How to Teach Beginner Swim Lessons

A young girl underwater while her father holds her.
Image Credit: Adam Pretty/Photodisc/Getty Images

There's nothing quite as rewarding as seeing someone swim for the first time, knowing you provided him with a lifelong skill that could save his life. Knowing how to teach a beginner-level child or adult to swim depends greatly on the age of the individual and the person's comfort-level with the water. Teaching a fearful individual often requires more patience and understanding than one who is raring to go. Look into getting certified through an organization like the American Red Cross or Swim America if you want to teach lessons on a regular basis.

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Step 1

Write lesson plans. If you don't know what you want to cover in a day, you won't efficiently teach the class. Make sure you consciously break down the skills of swimming into smaller, digestible pieces.


Step 2

Set up your equipment before class. Gather your supplies and have it waiting where you will hold the class.

Step 3

Introduce the swimmers to the water. Play games and sing songs. Don't be surprised if many of them seem fearful. Continue working with them, showing them how much fun the water can be.

Step 4

Show them how to blow bubbles, then turn their head to the side. This introduces rudimentary rotary breathing.

Step 5

Play Red Light, Green Light while teaching them how to kick. When you say green light, they kick as hard as they can, when you say red light they have to stop.


Step 6

Use the kickboard to show the students how to float on their stomachs and on their backs.

Step 7

Start combining skills, instructing them to hold the kickboard while kicking or doing rotary breathing.

Step 8

Teach submersion and breath holding by asking the students to retrieve objects from the bottom of the shallow end.

Step 9

Place the noodle across the student's chest and under her armpits. Instruct her to paddle her arms while kicking.

Step 10

End every class with a fun game or allow the students to jump off the side into the pool one at a time.

Things You'll Need

  • Kickboard

  • Dive toys

  • Water noodle

  • Notebook


Expect teaching swimming to take awhile. Have fun and be patient.

Think creatively when coming up with games and ways to teach the skills. Every individual learns differently, so you may need to switch things up occasionally.


Teaching beginners to swim can be dangerous. Make sure never to leave anyone alone unsupervised, and if you're teaching a group, make sure that another adult or lifeguard is watching the group while you aren't immediately working with.

Many children and adults develop lifelong fear of water because some well-meaning person dunked them or pushed them in water unexpectedly. Never use scare tactics while teaching swimming.