The other day I had a student around the age of 5 do something that awestruck me. I wanted to take credit for his amazing progress, but in reality as a coach it isn't me who did it. It was the student (regardless of age), and realizing it is THEM fulfilling their potential. That is what sets apart the good from the great coaches.
This young lad managed to swim out to the middle of the 10 ft, dive down, and retrieve a sink toy from the bottom. Then got himself BACK UP (often the hardest part since you're out of breath), and then swam back to the side. Mind you just last Summer I could barely get him to swim ten feet, let alone dive it!
Some days it is huge progress like that, and other days it is the compounding 1% bit by bit progress. In EITHER case I am happy as an instructor, and I am able to move on from there.
Why + Philosophy:
My ethos when it comes to teaching is to have a student make any semblance of progress every lesson. It could in the mind, where they understand more, or perhaps got over a fear. It could understanding the philosophical reason behind why we do something, and in turn makes them more motivated to do things the proper (yet often harder) way.
It could even be an info-train where I distill tons of knowledge like a stock reel. In any case, there is some sort of learning and progression happening. Even the smallest amount makes me feel fulfilled.
I once had a student that for some reason wasn't receptive at all for 45 minutes, and the parent was asking should we try to keep going or call it for today? We had a great dynamic so they knew that I would give them an honest answer, and in my gut I felt that we should keep going. About 5 minutes later something in the student clicked, and we were able to have a very productive last 10 minutes. Amounting to probably only about a 2% performance gain, but still that is all that mattered to me. Is that we stay in the positive, and regressing in any way. In my philosophy you are either moving forward or backwards, there is no maintaining.
How + Physics:
The look of awe and true active listening that students give to me when I teach them to swim is probably one of the biggest reasons I love teaching. I have always had a natural knack for teaching. Once I got the chance as a lifeguard to sub a class, I knew from then on that it was something I wanted to do, and maybe not so much for my main thing but still! Although it really has become my main thing at this point.
Eventually I got to the point where my own swimming progression plateaued, and would take much more nuanced learning to progress. My skill as a teacher eventually followed suit, and so I looked for other means to challenge myself. That lead me to teaching water aerobics, aquastrength, and move your joints. Three different types of classes in the water, that all benefited from my knowledge of swimming. As it turns out vice versa as well, as I was able to take the strength training or balance concepts into swimming.
What + Psychology:
Learning is just the intake of information, akin to downloading a file from the internet, although just not as fast or efficient. As someone who is a systems thinker I quickly got into the methodology of trying to distill information as quickly as possible. Thus sparked my interest (among other things in life sparking it too) in the psychology of other people.
From learning about micro-expressions, body language, personality types, and more. That all came from a desire to give my students the best possible experience they could have.
Each one of my students I've taught over the years stays with me. In my life in general I have sucked at remembering names, and after teaching around 1000 students I certainly have forgotten names. However I have not forgotten anyone's face. I have seen students I've taught over half a decade ago come back, and I instantly recognized them. In fact a couple even became lifeguards of their own, and perhaps eventually swim instructors too. 🥲
I don't take this Business Lightly
I have started over the past few years teaching outside of my original workplace. Creating a more close connection, as I had cut out the middleman if you will. It makes it harder because it is more business and logistics, but I get to teach at a variety of pool environments. Reach new clients that I wouldn't have before, and that even lead me to surviving financially through the quarantine even. As I was able to teach enough swim lessons to pay bills.
I consider my teaching to be "high-ticket" value, but at a much lower cost. Eventually I will have to raise prices as the opportunity cost raises, but that is why I do all of this.
I am writing this Weekly newsletter in order to teach a far greater amount of people, as well as writing a vastly detailed book on the same wavelength of these posts. From the psychology, to the physics, and even the philosophy of swimming!
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.