The FOSS Swim Path®, Explained

This blog is the introduction to our series breaking down the FOSS Swim Path®. Read the next blog on the first Swim Path® milestone.

At Foss Swim School, we are proud of the Swim Path® approach developed and refined by our founder, Jon Foss, over his decades as a swim instructor and coach. We used the different key milestones in the Swim Path® when we developed our levels, and you’ll see Swim Path® language when you enroll in a class at FOSS. But what is the Swim Path®, and why is it important?

Simply put, the Swim Path® is a learning system for swimming that reflects the different journeys each student will take learning to swim. We believe there is a specific, best way to learn to swim – but each student will take their own path to get there.

Why? Because not every student starts at the same age, develops physically or emotionally at the same rate, feels the same way about water, or has the same history. Learning isn’t a universal, steady process – there are fits and starts, plateaus, regressions and rapid advancement, each happening at different times for different kids. The Swim Path® allows for these normal variations by sticking to a handful of guiding principles:

  • Consistency is key to learning: The Swim Path® assumes students are in a steady, consistent learning environment. It’s why we schedule in quarters, like a school, and keep students and teachers together for the quarter.
  • Students learn best with peers: We match kids not only by swim skill level, but by age. Students who see their fellow students as peers learn well together; a 10-year-old and 5-year-old with the same skill level will need different teaching styles.
  • Advancement comes with mastery: Each level has different skills a student must master before they can advance. In each quarter, we will help students progress, but we won’t move them to the next level until they master the things they need to learn to succeed in the next part of the Swim Path® – not just doing it right once, but many times and instinctively.

How will you experience the Swim Path®?

It starts with the first lesson, and the care we take placing swimmers in the right level. Our online Swim Path® tool is a great place to start, and a free preview lesson is even better. Finally, on the first day of class, we do a last check, and if the teacher thinks the student would excel in another level, we look for ways to make it work.

Second, because of the mastery requirement, it is most common for a student to repeat a level here and there throughout their Swim Path® journey. This doesn’t reflect on their ability or effort, or the program – it’s a natural part of the learning process.

And finally, because levels are sorted by ability and age, a student most likely will not take a “linear” path through our levels. A fast learner may zip through all the Little and Middle levels before turning 8, while other may still be learning at age 10. Or a student may jump from a Little 2 to a Middle 3, reflecting progress in both skill and age.

See the Swim Path® difference

Over the coming months, we’ll be returning to the Swim Path® regularly to talk about the different milestones that are the backbone of the program – Water Acclimation, Float Up, Flip to Breathe and Swim Confidently – and why each is important to learning.

With this background, we feel parents will better understand the strategic way our classes are designed, and how cleverly these lessons are presented as age-appropriate fun and games. You don’t have to know all the science of swimming to appreciate seeing it when it comes together – as it will for your student as they create their own Swim Path!

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