How to Get Certified to Teach Swim Lessons

By Kate Stringer; Updated July 05, 2017
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If you are looking for an active job that allows interaction with people, provides an essential and potentially life-saving skill, and requires considerable physical fitness, you may want to consider becoming certified as a water safety instructor. The American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor (WSI) certification program will prepare you to teach swimming, diving and water safety on a variety of levels and for a variety of age groups.

Check with your local Red Cross chapter to find out when there will be a water safety instructor course offered. You can do this by going to the Red Cross website at http://www.redcross.org/, click on "Preparing and Getting Trained," and then clicking on "Take a Class." Follow the directions that appear on the screen.

Determine if you meet the prerequisites. You must be at least 16 years of age and be able to swim front crawl, breaststroke, sidestroke and backstroke for at least 25 yards. You must also be able to demonstrate the butterfly stroke. In addition, potential instructors must be able to tread water for one minute and float or scull in deep water for one minute. You must also possess a FIT (Fundamentals of Instructor Training) certification.

Attend all class sessions. You will be required to complete several practice teaching sessions in water. You will also be required to demonstrate each of the strokes at an advanced level (Level 4), with the exception of the butterfly stroke. Trainees must also pass a final written exam with a score of at least 80 percent.

According to American Red Cross specifications, your successful completion of the WSI course will authorize you to teach Parent and Child Aquatics, Preschool Aquatics, Learn-to-Swim levels 1-6, Basic Water Rescue, Personal Water Safety and Water Safety Presentations.

Tip

You may need to practice your strokes outside of class in order to perform them at Level 4 proficiency. Practice with an experienced swimmer watching you to help make corrections and refinements to your technique. The required FIT certification is often included as part of the WSI course.

Warning

Do not assume that you can pass the prerequisites if you haven't been in the pool in some time. Make sure that you can perform the strokes at 25 yards each before you go to the class.

About the Author

As a writer, Kate Stringer has covered topics in insurance, health, nutrition, environment and education, among others. She received a Bachelor of Music in piano performance and a Master of Music from Bob Jones University. Stringer continues to pursue coursework in areas such as English, philosophy, music and health/safety.