What learning looks like with Swim Discovery™

How do you know if your child is actually learning to swim with Swim Discovery™?

Would you believe me if I said, "just trust me - they're definitely learning?" Because I promise you, they are.  


But I don't want to leave any doubt. We need you to have absolute confidence in Swim Discovery™. When you're confident, your child is going to have a smoother learning experience – always. So, let's dive in.


Learning to swim with Swim Discovery™ looks nothing like learning to swim in swimming lessons.

In Swim Discovery™, your child uses a life jacket – in swimming lessons, they don't. In swimming lessons, progress is pushed by a coach – in Swim Discovery™, your child gets the freedom to move, play, and discover how to swim all on their own.  


And all of that means learning looks different. So here's what to look for in the different stages of your child's progress through Swim Discovery™:


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Complete Beginner:

A Complete Beginner is a child who is just getting started in the water. It might be their first time in a pool. They might have some fear and apprehension about getting in the water, but maybe not. Complete Beginners are children who lack the skills to swim unsupported and haven't had too much of a chance to swim with a life jacket on. Complete Beginners always wear full flotation in their life jacket.


Here's what progress looks like for a Complete Beginner:

  1. Willingness to get in the water
  2. Willingness to swim supported only by the life jacket – and not you
  3. Can move/swim 5 to 10 yards on their own – This is just a yes/no – "can they do it?" We don't care what it looks like

Willingness to get in the water and swim without your help shows you that your child is building confidence. If they started the Swim Discovery™ program with fear, it also shows you that their fears are reducing and on their way to being eliminated.


These are huge wins that should be viewed as significant progress victories.


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Beginners must still wear full flotation in their TYR progressive training life jacket. They're at the point of really getting the hang of swimming in their life jacket, and they're eager to get in the water and play. They don't look to you for emotional support in the water and start to swim for longer durations and distances.


Here's what progress looks like for a Beginner:

  1. Can move/swim 15+ yards continuously – this is a yes/no – "can they do it?" We don't care what it looks like.
  2. May or may-not put face underwater but isn't intimated if they happen to get splashed on the face
  3. Child appears to "forget" they are swimming – can fully engage in play and having fun.
  4. Willing to jump in water with your help from a seated or standing position


Beginners pretty much still swim in a vertical – straight up and down – body position. But they're really opening up and falling in love with swimming around the pool. At this stage in progress, the pool becomes a playground that your child loves to play in.


Fear is a thing of the past, and your child is building endurance by swimming around the pool for longer distances and durations.


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Advanced Beginner:

Advanced beginners still wear full flotation in their progressive training life jackets, but their skills really start to show. You'll notice more obvious signs of progress at this stage.


Here's what progress looks like for an Advanced Beginner:

  1. Body position moves from Vertical (straight up and down), to more Horizontal (learning forward and legs coming up to surface).
  2. Longer reaches with the arms – fully extend the arms when doing the doggy paddle
  3. Splashes when kicking – if/when your child kicks, they can splash the water
  4. Puts face underwater and might be able to hold breath for 3 to 5 seconds
  5. Can swim 20+ yards with and without toys
  6. Can jump in the water without you holding on

Advanced Beginners really start to get the hang of moving through the water. They're still fully engaged in playing and having fun but are moving much easier through the water.


Play evolves to going underwater and jumping in without restriction. There are obvious signs of strength and skill increases with your child.


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Intermediate – Flotation Reduction:

Children in the intermediate stage swim with anywhere from 2 to 6 flotation inserts. They're no longer swimming with full flotation (we tell you when it's time to do this – please do not guess and remove flotation without prompting). Outside of removing flotation inserts in the Progressive Training Life Jacket, progress isn't always as noticeable anymore. Intermediate swimmers may look a lot like an Advanced Beginner, except they're supported by less flotation.


Here's what progress looks like for an Intermediate Swimmer:

  1. Can do everything an Advanced Beginner can do, but with less flotation
  2. Able to hold breath 5 to 10 seconds or longer

** Note: sometimes, when flotation is first removed, a child may appear to "regress" and "lose" some swimming ability. This I normal and will increase again as they adjust to their new level of flotation support.


Please remain close, within arm's reach during this transition period.


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Advanced – No Flotation/Progressive Training Life Jacket Removed:

Children who advance to removing their Progressive Training Life Jacket are not done learning – the course is not over. This stage of progress is akin to earning a black belt in Karate - it signifies the student is now a master of the basics. Now we're tasked with building greater endurance in these basic skills.


Here's what progress looks like for an Advanced Swimmer:

  1. Can do everything an Intermediate Swimmer can do, but without a Life Jacket
  2. Can tread water continuously for 60 seconds

** Note: sometimes, when the Life Jacket is completely removed, a child may appear to "regress" and "lose" some swimming ability. This is normal and will increase again as they adjust to swimming without their Life Jacket. Please remain close, within arm's reach during this transition period.


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I promise learning is happening!

When progress gets broken up like I just did here, it can feel like learning how to swim is a long and complicated process. I promise, this progression happens much faster and is a lot easier than it appears.


I would rather every parent trust in the process, fill out the Virtual Swim Test after each trip to the pool, and just let learning unfold naturally.


But I know this isn't how everyone works - I've met my fair share of parents eager for progress at any cost in my years of coaching and owning a swim school.


If you tend to be a more anxious parent, I hope this progress outline helps you relax into the Swim Discovery™ process.


From my experience, children always learn quickest and have the most fun when they're in a pressure-free environment.


Jeff and I are always here for you - Please reach out to me directly with any questions – jim@swimable.com.


Watch this video to learn more about Swim Discovery™:

If you need even more of a reason to give Swim Discovery™ a try -- check out our blog: “5 Freedoms of Swim Discovery


Check out our SwimAble Kid, Swim Discovery™ program to see how your child can learn to swim for only $20 a month!