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  • Shirlyn Lee

Tips for Picking the RIGHT Swim Coach

What should you do when you decide that now's the right time to start your child on swim lessons? Here are some practical considerations to look at when the time comes.

Here are THE BASICS, obvious, dead giveaways that you would usually look into.

1) Male / Female Coach

If you have daughters, or if you're a lady looking to learn swimming, you may have considered getting a female coach to lower any chance of "outrage of modesty" or "molestation".

This may seem pretty severe and harsh as an opening pointer for this article. To ease your worries, most swim coaches adhere to a strict code and will refrain from even the thought of doing anything so unbecoming if this is the coach's primary rice bowl.

Fun Tip: When looking into any swimming pool, your sight and vision gets distorted due to ripples and waves in the water. As such, what you see from above, may not truly be what's happening in the water!

2) Location

Where do you reside? Is there access to a private pool (like in a condominium)? Or, would you require lessons in a public pool?

3) Group Classes? or Private Classes?

Do you have a personal preference on whether you'd prefer a group or private class for your kids?

4) Availability

Is the coach available at a time that's convenient for me?

This is probably one of the biggest challenges when you're looking for a coach that has existing lessons. Most of us coaches would be classified under freelancers. The more classes we have, the more we'd be able to earn our keep.

If you're looking for swim lessons, it would help to let us know your available time slots to see if we can fit you into our schedule.

If the coach you want isn't free, he/she would most likely be able to introduce you to others with similar philosophies and teaching styles leaving you in good hands.

5) Cost of Lessons

How much am I being charged for the lesson? Am I getting my money's worth? Can I afford it? Is there anyway I can get a better discount?

I'm not saying that pricing isn't important - because it is. But, as the age old saying goes "pay peanuts, get monkeys". This may or may not be true but that's for you to decide for yourself. Please also consider the location that the lesson will be held at. If we travel to you, costs would most definitely be higher as we have to factor in travel and time spent travelling.

Other Things You May Choose to Consider

1) Coach Qualifications

As far as my knowledge goes, there are 4 different kinds of coaches available in Singapore when it comes to "how qualified a coach is". These are:

i) National Registry of Coaches / SwimSafer Coaches (certifying country: Singapore)

ii) AUSTSWIM Coaches (certifying country: Australia)

iii) Swimming Teachers Association [STA] (certifying country: UK)

iv) Coaches with no formal qualifications

All coaches would fall under one category or the other. Personally, I wouldn't dare say that any one certification is better than the other. They all have their benefits. From my point of view, AUSTSWIM focuses more on water safety; STA focuses more on technique; SwimSafer - a combination of both; and coaches with no qualifications - I'd say it's a matter of where they learnt their skills from and what type of experience they've chalked up over the years. In modern day context, some may look down on those with no qualifications. However, I do know of one particular coach who's great with kids, teaches the right techniques but just refuses to go for any type of certification except his CPR/AED cert.

If you're not sure, I'd advise you to just ask.

2) What You Want For Your Kids (Certification)

Naturally, if you want certain certifications for your children, sign the up with a coach who can provide it. SwimSafer certs with SwimSafer coaches; STA certs with STA coaches. You get the drift.

It would also be possible for any coach to prepare your child for the relevant certifications regardless of whether they have qualifications to hold the tests. For example, I, an AUSTSWIM coach would be able to prepare a child for a SwimSafer test. All that will be needed on the coach's part will be to arrange with a fellow coach for registering and conducting the test.

3) How Your Child Learns

Some children learn better among peers whereas others learn better with a coach's/teacher's whole focus and attention on them without any competition or anyone to compare with. I'm not saying that coaches tend to compare students within the same class because quite honestly, no one should compare one to another.

Also, all of us have our preferred learning styles. Ways in which we learn and respond better. This is usually divided into three different styles:

Visual Learners

Some students rely upon a visual learning style: "Show me and I'll understand." Visual learners benefit from diagrams, charts, pictures, films, and written directions. These students will value to-do lists, assignment logs, and written notes. Many of these techniques, however, also benefit kinesthetic learners.

Auditory Learners

Auditory learners tend to benefit most from traditional teaching techniques. Many teachers use a lecture-style forum, presenting information by talking to their students. Regulating voice tone, inflection, and body language will help all students maintain interest and attention. Auditory learners succeed when directions are read aloud, speeches are required, or information is presented and requested verbally.

Kinesthetic Learners

Most of the school population excels through kinesthetic means: touching, feeling, experiencing the material at hand. "Children enter kindergarten as kinesthetic and tactual learners, moving and touching everything as they learn. By second or third grade, some students have become visual learners. During the late elementary years some students, primarily females, become auditory learners. Yet, many adults, especially males, maintain kinesthetic and tactual strengths throughout their lives."

(Taken from:

I guess all I'm saying is that you, as a parent, should figure out what your child best responds to based on their personality and character and find a coach that fits the bill.

4) Flexibility & Adaptability of Your Coach

Following point 3, your coach should be able to adapt to your child. Children are often unpredictable. They may be perfect students on one week and they may not feel like participating in any of the activities planned the next. A good coach should be able to work around it, finding ways to teach what they have planned while keeping a child's focus and attention.

So there you have it. My list of considerations for parents to look at when looking for a swim coach or any other kind of coach/teacher. I hope you'll find this article helpful!

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