From the moment Jon Foss founded Foss Swim School in 1993, every FOSS employee is taught that we have one overriding goal: To help students graduate from our Learn to Swim program as strong, confident swimmers. We really believe this is a foundational life skill that should come as naturally to a person as walking.
As we celebrate our 30th anniversary, you will hear us talking a lot more about Swimmers Guaranteed. It’s been part of our legacy for a long time, but as we reflected on our company recently, we realized it was a program many families didn’t know about, didn’t know how it worked, and didn’t know how it would benefit their students.
We realized that by not talking about Swimmers Guaranteed, we also have missed an opportunity to highlight one of the things we believe makes the FOSS curriculum the best learn-to-swim program out there: The idea that teaching someone to swim is a team effort.
A Program Based on Partnership
Teachers, parents or guardians, and students each have a role in the FOSS program:
- The role of Foss Swim School, of course, is to share expertise and help students learn. We train all of our teachers on our unique, step-by-step curriculum that builds confidence, skill, and strength in a logical manner while making it fun and engaging.
- Students are simply asked to do their best to learn from their teachers.
- Parents and guardians have one of the most important roles of all: They are responsible for ensuring consistency by getting students to class regularly; offering positive reinforcement to swimmers and showing how important swimming is; engaging with teachers about homework (and following through to make sure it gets done); and working with teachers to find ways to help the student progress.
How Swimmers Guaranteed Works
We get that each student is different. It is normal to repeat some levels or struggle with certain skills. But when everyone has been playing their role in the partnership and progress is still a challenge, that’s when Swimmers Guaranteed kicks in.
If a student has attended at least 80% of their classes (showing commitment to consistency) and is in the same level for the second consecutive time, and is not on track to pass that level when the quarterly Progress Update takes place, parents and teachers can form a plan under Swimmers Guaranteed. Our teachers might recommend specific homework; offer to meet one-on-one briefly before or after class; or bring in an additional teacher for the rest of the session to give more one-on-one time to the student.
If the student doesn’t advance, similar accommodations may be made in the third consecutive quarter of the same level class to help the student progress faster or overcome specific challenges.
If the student needs to take the same level a fourth time or more than four times, those immediate subsequent quarters are on us: You won’t have to pay until your child masters the level and advances, however, the student must participate in the following quarter to benefit. That’s how important we believe it is to master ALL skills – progressing to the next level isn’t a rubber stamp.
Please note that Swimmers Guaranteed does not apply to the Swim Stronger Program, Swim Faster Program, Backfloat Baby Program, or Private Lessons.
Why 80%: The Power of Consistency
When we worked through how Swimmers Guaranteed works, we needed to come up with a reasonable guideline for advancement. On the one hand, we understand that life happens, and most students will miss a class or two over a quarter. On the other hand, we know that attendance is necessary to learn. Make-up classes or swimming at home isn’t the same.
Think of it this way: Learning to walk takes lots of trial and error over many days, weeks, or even months. Swimming is just as important, but if a student attends for 30 or 45 minutes, once a week for 13 or so weeks, that’s just 6 to 9 hours of formal instruction. Each hour is precious, and missing more than a week at a time can result in lost muscle memory, forgotten techniques, and general regression that must be made up.
Looking at the data, we saw that students who missed more than 20% of sessions in a class were less likely to progress and less likely to advance to the next level. So we also use Swimmers Guaranteed as a motivation to attend. If you are doing all you can to contribute to consistency, then we can stand behind our system in this way.
Because at the end of the day, it takes all of us working together to ensure students learn to swim. When we succeed, they succeed by having improved safety, confidence, and the ability to enjoy all the fun water has to offer!