Create swimming lesson goals to help students track their progress

By Mike Wright April 12, 2014


Create swimming lesson goals to help students track their progress

Create swimming lesson goals to help students track their progress

Swimming lessons are the norm for many members of pool management services. These fun courses teach essential life skills, but according to Drew Schoenster, the assistant aquatics director at the Wilton Family YMCA, swimming lessons can focus on too many aspects at once, so setting clear goals is important.

Having too many goals at the same time, such as swimming a longer distance, perfecting form and enhancing breathing methods can overwhelm participants who are just learning to swim. Students should be able to return home and tell their families exactly what they learned and improved on in one lesson. This can be done by setting achievable and viewable goals.

Make achievements measurable
Because lessons are instruction- and not competition-based, there are no clear-cut measurements of success. A student may not be able to figure out how well he or she did for the day based on swimming faster or for a longer distance. As such, it’s important to establish measurable goals ahead of time. Unlike competition swimming, these should focus on improving technique.

Monitoring students’ techniques can be difficult, since lessons likely won’t offer exclusively one-on-one work. In these cases, classes may benefit from having more than one instructor at a time – one that’s in the water, ready to assist swimmers and another outside the pool, supervising and keeping an eye on how well participants are doing.

Break goals down
Rather than focus on multiple aspects at once, Schoenster suggested narrowing the focus. The first few lessons can hone in on proper breathing, followed by lessons on form and then distance. This way, swimmers will know what to pay attention to and focus on working toward one goal at a time. Additionally, not having so many factors to consider helps students and instructors better recognize improvements. In the beginning, instructors can point out that an individual isn’t breathing as heavily as he or she had been at the first lesson. The American Red Cross features a similar interval structure in their swimming lessons that focuses on one factor at a time.

Know that it takes time
Redesigning swimming lessons will be a matter of trial and error. Being flexible to change and working with instructors and swimmers will allow your facility to design a program that creates measurable goals and marks success effectively. Try out the new system with one group of swimmers and figure out best practices before expanding the concept. Let the community know as soon as you establish the optimal system.