Assessments and Activities for Teaching Swimming

Assessments and Activities for Teaching Swimming

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Author: Monica Lepore, Luis Columna, Lauren Friedlander Litzner
Page Count: 224
7 x 10


Swimming is a widely popular sport and activity with great health-related fitness benefits. Yet, a significant percentage of children are unable to swim with any degree of skill—meaning not only are they missing out on health benefits, but they also are at risk when in water.

Part of that risk comes from receiving either no instruction or no differentiated instruction. Children receiving swimming lessons are commonly grouped by age or grade, and many lack the basic skills required for their age levels.

Assessments and Activities for Teaching Swimming solves this problem by offering differentiated instruction for every participant in your class or program, based on each participant’s aquatic developmental level. Through this illustrated book, you will be able to
  • use an assessment tool to evaluate the initial skill level of every participant,
  • place each participant in the appropriate level, and
  • teach skills through fun activities and monitor each participant’s skill acquisition along the way.
Assessments and Activities for Teaching Swimming will help you accommodate nearly all of your participants’ abilities. With the six-level tool you will be able to assess initial aquatic performance levels for children with and without disabilities and provide appropriate activities to help participants develop their skills.

The book is presented in two parts. Part I offers teaching strategies to help you maximize the aquatic experience for swimmers with and without disabilities. It also guides you in selecting the assessment and activity level so that you can provide a fun and successful experience for all swimmers. Part II lays out six distinct levels, from developing and building on initial skills to learning and refining specific strokes. Some skills are introduced early on and then repeated in a more difficult form at a later level. The final level focuses on longer-distance swimming, flip turns, competitive swimming, and prerequisite skills for lifeguard training.

These six levels, along with the assessment instruments, accommodate most participants’ abilities. You’ll find the assessment instruments and activities very easy to use. Even those who have not been trained as instructors or teachers can implement the activities regardless of the swimmers’ levels.

Assessments and Activities for Teaching Swimming can help all participants take part in safe, fun aquatic activities that will improve their health-related fitness and well-being.


Reference for aquatic instructors, physical education teachers, adapted physical education teachers, recreation specialists, and aquatics professionals.


Activity Finder

Part I. The Art and Science of Teaching Swimming
Chapter 1. Teaching Strategies
Universal Design
Universal Design for Pool Access
Universal Design for Learning
Differentiation of Instruction
Students With Differing Abilities
Modified Progressions
Equipment Adaptations
Supplementary Aids and Services
Chapter 2. Assessment: The Foundation for Swimming Instruction
What is Assessment?
Conducting an Assessment
Using the Modified TWU Aquatic Assessment
After the Assessment
Part II. Aquatic Activities for Everyone
Level 1. Getting Off to a Fun Start
Pool and Water Orientation
Locomotor Skills in the Pool
Water Familiarization
Blowing Bubbles
Moving Underwater
Level 2. Developing Initial Skills
Floating With Support
Flutter Kicking
Stationary Propulsion
Floating on the Front
Flutter Kicking on the Back
Entry and Exit Skills Without a Ladder
Water Entry: Jumping
Deep Water Exploration
Level 3. Building on Basic Skills
Breath Control
Gliding on Front
Front Crawl
Gliding on Back (We added this division for 3.10 and 3.11)
Gliding and changing position
Flutter Kick
Treading and Recovering From Under Deep Water
Level 4. Introducing the Breaststroke, Backstroke, and Diving 
Flutter Kick
Rhythmic Breathing
Front Crawl With Rhythmic Breathing
Elementary Backstroke
Underwater Swimming Using Breaststroke Arms
Breaststroke With Any Kick
Whip Kick
Kneeling Dive
Level 5. Learning the Front Crawl, Back Crawl, Breaststroke, and Sidestroke
Front Crawl
Elementary Backstroke
Level 6. Longer-Distance and Competitive Swimming 
Front Crawl
Open Turn on the Front for the Front Crawl
Flip Turn
Breaststroke Legal Turn
Backstroke Flip Turn
Individual Medley

References and Resources
About the Authors


Monica Lepore, EdD, is a professor at West Chester University in West Chester, Pennsylvania. A master teacher of adapted aquatics, Dr. Lepore has been an American Red Cross water safety instructor for more than 25 years. She has a degree in leadership in adapted physical education and received the International Swimming Hall of Fame Adapted Aquatics Award in 2001. In 2006 she was named AAHPERD/AAPAR Adapted Physical Education Professional of the Year, and she has been on the Top 100 Aquatics Professionals list twice. She was chair of AAHPERD/AAPAR adapted aquatics from 2000 to 2005 and received a Meritorious Award from the Aquatic Council of AAHPERD/AAPAR in 2005. In her leisure time, Dr. Lepore enjoys swimming, biking, and hiking.

Luis Columna, PhD, is an associate professor in the exercise science and physical education department at Syracuse University. He holds three degrees in adapted physical education and physical education and has been engaged in teaching and scholarship in higher education for the past decade. His background includes teaching physical education in Puerto Rico and adapted physical education in the Denton, Texas, public schools. His research focuses on ways to increase the participation of families of children with disabilities in physical activity. He also studies methods to better prepare teachers to work with diverse populations, including children and their families. At the national level, Dr. Columna has served on numerous committees in several organizations. He was the chairperson for the Adapted Physical Activity Council for SHAPE America (formerly AAHPERD). Columna has given more than 100 workshops and presentations at the international, national, and state levels. He has authored numerous peer-reviewed articles for books and journals such as Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance; Journal of Teaching Physical Education; and Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly. His hobbies include dancing, varied outdoor activities, and traveling.

Lauren Friedlander Litzner, MS, is a health and physical education teacher in Montgomery County, Maryland. She earned a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Cortland in physical education with a concentration in adapted physical education. She has a master’s degree in community youth sport development from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has a master’s degree from McDaniel College in physical education with a concentration in athletic administration. During her time in Cortland, Lauren earned the Major of the Year award through AAHPERD as well as Division III All-American status. She has taught nonswimmers and beginning swimmers at UNC Greensboro. She is currently teaching physical education at Piney Branch Elementary School, where she teaches swimming to students in third through fifth grader. Lauren has been a Red Cross water safety instructor since 2010 and is a member of SHAPE America and Aerobics and Fitness Association of America. She is also a certified adapted aquatics instructor. Lauren enjoys swimming, playing tennis, teaching, and competing in triathlons.