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   20 episodes



Swimming Ideas Podast

Swimming Ideas, Jeffrey Napolski

20 episodes

Aug 24, 2020

SIP 089: Safe children that LOVE swimming with Julia Johnson 

Teach better Parent Tot, Parent and Infant classes with Julia Johnson.

Show notes here:

Julia Johnson grew up in Michigan where she learned to swim during summer swim lessons by going to beaches and pools. 

She swam competitively in high school and then completed a few aquatrathons, sprint triathlons and a 5k swim in the years after graduation. 

Julia studied mental health and social work in college and realized that her passion was building mental health through swimming and coaching. 

Over the last 17 years she has worked for country clubs, community education programs, schools, athletic clubs and finally found her way to the YMCA of Memphis and the Midsouth. 

During the last 17 years she's been coaching and leading staff, program design, launching new programs, teaching swimmers 3month-adults in their 90s, adaptive lessons, coaching middle school, age group swim team, and masters. 

Julia is passionate about the physical and mental benefits that evolve from swimming and especially enjoys helping the youngest of our learn to swim participants and their parents. 

Want more information about Julia? Email her here:

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Aug 17, 2020

SIP 088: Teaching Breaststroke Kick to Beginners 

Breaststroke kick is difficult to do. It is an unnatural motion for many swimmers. There will always be that small subsect of people that have learned how to do it on their own and in fact prefer it to the flutter kick motion. I believe these are people that pushed the water in the "breaststroke way" when they were learning and stuck with it because it makes them move.

Spent a lot of time watching children swim. For a long time I've been a proponent of "nurture over nature" and that genes are actually an expression of nurture over a longer timeline. Swimmers experience stuff in the water, and they build on what they've felt and experienced. Their swimming is a reflection of their trial and error experiences in the water.

We need to replace lots of their habits with better ones through repetition, time, and guidance.

Teaching breaststroke kick to beginners is one of the worst things about teaching swimming; its difficult, its hard, its frustrating, and it is the clearest example of a boring struggle to get kids to do something they don't understand, can't feel, and don't like to do.

We're going to make it easier.

A segment of people have natural breaststroke kick.

These are people that have learned intuitively the powerful force breaststroke kick can provide. You won’t really need to “teach” breaststroke kick to them beyond refinement and gliding after each kick.

Most people struggle with breaststroke kick. This progression will make it easier.

Teaching the breaststroke kick, or the whip kick, is a slog, a long press through swampy struggle that will take significant patience, repetition, and focused feedback and refinement.

Do not be discouraged.

We’ve made it easier.

Begin with “flex.”

Want to see the progression and pictures? Get the book online or join the online course:

Physical print book from Amazon:

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Aug 10, 2020

SIP 087: "How can I improve?" 

I feel like one of the best ways to improve my coaching and teaching is to ask myself, "how can I improve?"

We tell our swimmers to self-evaluate during their swimming. This is essentially what meditation is.

Ask a question:

Meditation is training your brain to recognize it's doing something you don't want it to do and realigning it to your will.

If we're good at meditating, then we're going to be better swimmers if we know what to look for.

It is the coach and swim instructor's job to inform and guide the swimmer's thoughts so they can improve their swimming during a practice or lesson.

We do this through feedback and attention focusing.

There is two components:

  1. Knowledge dump. Learn all the      things.
    1. Exposure
    2. Repetition
    3. Mastery
  2. Guided focus
    1. Pay attention to       this one thing.
    2. Drills that highlight       specific elements
    3. Do it wrong so you know how       to do it right
    4. Mantra's, habits, and       allowing mistakes.

Did that practice go well?

Did it meet the objectives I had in place?

What should I change?

What were the elements that I struggled with? What are elements of it that my participants struggled with?

Be brave to admit failures. If we ask our swimmers to fail and be comfortable in it we should be too. Make small changes to adapt to your swimmers.

Are you getting upset with the swimmers, the children, in your lessons or practices? Its's your fault. How can you reset to give yourself a chance to evaluate and reorient?

Write it down.

Make changes live on website.

Make your own lesson plans.

Give your staff training opportunities to be self aware.

  • Do it wrong.
  • Give them a teaching task,      but put limitations on it. Can't say the word "okay" or get      swimmers to Streamline without saying streamline.
  • Put a time limit on number of      attempts.

Build confidence in your staff and yourself by making changes on the fly and allowing freedom in lessons (contradictory to doing things a certain way. Fences with broad leeway inside those fences).

What do you do to self evaluate?

Questions? Ask a question:

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Aug 3, 2020

SIP 086: Training Summer Swim Lesson Managers 

What are the essential skills you should be teaching your lesson managers?

You can find information at

Under the Level Description guides. They details the specific needs of each "level" and what to look out for including guidance for lesson managers. 

Criteria for an effective swim lesson manager: 

- Understanding of level structure, essential skills, and how to teach them.

○ How do you hold a child for supported front and back glides

§ Why is this so important?

§ Need to enforce and teach others how to do it.

○ Be outgoing and not afraid to give feedback. 

§ Through training

§ Can still be an introvert and anxious. Must overcome through mentorship and direction

○ Familiar with your program's nuances. 

- Confident enough in own ability to communicate your programs specifics and procedures to parents. 

- Mature enough to make safe and rational decisions in a changing environment. 

Ways you can train your lesson managers. 

Teaching Swimming Online Course and Wordbook.

Prove mastery. 

Information dump and gathering. 

Review the Discussion questions with an Aquatic Professional.  (found in the print version and PDF).

Have a management training where the aquatic professional directs lesson managers in how to be a leader amongst their peers.

- How to run an effective meeting.

○ Have one main speaker. 

○ Avoid the "chime in." 

○ Be clear with your objective. Stick to the task at hand without tangents. Teens are adults when it comes to learning. 

○ Engage as many people at the same time as possible.

§ Small groups with repetitive training exercises. 

§ Delegate leadership to trusted staff with specific tasks

□ Be clear in instruction, and be clear with expected feedback and expected actions. 

® "run these scenarios, make sure everyone gets a turn, and ensure that everyone gets a chance to participate and get feedback. Focus specifically on this [one thing].

- How to give effective feedback to your instructors

○ Should you intervene in a lesson?

○ Followup before and after the swim lesson

○ Give training materials. 

- How to organize swim classes

○ What criteria do you use to group like-level swimmers?

○ Consider location

○ Program specific routines

- How to communicate with parents.

○ Lean on your expertise 

○ Remind manager that they are experts in this field and parents are not. They paid to send their kids to swim lessons. 

○ Talk to parents frequently. Meet them. Introduce self, and follow up during the lesson.

○ Give updates on what their specific swimmer is doing. Avoid generalities. 

Mentor your managers. Guide and groom them. 

Check in on them and make sure that they understand you're there to support them and get them to improve. You're both on a team, you're not there to punish them when they fail; which they will. 

How do you make sure they're doing a good job?

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Jul 25, 2020

SIP 085: Finding Deliberate Practice Opportunities at Swim Lessons and Practices 

What can you do at your swim practice and swim lessons to promote Deliberate Practice, and how does mediation teach you to be a better swimmer.

What is deliberate practice:


While regular practice might include mindless repetitions, deliberate practice requires focused attention and is conducted with the specific goal of improving performance.

From <>

The role of Coaching!

How the challenge format promotes deliberate practice: they are specific opportunities to train the brain through stimulating "challenge" to accomplish a task using deliberate though to achieve the goal.

Carryover into what we're doing.

High volume coach interaction.

Constant feedback during lessons

Getting the format out of the way (use scaffolding or routines).

Encourage self guided activities whenever possible.

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