Swim Class Inclusivity

How to Make Your Swim Classes Inclusive for All Ability Levels

Swim instructors have unique jobs and are tasked with teaching both life-saving skills and a hobby that many people enjoy throughout childhood into adulthood. With varying ages, backgrounds, and abilities, inclusion in the pool is an important part of teaching swimming. By providing an inclusive experience, you are more likely to provide positive experiences for your swimmers and help them excel. Here are a few ways to make your swim classes inclusive for all abilities and ages. 

What does inclusion look like at a swim school?

Inclusivity starts at the top. According to USA Swimming, inclusion rests on the ability to “leverage the ways we are different to create a respectful and welcoming environment for everyone”. By keeping this value in mind, consider how you can work towards inclusion at your own swim school and educate your fellow instructors on ways to include all levels of students.

Create an Inclusive Swim Curriculum

Inclusive swim schools focus on the varying abilities that come through their door and ensure that each person is encouraged to participate in all parts of the class. Focus on strengths while assessing weaknesses. This will allow you to create a curriculum that addresses the weaknesses and helps the student achieve their goal. 

Divide Swim Classes By Age

Some swim schools divide classes by age. While this is helpful when sticking to a specific curriculum and set of goals, it may not be the answer for all swim schools. In doing this, teachers must be aware of each student’s abilities and modify the classes as needed. A positive effect of breaking up classes like this is that some students learn by watching others. When you have different levels of abilities in one class, students at a lower ability level could advance quicker due to these role models in their classes.

Divide Swim Classes By Ability

Other swim schools divide classes by ability. This can be beneficial when teachers may not have the capacity to modify classes on the fly. Create an inclusive curriculum and work with your teachers to apply it to each swim class they instruct. 

Download the 2023 Swim School Industry Benchmark Report to see how other swim schools manage and divide their classes.

For example, have your students practice the same skill but modify it for the group depending on their ability. For new swimmers, have them hold onto the side of the pool and show them how to flutter kick. As students get more comfortable, use a kickboard and focus on flutter kicking from one side of the pool to the other. Utilize parents or take one swimmer across at a time if they aren’t comfortable holding onto a kickboard by themselves. For more advanced swimmers, you can ditch the kickboard and focus on kicking on their back or belly in a streamline position. It’s all about modifications!

Train Swim Instructors in Inclusion

Most swim instructors who have been teaching for a while are full of ideas to modify swim classes. Take the time to have an open group conversation with novice and beginner swim instructors. What are some examples of teaching various abilities? Does anyone have any experience teaching students with specific barriers to success? How did you get past these?

Go one step further and offer complimentary classes to students with varying ability levels. This will help your teachers put these conversations to work and give opportunities to ask questions and learn. Not only will your instructors benefit from this, but the students and families you are serving will as well. Once word gets out that your swim school is focusing on inclusive classes, you will have an influx of students ready to learn. 

By having these conversations, setting expectations on curriculum and modifications, and regularly checking in with your instructors, you will be able to provide an inclusive experience at your swim school. 

Track student skills using Class Management Software and give updates to parents when their child achieves an important milestone in the pool. There’s always a reason to celebrate success and by keeping track of student progress, you are able to set expectations and make recommendations for future swim classes.

Try Jackrabbit Class Management Software for free and see how you can work towards providing inclusivity both in and out of the pool.

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