In the water, the difference between professional and amateur swimming instruction can mean the difference between life and death. 

Drowning Prevention

Drowning is a leading cause of unintentional death for all ages and the most common cause of accidental death for children 1 to 4-years old, according to the World Health Organization.

However, the risk of drowning is reduced by 88 percent for 1 to 4-year-olds who take formal swimming lessons, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Children need to be introduced to water safety and basic swimming skills to understand risks and overcome them.

Drowning risk is dramatically reduced with formal lessons because certified swim instructors are trained in evidence-based drowning prevention techniques. Professional teachers are also certified in CPR/AED and know how to prevent and manage emergencies that may occur during the new swimmer learning phase.

Swim instructors should have current Water Safety Instructor (WSI) or Lifeguard credentials. WSI is the gold standard for swim instructors and guarantees they have received training in water safety for public pools, private home swimming pools, and natural bodies of water. You or your certified instructor can be experienced in water safety rescue in a variety of environments and circumstances.

Water Confidence and Enjoyment

The experience of learning water safety can be fun, enjoyable, and confidence-boosting. Certified instructors are trained to work with all ages, abilities, and confidence levels and know how to turn an intimidating or anxiety-provoking experience into a positive one. Professional instructors first teach students how to be comfortable in the water. A poor first experience can lead to a lifetime of fear around the water. However, an excellent instructor can set the foundation for a future of entertaining water activities, including paddle boarding, kayaking, and surfing, or just a relaxing day at the lake.

Pacing and Patience

Trained instructors know how to communicate clearly and patiently, listening carefully to students of all ages, levels, and backgrounds. Instructors are trained to spot weaknesses in students that they can quickly address, so they don’t surface later under duress and undermine the swimmers’ safety. Students learn differently and progress at different paces. A well-trained instructor will know how to adjust teaching styles to ensure students grasp the critical basics of water safety, like back floating and treading water. 

Professional instructors also emphasize the correct progression of stroke training. With proper technique and progression, students are less likely to sustain swimming injuries, are better equipped to conserve energy during an emergency, and have a solid foundation for future sports such as water polo, swim team, triathlon, or diving.

Customized for Individual Needs 

The Red Cross WSI course includes training in adapting lessons for persons with disabilities or other health conditions. Instructors also learn how to tailor lessons for specific issues such as aquaphobia (fear of water) or learning disabilities. 

If you, a family member, or employee need swim instruction this summer, look for a certified swim instruction professional with current WSI or Lifeguard credentials. Consider taking Red Cross-approved water safety courses yourself. It is a small investment in time and money that will pay off for a lifetime and may even save a life.

Contact us for more information about how to get an instructor certification. Being a swim teacher requires a great deal of responsibility, patience, and listening skills. Learning how to prevent drowning makes it possible for others to enjoy water activities safely and reduces the incidence of accidental drownings with young children at home and in recreational areas. We offer certification for individuals and company safety compliance programs.


American Red Cross

National Institute of Child Health and Development

World Health Organization

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