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by Megan Lassen

March 3, 2017

Adult Learn-to-Swim Success Stories: The Instructor, Part 3

On the morning of our last lesson, it was dark when we met. This was the earliest I’ve seen Mari at the pool, and she was ready to go. It turned out to be a perfect morning to review what she’d already learned and to have a successful breakthrough on a key survival skill.

Mari and I slipped into the dive tank to get warmed up. As we went through a series of old skills, we touched up some and broadened others with a little speed and technique. At this point, Mari was able to do all the skills in the ALTS curriculum, except for sidestroke and breaststroke, so we worked a bit more on those.

Mari and I then went to the deep end of the lap pool. I jumped into the 8-foot area, allowed myself to go to the bottom, pushed off, and came up out of the water with a burst. I asked Mari to do the same. She told me she had not yet jumped into a pool, and was a little nervous.

But after watching how I did it, and listening to me explain the fun of pushing off the bottom, she jumped in and did it! She then began to tread water, which, until this point, she had not had much luck with. Once she had a good handle on her new skill of treading water, I showed her how to get out of the pool by pulling herself out without a ladder. What a great end to our eight lessons!

Mari’s summer travel schedule required us to spread out her lessons, and I think her practice between meetings helped. I didn't always follow the ALTS progression exactly, but I loved having the basic outline and cues on the card for reference. I found that some days Mari would need more reminders and repetition than others, and I tried to remember what it was like to learn new skills when I was showing her the way into a new position or technique.

I find it interesting that everybody learns in different ways, and sometimes just changing the language can make something easier for learning new skills. Mari did well when I would first show her what I was after, then I’d have her do it, and then she’d repeat. it When talking about certain techniques, if I explained how it could look “pretty” or “stretched like a dancer,” it made more sense to her than when I would describe something as, for example, "long and catch-up."

I explained to Mari the importance of practice in order to keep up her skills, and I told her how wonderful a Masters team could be for this. If the team has a good on-deck coach, I think her skills will improve greatly. The upside to teaching adults to swim is the excitement they have for learning a new skill. But the downside is knowing how much they’ll have to practice to keep the skills they’ve learned. Mari is very excited and very busy with a teenage daughter and a career, but she promised to keep practicing!

This experience was golden to me, and I hope to see Mari on and around the pool decks in years to come.

Read the rest of the story.


  • Human Interest
  • Adult Learn-to-Swim


  • SSLF
  • ALTS