Preparing for Fall 2017 Swim Lessons

Most of you are looking at swim lessons starting in the next few weeks. August and September is traditionally when school starts (K-12).  The college kids skate away to their universities, and you’re left with the local population, the local community college, and high school kids to fill your staff holes.

Fall is a tough time.

I’m still struggling right now to find high quality staff to train for the coming swim program. I have my core group of returning staff, but there are still gaps that I’d like to fill.

Here are some things I do to fill my staffing needs:

  • Post on Applitrack, the online job posting software that park districts and schools use to post jobs.
  • Run facebook ads. We use specifically targeted ads to maximize our market and ad spending.
  • Create flyers to post in local schools.
  • Use word of mouth by asking other employees to recruit friends.
  • Give employees “Pizza” incentives for referrals. Refer a friend that works and the employee gets a free pizza delivered to their location when they want it.
  • Free gym membership. Our pool is located in a large rec center. Work 2 shifts a week and get a free gym membership.

What are some things I left out that you do to recruit staff for the school year? Especially now when classes are starting, sports are beginning, and most people are burnt out from working over the school year?

Evaluating things we learned over the summer

Here are some notes I took while observing a partner swim program:

  • Very little if any feedback based on performance. Each attempt meet with silence.
  • Lots of jumping and driving for rings.
  • Cool game. Jump in, push off in back glide  race
  • Using sheet. Rare
  • Few underwater
  • No demonstrations
  • Lots of driving in shallow
  • No ordered attempts. Lack of system to take turns
  • Lots of kids behind instructors.

The most glaring thing to me was that there were multiple children definitely past the horizontal line where they entered the water head first with no correction from a lifeguard, and the swim instructor did not even realize it had happened. This is terrifying. I absolutely spoke to both the lifeguard staff and the swim instructors and managers to address this both in the moment and after.

Second, of less safety concern was the lack of actual feedback. Every attempt by each participant requires some sort of response from the instructor. They need to say SOMETHING to the swimmer to either correct deviant (bad) swimming, or praise good attempts.

Thankfully, I have swim lesson plans to help make this type of issue less. Goals for each activity are included, and on the lesson plan you can see sample things to correct or look for. When you couple it with the Swim instructor training workbook, your staff will absolutely know how to give effective feedback.

I use the observations to learn how to improve our own program. Do you want me to come evaluate your swim program? Let me know:

I’m brainstorming ideas to make our lessons better

Are you thinking of new ways to make your swim program better? I love the idea of training language to my new swim staff. We play a game where you cannot say “Ok” at the end of a sentence. It is one of the most challenging things for new people to do.  Watch your staff as they do their first lessons this Fall and count the number of times they end a sentence or command with an “Okay?” It immediately turns their directions into questions and gives the participant an opportunity, however slight, a chance to say “no.”

I’m also preparing location specific bags with all the swim lesson items you need: kickboards, dive sticks, barbells, buckets, and floating ducks. Do you do something like this?


What are you doing to prepare for your new swim season? Make a comment below!

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