doesn't think they should need to worry about the here and now but the locals would be much more supportive if they were polite about using the pool.

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    • A swimming instructor.
      A swimming instructor.
    • A swimming instructor sometimes specializes in certain types of training.
      A swimming instructor sometimes specializes in certain types of training.