Adapted Aquatics Instructor

Earn your credential

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The Adapted Aquatics Instructor credential course provides a strong foundation of knowledge for swim instructors who plan to work with individuals with disabilities in the water.The course is an update of the program formerly offered through AAHPERD and SHAPE, and now through the Starfish Aquatics Institute (SAI).To earn the credential, candidates complete online study or classroom instruction provided by an Adapted Aquatics Instructor Trainer/Faculty, followed by an in-water practicum.
The credential does not expire.

Online Study Course

The online study course covers 20 disabilities, and information on legislation applicable to adapted aquatics, goal setting and planning, diversity, equity, and inclusion, working with unique populations, and guidelines for seizure management in the water.Each module includes:
* One or more lectures by Faculty who are leading experts in the field of adapted aquatics
* Interactive learning activity
* Downloadable lecture transcript
* Quiz
Module format:
* Overview of the disability
* Possible challenges to aquatic activity
* Safety precautions
* Best practices for adaptations when teaching
Quizzes after each module check knowledge and prepare the learner for the final 100-question exam that must be passed with 80% to complete the online course.The Adapted Aquatics Instructor online course is a prerequisite for certified swim instructors who wish to obtain the Adapted Aquatics Instructor Credential by attending a practicum workshop to gain hands-on experience with individuals with disabilities in the water.Estimated time to complete the online study is 10-12 hours.

In-person Classroom Option

The in-person classroom option is only available through colleges and universities when the Adapted Aquatics Instructor course is included as part of a degree program or specialized courses.

Online Study Course Syllabus

• Introduction (20 minutes)
• Module 1 – Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (30 minutes)
• Module 2 – Legislation, Assessment, Planning (1 hour)
• Module 3 – Physical Disabilities Part I (1 hour)
• Section I – Congenital limb reduction/deficiency and acquired amputees
• Section 2 – Spinal cord injury
• Section 3 – Multiple sclerosis
• Section 4 – Arthritis
• Module 3 – Physical Disabilities Part II ( 1 hour, 10 minutes)
• Section 1 - Spina bifida
• Section 2 - Dwarfism
• Module 3 – Physical Disabilities Part III (1 hour, 10 minutes)
• Section 1 - Cerebral palsy
• Section 2 - Muscular dystrophy
• Module 4 – Intellectual/Cognitive Disabilities (1 hour, 30 minutes)
• Section 1 – Intellectual disability
• Section 2 – Down syndrome
• Section 3 – Fragile X
• Section 4 – Autism
• Section 5 – Using social stories and picture schedules
• Module 5 – Learning Disabilities (LD) and Hyperactivity (ADHD) (45 minutes)
• Module 6 – Traumatic Brain Injury and Stroke (30 minutes)
• Module 7 – Sensory Disabilities (45 minutes)
• Section 1 - Deaf or hard of hearing
• Section 2 - Visual impairment
• Section 3 – DeafBlind
• Module 8 – Unique Populations (1 hour)
• Section 1 Infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with disabilities
• Section 2 Adult and elder swimmers with disabilities
• Section 3 Veterans and first responders with disabilities
• Section 4 – Fearful swimmers with disabilities
• Module 9 – Best Practices for Management of Seizures (15 minutes)
• Exam (1 hour, 30 minutes)

In Water Practicum

Attendance at an in-water practicum is required to earn the Adapted Aquatics Instructor credential. With the guidance of an Adapted Aquatics Instructor Trainer or Faculty, candidates get real-world experience working with individuals with disabilities in the water. Additional experiential activities during the practicum include simulating swimming with reduced sensory input and limb reduction, practicing using a mobility lift for water entry and exit, and seizure management scenarios.


Monica Lepore, Ed.D

Lead faculty

Professor Emeritus, West Chester State University

Angela Beale-Tawfeeq Ph.D., M.P.H.

Associate Professor of Health and Physical Education Teacher Education at Rowan University

Kathleen Burt, CPRP

Facility Director Natatorium Health & Fitness Center
City of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

Margarita Fernández-Vivó, Ph.D., C.A.P.E.

Professor at University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez

Ann Hughes

Adapted Aquatics Instructor Trainer

David Lorenzi, Ed.D

Professor in the Department of Health and Physical Education, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Director of the Special Needs Activity Program (SNAP)

Dori Maxon, PT, PCS, MEd

Founder, Director of SNAPkids - Special Needs Aquatic Program,

Liddie MacNeil

Therapeutic Recreation & Adaptive Aquatics, Tucson Parks and. Recreation

Ruth Meyer, MEd



Enrollment in the online study course - $150
Registration for the practicum workshop - $175
Total - $325

Enrollment Options

* Enroll in the online course at any time.
* Register for a practicum workshop when you have completed the online study or when a session is convenient for you to attend.
* Some practicum workshop registrations are bundled together with the online course if you have not enrolled separately.


Upcoming Practicum Workshops

New dates will be added as workshops are scheduled.



Nashville, TN

Hosted by Nashville Dolphins

Call for Practicum hosts

If you have access to an indoor pool and individuals with disabilities who would be willing to participate with the practicum candidates, consider hosting!

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Adapted Aquatics Programming: A Professional Guide

Available from Human Kinetics

Recommended reading

Aquatics for Individuals With Challenges

Available from the Starfish Aquatics Institute


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