2019 Volume 30 Issue 3

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V O L U M E 3 0 | I S S U E 3 2 019









FINIS Partners with Hope Floats Foundation Together we will make swimming more accessible and affordable for those in need.




Drowning is the Leading Cause of Accidental Death in the U.S. for Ages 4 & Under (CDC).

The FINIS vision is to help every person in the world enjoy the water.

Partners with high-quality swim schools.

Drowning is the 2nd Leading Cause of Accidental Death in the U.S. for Ages 14 & Under (CDC).

When you buy FINIS goggles or diapers, a donation is made to Hope Floats Foundation to provide swim lessons for children living in poverty.

Lower socioeconomic status is associatedwith higher risk of drowning (WHO).

www.FINISswim.com // www.HopeFloats.Foundation Come by the FINIS Booth at the USSSA Conference and learn more about goggles, caps, fins, swim diapers, water confidence & more! Marie Morefield 925.290.2657 | mmorefield@finisinc.com

Uses federal poverty guidelines to determine eligibility for families. Scholarships and tuition assistance is provided to children who are not otherwise able to afford swim lessons.


Letter from the President

5 From the Desk of the Executive Director 6 Community Impact Committee Reignites Ask the Expert 8 10 SAVE YOUR ENERGY: PART 3

The Instructor’s Journey to Significance

10 Save Your Energy: Part 3

13 SDN: Fueling the Future of Drowning Prevention 14 Power Up Your Lessons with Great Themes and Equipment 16 Fire Up Your Marketing Plan

19 The Fusion of FUN and PLAY Elements: Creating Confidence and Long-Term Learning for Swimmers 24 Ask Al

26 Hope Floats Foundation: Igniting Communities to Reach Children in Need 28 SA On-The-Go

ASSOCIATION HEADQUARTERS 7100 E. Cave Creek Rd., Suite 109 Cave Creek, AZ 85331 480.837.5525 usssa@usswimschools.org usswimschools.org Executive Director Lisa M. Zarda, CAE, CNAP Editor Monica Martin ASSOCIATION OFFICERS President John Kirk, Little Otter Swim School Vice President Tracy Koleber, Nitro Swimming Treasurer Buffy Folise, Chicago Swim School ASSOCIATION DIRECTORS Brad Grzelka Atlanta Swim Academy Bobby Hazen SAF-T-SWIM Melissa Taylor Small Fish Big Fish Swim School Matt Young Hubbard Family Swim School USSWIMSCHOOLS.ORG | 1

Splish , Splash , & Learn to Swim @dolfinswimwear dolfinswimwear.com

LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT “All of us are smarter than any one of us.” – Tiernan Murphy (Making Waves Swim School) In late July, I had the pleasure of attending the Australian Swim School Conference. I joined swim school owners and team members from around the world and was struck by how similar our experiences are. It made me realize that we have connections all over the world with people who have been through or are going through the very same challenges and triumphs that we are facing in our own lives. As we prepare for the upcoming USSSA Milwaukee National Conference this fall, I would like to share my tips on how to make stronger connections at the event: •

In the lead up to a conference, I start writing down questions that occur to me that I might be able to get help with. I also think about who may be at the conference that can help me. It gives me a game plan of who I would like to have conversations with.

I will try to set up a dinner or two with friends or future friends so that we can catch up. If you don’t know that many people at the conference, ask for help with meeting folks in similar circumstances. Anyone from the board, membership connections or the office would be happy to make an introduction for you. Just think about the type of people you would like to meet.

John and Lisa attend the ASSA National Conference in Cairns, Australia

• I make it a habit to sit at a table where I don’t know everyone. It is more comfortable to sit with people you already know but you will get more out of the conference if you broaden your circle of friends. •

Realize that many of us are catching up with old friends. The conference feels like a reunion at times. Don’t let that stop you from starting a conversation. All of us are facing or have faced the same problems you are facing now. Take the initiative to start a conversation or just say hello.

We are shaped by who we interact with. The author, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones said, “You will be the same person in five years save for the books you read and the people you meet.” I truly believe this. The conference gives you an opportunity to take a quantum leap forward in your business and personal journey. It requires effort on your part but use your connections to grow. As fellow member, Tiernan Murphy (Making Waves Swim School) says, “All of us are smarter than any one of us.”

So, I am looking forward to seeing everyone. To catch up with old friends and make connections with new friends. See you soon!

JOHN KIRK President US Swim School Association



FROM THE DESK OF THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Community is one of the US Swim School Association’s core values. This organization was built by individuals coming together to share and learn from one another. What an amazing opportunity to learn and grow with others who understand your business! And how do you build and maintain those connections within our community? Here are a few tips to consider as we approach our upcoming Milwaukee National Conference:

Be You There is only one of you and you’ve got some great things to offer. You’ll be more relaxed and ready to make connections with new people if you simply be yourself.

Be Real No one likes to connect when it feels forced or rehearsed. Don’t be afraid to be a little vulnerable and ask for some advice or share a personal (but business appropriate) story.

Be Inquisitive People love to talk about themselves, so don’t forget to ask open ended questions and then stop and listen. Can you learn one new thing about the person or find one thing you both have in common? The more you learn about the other person, the more ways you can connect and follow up later on those interests or challenges.

Be Helpful People will be more willing to stay in touch with someone who helped them with a challenge or offered some expertise. It doesn’t have to be big. It could be as simple as introducing them to someone you know well that they want to meet or sharing an article you recently read on a topic that comes up in conversation. As they say, you get out of it what you put into it, so be ready to share with others. USSSA events offer a unique opportunity to connect and learn from one another. Everyone is there to learn, including those who have been attending for years to those just starting out. So relax, be yourself and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to someone you haven’t met before.

Happy Connecting!

LISA M. ZARDA, CAE, CNAP Executive Director US Swim School Association


ASK THE EXPERT! Over the past several months the Community Impact Committee has been working diligently on a new event that I am super excited to announce.

We are bringing back an old fundraiser with a new twist! I remember back in 2013 when Kathy Hubbard (Hubbard Family Swim School) visited my facility and told me all about the National Conference and how I needed to get involved. One of the functions she mentioned was “Ask the Expert”. This event was high on my list of events I wanted to experience at the conference. I remember having a 15-minute conversation with Dave Tonnesen from SwimKids that was worth every penny I donated for the time slot. It also felt good that I was also supporting Stop Drowning Now at the same time. So, when the Committee was looking to create an event that supports a worthy cause, this seemed like a no-brainer to bring back. So, here are the details taking place in Milwaukee, WI: On Tuesday, Sept. 24th from 4:45 pm to 5:45 pm, we will hold the “One on One Consultation with Industry Expert for Charity” event. We will have industry professionals with four 15-minute time slots available. Each 15-minute spot will be available to the highest bidder, silent auction style. All proceeds will benefit Stop Drowning Now and Hope Floats. You’ll find that the industry experts who are volunteering their time are not to miss: with names like Hubbard, Johnson, Tonnesen and Kirk, just to name a few. We’ll have each expert assigned to a different area of expertise for you to choose from, so you’ll be able to get the most from their wealth of knowledge and insight. Learn more online at the official auction link www.32auctions.com/USSSA-2019AsktheExpert. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to enhance your swim school AND give back to two awesome charities that have the common goal of helping to prevent drowning! So, with that being said, let the bidding begin September 10, 2019, and we’ll see you in Milwaukee. 6 | USSWIMSCHOOLS.ORG




Using education and technology to relate every lesson to the success cycle. BY FRANK SAHLEIN FOUNDER & CEO 3RD LEVEL CONSULTING

In today’s fast-paced world, it is sometimes difficult for instructors (and even managers and owners) to realize the importance of their everyday teaching. While it is absolutely true that each lesson taught has the potential for incredible impact on the students, it is easy for instructors to lapse into the mental state of “it’s just a job”. All individuals need meaning and significance to remain truly motivated on a daily basis. The illustration below shows how Personal Growth (the “What’s In It For Me” angle) leads to Program Growth. Personal Growth happens in 3 aspects: personal life, employment/business life and interpersonal life. If we 8 | USSWIMSCHOOLS.ORG

leverage educational technologies, we can answer the “What’s In It For Me” question AND achieve our business goals. Note that Strong Programs leads to Company Growth; and that Strong Companies can win in their local market areas. Confident Companies then result in Industry Strength. This cycle can then repeat itself in an endless loop. The point here is that

when instructors (or managers) see and understand this Success Cycle, they realize that their daily work is the actual driver of the program, the company, the local market area and of the industry itself. Every day, every lesson and every child are critical to the overall success – including their own Success Journey.

In business, we need the right PEOPLE in the right SPOTS, doing the right THINGS with the right TOOLS. How do we best go about this? There are 4 keys steps: • We need a future-facing

Organizational Chart that easily identifies the Programs and Support Services that the company is running, or intends to run in the near future.

• This Organizational Chart allows

for Program Flexibility and People Mobility as the company evolves. Getting the right PEOPLE in the right SPOTS is an area of change that needs to be consistently monitored.

• How do we know what the right

THINGS are? Well, modern Position Agreements have Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) build into them, along with

self-evaluation tools and action items, logged over time. • Beyond physical facilities, the

right TOOLS are almost all in online technologies and applications. Examples of dynamic and innovative apps are the SmartEDGE Resources (www.3rdLevelConsulting.com), www.RiskAssure.net, www. LEAPlearn.net. In summary, our instructors (and managers) have unlimited potential for significance and effectiveness. We owe it to them, to ourselves, to our company and to the industry to maximize the opportunities! Have questions? You can reach out to Frank Sahlein at Frank@3rdLevelConsulting.com



To design and build a swim facility with environmental sustainability being nearly as important as teaching swimming lessons, it’s helpful to consult with the leaders who operate the most energy efficient and sustainable swimming facilities in the world. That’s what the Coutts’ Family Scholarship allowed me to do. I am grateful to be able to share several things we learned about Norderparkbad (bath or pool) in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Lippe Bad in Lünen, Germany. What an amazing experience it has been!

What we noticed most about Europe, is that the community has complete buy-in for reducing waste. There are wind turbines across the countryside, solar panels on the hills and on top of most roof tops, and a lot of the community rides a bike when possible. It was incredible to see how the community takes care of the environment and has made changes in their family to use less energy. The Norderpark building has a metal sheet around it that collects the rainwater, which is used to clean and for the toilets. The building is set up to use natural lighting and to flow with the pool area heating the changing rooms. The attention to detail in the design of the facility from keeping it clean, well ventilated and lighted, to how the water is recycled throughout the facility was extremely impressive. When you enter the facility, you are required to take off your outside shoes after you check-in. No dirty shoes are allowed in the locker room, hallways or pool area. If you don’t want to remove your shoes, you will need to wear shoe booties to keep the dirt off of the floors. The facility floors were extremely clean, smelled good and non-slippery. This was a big takeaway 10 | USSWIMSCHOOLS.ORG

for my own facilities located in Madison, Wisconsin. With the harsh winters and wet springs, I am realizing that shoe removal is a must and we will be implementing this in September in both of my facilities.

Norderparkbad is a municipal swimming facility that was built in 2015 to replace a pool complex that was built years earlier. Its story is impressive: energy consumption was reduced by 80%, water usage was reduced by 85%, and surprisingly all of its energy efficiency enhancements have an ROI of 10 years or less. According to Peter Verhaar, a project engineer with Deerns, who was involved in designing the facility, the centerpiece of its mastery revolves around Trias Energetica, a model developed by the Delft University of Technology focusing on energy sustainability for the building sector. Its concepts are simple and basically include three elements: 1. Reduce energy demand by reducing waste. The primary emphasis and greatest opportunity for energy sustainability should be placed on the design and construction of the building envelope. For Norderparkbad, that meant using construction materials with high insulating properties, glass panes with excellent thermal dynamics and designing the facility to take advantage of the swim pools as a heat source for changing and other areas adjacent to the pools. 2. Use sustainable sources of energy rather than fossil fuels. The greatest impact for Norderparkbad included connecting to a municipal hot water utility that uses biomass as its heating fuel. However, the facility also generates electricity from solar panels. Quite interesting, rainwater is collected and purified for pool water and bathroom use.

3. Use fossils fuels as efficiently as possible. Virtually every pump utilized variable frequency drive controllers. Norderparkbad utilizes heat exchangers to recapture heat that would be otherwise lost for its ventilation systems and wastewater (backwash and shower water). The air exchangers are also equipped to capture water condensate that is reintroduced back into the pools. At the time of Norderparkbad’s construction, it was and perhaps still is the most energy efficient and sustainable pool facility in the Netherlands. It’s also an attractive facility with large wooden timbers and ceilings also built from sustainable construction materials that are part of the reason it earned the award “Most Beautiful Public Pool” in 2016.

The Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) has developed similar voluntary standards. According to the PHIUS, the additional building cost premium can be as much as 10% but can certainly vary depending on the scope of the project. Admittedly, what I learned is rooted in engineering principals and is quite technical and a bit overwhelming at times. For many swim schools, this information may be more than you want to know. Most swim schools that exist today are not going to become the next Lippe Bad or Norderpark Bad. Much of what has driven environmental sustainability in Europe are tighter regulations, significant financial incentives and considerably higher utility rates.

Not to be last, Germany’s Lippe Bad facility in Lünen is perhaps one the most energy efficient pools anywhere and is the first pool ever built implementing Passive House Institute’s (Germany) Voluntary Passive House design standards. Passive House is a set of building design standards that can be applied to any type of building in any climate that follows basic principles that include: • Continuous insulation to prevent heat transfers. • An extremely airtight envelope to prevent infiltration of outside air and loss of cooled air. • High performance windows that manage solar gain. • Balanced heating and moisture recovery ventilation with heat recovery. • Minimal use of a space conditioning system. In simple terms, a Passive House building uses very little energy for heating and cooling. According to the institute, a Passive House building uses 90% less energy for heating and cooling compared to existing building stock and 75% when compared to a facility built under current codes. The Passive House building design makes efficient use of the sun, internal heat sources and heat recovery. This, in conjunction with much of the same technology used at Norderparkbad, is what makes Lippe Bad extremely energy efficient.

Attention to energy efficiency has and will continue to strengthen as an integral part of building codes that establish minimum design requirements for swim schools in many states. For example, California’s new net zero energy design requirements for new construction will certainly implement some of the technologies and similar construction standards utilized at both European swim facilities. Through a continuous improvement approach, focusing on energy efficiency enhancements and utilizing capital wisely, it’s clear that opportunities for reducing a facility’s environmental footprint and costs in short order exist for most swim schools. The past two articles provide several examples. In September, at the USSSA National Conference, Tim and I will go into more detail on the takeaways from our research in Europe, throughout the United States, and in our own facility energy audits. This has been a year full of learning and new experiences. Thank you, John Coutts, for allowing me to dive deep into energy conservation and to learn ways to better my business and share it with others! USSWIMSCHOOLS.ORG | 11

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SDN: FUELING THE FUTURE OF DROWNING PREVENTION Stop Drowning Now fuels drowning prevention just like you do – through education, awareness and experiential activities. Even in the high season for swim schools, we have been busy and have so much to share with USSSA members! Schools Continue to Adopt SDN’s Innovative Curriculum Several new schools and school systems adopted the SDN Curriculum in their classrooms over the past 4 months. Several others continued from last year, given the success of the curriculum with their students. Two notable groups include the Archdiocese of Omaha’s schools as well as all elementary schools in Charlotte County, Florida. As of today, the SDN program is used in six states nationwide and we hope to double that number in the next 18 months. Swim Schools & the SDN Cities Program Conceived and pioneered by Board Member, Dan Berzansky, municipalities are partnering with SDN to reduce

drowning risk in their communities. For example, Dan and his swim school’s team helps their hometown of Aliso Viejo educate its 57,000 citizens about drowning and how to protect their families. Our newest SDN City is Seal Beach! Additional cities in Southern California are exploring the SDN City partnership right now. Your swim schools have a vital role to play in your community bringing not only a problem to their city’s leadership, but also a solution that saves lives. State Laws for Drowning Prevention Education Board Member, Joe Oehme, has been working with New Jersey State Assemblyperson, Sean Kean, to pass a state-wide law requiring drowning prevention education for all New Jersey students. NJ bill A-269 is currently on the docket for review by the NJ Legislature upon their return from summer recess. Learn more: A webinar featuring Assemblyperson Kean and Joe Oehme was


SAND SHARK SWIM SCHOOL Melanie Stairs Bradenton, FL SHAWN PRIVATE SWIM SCHOOL Shahram Naseri Tarzana, CA SHERRY’S SWIM SCHOOL Shahrzad Farazian Orange, CA SWIM TUTORS USA Kristen Gauly Naples, FL SWIM WITH GILLS Christina Theiss Hobe Sound, FL

broadcast on July 17th at 2pm EST. We thank the National Drowning Prevention Alliance for hosting this event. Look for more information from SDN and NDPA on this important discussion soon. SDN’s Founders Retire Johnny and Cindy Johnson have fueled SDN from a mere idea in 2004 to the organization that today reaches tens of thousands of kids and families. Effective this month, Johnny and Cindy will retire as Chairman and Treasurer, respectively, and become SDN Ambassadors. Please join us in thanking Johnny and Cindy for their leadership, sweat and commitment that will help continue to spread the message about drowning risk and its prevention. How Can You Fuel Change? Join SDN or upgrade your membership today. To get more involved and learn about the initiatives above, please contact us at info@stopdrowningnow.org.


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YOUR LESSONS WITH GREAT THEMES AND EQUIPMENT! What do inspiring, happy places such as Disney and Cirque du Soleil have in common? They are unique, colorful activities in exciting and fun environments! From the moment you arrive, the “WOW” factor grabs you!



Today’s Aquatic Child Development Center should provide an environment that is motivating and inspiring. We have the opportunity every day to change the individual lesson experience with the equipment and themes we feature. Lesson themes can be skill based such as: Back to the Basics, Safety Skills, Streamline and Smooth Strokes. They can also be character based such as: Mermaids, Pirates, Super Heroes and Ninjas. More themes can incorporate movement and discovery Adventure, Action, Under The Sea, and Sports Day at the Pool. Special Day themes for Halloween include masks, puppets and swimming with pumpkins!

The most challenging part of the learn to swim process is at the very beginning; when the student is discovering the liquid world. Using a variety of equipment such as small squirtables, mirrors, sinkable animal shapes and treasure chests. These tools generate excitement and encourage the process of getting wet all the way to going underwater.

Each parent and child team can rotate to various stations within the lesson time and then come together for a final group song or large mat activity. Adventure Obstacle Courses are created with large equipment such as mats for running. Rolled mats held in place with hoola hoops create fun tunnels. Platforms create “islands” and swim destinations, towers to climb up and jump off.....what fun! These exciting activities can be featured in an “Aqua-Carnival” day at the end of each session.

How cool is it to go to the swim school with the latest fins, snorkels, hand paddles and other gear when you are learning advanced skills? These terrific teaching tools keep children engaged, challenged and having fun, which results in greater student retention. Safety Skills are also very important in the Learn To Swim Process. Students should experience the self righting properties of Personal Flotation Devices (PFD’s). Sizes are available for infants through to adults. Your lesson program is often the only time that a student will experience using a PFD in water. Using exciting equipment and fun themes will motivate your staff, students and parents! Have FUN Powering Up your lessons!

Parent and child classes should include working with sensory equipment such as textured balls, small mirrors, sponges, rings, and noodles. Stations are a fun way to experience a variety of equipment.

Sharron Crowley is the owner and founder of Aquaventures Swim Centre, www.aquaventuresswim. com, the Swimagine Institute, www.swimagine.ca and Really Cool Pool Stuff, www.reallycoolpooltuff.com.

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It’s 2019 and the social media game has changed. Gone are the days where you can simply post to your Facebook business page a few times per week and command the attention of your local market while effortlessly driving students to your swim school. The Facebook algorithm (more on that later) has reduced organic reach to almost zero. In layman’s terms, this means that when you post something to your Facebook page, less and less people are seeing it. Yes, even the people that follow you.

Most owners are stuck in a different time. They spin their wheels posting on social media in an effort to engage with their audience and drive more students to their school, only to have their message get lost in the increasingly loud and cluttered world of social media.

All business boils down to 3 key systems:

So what is the secret to winning on Facebook in 2019? That’s easy. You pay for it.

3. The ability to fulfill on what you promised.

Now before you get upset at me for the suggestion of spending money on social media, stay with me for a minute and let me explain. The real cost of advertising isn’t money. The real cost of *not* advertising is time. This includes the time spent on activities that don’t drive new students to your school, as well as the opportunity cost of sitting on the sidelines and not doing anything (ie. still not driving students to your school). I’ve been there. I have spent hours toiling away on “organic” posts that fall on deaf ears. I have built up an Instagram following in the hopes of attracting clients. You know what happened? I DID get students at my school, but it was a ton of work and not at all scalable. As a business owner, husband, and a father, my time is valuable. I want the most efficient path to getting new, paying students at my school. Whenever I talk to owners, it boggles my mind that many of them will drop hundreds of thousands of dollars into their business (facility, staffing, training, retail, etc) but don’t take advantage of the greatest and most affordable advertising vehicle that has ever been available. My opinion is that people view advertising the wrong way. Once you shift your view from looking at advertising as a “cost” and change it to looking at it as an “investment” things change. For example, currently, when I advertise online I put $1 in and get anywhere from $3-$5 out in the first month. When you take into account that my lessons are perpetual (billed monthly) and that my average students stays for 4-5 months, we are starting to have some real fun.

1. The ability to attract qualified, excited leads to your business. 2. The ability to convert those leads/ prospects into customers

Members of the US Swim School Association are INCREDIBLE at fulfilling promises and giving quality instruction. We don’t need to talk about that here. What I do think most people could use help with is attracting leads and converting them into paying customers. When promoting your business online, the key is to focus on your offer. What are you offering? Most offers I see are terrible. Why should a parent be interested in your business? What pain do they have that you can solve? Most businesses focus too much on themselves and the details of what they offer. Focus on your ideal customer. What will attract them? Is it 1:1 lessons? Is it a discount or free trial? Is it a specialized program you offer? Are you the most expensive provider in the market? Awesome! Tell them why! The offer is the first mistake most owners make, but failing to engage with people that express interest in your business is an even bigger mistake. On average, it takes a consumer 5-8 interactions with a brand to make a purchase. Wouldn’t it be great if you could stay in front of only those people that have expressed interest in your business but for some strange reason have not yet become clients? Yes it would, and luckily you can! “Retargeting” is the action of promoting your message to those people that have previously expressed interest in your business. 80% of my leads and customers come from retargeting. This means they checked out my swim school (either my Facebook page, Instagram profile, Google Ads, or my website) and didn’t sign up right away. But lucky for me, I know how to stay in front of them and follow them around the internet until they sign up.

People get busy. They might have the best intentions in the world but their lives are hectic. It’s not their responsibility to sign up for swim lessons with you. It is your responsibility to stand out, develop a “virtual” relationship with them, and remind them you are there and ready to help! Retargeting is the single biggest reason business owners fail to win with online marketing. They simply give up too soon, and do not go far enough. They spend money on 1 ad, don’t get the results they want, and proclaim that Facebook advertising “doesn’t work”. Facebook advertising works. It works very well. Costs are going up significantly but I view this as an opportunity for business owners. People that do not know how to advertise at a profit will be at a disadvantage and lose to competitors that do know how to advertise. As long as you can spend $1 and make $2, you can outspend your competitors and dominate your market. The Swim School business will always be set up in a way to profit significantly from proper online advertising, assuming the correct systems are in place. Despite the increased costs, Facebook is a *still* incredibly affordable and allows you as an owner to drive new clients to your school for $5-$10/day. I would encourage you to take advantage of the incredible opportunity that is in front of you. Ad costs are going up but it is still the single best advertising vehicle on the planet. As the old proverb goes, “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now”. Don’t wait. Get in the game.


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CREATING CONFIDENCE AND LONG-TERM LEARNING FOR SWIMMERS Fusing elements of fun and play in a swimming curriculum results in overwhelming benefits. When compared to stress-inducing practices that contribute to long-term damage of a child’s wellbeing, the outcome of fun and play becomes clear. “The neuroscientific evidence base does not support the use of force as an appropriate teaching practice in aquatic lessons of any kind with learners of any age, in any activity,” according to Janine Ramsey. Some parents and teachers may think play is a waste of time, asking, ‘’When will the children learn to swim” or “I am not paying for my child to play.” In fact, “playtime” is imperative in reinforcing learning for children. Incorporating playful ways to teach a skill enhances learning through sensory play that encourages children to use one or more of the senses,

stimulating sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, balance and movement. Children rely on sensory input to learn about their environment. Sensory play is readily available to create during lessons. The water alone, is intrinsically sensorial and offers all of the above. Most of us can say, “YES,” the pool environment lends itself to play in every element. Play, by its very nature, allows children to use their creativity while developing imagination, dexterity and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is also important to healthy brain development. Through play, children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them. Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practicing adult roles, sometimes in conjunction with other children or




adult caregivers. As they master their world, play helps children develop new competencies that lead to enhanced confidence and the resilience they need to face future challenges. Undirected play allows children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills. Putting toys on the steps or at the bottom of the pool lets a child discover them on their own, eventually getting their eyes or goggles wet. Child-driven play allows them to practice decision-making skills, move at their own pace, discover their own areas of interest, and ultimately engage fully in their passions. Ideally, much of play involves adults. But when adults control play, children acquiesce to adult rules and concerns and lose some of the benefits,


particularly in developing creativity, leadership, and group skills. For example, it is more beneficial to let a baby figure out how to crawl or walk across a mat to get a toy instead of handing the toy to them. Another example could be children ultimately jumping into the water on their own and deciding, again on their own, to return to the step, wall or dock.

needing to be redirected back, can teach children their limitations/boundaries. They may choose to float up into a back float or return and grab the wall for an “Oh, I am ok” moment. This is an internal learning moment. It can also give the parent or instructor an opportunity to teach the appropriate behaviors at appropriate times.

Play builds active, healthy bodies. In fact, it has been suggested that encouraging unstructured play increases physical activity levels in children. Perhaps most importantly, play is a simple joy and cherished part of childhood. For example, watch the joy in their eyes and smiles on their faces when children participate in unstructured play.

PLEASURE, the third element, functions as the keystone or hub of play, both as a defining trait and an incentive to play some more. As we play, pleasure mixes with anticipation, surprise, understanding, strength, and—if we are lucky— poise. From a child’s perspective, “As I play in my noodle-motorboat, I am able to move around the pool independently, have social experience with my parent, instructor and other children. I get to move through the hula hoop or tunnel, grab some balls and put them in the bucket. And it’s fun!” By investing children in play and by inviting them to play some more, pleasure enhances the physical, intellectual, emotional, and social dividends that accrue. We appreciate the last three elements of play— understanding, strength, and poise—as physical, intellectual, emotional, and social pleasures.

How can we design the fusion of fun and play in the pool for a child’s maximum learning potential? First, it is important to understand the Elements of Play, then to learn how to incorporate them into your lessons. Reading the Play Elements Chart The columns in this chart represent the six basic elements of play. Each is present every time you play fully. Read downward to see how the elements grow more powerful as you play. Scan across the rows to see how play unfolds as you go. Think about how you play and how your feelings fit these elements. Each element takes on explanatory power as it subdivides into eight “expressions,” synonyms of varying potency. Scan the columns of the chart downward to see how a single element increases in intensity. When designing lessons, ask, “Does this activity incorporate the elements of play? ANTICIPATION gives way to the next element, surprise. Play often includes laughter. “A game of peekaboo is front loaded with the pleasures of anticipation and surprise,” according to Eberle. Tipping a bucket of floating balls upside down in the water and holding it down for a few seconds creates great anticipation. Letting the balls pop to the top of the water creates surprise. SURPRISE is itself a reward. Curiosity, a form of anticipation that leads to discovery, and often surprise, is a dividend of play. So, let it happen. Slipping off the wall when holding on to the edge and 20 | USSWIMSCHOOLS.ORG

UNDERSTANDING, the fourth element, delivers emotional and intellectual bonuses—increasing both capacity for empathy and insight. “Play with others requires mutuality and sensitivity; these gifts are preconditions and credentials for play. The first interpersonal encounters, the light of the eyes, the features of the face, and the sound of the name, become essential ingredients of a first recognition of and by the primal other. Play stirs initially in these mutual exchanges, in the attunement between mother and infant that contains the first three elements of play, anticipation, surprise, and then contagious pleasure in the form of unmistakable mutual delight.” Play also sharpens appreciation of fairness. Understanding deepens as children learn to play together. Understanding empathy and knowledge also feeds into play. And for children in swim lessons, knowledge is imperative. For example, children need to learn to sit, listen and wait their turn for their safety and others around them. They need to understand the routine.

The fifth element, STRENGTH of mind and body—flows from understanding. Play trains physical skills, sharpens mental abilities, and deepens insights into social capabilities. Real-life feats of strength require that one must be flexible enough to be resilient, ingenious enough to avoid the rough spots, and lively enough to bend without breaking. Children garner strength in the form of mastery and control. They often surprise themselves. In the moment, play makes demands of neural and muscular systems, but the lessons last a lifetime. When we play with words, solve puzzles, choose sides, or sing silly songs, we enlarge our working vocabularies, practice and stimulate our sense of numbers and proportions, train our wit, maintain our friendships, augment our sense of fairness, and exercise our feeling for rhythm. Singing along during a specific skill, like back floating while singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” not only fulfills this element, it also associates a skill with a song, thus supporting all the elements so far. Because play offers “the empowerment of coming through a scary experience [like back floating] unscathed,” as Stuart Brown puts it. “Playing steels us against fear and pain.” We are very familiar with all the benefits of singing in our lessons. Like simple association, it organizes the whole class, so they know exactly what exercise or skill you are moving to. Singing builds physically coordinated movements to a tempo, teaching timing and developing discipline, confidence, memory, and language through melodic rhythm. Singing also improves imagination. Much of the pleasure derived from play is social in nature so it strengthens social skills. A more confident and more accommodating social self, a stronger self, also makes us more attractive as playmates and partners. Wit, ingenuity, creativity, drive, and passion (all expressions of strength), advertise that we stand poised for the unexpected. When play adds understanding to strength, the result is POISE, the sixth and final element of play. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi notes that successful play not only delivers an engrossing suspension of the sense of the passage of time, it provides much more. Thinking of balance in physical terms leads to the way play

pleasurably enhances proprioception— the awareness of our bodies in space in terms of our arms, hands, legs and feet. At play, “the body remembers what the mind has forgotten,” Stuart Brown observes. Proprioceptive awareness supplies the feedback that allows us to jump rope, climb a tree and swim! Balance also includes the tracking sense, or oculomotor or muscle memory, that allows us to move our body, arms and legs in a repetitive motion, such as, moving a child

forward into primary swim postures that lead to their full swimming strokes. Play trains the body in many ways. It feeds the mind, shores up feelings and tutors good social judgment—making us more well-rounded. Besides the physical profit, benefits include poise in intellectual, emotional, and social ways. The dividends pay out as expressions of poise—as dignity, ease, contentment, fulfillment, spontaneity and balance.

In conclusion, picturing play as an emergent self-feeding process, in which causes and effects are linked, shows how anticipation leads to surprise that give rise to pleasure and enhances understanding, which in turn builds strength (of mind, body, or character) which contributes to the poise that enables our anticipation.


PLAY = Anticipation + Surprise + Pleasure + Understanding + Strength + Poise





SEPTEMBER 24-26, 2019


JANUARY 13-17, 2020


JANUARY 18-22, 2020






Welcome back to our “Ask the Expert” feature, designed to assist you with issues related to swimming pool water, mechanical equipment, space conditioning and code compliance. Ask a question, and we will try to answer to the best of our ability. Pool finishes are definitely not as “abuse resistant” as they were in the 80’s, but there are ways to navigate the issues and experience a clean looking pool finish with a long life. Let’s look at some of the problems and solutions.


POOL STAINING Some have said, “There are two types of pools, ones that are stained and ones that are going to stain.” Seriously though, the potential to stain is almost in every pool, so astute USSSA pool owners need to be on their toes to avoid this issue. WHAT CAUSES STAINS In a word: Metals. Most city water supplies have traces of copper and iron. By themselves, they probably won’t cause much staining – although you DO see metal stains from sprinkler overspray on many homes. But indoor pools are worse off. Why? When water evaporates (#1 cause of water loss), the (pure – distilled) water escapes but the metals stay in the remaining water. Then you refill the pool, with the same water, and now the metal content of the water increases. This process continues and over time “concentrates” metals and other undesirables to levels that are 5 or 6 times the content of the fill water. NOW, you have a real potential to stain. THEN…one day you have a fecal accident and shock the pool in order to comply with DOH or CDC guidelines. You throw in a bunch of chlorine, the pH will rise temporarily, and the metals will “fall out of solution” and stain the pool bottom. OTHER TYPES OF STAINING Periodically, you will see a pool stain when the metal content is not high, and that is related to the pool finish not curing properly upon start up. This can be determined using a Stain ID test before embarking on any stain removal adventure. DEGRADATION OF POOL FINISHES Just as serious is the systematic destruction of pool finishes due to poor water chemistry. This doesn’t mean your chlorine or pH levels are consistently bad… in fact it has nothing to do with chlorine at all. Poor water balance will lead to “undersaturated” or “hungry” water, normally due to low calcium and alkalinity, and will leach calcium from the pool walls contributing to rough finishes and “potholes” in the finish. Too many pool owners focus on their chlorine and pH, and don’t pay enough

attention to calcium and alkalinity in order to provide correct (neutral) water balance. It’s not tough, it just takes your attention. Once your pool finish is unacceptable due to staining, potholes, or rough surfaces that tear up your patron’s (or instructor’s) feet, then you have to open your wallet. You can clean it up or refinish. You can clean up a stained pool with a gradual (weeklong) stain removal process like Jack’s Magic, or a more aggressive process like an acid wash. But… there are few solutions for potholes and rough surfaces except for refinishing, and acid washing to remove stains will make the surface even rougher. Refinishing a typical pool normally costs about $25 +/- per square foot depending on where you live, so a small 1,000 Sq. Ft. swim school pool (20 x 50) can cost over $25K. More damaging is the down time that it may take. Some pool finishes can be completed in a week or so, and you might be able to squeeze it into a holiday break, but local health codes may require that you bring the pool up to current standards which might include tile, handrails, etc., and that might take more time and money. SOLUTIONS Actually, taking care of your pool finish via stain prevention and water balance is easier than ever… if you have the time and the knowledge. Here is a quick guide to success: • Test for ALL parameters, not just for chlorine and pH. New style Spin Disk kits (more info on request) provide complete and expert tests for 11 key parameters in just 60 seconds, with readings you can trust. You can also use a full test kit, like the Taylor K2006 and follow the directions to take the full battery of tests. • Plan for perfect balance, by using a simple app (we like LSI Calculator – by Pure Planet Science & Technology) to plug in your variables and adjust the variables to seek an optimum (0.0 to +0.2) range. Then the app will provide the dosages of calcium and sodium bicarbonate in order to keep the water in balance.

• Add the required balance chemicals, and voila, your pool will be in balance. Seek calcium levels well above 300 PPM, to keep the pool finish happy, and alkalinity levels above 60 PPM to keep the pH steady, but you can manipulate these variables for good balance. Contact us with any questions. • Another method for water balance: Another way to accomplish the above is to use an all-in-one chemical, such as Pulsar Briquettes, to provide most all of the calcium, alkalinity and a bit of stain prevention. These types of chemicals appear to cost a bit more than standard bleach, but by the time you factor in all the extra chemicals you save, it often costs less overall. We have also seen such pools operate for decades without refinishing. • Water replacement and sequestering agents help: You can help prevent concentration of metals by following a responsible water replacement program. We continue to recommend adding 4-gallons per bather. So, if you have 1,000 bathers a week, you should add 4,000 gallons of new water to the pool during that same time period. That will help dilute the concentration of metals but will also dilute the calcium and alkalinity. You can also add a small amount of sequestering agent to keep metals from staining your pool. CONCLUSION! Smooth and stain free pool finishes often make your pool more inviting and attractive but taking your eye off the ball for a period of time can lead to a rough and/or stained pool finish that requires a lot of time and money to resolve. Following the simple steps above can hopefully help you avoid short and longterm issues. Hope that helps! Please feel free to forward your questions and comments through the Association office, or directly to me, via email at amendoza@ceswaterquality.com. Best Regards, Alvaro G. Mendoza




A mother with two children under 5 is at the front desk of your swim school. She is a single mom and works full-time, but simply can’t afford your tuition. Her eyes well with tears as she shares that she is afraid for the safety of her children. What do you do? Turn her away or provide a scholarship from the company’s bottom line? Many swim schools are faced with this scenario daily. While swim school owners have big hearts and are willing to help, the cost of scholarships adds up quickly.

• Deep Blue Swim School ran its first annual Swim & Trike event bringing in over $3,000 for scholarships. • Atlanta Swim Academy sold branded rubber duckies raising $1,500 for local scholarships.

Today, nearly 100 swim school locations across 22 states are partnering with Hope Floats to provide scholarships. They are connecting with local individuals looking to do good in the world and save the lives of kids. Highlights:

Hope Floats was founded by swim school owners seeking a simple, and more sustainable way to provide scholarships. The Hope Floats model equips swim schools with “Impact in a Box” or low commitment, high ROI fundraising tools to engage their local communities in drowning prevention efforts. Hope Floats’ online scholarship application process ensures that a family is in need and then matches the child to local funds raised. 26 | USSWIMSCHOOLS.ORG

• In January 2019, the staff of SwimKids Swim School culminated a year of fundraising by presenting a $28,000 check to Hope Floats for scholarships. • In May, partners ran Water Safety Month Fundraising Campaigns. Little Otter Swim School raised over $5,200 and Little Kickers Swim School raised over $3,000 for scholarships. • British Swim School of Central Maryland held a family-fun restaurant event with a live band and silent auction, raising over $4,500 for scholarships.

In addition, companies like FINIS, Hammer Head Swim Caps, and Rapid Oxygen are supporting Hope Floats on a national scale by giving back to support scholarships for children in need. If your swim school would like more information about partnership, contact Christy Bostic at info@hopefloats.foundation and visit www.hopefloats.foundation. Partnership is affordable for schools of all sizes. A little bit of fundraising can go a long way in saving lives and creating new connections in your community!

SA ON-THE-GO Providing our staff with training and development opportunities can be a challenge for even the most seasoned swim school owner.

Finding high quality training that is relative to our unique field is not easy, especially when factoring in cost, travel, and time commitment. One of the greatest benefits of being a member of the US Swim School Association is having access to training, education, and resources specifically designed for our industry. The USSSA provides educational and training opportunities for members, such as the Special Abilities and Infant/Toddler classroom courses, which are offered at both the national conference and the spring workshop. However, taking a large number of swim instructors to either of these events

is not always possible. The cost of travel, lodging, and the courses themselves can be prohibitive for many swim school owners. To make education available to all members, the USSSA developed On-TheGo courses for both Special Abilities and Infant/Toddler. The Special Abilities OnThe-Go Course is the full 8-hour Special Abilities Course that is offered at the national conference and spring workshops, but we bring it to you! The best part of the OTG course is the flexibility that comes along with it. Owners can contact any of the Special Abilities OTG Instructors and schedule a class. Swim schools throughout the country are now able to provide a high quality, introductory course that will better equip instructors who work with individuals with special abilities.

The On-The-Go course is also a great opportunity for swim schools in the same area to collaborate. By joining forces and co-hosting a course, more instructors will reap the benefits of the Special Abilities and Infant/Toddler trainings and the cost will be lower for everyone. While there are still costs involved, they can be drastically reduced with On-The-Go courses. In March, I had the privilege of traveling to North Carolina and teaching the Special Abilities Course at Andy Broido’s Swim Consultant Retreat. Around 20 swim instructors from several local schools came together to take the course, many of whom would not have been able to receive this training without the On-The-Go course. It was great to be able to work with instructors from different schools and better understand the needs in their area. The Special Abilities On-The-Go Course can be hosted by any USSSA member school and there are currently three trained instructors. If you are interested in bringing the Special Abilities course to your swim school, please contact one of the instructors through the USSSA office.

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