Swim England

A nation swimming

Adult Swimming Framework – an introduction for swimming teachers

The Adult Swimming Framework is a national syllabus specifically designed to meet adult needs and motivations.

It caters for a range of abilities, from non-swimmers and nervous swimmers to those who want to build confidence. It helps develop swimming skills and improve stroke skills and technique.

Age group

Older teens and adults

Key focus areas

  • Building water confidence
  • Learning to swim
  • Developing swimming skills
  • Enhancing stroke and swimming technique and competition skills

Corresponding Awards

Adult Swimming Awards and Adult Distance Awards

Teacher qualifications

ASA Level 2 Aquatics Teacher

Recommended training

Adult CPD

Adult Swimming Framework FAQS

Here are some of our more commonly asked questions from swimming teachers about the Adult Swimming Framework.

What qualification do I need to teach Adult Learn to Swim groups?

An ASA Level 2 Teacher for Teaching Aquatics is qualified to lead and deliver aquatic sessions. ASA Level 1 Support Teacher for Teaching Aquatics is qualified to assist and support a class under the direction of a Level 2 Teacher. There is also an IoS Adult CPD seminar especially for teachers working with adults.

What are the recommended teacher to swimmer ratios for Adult lessons?

Adult Beginners (working towards the Be Water Confident Award) swimmers should be in classes of no more than one teacher to eight adults.

Adult Improvers (working towards the Be a Swimmer Award)who can swim 10 metres on their front and back can be in classes of up to 12 swimmers with one ASA Level 2 Teacher but swimmers should not be out of their depth.

Adult Stroke Sessions (working towards the Be a Better Swimmer Award) those who are able to swim 25m and tread water for two minutes can be in classes of up to 12 swimmers to one ASA Level 2 Teacher. In all these situations, it is recommended the ASA Level 2 Teacher is teaching from poolside. Teaching from in the pool is only recommended on a one teacher to two adults ratio, but may be more appropriate for very nervous adults. In any situation a full risk assessment should be completed and operators should follow industry guidance as well as the operating procedures for their pool.

For further clarification please refer to the Safe Supervision for Teaching and Coaching Swimming document published by Swim England.

Remember: Increase the frequency of the lesson, reduce the class sizes, improve the quality and your participants will Learn to Swim more quickly.

Is there any further advice for persistent non-swimmers?

An ASA Level 2 Teacher would be best placed to assess the individual swimmer and their requirements.

The teacher can then adapt a work programme to cater for this swimmer. Adult lessons are usually an excellent environment to create a buddy system.

Adults work in pairs supporting each other in the water, one adult walking the other adult trying to lift their feet off the floor.

Breaking each skill down into smaller steps is another useful approach so that each individual feels they are making progress. If this approach has not worked it may be that one to one lessons are a useful stepping stone. Talk to other Swim England teachers for tips they may have for adult lesson delivery.

Why do adults not have to complete all the outcomes to access an Award?

Adult swimmers are more focused on what they want to achieve (e.g. swim for health, overcome fear of water, etc.) and sometimes physically restricted (poor shoulder mobility etc) which all effects how many outcomes may be appropriate for each individual adult.

Also teachers need to recognise that some of the outcomes are less appropriate for an adult audience such as jumping in, obstacle challenge.

For this reason we recommend teachers work with each individual adult to find out what they want to achieve and also physically what they can achieve.

Some adults needless to say may be motivated to complete all the outcomes for each stage and this should not be discouraged.

What other awards/opportunities are available for adult learners?

We recommend the use of the Adult Distance Awards alongside the four core Adult Awards. These are available from 5 metres upwards. Also there is a blank swimming award which is a great motivational tool for the completion of their first swimming lesson or first block of swimming lessons. For many adult swimmers, just getting in the pool will be a huge achievement in itself.

Beyond this there are a variety of programmes available to encourage adult participation. Contact your local pool to find out what’s on in your area.

What equipment would you recommend using for Adult Learn to Swim?

Much like the younger learners, adults may need floatation equipment to help support them in the water and give them confidence. The best option here is to have a selection available and assist swimmers to choose one they feel comfortable with, depending on both their experience and ability. Many adult swimmers prefer to use noodles and these are excellent for early water confidence and developing breaststroke leg kick. Traditional floats may also be used. Other equipment like sinkable hoops and balls may be used but these should be optional for adults to agree and decide which activities they want to try.