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Swim Instructor Videos

Back Crawl

The back crawl or backstroke is the only competitive stroke performed on the back. Like the front crawl, efficient movement and good body position make this stroke more powerful. Keep your back slightly rounded so your legs are horizontal and your upper body is relaxed, your hips and legs are just below the surface. The water line typically runs from the middle of the top of your head to the tip of your chin with your ears underwater. Keep your head still and aligned with your spine as you stroke.

An effective back crawl depends on good body roll with every stroke. Use a regular breathing pattern as you swim, inhale when one arm recovers, exhale when the other recovers. Your body continues to rotate as you're recovering arm enters the water. Body rotation is at its maximum at the start of the catch. The catch for one arm begins as the other arm recovers. This will help you maintain good opposition rhythm in your stroke.

Your arms move in constant opposition to each other. One arm pulls while the other recovers. Each arm is always opposite the other arm. This is called opposition rhythm begin with your arms straight without moving your head. As your arm enters the water, rotate your body toward that side, your hand enters the water just outside the shoulder little finger first, your palm faces out with the wrist slightly bent, your entry hand slices downward 8-12 at a slight outward angle and grabs the water to begin the power phase. The power phase looks like this: Catch, mid-pull, and finish. The power starts with the catch, bend your elbow so your fingertips are pointed toward the side of the pool, your palm and forearm face towards your feet as you push the water back. Follow a straight path towards your feet while your fingertips continue to point to the side. During the finish, your hand speeds up as you follow through, extend your wrist so your palm faces slightly down at the end your arm is straight and your hand is below your hip.

Be sure to keep pressing on the water through the finish to help your body rotate to the other side. Begin the recovery for the arm stroke underwater, with your arms straight, lift your hand from the water first, letting the rest of your arm follow, the palm of your hand faces in your thumb leaves the water first. Keep your arms straight and relaxed throughout the recovery. Good body roll will help keep your recovering arm relaxed. Midway through the recovery, rotate your palm out so that your little finger enters the water first. Now watch the entire arm stroke sequence.

Use the flutter kick for the back crawl, it's a continuous up and down movement that starts at the hip and snaps at the foot. Keep your ankles loose. During the upward kick, the motion begins at the hip with a continuous fluid motion straighten your leg and snap your foot up until your leg is straight and your toes just reach the surface. During the downbeat keep your leg relaxed and almost straight. The distance your legs move up and down during the kick will vary depending on the length of your legs, your hip and ankle flexibility and the pace of the stroke. Most swimmers use a six-beat kick, but your cadence may vary. Now watch the back crawl again, notice how all the elements of the stroke work together to create a smooth motion through the water.

Basic Aquatic Skills

Learning a motor skill like swimming involves change in behavior that result from practice or experience. As a swimming instructor, your job is to support and encourage learning by observing your students and providing them with the encouragement and corrective feedback they need to achieve the next level of performance. Now, to do your job well, it's important to understand the common progressions that occur when learning basic swimming skills.

Let's take a look at some of the common progressions your students will experience with three basic swimming skills: breath control, swimming on the front and swimming on the back.
Proper breath control and rhythmic breathing are essential for learning how to swim. It is important to breathe in and out rhythmically when performing stroke, such as the front crawl, breaststroke, and butterfly. Breath control is also important for learning other basic skills, such as underwater swimming.

At first, students may be uncomfortable putting their faces in the water. You want to encourage them to start with submerging their mouths, then their noses, then eyes, and finally the whole head. Once they're comfortable with submerging their heads, they're ready for the next skill blowing bubbles. In the beginning, students will often blow bubbles without submerging their heads, and when they do submerge fully, they bop up quickly and often wipe the water off their faces.

After some practice, they're beginning to blow bubbles in a regular pattern. Finally, they're experiencing rhythmic breathing bobbing up and down and inhaling as their mouths break the surface, then exhaling under the water. Most importantly, they have overcome their fear of submerging their heads, and they're having fun.

Now, let's take a look at how students’ progress through the development of another skill, swimming on the front. To swim on the front students need to learn how to achieve, maintain, and recover from a float position. They may not float horizontally, which is fine. What is important is that they understand the water can support them. In the beginning, students will often feel uncomfortable and may need some assistance. You can provide this assistance by using different types of support techniques. That you will learn in another section of this video. Remember that a person's body composition affects how each person floats. Some students may never be able to float motionless. But this should not affect their swimming progress. They can recover from a front float in any way they want to. If they are having trouble with recovery, show them how to bend their knees and bring them to the chest, push their hands down through the water, then plant both feet on the floor.

The next stage is the front glide. At first, it doesn't matter how far they go, as long as they can recover when they slow down. After the students have become comfortable with the front glide, you can begin to introduce different leg actions and arm actions. In the beginning. You should give them the choice of several kicks, such as flutter scissors or dolphin, but without naming the kicks. Allow them to experiment with the experience, the feeling of kicking. The same goes for arm movements. It doesn't matter whether their arms are moving alternately or simultaneously as long as they're moving their arms in the water and experiencing how that feels.

Now, let's take a look at swimming on the back to see how the basic progressions develop. Students may be uncomfortable when they're first learning the skill. Often their bodies jackknife and their buttocks go down as they raise their heads, that's fine. That's often part of the process of learning the skill. You can help the students progress by using a variety of support techniques, such as the hip support on back position or the back support position. As they experience the feeling of the water holding them up they'll relax and progress to a position that will allow them to float unsupported. Many students will not float horizontally with their toes out of the water. The key is to be floating with their faces clear of the water.
You can teach less buoyant students to use hand motions such as spinning or sculling to help keep them more horizontal in the water. The student can recover any way he or she wants to. When you introduce the back slide, the first experience you want to encourage is simply to move through the water. Then, like the front glide, they can experiment with any kick or arm movement.

Teaching basic aquatic skills can be a challenging and rewarding experience for both you and your students. You need to continually reassure your students that learning anything takes practice and time, and that the experience of learning how to swim, how to feel comfortable and enjoy being in the water is everyone's goal, yours and theirs.


The breaststroke is the oldest known swimming stroke used in competition. This stroke relies on symmetrical movements of the arms and legs to propel the body forward. The arm stroke and the kick alternate. So as the arms reach full extension the legs kick. The breaststroke also includes a glide phase. Good body position begins with your arms stretched to the front just below the surface palms down. Position your head between your arms and just below the surface with your face down or slightly forward. Keep your back straight and your body nearly horizontal with your hips and legs just below the surface as you stroke with your arms. Your upper body naturally rises and as your arms recover, your face reenters the water. Breathing at the wrong time can easily disrupt the smooth flow of the breaststroke repeating the phrase “Pull and Breathe, Kick and Glide” can help you remember the breathing and timing for the breaststroke.

From the glide position begin the arm stroke. As your arms and hands pull back, your head and upper body will lift naturally. Near the end of the mid pole, take a breath and start to bend your legs to prepare for the kick without pausing start to recover your arms and drive forward with your upper body. As soon as your arms reach full extension and just before you lower your head into the water. Start the power phase of your kick by pressing backward with your feet. Your upper body and arms are in the glide position before your kick ends. Slowly exhale underwater and then begin your next stroke before you begin to lose forward momentum.

Pull and breathe. Kick and glide. Pull and breathe. Kick and glide.

The arm stroke for the breaststroke is a sweeping and scooping circular motion, sweep out, pull around, sweep out, pull around. The power phase of the arm stroke looks like this: Catch, mid-pull, and finish.

The catch begins with your arms extended forward, turn your palms outward at about a 45-degree angle to the surface of the water, with your elbows slightly bent press your palms out until your hands are spread wider than your shoulders to about 11 and 1:00. During the mid-pull bend your elbows and sweep your hands down and in keep your elbows near the surface as your hands pass under your elbows so that your forearms are almost vertical. During the finish bend your elbows even more as you bring them to your sides, sweep your hands in and up until they're in front of your chest, angled slightly upward and almost touching. Speed up the movement of your hands from the start of the mid-pull to the end of the finish. Notice how the pitch of the palms changes throughout the power phase. During the mid-pull, the palms are pitched, so they are always pushing water toward the feet, helping to propel you forward.

Elbow position is also important for good forward motion throughout the power phase, your elbows stay close to the surface while your hands and forearms moved deeper than your elbows after the catch. The arm recovery is a continuous motion from the end of the power phase. After sweeping your hands together in front of your chest, your elbows should be inside the width of your shoulders with your hands together, palms pitched slightly upward, begin to extend your arms so that your hands move forward. Continue to extend your arms while rotating your wrists until your palms are down. At the end of the recovery, your arms are fully extended palms down and your body is in a streamlined position. Now watch the entire arm stroke sequence: Catch, Mid-Pull, Finish, Recovery, and Glide. When done correctly, the breaststroke kick generates more power than the arm stroke.

Begin in the glide position with your legs straight and toes pointed. Recover your legs by bending your hips and knees. Draw your heels up toward your buttocks, keeping them just under the surface. As you recover separate your knees and heels until your knees are about hip width apart and your heels are outside your knees. When your arms are at the end of their recovery flex your ankles and rotate your feet outward. From this position you are ready to begin the power phase of the kick. Keeping your feet flexed and using a continuous pushing action forcefully press your feet and knees backward until your legs are extended and your feet and ankles touch, extend your ankles and keep your legs straight while in the glide position.

Now watch the kick again to get the most forward motion from this kick. Draw your knees no farther forward than your hips and increase the speed of your feet. As you complete the pushing action for the most effective kick. Keep your feet flexed and accelerate your kick all the way to the very end. Now watch the breaststroke as a whole body position: breathing and timing, arm stroke and kick.


The Butterfly is a powerful and graceful stroke. Learning correct timing and technique is the key to mastering this stroke. The Butterfly uses the whole body in a forward flowing motion. Moving together, your arms pull underwater and recover over the surface of the water, as your legs kick in unison upward and downward, your body position is facedown horizontal and streamlined.

Your body and arms drive forward together. Powered by the fluid motion of your abdominals, hips and legs. This continuous motion, combined with good timing, drives your body forward throughout the water. The kick, breath, and pull work in harmony with one another to create efficient form. There are two strong kicks for each arm stroke. The first occurs as your hands enter the water, and the second occurs at the finish of the arm stroke. As your hands enter the water press forward and downward with your chin and chest while extending your legs for the downbeat of the first kick. In the downbeat of the first kick your hips rise and your head and chest press forward. During the catch your upper body begins to rise toward the surface and continues to rise during the mid-pull while your hips drop and your knees bend to prepare for the second kick, start the downbeat of the second kick at the finish of the mid-pull.

As the arm stroke finishes and the second kick ends your hips lift again while your upper body stays near the surface. To help your arms just clear the water during arm recovery. Your upper body reaches its maximum height during the finish of the arm stroke and the end of the second kick. During the finish of the arm stroke, thrust your chin forward until your face clears the surface. Be sure to keep your mouth just above the surface to breathe. Lifting your head to high will cause your hips to sink. Inhale as you start your arm recovery. Then press down with your chin and chest to return your face to the water. Your head is on its way back down by the midpoint of the recovery. Some swimmers breathe with every stroke. Others take two or more strokes between breaths to increase speed and efficiency.

In the arm stroke for the butterfly both arms move together. Catch, mid-pull, and finish. The power phase begins with the catch, as your hands enter the water, your arms are extended in front of your shoulders with your fingertips pointing down and your palms facing your feet. As the catch progresses, your palms turn slightly outward. As you bend your elbows and move your forearms and hands outside your shoulders. Keeping your elbows higher than your hands press your forearms and palms to a point at the waist that is just inside the width of your body. As your hands push back, keep your elbows higher than your hands. To finish the power phase continue to press your hands back past your hips. Your hands will finish slightly outside the width of your body. A forceful finish gives you a powerful burst of forward motion. Accelerate your arms all the way through the finish to make it easier for you to swing your arms out and around for the recovery. Both of your arms recover over the water simultaneously and your arms stay almost straight.

The recovery starts as your hands exit. The water leading with your hands. Swing your arms out to the side just above the surface of the water. Keep your wrists relaxed and thumbs down throughout the recovery. Your hands reenter the water in front of your shoulders. Continue to extend your arms forward and begin the next arm stroke. Now watch the entire arm stroke for the butterfly.

Use the dolphin kick when you swim the butterfly. Keep your legs and feet together and use a whip like motion. The kick starts at the upper abdominals and hips. Bend your knees to start the downbeat. Extend your legs during the downbeat. Being sure to follow through. Keep them straight on the upbeat. Keep your ankles relaxed. Let your heels just break the surface. Think of the kick as a movement of your whole body, not just your legs. Now watch the entire butterfly stroke. Notice the timing, flexibility and rhythm.

Effective Classroom Management

Being an effective swimming instructor is not just about teaching your basic strokes. It's also about managing your class. In fact, you'll have a hard time teaching anything if you aren't managing your class. And that includes planning and preparing your lesson, figuring out what equipment you need, getting kids from the parents, and starting class. Using teaching cues, managing groups, and addressing different learning styles.

To get a snapshot of what class management is all about. We've arranged to have you visit a swimming class taught by Erica with the help of her aide Chris.

“How about we start with the Flutter game? We can use a kickboard.”

“Yeah, sounds good.”

“Hi there. Right now, I'm setting up for today's class. I've learned it from experience. Once the students arrive, you won't have any extra time to do stuff like this. Such as planning and preparation. Organization beforehand is key. This is a level three class, and we're going to be working on the front crawl, sometimes called the freestyle. But it doesn't matter what level you're teaching or whether you're teaching kids or adults. The basics are the same when it comes to class management and the pool is our classroom. Right?”

“So here comes our students and parents. How about every time I use a strategy that makes your teaching more effective by managing what's going on? I identify it, that work for you? Great. This is my Chris. He'll be helping me with today's class.”

“Hey there. Hey. We're good to go. I'm going to take attendance now.”

“Sure. I'll be right there in a sec. It's not always possible or even necessary to have one assisting you like a co instructor or an aid but having someone to assist can be a big help. Especially if you have a large class, are teaching a difficult skill, or have a student who needs extra attention. But you have to communicate with your aid. Tell them your lesson plan, tell them what you expect of them. Use the aid strength to the classes advantage. Someone might be an excellent class organizer. Someone else might be dynamite when it comes to one-on-one practice drills. You'll never know what your aid is good at unless you talk to them.”

“Oh, right. That was wonderful.”

“One more thing. You know how important safety is that? Even though a lifeguard is present during every class, you're still the one responsible for the control and supervision of your students. If you ensure that your aid is involved with the lesson planning and is as hands on as you are, no student will be ignored or unsupervised.”

“Hey there, everyone. Hey, Josh. Hey, Brianna. Hey there, Mr. Stockton. How are you?”

“Good. How are you?”

“Good. I'm good. Good to see you.”

“Hey, we're ready to go. Everyone's here.”

“Good. I forgot to ask, how do I go about scheduling makeup lessons?”

“Oh, Mrs. Talking. Do you mind if we talk about that after class when we have more time? Or you can talk to Andrea, my supervisor, if you'd like.”

“Oh, it's fine after class. I'll wait till then. Thanks.”

“But meanwhile, feel free to watch us from the observation area.”

“Okay. Thank you.”

“You want to make parents feel welcome, but they can be a distraction to you and your students since class time and so valuable offer to talk with them after class is finished. If you can provide a place for them to watch the class but not interfere or be a distraction.
“Some parents may be nervous or excited while their child is in swimming lessons, sometimes to edge closer and closer to the pool and try to get the attention of their child. They may not even realize that they're distracting the whole class from the lesson.”

“Okay, everybody, let's go work in our front crawl.”

“It's up to your parents. Let's go. Any time you move around the pool, walk the class to the next location. Or have your right meet them there. If you're taking the class to deep water, make sure the appropriate safety equipment is already there or bring it with you.”

“Marshall, buddy, we got to remember to walk, okay?”

“Okay. Okay, everybody, let's get a kick board."

“You have to be creative about different ways of teaching. And also clear when it comes to giving directions, especially when you're telling your students how far to swim or in which direction. You also have to be creative and clear when teaching, particularly when you're giving instructions on how to do a skill.”

“Okay, everybody. Now we're going to practice the flutter kick across the width of the shallow end of the pool. Josh is going to start with the kick board, and then when he gets to the line in front of Chris, Marshall's going to push off.”

“Think about what level each of your students are at and what you're trying to teach them before organizing an activity. I try to vary the type and formation of drills and activities to keep the class interesting and relevant, especially if I'm teaching students who vary widely in ability.”

“All right, let's go.”

When choosing drills. Think about these five things:
1. The students current skill level. How good are they at doing the skill?
2. What is their physical condition? Do your students get tired quickly? Do they have health problems that limit their abilities?
3. The intensity of each drill. Pay attention to your students reaction. If they seem frustrated, the drill might be too difficult.
4. Frequency of rest between drills give your students an equal opportunity to rest. Some students finish more quickly than others. Make sure the swimmers who are slower get the same rest as the swimmers who are fast
5. Your facility set up, including space used by other classes and that the available equipment is appropriate when practicing their flutter kick.

I'm using a staggered drill. That way they won't run into each other, and I can follow the progress of each student for a few body lengths. This method of organization in the class gives me time to give each student a little feedback.

“That's good, Josh. Okay. Let's do it again. And this time it's okay to bend your knees slightly Good.”

Bottom line is, you have to organize your class. Your students are safe, and that way they can hear and see your direction.

“Okay. You want to make sure your demonstrations are done right?”

It's important the students see how to properly do the skill. This will help those students who learn by seeing. So make sure the skill is demonstrated correctly and make sure they have opportunities for enough practice because if they don't practice and experience the new skill for themselves, they're not going to learn it. Also, make time for opportunities to give feedback so they'll get positive reinforcement and motivation and one more thing, keep your students engaged. Never let them get bored.

Sometimes I take individual students aside and try a different approach from the rest of the class. Not everyone learns at exactly the same pace. So it's a good idea to have a variety of approaches to teaching a certain skill. You can't have one student and let the rest of the class just sit there because they'll get bored or chill.

But you can give the others a drill. Just make sure it's a drill or activity that they've previously learned. Or you can have a student work independently practicing a skill while you help the others. If you have an assistant, whether it's a co instructor or an eighth, use him or her.

“All right. Let's talk Facing the water. Keep going back. Are you ready?


Always position yourself so you can watch over the rest of the class if you're helping an individual student know where each student is located and what they're doing at all times.
“Let's go, Jerry.”

“There you go. All right. Hey, hey, hey. You're doing a good job. Okay? I want you to keep it up, okay? Yeah. There are all sorts of teaching kids you can use to get someone to perform the skill you're trying to teach. The more you know, the better. I mean, if it's noisy and they can't hear you, you're going to have to use visual cues as well as verbal ones. The thumbs up sign clapping cue cards, pictures, list, whatever you can come up with.

Then take one arm, take a stroke, and we turn it back to the kick point. Take the other arm, take a stroke, and return it back to the kick for everybody. Got that? Yes. Okay. Let's go.

“I assume that everyone sphere is real and to be taken seriously, that means I make sure every student is prepared mentally and physically before they learn a new skill even students who are consistently enthusiastic and fearless may suddenly become fearful if they're learning something new. So, is everybody comfortable with what we're learning today? Yeah, remember helping your students overcome their fears is first priority, especially when teaching them a skill in deep water. Once you've done that, then teach the skill that everybody have fun today.

Yeah, right. I have fun, too. Well, now it's time to wrap up, so I'm going to have you guys get out of the pool and get your towel. All right, everybody have.

“Oh, she's doing great. But if you want to reinforce what you learned today in class, you can have her show you the game we play with the hoops, or you can take a look at the Learn to Swim booklet that we gave on the first day.”

“Okay. Thanks.”

Plan how you will communicate with your parents. After the class session, you've learned to swim materials available from the American Red Cross that help parents know how their children are progressing, what their children are working towards, and how they can help their children review what they've learned and practice skills outside of class, giving input as to how the student is progressing and what the parents can do at home to assist students reach his or her goals is an important step in helping a child learn to swim.

Right. Great job. I hope that we provided you with enough tips to effectively manage your classes. Feel free to observe again at any time.

Elementary Backstroke

Elementary back stroke is used for recreational and survival swimming. Elementary backstroke uses symmetrical and simultaneous movements of the arms and legs to propel the body forward. The arms move up the sides of the body, reach out and press toward the feet as the legs kick in a circular action. The arms stroke and the kick finish at the same time.

Allowing the swimmer to glide briefly in a streamlined position. Begin in the glide position with your back straight, your legs together, and your arms at your sides. Your palms face your thighs, your hips and legs may be slightly lower than your head and shoulders, but your hips stay near the surface throughout the stroke. The waterline usually covers your ears, but your face will always be out of the water.

Focus on developing a rhythmic pattern of breathing. Inhale as your arms recover up your sides. Exhale during the power phase as your arms pressed toward your feet. Although your arms and legs move through their power phase simultaneously, your arms start their recovery just ahead of your legs because your legs are stronger and travel a shorter distance than your arms both your legs and arms finish their powerful arms at the same time. At the end of this combined power phase, glide for a few seconds before you start recovery for the next stroke. Begin to recover your arms and legs for the next stroke before you lose all forward momentum from the glide. From the glide position the arm stroke for elementary back stroke begins with the recovery. Keep your palms facing down or toward your body as you bend your elbows and slide your hands up along your sides to a point just below your armpits.

The power phase of the arm stroke begins here. Point your fingers away from your shoulders with your palms facing toward your feet, leading with your fingers extend your arms out to your sides at or slightly above shoulder level.

If you think of a clock face, your hands should extend no further than the 2:00 and 10:00 positions. With your arms straight or slightly bent press your palms and the insides of your arms back toward your feet in a broad, sweeping motion. Your arms end up in the glide position with your palms against your thighs.

Now watch the entire arm stroke recovery and power phase. Your arms move smoothly from the start of the recovery through the completion of the power phase. Be sure to keep your hands just below the surface of the water throughout the arm stroke.

In the kick for elementary back stroke both legs bend at the knee and then push out and back around in a circular pushing motion. Began in the glide position, legs together, toes pointed. Recover your legs by bending and slightly separating your knees while you draw your heels downward to a point under and outside your knees. Be careful not to drop your hips when you drop your heels. Your hips should stay in line with your thighs and near the surface. Your knees are spread hip width or slightly wider. At the end of recovery rotate your knees slightly inward flex your ankles and rotate your feet outward. Push your feet out and around, ending with your legs in the glide position toes pointed. To get the most power from the kick accelerate your feet throughout the circular pushing motion. Now observe the elementary back stroke in its entirety.

diving from a diving board

entries for swimming

front crawl

holding and supports

level 3 stroke development

level 4 stroke

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