Why PRIVATE Swim Lessons?

Indeed, why private swim lessons? Or more specifically, why are private swim lessons so much more beneficial than group classes? For this blog I will endeavor to outline and describe what I feel are the top three reasons why swim classes are more beneficial than regular group classes. These three reasons are: more time spent in the pool learning and practicing, personalized lesson plans and goals, and choice of instructor / personal investment from said instructor. Lets go over these one at a time.

First off, there is no doubt that private lessons allow for more in water skills practice as well as more time directly interacting with the instructor. When I first started teaching, I worked with a lot of summer camp groups. Some of these groups had 15 or more kids in them that I was responsible for teaching them how to swim. I did have “assistant instructors” who were really just counselors copying what I did but let’s include them in our ratio anyway. Usually in a group of 15 students, I would have two assistants, which would bring the ratio down to 1:5. For a 30 minute class that means each student could reasonably expect to have 6 minutes of direct instructor attention. Even if the ratio was 1:2 that means each student would only get 15 minutes of direct instructor attention. Most of the time not spent with the instructor was with the student sitting on the side of the pool waiting their turn. With private classes, each student spends the entire 30 minutes with the instructor and therefore the entire 30 minutes in the pool working on skills.

Lessons plans designed precisely for one student are a huge reason why kids and adults taking private lessons progress at a much faster rate than they would in group classes. As an instructor I have a WSI certification or Water Safety Instructor from the Red Cross. This was the course that taught me the basics of swim instruction. It also came with a set of “levels” for pre-k and youth swimming that you could teach group classes with. While this worked great for organizing kids into groups it placed a number of restrictions on the kids themselves. The biggest one was probably the fact that any student would need to master ALL the skill in that level before moving up to the next one. This presents two key problems. First off, if a student is struggling with one skill in particular, the instructor can’t spend too much extra time on that one skill. They need to stay on track with what is best for all the students in their class. Secondly, if a student gets stuck on a single skill, it can cause quite a bit of frustration or even loss of interest in swimming altogether. Private lessons bypass this problem entirely. As an instructor, I still follow the general progression recommended by my WSI training. However, I can adjust the progression as needed to fit each student instead of a whole group. For example, if I had a student that was working on freestyle and backstroke but was struggling with the breathing for freestyle, I could spend more time working directly on the skills that would help most or take a break by doing something different for a while then re-approaching later.

Finally, the last benefit to private swimming lessons I mentioned before comes in two separate but related pieces: Choice of instructor and personal investment of said instructor. At Making Waves we endeavor to provide the best choice of instructors and locations possible. We also use free trial classes as a sort of “try before you buy” tool. I will be the first to admit, not every instructor will have a personality or teaching style that gels nicely with every student. While very uncommon, it certainly has happened to me before. For me personally, sometimes I have difficulty with very young and very shy or quiet kids. I’m a very big, goofy, guy that tries to get kids out of their shell by being silly. Sometimes that doesn’t work. Sometimes kids need a more quiet or “motherly” approach, in which case i am happy to recommend them to other instructors I think would be better suited. Which brings me to my second point. Once you do find a great instructor, said instructor would be much more likely to be personally invested in the wellbeing of the student. Again, when I worked with group classes, I would often have over 140 students per session. Some instructors even had 200+ on occasion. Just because of sheer numbers it was hard to become invested in every single student. Seeing each student one on one every week instead of in large groups also makes a huge difference. Being personally invested in each of my students simply means I have more interest in seeing them achieve their goals and will work harder to help them to do so.

So there we have it. The three major reasons why private lessons are more beneficial than group classes. More time spent in the pool learning and practicing, personalized lesson plans and goals, and choice of instructor / personal investment from said instructor. There are many other reasons why private lessons are more beneficial than group ones. What can you think of? Let us know on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MakingWavesSS/

Until next time. Swim fast. Swim safe.

Eric Wembacher