Blog - Swim Jim


Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Strategies

Our program has as it’s first goal water safety. And, while it is quite a bit more than this, water safety is fundamentally about drowning prevention.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the leading cause of death among youth in United States. In 2002, for example, 1158 youths below the age of 20 were recorded as having fatally drowned as well as over 300 people from the ages of 20 to 24. In our minds this is travesty. The loss of a child for any reason is a terrible blow; however, a loss that could have been prevented is pure and simple tragedy.

Furthermore, the number of deaths that occur in swimming pools is outrageous. One can understand perhaps that the ocean or a heaving river will occasionally drag away the best swimmer, but a swimming pool!

There are several reasons for this. A first concern is the lack of proper supervision, this extends not only to making sure caretakers are present–whether this means parents, babysitters, or lifeguards–but also that they be CPR certified, as suggested by Duane Alexander of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. So please, as part of a comprehensive drowning prevention strategy, we ask that all parents get certified in CPR, and you can follow this Red Cross link to do so. A second reason is due to an unsafe swimming environment, such as a pool that is not fenced in, or as we posted earlier concerning the Baker Act, the unsafe drain systems that are being currently overhauled across the country.  The third and most important is children who have not been taught how to swim or else have been poorly taught (in which case the child might be overconfident.)

All of these together need to be important elements in keeping your children safe. We focus first on making sure our children can swim safely. There have been concerns in the past that swimming lessons could increase the risk of drowning in young children by instilling in them false confidence. However  a recent breakthrough study by the National Institute of Health has proved this to be false. According to this research, 3% of 1-4 year olds who drown had received swimming lessons. It is heartbreaking that with some proper instruction, these young lives could have been saved.

At SwimJim, our first concern is safety, whether this is for our 6-month old infants or our young adults. The first thing we try to instill in our infants, for example, is the instinct to float on their backs. Our toddlers all learn to swim to the edge of the pool. These kind of things are crucial and it is not enough to simply improve your childrens’ swimming skills but to teach them to swim safely.

The second largest age group to drown after children ages 1-4 are actually boys between the age of 15 and 24.  In these situations we can see children not knowing how to swim or not knowing how to swim safely. The reality of the situation is that it can be hard to gauge how well your child can swim and it is important not to assume that a child who can do a lap across the pool can be forgotten about.

This is why we really, really stress having a family water safety strategy. We don’t want anyone out there to be afraid of the water, but it really makes a difference to consider how your children can be safest when swimming or around water.

Learn CPR, or make sure that someone in your family has. Make sure that any pool you are going to be around is fenced in or at the very least monitored by a lifeguard. Don’t leave your kids alone at a pool. Get your children lessons, the earlier the better!, and don’t pick the first place you find with swimming lessons in your area, find someone that focuses on water safety. Swimming is like any sport, and you can learn bad habits while you improve. Implementing all of these suggestions is crucial. As Duane Alexander of the National Institute of Health highlighted, safe swimming really should be about having all of these components. If you ever have any questions please contact us on the comments section and we will be more than happy to provide you with advice.

-Jim Spiers-


Talking Positive Part Two: 100 Ways To Say “Good Job!”

please add your positive words and expressions as comments!

100 Ways to Say “Good Job!”

1. Good Job!


3. You’re special!

4. You’ve got a great future!

5. You’ve just about got it!

6. Now you’ve got the hang of it!

7. That was awesome!

8. You should be proud of that work!

9. I am so impressed

10. You are doing a GREAT job!

11. Good for you!

12. Great attitude!


14. That’s a masterpiece!


16. That’s the way!


18. Good Work!


20. You’re doing much better today!

21. That is exactly right!

22. That’s right!

23. That is really nice.

24. You’re on the right track!

25. YES, that’s it!!

26. It makes me happy to see you work that well!

27. You are really working hard today.

28. Good remembering!

29. You’ve got it!

30. SUPER!

31. Fantastic!

32. WHOO HOO!!

33. I am proud of the work you did today.

34. Superb!!

35. Nothing can stop you now.

36. You are learning fast!

37. You out-did yourself today!

38. You are incredible!

39. Now you have it!

40. Phenomenal job!

41. Thats it!!

42. WOW!!

43. You make me laugh!


45. Once more and you’ve got it!


47. You’ve just about mastered it!

48. Keep working on it, your getting better!

49. BINGO!

50. Right on!


52. You make me proud.

53. That is the BEST job EVER!

54. You make my job fun!

55. You are a treasure!

56. I am proud of you!

57. What a fantastic improvement!

58. Smile, It is worth a million dollars!

59. Way to go!

60. You should feel good about yourself!

61. Keep up the good work!

62. Outstanding!

63. A+

64. That’s the right way to do it!


66. Much better!

67. Great thinking!

68. You’re getting better everyday

69. Look at you go!

70. I knew you could do it!

71. Fine work!

72. YAY!!!

73. That’s good!!


75. You did it that time!


77. You have NOT missed a thing!

78. You mean the world to me!

79. You’ve got your thinking gear on today!

80. You make it look easy!

81. That is correct!

82. That’s coming along wonderfully!

83. You are a great help!

84. Cool!

85. Now you’ve got it!

86. That is so great I could sing!!

87. Look at you!

88. You are great at that!

89. That’s the way!


91. YOU ROCK!!

92. Congratulations on a job well done!


94. Nice going.

95. I couldn’t have done it better myself.

96. That’s my boy!

97. That’s my girl!

98. You’re really going to town.

99. That is a GREAT thing you did!

100. Keep it up!


Talking Positive, Part One: Getting Kids Comfortable with Their Environments

Positive language is extremely important to the learning process. It can be as easy as saying good job after a skill is achieved or more advanced, such as changing how you describe the activities and environments our youth find themselves in.

Over the past century, psychologists and educators have discovered more and more how crucial language is to learning and development. A revolution in our understanding of the role language has in thinking when Benjamin Lee Whorf, a fire insurance salesman and perhaps the most brilliant amateur anthropologist in American history began to think about an insurance claim he has. The story goes that several workers at a plant had been taking a smoke break when one of them tossed a match into an oil barrel labeled “EMPTY”, causing an explosion from the fumes still remaining. From this simple example, and his ongoing work, Whorf discerned that the way we perceive the world is a constant interplay between physical information such as “this pool has a deep end” and the signs, or words, we use to describe the world, ourselves, and one another. If you don’t want your children to play in the library, telling them curtly what amounts to Do Not Enter is going to make playing in the library a choice between obeying or disobeying their parents, while telling them not to play in there and going in depth about your papers and this and that will probably leave them bored and disinterested.

The role that these advances have played in education cannot be understated. We try very hard to frame the world in a warm and positive way and talk about the progress of the students in terms that they can not only relate to but also in ways that make them look forward to future advances and feel special. In the pool, we use the word “floor” rather than “bottom”. Anyone working with children is reminded constantly of the associative properties of words and “bottom”. When educators choose words they are not just considering the other words or concepts the student might think of, but also how the context they find themselves in frames these connections. For instance, “bottom” for a student already afraid of the situation, will connect to more fearsome ideas while “floor” will be so familiarly mundane that the student will be approaching the situation in a far different fashion and his or her anxiety will have trouble attaching to the pool. Everyone has experienced a floor in their life and the bottom sounds like the unknown. The fact is that we teach people to swim on the surface of the pool first, not the floor, and it is frankly better for everyone involved if the students are not even thinking about the pool floor.

Some other examples…”all the way to the other end” is very far, but “over there” is do-able. “The deep end” always has a scary end, and produces a sinister imaginary line where the pool floor begins to slope down that leaves many students short of breath when they think about it. We say “blue water” or “other end” instead of deep end. Other choices we use are “walk” instead of “don’t run”, “stand still” instead of “don’t jump”, “hands to yourself” instead of “don’t hit”. These avoid altogether making the child’s choice a power issue. And my personal favorite, “you are not behaving safely, do you need to sit in the safety seat?”

The Safety Seat, instead of the familiar Time Out, is a great example of how a simple choice of words can make for a more effective lesson. The child has to watch children who are behaving safely having fun, they are forced to associate their unsafe behavior with the seat they are sitting on (an association that does not go away when they return to the water!) and the entire behavior redirection falls under the umbrella of safety.

It is simple choices that can make the biggest differences in how we approach the world and the roles we can have as educators and parents. Our focus is swimming and safety, so we are always trying to influence confidence and conscientiousness in our students by constantly linking positive language and strong safety habits that make for not only stronger, safer swimmers but children who will take the associations they have in the pool area and in class away with them.

-Jim Spiers-


It’s All About Water Pressure

Swimmers take your mark… Beep!  In a perfect angle, the hands, head, shoulders, hips and feet enter through the same whole.  In an underwater profile, the body is  in a perfect line and all the bubbles rise in a straight angle.  If the bubbles rise in a “u”‘ shape then you know water pressure on the swimmers backside made the body buckle and the legs suddenly dropped creating drag.

It’s all about water pressure.

A skilled swimmer can sense how far they are underwater in a prone position just by the amount of pressure exerted on their back.  That way, the timing of a perfect breakout and transition the arm does not get buried underwater.  For maximum velocity a swimmer must exit completely horizontally to the surface of the pool, as to not waist a single moment of forward speed.  During the transitioning from underwater swimming to surface swimming, if the angle is too steep, time is wasted rising up out of the water and falling back down.   Precious stability is lost through unnecessary splashing.  With too much movement of the water, propulsion is lost in bubbles and water pressure cannot be used advantageously.

Now lets compare the dynamics of the perfect racing start to a basic skill that can save a child’s life.   Fact: most drownings happen within four feet of safety, either to the wall or to  a place where they can stand.  Children must be taught to go to the wall for safety.  So when beginning dives are practiced at SwimJim we teach the child to use water pressure redirecting themselves back to the wall.

When falling into the water, we teach the child to lift their chest.  The momentum of the fall creates forward velocity, with the head lifted, and the chest exposed, water pressure is exerted upon their chest pushing them back up towards the surface.  A gentle kick helps locomotion up and back to where they started.  Racing starts which bring a child further away from where they started are introduced only when children are more independent and safer.

-Catherine Fox-


SwimJim expanding into a new Upper East Side

Our Newest Location!


Third & 96th

Bally Total Fitness Header Logo

Monday ·   Wednesday ·   Friday
Afternoons 2-5pm

The Monterey
175 East 96th Street @ Third Avenue

Monterey Image

Warm, Beautiful, Clean


Swimming and Black History Month

Black Swimming History Resource Links

Dear SwimJim Family Member,

As Black History Month draws to a close, SwimJim wanted to share with you swimming’s important role in African American history before and after the Civil War.

Swimming pools were a flashpoint in the Civil Rights Movement and the eventual dissolution of Jim Crow laws by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  However segregation’s long history in the US produced a cultural disconnect between blacks and swimming that persists in a drowning rate of African Americans that is double that of whites.

In this special newsletter, we have excerpted a sliver of what there is to learn at the International Swimming Hall of Fame’s special exhibition “Black Splash: The Amazing History of Swimming in Black and White”.

You can learn more at the ISHOF’s website at or at their museum and archive just south of Las Olas Boulevard and A1A in Fort Lauderdale.


Jim Spiers, Founder & CEO
SwimJim, Inc.  & SwimJim Texas

Ilustration of Africans Swimming 1451-1699: Swimming Was an African Tradition
Europeans lost the tradition of swimming for more than a thousand years after Rome’s decline.  Drowning was viewed as a part of life.  However, Italian explorers visiting modern-day Nigeria to Angola found that Africans were “brought up, both men and women from infancy, to swim like fishes.”

Ilustration of Africans Swimming1700-1865: Swimming Was a Rich Part of Slave Life

Though the vast majority of whites were unable to swim, most blacks learned swimming as an ordinary part of plantation life.  Many others worked aboard merchant and whaling fleets, while the Union Navy was comprised of one-quarter blacks in 1863.

As many slaves escaped by swimming away from their captors, slaveholders eventually prohibited their slaves from swimming.   In fact, the term “underground railroad” was coined when a slave named Tice Davids swam across the Ohio River to freedom in 1831.  His master, who could not swim, said Davids must have disappeared through “an underground railroad” when he got to the far shore. Although generally associated with Harriet Tubman, it was Davids’ swimming feat that led to that term.

1865-1945: Swimming Was For Whites Only

Modern technology allowed swimming pools to be built in every city across the US and national learn-to-swim programs are launched to combat drowIlustration of Africans Swimmingnings.  Yet Jim Crow laws segregate society and blacks are not allowed access to public pools or to safe, monitored beaches.  Thus drownings among blacks begins to increase as swimming is excised from African American culture.

Ilustration of Africans Swimming 1946-1964: Swimming’s Major Role In Civil Rights

The modern civil rights movement can be traced to black veterans of WWII demanding access to beaches and public swimming facilities.  Virtually every attempt to integrate pools and beaches results in violence.  In 1956, North Carolina blacks were threatened by a mob of 3,000 angry whites after demanding access to public pools to safeguard their children from drowning.  As Congress debates passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, integrationists in Florida stage a “swim in” at a St Augustine motel and are doused by the manager with muriatic acid.  The front-page images of this act are credited with the passage of the Act.

Maritza Correia Image 1965-Present: From Segregation to Gold Medals

The racial tensions of integration take time to dissolve, but in the seventies, Enith Brigita is the first black woman to medal in swimming in the ’76 Olympics.  Several other African American athletes take titles, records and medals in future Olympics, NCAA and national competitions.  However African Americans continue to drown in disproportionate numbers to whites.