44 - What it is like to be a Swim Instructor

TL:DR | After teaching for a decade there has been waves of students, new ways of sharing knowledge, and refining of the systems. Here is why I think being a swim instructor is so amazing!

2 min read
44 - What it is like to be a Swim Instructor

Many of you who subscribed to this newsletter thus far have been clients of mine. Are you curious as to how I became a Swim Instructor, and what it is like? :D

Think of it as each and every lesson there is an equation, and my job is to figure out the pieces of that equation. Each swimmer's learning are the pieces.

Why + Philosophy:

What was the reason why I became one? I remember lifeguarding every Saturday morning for a long while, which is when my pool had been doing their main set of swim lessons. I'd watch the instructors play with the kids, hold them up, and show them the movements.

I told my boss I wanted to do that, and he thought I'd be too tough ironically. However on a day we were too short staffed he threw me into the pool (not literally), and told me to teach a group. I remember various games I saw other teachers play, and I drew on my own observations.

That skill of observing only grew and grew, and I wanted to apply more of what I saw to the lessons. That still continues till today, that desire to share what I observed.

How + Physics:

Now as a teacher I observe a lot, that goes for professional swimmers, completely newbies, and myself.

I would watch how the body moves in the various forces of water applied to them, and how to smoothly get around in the aquatic environment. Think about how a fish swims, back and forth, side to side, that sort of thing. That movement is most effective at being able to cut through the water. Rather than just forcing your way forward.

There are a lot more examples than that, but for the most part it is about observing what the student is doing. Then figuring out what they need to do next. I have a variety of levels (that I've explained in a previous post), and I fit my pupil into one of those levels when I evaluate them.

I ask them to go through the basic set of movements, and if they know them or not. Then there is a period of just experimenting, and in that period I'm observing.

What + Psychology:

My thought process is that with enough effort (from the student, but also myself), that we can make progress in a given swim lesson.

That is all I care about is getting my pupil to the next level in some shape or form. Even safety comes down to that mentality, as if you get hurt then you'll regress from your progression. (Although I'm not crude, as I do care about your safety!)

Getting the student into the right state of mind, outside of all other worries, and focused on the moment. A state of calm, or at the very least focus.


Focus X the Right set of Instructions = Progress

Thus you'll have "deliberate practice", and a much greater increase in level. It is the key to mastery in any field, however with something as complicated (yet simple) as swimming; It is ever more prudent.

I hope this gives you a glimpse into my mindset as an instructor, and honestly to help you know why I'll probably never stop teaching. Even as it gets to be more of an opportunity cost of time, there is so much fulfillment from teaching it.


This is advice for people to level up their swimming, or perhaps get started in the first place. While you swim you should make sure you are doing so in a public facility with a lifeguard on duty for safety.

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