Swim Instructor

Swim Instructor


30 Years Experience

Reisterstown, MD

Female, 54

I'm a Red Cross certified WSI Swim Instructor, specializing in Stroke Mechanics and Technique work. (All ages and abilities.) I've instructed off-and-on for somewhere around 30 years. In addition to instructing, I coach triathletes for the swim portion of their triathlons. (Indoor and Open Water.) For me, "water is home". So in addition to instructing and coaching, I manage an aquatic center for a local gym chain, lifeguard, and also instruct Red Cross lifeguard classes. Life's good!

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15 Questions


Last Answer on February 08, 2016

Best Rated

What's something that 'traditional' swim instruction has always taught a certain way but that you think needs revising or updating?

Asked by MP over 9 years ago

Wow...  That question is a pretty open one.  There are many different strokes, different areas to teach within each stroke -- beyond even the foundations of just getting to that point -- and many different theories on teaching.  I've worked for different organizations and entirely different teaching structures & principles.  Overall, I think the most important thing as an instructor is to keep an open mind, watch other instructors around you, absorb what's good, practice your craft, and outside of the work setting, do your homework.  The Flutter Kick -- for example -- is one of those areas where a lot of coaches agree to disagree.  Some believe, a swimmer should be taught to point their toes.  I am one who believes that the feet should be loose and relaxed.  The feet do go to work and still have an active role with the flutter kick by snapping through the ankle on the downward thrust, but..should remain relaxed. Hope that helps!

If someone takes in too much water, what happens? Do they just fall unconscious? How long do you have to resuscitate them before they will die?

Asked by Bianca over 9 years ago

There are a lot of things that can happen when someone takes in too much water.  Everything from a cough, to vomiting, to drowning can possibly occur.  I've often heard that a drowning can occur in as little as 1 tablespoon of water; and with that said, I can tell you that I've see plenty of swimmers take on water, and be just fine.  But, I've also know a boy who was a fantastic swimmer, who went to practice one day and never came home.  Whether they would fall unconscious or not has a lot to do with the variables involved.  

How satisfying do you find your job? Does it ever get boring teaching the same skills over and over again?

Asked by Sanders over 9 years ago

Hi, Sanders.  Nope; it never gets boring.  Not for me, anyway.  Teaching and coaching is where my heart is.  I love what I do.  Absolutely love it.  Very few things in life make me happier than seeing a client have a breakthrough moment.  I literally get a little teary-eyed with their successes.  

On the opposite side of the compass, I've seen a lot of younger instructors become bored, do the same crap, student after student, complain, say they can't wait to leave their instructing job and move on to a ((uh-hem)) "real" job.  When they drop that bomb, I need to remind them that to some of us, instructing and coaching IS our "real" job. 

To further what I mentioned earlier, swim instructors who are at the top of their game constantly hone their craft.  We study -- everything from most up to the minute stroke mechanics, to...the Navy Swim Test.  In a perfect world, the more experienced the swim instructor, the more varied they are -- or should be -- in their ability to adapt to their student / client.  When it becomes formulaic or boring, it's time to move on to a different career, or "real" job.  (Insert snarky chuckle here.)   

In a standard front crawl, what percentage of the work are a swimmer's arms vs. his legs doing in propelling him forward?

Asked by Quinn over 9 years ago

Great question.  And the answer really is enfolded within the purpose of your Front Crawl (or Freestyle).  If you're using the stroke for a distance swim, you're probably going to use less "legs" and more upper body (dependent upon the purpose of your swim).  If you're doing shorter course work, you're most likely going to want to use more "legs".  Regardless of speed, the best kick to arm ratio is a 6 Beat Switch Kick: 3 kicks to one arm, 6 kicks to one full stroke.  There are a lot of variables involved with instruction that can change those dynamics as well, such as the buoyancy level of your swimmer.

How much faster does shaving body hair REALLY make swimmers during races?

Asked by Nathan over 9 years ago

Hi, Nathan.  Shaving can make a different and there are different shaves to benefit different strokes.  The more streamlined and aerodynamic the body, the better.  So, it makes sense right?  

What are the physical traits that make for the "ideal swimmer's body"?

Asked by RC Burns over 9 years ago

I love this question!  Why?  Well... Let's be brutally honest.  I am actually the opposite of what today's world would deem as an adult with the ideal swimmer's body.  I'm short (5' 2"); average build; have short arms; have tiny hands, and tiny feet.  Yeah...So...Destiny says I'll never be a Schmitty (Allison Schmitt).  But it has never stopped me.  And it shouldn't stop anyone who has a love for the water. You don't have to be 6 ft tall to be a successful swimmer.  A love for the water usually shows itself at a young age, and no child should every be swayed away from the water if that's where their heart is.  That said...  Olympic swimmers these days are all very tall (well, by my standards, anyway!), long and lanky, long arms, long legs, good sized hands, and the big shoulders that come hand-in-hand with years of swimming.  The body is very streamlined.Great question, RC!  I hope you're a swimmer -- with a question like that, you probably are.  Regardless of what body type you are, I hope you reach for the stars!  Or...in a swimmer's case...Ribbons and beyond!  Have a great day!

Do swim teachers need to have insurance? Or is that covered by the pool you work for?

Asked by ilovesushi over 9 years ago

If you're operating your own swim school or holding lessons at your home, yes, you definitely need your own insurance.  (Wouldn't hurt to be bonded either.)  In regard to the second question though, I would hope that you're covered by the pool or company that you work for; but, it's a tad bit of a gray area because of how things "can" happen and how much damage could potentially occur -- that's "if" you want to look at all of the ginormous "what if's".