Teaching Swimming Lessons To Beginners

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When teaching swimming lessons to beginners, a swimming teacher must follow some essential steps.  Steps that, when followed, can almost guarantee progress and success. 

The key elements of teaching swimming lessons to beginners

A qualified swimming instructor should always conduct swimming lessons, so get yourself qualified if you’re not already.

On the subject of being a successful swimming instructor, you will need plenty of patience and understanding as your pupils need to build confidence in both you as a teacher and their abilities in the water.

Critical Parts Of Teaching Swimming Lessons To Beginners

Each beginner swimming lesson should focus on one or two of the following areas, depending on the swimmer's ability.  

Confidence Building

Building water confidence in beginners is essential to making progress, and confidence-building can be broken down into these key areas and included when teaching swimming lessons to beginners:

  • Getting the face wet
  • Partially submerging
  • Breathing
  • Floating
  • Regaining standing
  • Gliding

Getting The Face Wet

For some beginner swimmers, getting the face wet will be easy to start with, but for some, particularly those with a fear of water, it will be terrifying.  For more tips and tricks on how to get used to getting the face wet, click here.

Breath Holding and Partially Submerging

Learning to submerge the face partially is a good way of progressing a beginner from getting their face wet but without fully submerging underwater.  It is also the point where teaching breath-holding is needed. 

Taking a deep breath and submerging the mouth and nose, leaving the eyes above the surface, is an excellent way for your pupils to get used to the sensation of holding their breath and sinking their mouth and nose.


Teaching beginners how to exhale into the water is a vital skill.  They must always breathe in and out through their mouth, and blowing bubbles across the water surface is an ideal way to start, especially if they are anxious.  Teach them to gradually progress onto breathing out with their mouth and nose submerged.

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If you have taught the previous steps, your pupils will have built up a degree of confidence, which they will need to help them to submerge.  The very word ‘submerge’ can sound terrifying to a beginner, but it does not have to mean that they immerse deep down to the bottom of the pool. 

They can submerge by sinking whilst holding the poolside, and you can progress them from there.


Floating in a stationary position on the water surface does not come naturally to some, and it is possible to teach everyone to remain at the surface as they swim through.  All beginners should attempt floating to get a feel for their buoyancy as it is an excellent way of discovering how their body behaves in the water and boosts water confidence.  Teach your pupils to star float with legs and arms stretched out in a star shape – prone (face down), holding their breath and supine (face up).  Manually support them if they are anxious, to begin with.

Regaining Standing

Teach your pupils how to regain a standing position from floating by teaching them how to bend their knees and use their arms to pull themselves up and place their feet on the pool floor.  Learning how to stand up mid swim is a huge confidence builder and is an essential part of teaching swimming lessons to beginners.


Teaching beginners how to glide gives them a baseline starting point for swimming the basic strokes.  Teach them how to ‘push and glide’ from the poolside and create a stretched out streamlined position so they can cut efficiently through the water.  

Swimming Strokes – BLABT

When teaching swimming lessons to beginners, if they have learnt the skills outlined above, they will be well placed to begin learning some swimming techniques.  Introducing each of the four basic swimming strokes involves breaking each stroke into its components.  For this, we use BLABT (body position, legs, arms, breathing and timing), where you use separate drills to teach each part of the stroke.

Click here to learn more about effective communication and positive praise when teaching swimming to children.

Complete Your Beginners' Swimming Journey

Download How To Be A Swimming Teacher and discover everything you need to teach outstanding swimming lessons that get results. Click here for more details.


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