• Royal Life Saving

You are the Key to Successful Adult Swimming Lessons!



Teaching adults can be a tricky business. You are the key! There tend to be two main areas you need to address when teaching adults.

The first - some participants may be embarrassed that they have not learnt how to swim sooner. The second is the ‘details’.


Adults tend to be very logical and realistic about the details. The opposite to most children when it comes to swimming. Children mostly want to have fun and enjoy the water as much as possible. Adults are usually all too aware of the end result if they are feeling vulnerable and in danger.


So how can you help address these two issues in your lessons? Apart from teaching the skills and progressions what else is involved? These first three steps may seem basic, however establishing a relationship and solid connection with your participants is crucial.


1. Introduce yourself – This sounds incredibly simple, but it’s a very easy thing to forget. Introduce yourself and have the class introduce themselves to each other. It may not just be a swimming lesson for some. They are all there to swim so it’s your role to make a community bubble emerge. If new swimmers join at any point don’t forget to do introductions!


2. Communication - Talk to your swimmers. Even before getting into the water. It’s very important to develop a trusting relationship with your swimmers. Understand their goals and what they would like to achieve in their lessons. Encourage them that it’s never too late to learn. Perhaps even have them write them down if it makes it easier for them and you to refer to regularly.


3. Show them around - If you have swimmers that have never been to your pool before it’s really important to show them where help is if they require it. As new swimmers, they shouldn’t be embarrassed about asking for help from staff or lifeguards.


4. Swimming caps and goggles – these items of swimwear can be quite foreign to new swimmers so show them how to put them on and fit them correctly. It will save you a huge amount of time in the water and will provide your swimmers the skills to use them when they go to practice outside their swimming lesson.


5. Entries and exits – You would always show a child how to get in and out of the pool and therefore it is just as important for an adult. Don’t assume a new adult swimmer knows how to get in and out of the pool. It’s an important skill that must be covered.


6. Be patient and empathise – adults will learn at their own pace. Learning swimming later in life is a fantastic thing however a teacher is there to guide and help the swimmer at their own pace. A teacher is not there to push at the rate they wish to teach.


7. “Positive sandwiche” – Encourage and inform the swimmer of skills they are doing correctly before and after helping them correct something they need help with or offering critique. – should be teaching this way already.


8. Use the correct language – You are not teaching the class of five year olds you had the lesson before. Use the appropriate language towards your adults. Use language appropriate to talk to your adult learners as equals. If you are not sure of how to do this ask for help from more experience teachers. Ask to jump in on another adult class and observe how this is done.


9. Cultural awareness – Some adult learners may come from different cultural backgrounds where some participants may wish to wear swimmers that cover them ankle to toe. They may also wish for a female teachers only, they also may wish for lessons at certain times of the day. On the other some swimmers may only wish for male teachers. Be sensitive if these are issues that your adult swimmers have expressed as they may be of cultural importance to your swimmers and should be respected at all times.


10. Always be ready to demonstrate yourself – Demonstration helps put swimmers at ease. If you can do it yourself see if there is a squad swimmer that can assist. It will always make your swimmers feel at ease, be mindful it is not a moment to show off.


11. Encourage practice – Once you have swimmers that are confident and you deem safe enough to practice outside the lessons you are providing encourage more regular practice. More practice the better!


12. Enjoy what you do and show it – If you turn up to teach and have a smile on your face, ready to enjoy your lesson, your swimmers will definitely have a better, more productive class with you. Positivity spreads amongst a class, so be the guiding force.


Learning to swim at any age is an incredible skill to have and although teaching adults is different to teaching children it is equally as important.


All of the steps above will help your swimmers continue, assist with the promotion of your lessons and the swimming and water safety skills you are providing to the community. Enjoy what you do and know you are providing a life skill!