ALERT to the Swimming Community: Has the Same Error Been Made AGAIN?

The same error that's been made literally millions of times since 1912 has, I'm fairly sure, just been made again—by two very powerful, influential, respected swimming organizations. They know not what they've done.

I say "fairly sure" because I have not seen the new release yet. But it's pretty safe to say that my suspicions will be confirmed.

This major error can be corrected.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”— Margaret Meade

It is being corrected by a small group of thoughtful, committed people who are changing the world.

As much as I have benefitted from these two organizations, as much as I tout their missions, and as proud as I am of the swimming they have fostered in my country and the champions they've produced who excite and inspire me, one of whom is a Miracle Swimming Instructor, they are—excuse my unabashed certainty—harmfully mistaken about the one thing they could extol most powerfully for the benefit of the entire world: the meaning of learning to swim!

The honorable American Swimming Coaches Association and USA Swimming have released to ASCA's 12,000 (?) coaches worldwide and to any coach who wishes to purchase it a new DVD called Swim Essentials: Teaching the Fundamentals to Age Group Swimmers. It should be renamed, Stroke Essentials....

Yes, ASCA and USA Swimming, I'm giving you free traffic to your site and DVD. And with it, I sound this warning as a friend in the cause: the more you call learning freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly "learning to swim" the further into the dark ages you push the Learn To Swim universe. Half of it is drowning.

Please assure me you don't just care about sales.

Strokes are not fundamentals.
Bits of strokes are not fundamentals. They are advanced techniques. The fundamentals are panic prevention, staying in control in water, and knowing that the water
holds you up:
or that if it doesn't, it doesn't matter because you can get air, anyway. A fundamental is keeping water out of ones nose! You are espousing the idea that teaching the 4 strokes is teaching swimming. This is a huge factor in why so many people drown worldwide. This is why so many (73%) of America's drownings are by adults. They took swimming lessons. They passed your swim test of stroking from here to there. They think they can swim because they believed your definition of it and passed your test. Now they step off a drop-off or fall out of a boat and they panic and drown.

ASCA, USA Swimming, Y, and Red Cross, you only see the people who come to you. I see the ones you spurned because your system failed them. You didn't spurn them with intent: but they did go away. Your system is GREAT for those of us who are comfortable in water. But not for those who aren't. This is the majority in the United States (and probably the world).

It is inconsistent with the goal of ending drowning—which you all espouse—to continue using this message. The message is incorrect. It's keeping small the pool from which you can draw the world's finest swimming talent. You are shooting yourselves in the foot. Moreso, you are keeping 1.2 million drownings per year worldwide hopping right along at a bustling pace.

You are not obligated to work with people who aren't ready to learn strokes. But in my opinion, you ARE OBLIGATED as organizations with leadership positions to promote a correct message about Learn To Swim that filters down worldwide to all LTS players: learning to swim means learning to rely on yourself for your safety in deep water. Learning strokes must come AFTER learning to swim.

I invite you to listen to The Learn To Swim Show Thursday, December 2, 2010 at 10 a.m. California time at But it's not that you're simply invited. I suggest that you are responsible for engaging with this point. Without being part of this conversation, forgive me, but your message is part of the problem. Is this your wish?

Thursday's show will feature Senior Total Immersion Coach and Miracle Swimming Instructor Helenita Jacobs. We also have licensed instructors who are Red Cross Water Safety Instructor Trainers and others who are in the Navy. Little by little, instructors and coaches are catching on.

You can listen to this anytime after Friday if you miss the December 2 broadcast. This week's show nails the reason that Freestyle Is Swimming but Swimming Is Not Freestyle. The first show on October 28 is a must-hear.

Jim, John, Chuck, Sue, Jill, Kay, and all of you involved in LTS and in coaching swimming, it's your job to enter into this conversation with full presence. Everyone, including and especially you, will win.

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