FOSS Insider: The when’s and why’s of swimmer evaluations

Foss Swim School takes pride in operating like a school, using a structure and schedule that delivers the best possible learning environment for students. It’s why we schedule weekly classes in quarters instead of drop-in classes – quarters allow students and instructors to develop rapport and trust and give students time to get in the repetition needed for skill mastery.

Why, then, do Foss students start the swim evaluations used to place them in their next class so early – sometimes weeks before the current quarter ends? It might seem like giving final exams before all the lessons are finished.

But there is a method at work, and it’s one we have developed over our 25-plus years of running the school. There are three interconnected factors at work:

  • Understanding rate of progression based on history

Based on our experience teaching more than 200,000 swimmers, we can understand by the time of evaluations whether the student is on track to successfully master the required skills, even if some are yet to come.

Students who are on track will most likely move on to the next level; students still working on certain skills may not be ready. It’s true that some kids will have a sudden burst of progression, and we can work to account for that if it happens.

  • We build next quarter’s classes around student needs and parent requests

We want to help you swim! Some instructors are specially trained for certain groups – like infants, competitive swimmers and students with special needs. Parents might also request an instructor who is male or female or classes that match a sibling’s schedules.

We want to accommodate as many of these requests as possible, which takes time, so having an idea what level each student will be in gives us time to finesse the pool’s schedule to offer many class options.

  • Our low student-to-instructor ratio

One thing we won’t compromise on is our ratios. That means we have to have enough instructors for each class we offer, and with our rigorous training requirement for instructors, staffing up takes time. We can’t just hire someone and expect them to immediately be able to teach your child effectively and safely.

Early evaluations are a feature designed to improve your experience

Ultimately, it comes down to providing each student with the best possible swimming outcome and satisfying the requests of caring parents. While we can’t guarantee every parent that their child will have a favorite instructor at a specific time, starting to plan early based on how kids have progressed and are expected to progress gives us the best chance to do so.

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