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Staff Development

Engaging Your Staff to Promote Development

Try this exercise:

“Celebrate Success with Your Staff” by having a weekly “add to the jar”. Have your staff submit short notes into a “staff jar”. These thoughts could be about a successful teaching moment, “thanks for covering my shift”, or affirmation of a colleague. Every week go over the notes in the jar and choose a favourite. The favourite gets put into the “session jar” and all the notes inside there will be reviewed at the end of the session!

This type of exercise promotes team work, staff interaction, mutual respect for one another, and engagement to create a cohesive team atmosphere.

Great Ways to Reward Your Staff!

Rewarding your staff is a great way of saying thank you! Rewarding shows appreciation and encourages high level of performance. This gives staff positive reinforcement on their performance and a positive atmosphere keeps your staff happy and enjoying their place of work. When employees are happy at their place of work, they tend to have more care for what they do, make fewer mistakes and work more efficiently.

Some reward ideas:

• Gift card for a grocery store
• Movie passes
• Gift card to their favourite restaurant or coffee shop
• Edible arrangements

Employees love to feel appreciated. After all, this is their home away from home!

For a great read of ways to reward your staff:

For World Class Teaching Ideas try out Smart Moves Swim Online Teaching System at: www.smartmovesswim.com

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Hiring Staff for a Swim Organization

When hiring staff for a swim organization it is no secret that you have to be extra selective, after all we are dealing with young swimmers in an aquatic environment!

I sat down with Carla Zarifeh, Managing Partner at Aquaventures Swim Centre in Vancouver, BC and here’s what she had to say on this topic!

What are the characteristics that you look for when interviewing candidates for a position within your organization?

We hire the personality and train the skill. The candidate has to show a passion for working with kids and a passion about teaching. They have to care about the success of the students and be open to adapting to our curriculum. They have to be happy, energetic, genuine, compassionate, caring and confident!

Are they compatible with the company’s vision, culture and philosophy?

We look for their own personalities to shine within our space.

What are the most important key factors you look for when doing an in-water interview?

Based on a two hour in-water interview/shadow teaching with a senior instructor:
We look for the energy level, are they giving a 100% to the first and last class? How was their reception and application of the feedback given? Did they take it well, did they apply it, were they defensive or resistant to the change or were they welcoming of it? Did they create a connection with the kids? How is their safety awareness?

Facial expression, eye contact and interaction with the kids are important factors. We see how they are interacting with the kids and if their behaviour and facial expressions are truly genuine. Are they genuinely engaged with the students and are happy to be teaching, if so, then that is a good candidate!

How can you foresee that they will be the right fit within your swim school culture?

Do they come from a background of people instilling good habits and values? We ask them to tell us what their 3 top values are. Are their values reflective of our values?

Here are subtle indicators but ones that can tell you a lot about a person:
Did they introduce themselves when they came in?
Did they conduct themselves in a professional manner?
Did they thank you when they left?

The interviewing process is the most crucial for your business. If you find the right fit, that will definitely reduce your instructor turn over so it is okay to be selective within the interviewing process to find the right match!

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Tips to Give Parents When Swimming With Their Children (Regularly or During Holidays)


Swim safety is always most important. Children get excited especially when going for a swim with their parents so it’s very important that the parents enforce the same safety protocols as during lessons. For example, make sure children always walk, not run on deck. Parents should always be the child’s “water watcher” and always be within an arms reach. Parents be sure to give children the queue to jump! Be sure to say…” big toes on the edge and jump forward to me.”

Communication is essential. Parents, when asking a child to swim to you, make sure you stay in the same position and avoid walking backwards to create a longer distance to cover. Some children are not ready for that and if the parent doesn’t judge their breath control appropriately the child can end up gasping for air and panicking to reach the parent. This can create fear and uncertainty for the child.

It’s okay for the child to play in the shallow end where they can touch the bottom but make sure that’s not all they do! Practice their swimming where they can’t touch so they are forced to swim horizontally or do glides to the parent. Remember, “eyes in first, always push off the wall and look down”, to encourage a great start to a float, glide or swim.

Putting the child in Floaties and Inflatable devices gives them a false sense of safety. This promotes the child to be in a vertical position and undoes the skills achieved in the lessons. Once the child returns to lessons they will need to catch up on the basics again, such as breathing, kicking and arm movement. That’s why it is important to have fun but also practice floats and glides to work on their core skills. They can take some items to dive for, or to place in shallow water so that their games can also have a purpose. Above all, supervision at arms length always!

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Safety Survival Skills Are a Must!

personal-safety-skills-300All Learn to Swim Programs have the responsibility to teach students Personal Safety Survival Skills such as floating, sculling, treading water, cold water survival, etc.

Here are a few progression pointers for teaching treading water:

Show then teach the child the hand motion of sculling. While standing, scull hands outwards then inwards. Hand and forearm act as one entity to cover a larger surface area. Then get the child to kick vertically while sculling hands and try to keep head above the water.

Explain the motion of the Egg Beater. Legs rotate in a circular movement in opposite directions. Left leg rotates clockwise, right leg moves counter clockwise. Have the child sit on the edge of the pool and mimic the motions then switch leg rotations.
In water, with a noodle around the back and hands holding on to the front, work on the legs to do the egg beater motion.

The teacher should assist through progressions until the child can perform the skills independently.

These are just a few pointers. Within our Smart Moves Swim library, we provide you with a Safety Survival Skills folder that encompasses a wide range of safety survival skills with progressions, instructions and videos to learn from. This is a great aid to train your staff on how to teach and perform these skills.

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What to Do When a Child Gets “Stuck” (Plateau’s) on a Progression?

hit-a-plateau-sml2A common teaching error is to have students repeatedly practice a skill with poor performance. Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect performance.

Break the skill down, into parts… work on body position, breathing and kicks before adding any arm propulsion. Work from basic body alignment positions of floats and glides before adding any propulsion from kicks. Check muscle tension, to efficiently perform, muscles must be relaxed; neck, shoulders, hips, legs, feet.

Gradually Build the Skill Back Up Piece by Piece

Use in water or underwater mirrors and video to visually show the child what they need to correct – use the skill video in Smart Moves Swim on deck with a tablet or phone to show the children and parents the correct skill performance. These can even be played on “electronic bulletin boards” (TV’s and monitors) in the viewing area.

Assign homework – some basic movements need to be “trained in the brain” in order to make them automatic. Using mirrors at home to practice correct arm movement, sit on a chair or the end of a bed to practice kicking action. Encourage practice at family swim times (as long as it is practice with a purpose and can be monitored).

Advanced Swim Tip of the Day!

When on the front crawl/freestyle catch make sure your hand and forearm act as one entity maximizing surface area to hold the water. Fingertips should point to the bottom of the pool and remain pointing down during the duration of the pull.


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The Importance of Alignment in Swimming


  • Creates a hydro-dynamic position to allow the swimmer to move efficiently through the water with the least amount of resistance. This is particularly true in freestyle and backstroke, as well as the extension phase in breaststroke.
  • Allows the body to roll naturally through freestyle and backstroke.
  • This position helps the water provide a natural lift to the hips so the swimmer doesn’t need to exhaust themselves keeping their body in line at the surface.
  • Reference photo of Australian Olympian Cameron McEvoy, note how his eyes are down and hips are high for a seemingly effortless stroke.


Vendor/Exhibitor Checklist

  • Here are some tips in helping you set up your vendor/exhibitor booth.
  • Provide something to attract your prospects to your table
    • Visual-Video loop of product – could be on a propped up iPad or a flat screen tv or large computer monitor
    • Tactile-product itself
  • Colourful banner to display behind booth/table
  • Brochures
  • Business cards
  • Something to giveaway (candy, pens, gift package etc..)
  • Promotional deal (discount if order placed during the conference)
  • A positive and welcoming attitude. Greet everyone with a smile
  • If you are given an attendees list, send an email to them prior to the conference introducing your product and encourage them to visit your booth during the conference
  • Don’t be offended if people don’t stop by your booth, it might not be the product they are looking for at that given time

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