Junior Dolphins™ Online Induction

This online course is designed for Teachers of Competitive Swimming and Swimming Coaches based in regional and rural areas or find it difficult to attend a face to face workshop. It can also be helpful for volunteers and staff involved in delivering Junior Dolphins events and experiences in Swimming Clubs, Swim Schools and Sporting Schools.

Units of Study

  1. Junior Dolphins Philosophy 
  2. Junior Dolphins Resources, Lesson Planning & Assessments 
  3. Junior Dolphins Events and Experiences
  4. Junior Dolphins Purple Level Games
  5. Junior Dolphins Yellow Level Games
  6. Junior Dolphins Blue Level Games

Junior Dolphins Philosophy


Swimming Australia (SAL), through support from the Australian Sports Commission’s (ASC) Sport Governance and Business Capability Branch, has recently engaged sport strategy consultants, The Gemba Group, to conduct research into swimming participation in Australia. This research provided a solid knowledge base and insights to inform the development of future participation strategies for the sport

The Participation and Sport Development (PSD) Committee determined that the development of a junior program was a priority for the sport, with this decision resulting in the following two items being deemed as key priorities within the 2015 – 2020 Participation and Sport Development Strategy:

  • Junior Dolphins – Develop and grow participation in an iconic national Junior Swimming Program
  • Sporting Schools – Develop a school swimming strategy that capitalises on the Sporting Schools opportunity and enables SAL to promote the national junior swimming program in Australian Primary Schools.

SAL Pathways - Where does Junior Dolphins fit?

Junior Dolphins is Australia's iconic junior swimming development program. It will help swimmers transition from learn to swim to club level swimming or other participation pathways.

Junior Dolphins has been developed...

  • Considering the need of young swimmers (and their parents) and has been tailored according to these needs
  • To provide a platform to engage with learn to swim students and swim schools
  • To grow participation and build a stronger base for coaches to support young swimmers to further develop their swimming skills to promote lifelong participation in the sport
  • To enable Swimming Australia, along with State Swimming Associations, to gather participant data to assist in further growth and commercialisation of the sport
  • To assist clubs to find fun new ways to facilitate club programs and events
  • To assist clubs to promote club membership to attract and retain new junior club members, resulting in club membership growth

Australian Sports Commission's Sport for Life Philosophy

  • Junior Dolphins™ has been developed in line with the ASC’s Sport for Life philosophy.
  • Maximum participation and a fun, inclusive atmosphere are paramount.
  • We want our Junior Dolphins:
    • Having FUN!
    • Getting active
    • Learning skills not drills
    • Staying involved in aquatics for the rest of their life


Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD)

Current LTAD research tells us that the average 7yr - 8yr old is in the FUNdamentals stage of development. Ideally a program catering to this stage of development should be:

  • Structured and FUN because a child’s attention span is short and there is a strong need for positive reinforcement.
  • Growth at this age is rapid due to development of large muscle groups, and therefore the emphasis should be on developing basic movement literacy.
  • In order to develop basic movement literacy successfully, participation should be encouraged to participate in a range of sports and activities.
  • As the size of the heart increases in relation to the rest of the body, endurance should be developed using FUN and games.

Becoming a Junior Dolphins Delivery Centre

  • Becoming a Junior Dolphins Delivery Centre is easy. Visit www.juniordolphins.com.au  and sign up today.
  • Registered Delivery Centres will have access to:
    • Exclusive member packs for swimmers and trainers
    • Exclusive access to our iconic brand and marketing materials including our website
    • Exclusive access to a range of VIP experiences to inspire your young swimmers
    • Support materials to help you plan your Junior Dolphins™ curriculum and assess your swimmers
    • Support materials to help you host Junior Dolphins™ carnivals
    • Exclusive access to a range of incentives and rewards to keep your swimmers motivated.
    • Free of charge training for your registered Trainers via the ASCTA State conferences Junior Dolphins™ Induction.

Check Your Understanding

  • Gemba Report
    A report commissioned by SAL to investigate participation in the sport of swimming.
  • FUNdamentals
    The Long Term Athlete Development phase where you will find primarily 7 - 8 year olds.
  • Sport for Life
    A teaching and coaching philosophy developed by the Australian Sports Commission to guide the development of Junior sports programs.
  • Junior Dolphins
    Swimming Australia's iconic junior swimming development program.

Junior Dolphins Curriculum

Junior Dolphins Trainers

Finding the right Trainer for your Junior Dolphins program will play a big part in the success of your program. After all it is the ongoing experience your Junior Dolphins™ member has with his/her Teacher or Coach that will directly influence their enjoyment of, and progression through the sport.

A Junior Dolphins™ Trainers MUST hold one or more of the following accreditations:

  • Swim Australia™ Teacher of Competitive Swimming
  • AUSTSWIM Teacher of Towards Competitive Strokes™
  • Swimming Australia Bronze Coaching License (or Higher – Silver, Gold or Platinum

As a minimum they should have undertaken the following competencies from the Community Recreation Industry Training Package:

  • SISSSWM301A – Teach the competitive strokes of swimming
  • SISSSCO101 – Develop and update knowledge of coaching practices
  • SISXRSK301A – Undertake risk analysis of activities

A Junior Dolphins™ Trainers MUST be able to provide you with their current Working with Children Check or a valid Police check.

A Junior Dolphin Trainer™ MUST be able to provide you with their current CPR certification.

Junior Dolphins™ should ideally be ASCTA General or Platinum Member and actively engaged in the industry.​


Junior Dolphins Levels

Junior Dolphins has three levels of ability, age groupings are indicative only and children who are older or younger can be accepted into the program if they match the ability range statements.

Junior Dolphins Skills by Level

Each level focuses on 6 progressive swimming and water safety skills:

Junior Dolphins Week by Week

The curriculum takes the following week by week format:

  • Lesson 1 Week 1
  • Lesson 2 Week 2 & 3
  • Lesson 3 Week 4 & 5
  • Lesson 4 Week 6 & 7
  • Lesson 5 Week 8 & 9
  • Lesson 6 Week 10 & 11
  • Lesson 7 Week 12

Why one lesson plan for two weeks?

  • Our experience and research shows that to ensure skill acquisition is achieved some repetition is required. Add to that normal absences through illness and the impact of weather on outdoor venues and we believe this model gives the flexibility to ensure success.
  • Your Junior Dolphins™ Trainer can choose to skip ahead or spend extra time on a particular lesson based on the needs of the group. Lesson 1 includes time for the all-important safety briefing and Lesson 7 offers an opportunity for swimmer’s to revisit their favourite games and celebrate their success.


The Initial Assessment

The Junior Dolphins™ curriculum targets learners who already have the following level of ability:

  • Kicking with an aid 15m on front
  • Kicking with an aid 15m on back
  • Streamline kick on front 5 – 10m
  • Arm circles without breathing 5 – 10m
  • Push and glide on back 2 – 5m (Hands at side)
  • Demonstrate a crouching dive

Consult the Junior Dolphins Trainer Manual for a full range statement to accompany each competency listed above.


The Lesson Plans

All lessons have the same format with the exception of Lesson 1 and Lesson 7. Lessons are designed to run for approximately 45mins.


  • Warm-up Game, Challenge or Circuit 5 – 10 mins
  • Stroke Development Focus 15 - 20 mins
  • Contrast Activity 10 mins
  • Cool-Down, Plenary and Safe Exit 5 – 10 mins

The Lesson plans offer a detailed description of the activity as well as Teaching Points and Cue words.


Adapting the Lesson Plans to Meet Your Needs

Junior Dolphins™ has four main user groups:

  • Swimming Clubs
  • Swim Schools
  • Sporting Schools
  • Competitive Swimming Teachers and Coaches

Whilst these groups share many similarities and have the same goal for this young learners, there will be noticeable differences.

To meets the need of your learners you may need to adapt:

  • The curriculum map and spend more or less time on a particular skill, with our one lesson/two week model you have the flexibility to do this and still cover everything you need to in a term/quarter.
  • The number of qualified Teachers/Coaches you recruit. Here are ASCTA’s recommended ratios:
    • 1:10 Learners with little or no swimming experience
    • 1:12 Intermediate Learners who have basic skills and can swim 25m
    • 1:15 Advanced Learners who can swim 50m
  • The number of unqualified but willing adult helpers to support the qualified Teachers.
  • The equipment you provide to support learning


Swim Schools (In general)

  • Small groups (6 - 8 learners)
  • Homogenous groups based on ability
  • Staffed by qualified swimming Teachers


Swimming Clubs (In general)

  • Groups arranged into mini and junior “squads” of around 10 – 12 learners
  • Homogenous groups based on ability
  • Can have a more serious tone focused toward competition
  • Staffed by qualified swimming Coaches and supported by volunteer committee members

Sporting Schools (In general)

  • Larger groups, up to the size of a school class of around 25 – 30 learners
  • Non-homogenous groups based on age, Eg: Year 4 all come to swimming together
  • May need to focus on personal survival skills more keenly to ensure the safety of all group members
  • Staffed by PE teachers who hold swimming Teacher’ qualifications, supported by parent volunteers who may or may not be qualified
  • In larger areas increasingly school based swimming is being outsourced to Swim Schools

Teachers and Coaches of Competitive Swimming

  • Will be employed by one of the previously mentioned groups or…
  • Will be running small group or private lessons.



You can provide Learning Support in the following ways:

  • Offer the Junior Dolphin™ a training aid which provides extra support
  • Offer hands-on support and correction
  • Have the Junior Dolphin™ observe a peer who has mastered the skill
  • Reduce the distance a Junior Dolphin™ needs to travel
  • Reduce the speed at which a Junior Dolphin™ needs to demonstrate the skill
  • Reduce the number of repetitions that the Junior Dolphin™ needs to perform
  • Go back 1 lesson and review the foundation skill which came before the new skill – our lessons are progressive so each skill develops in a step-by-step manner

You can provide Challenge or Extension in the following ways:

  • Remove the support of a training aid or substitute the aid for one that provides less buoyancy
  • Challenge the Junior Dolphin™ to go further, faster or complete more repetitions
  • Have the Junior Dolphin™ act as a buddy to a weaker student and engage in some peer-coaching
  • Have the Junior Dolphin™ demonstrate a skill for the group as a role model

Check Your Understanding

  • All Junior Dolphins Trainers must provide a copy of a current Working With Children Check
  • Junior Dolphins Trainers do not need current swimming teaching or coaching qualifications, just enthusiasm
  • There are three levels in the Junior Dolphins curriculum
  • Each level has 6 swimming and water safety skills to master
  • Swimmers of ANY ability can take part in this program
  • You must stick rigidly to the prescribed lesson plans, you cannot adapt them to meet your needs

Junior Dolphins Events and Experiences

Your Junior Dolphins Calendar

  • We recommend you plan at least one Junior Dolphins™ oriented event bi-monthly and MORE during the popular summer months of Dec, Jan and Feb.
  • Your first calendar event should be a registration/sign-up day to help you recruit new Junior Dolphins™
  • Consult the Junior Dolphins™ calendar on our website www.juniordolphins.com.au to include state and national events happening in your region.
  • Busy young families need plenty of advance notice to ensure attendance and participation. Advertise your calendar widely as early as possible.
  • Ideally your calendar should include:
    • Modified swim meets (carnivals)
    • Induction activities
    • Fun, family social events
    • Links to State and National VIP experiences and competitions

The Junior Dolphins Signature Mini Carnival

The Junior Dolphins™ Carnival is a FUN modified swimming meet designed with Juniors in mind:

  • Fun, novelty events such as kick board and noodle races and of course the inflatable dolphin race
  • No timing just smiles and high fives
  • Any prizes presented are based on participation and not placing
  • Swimmers do not need to dive, they can start in the water
  • Completed in under 2hrs to ensure the event is family friendly
  • Lots of atmosphere, think balloons, music, lucky spot prizes, roaming mascots and sausage sizzles

Other Modified Swim Meets

As your program develops and your 7yrs olds age up and become 8yrs old, here are some other FUN ideas to help them slowly transition to the more traditional swim meet. These events can involve all your Juniors if you wish and could be hosted and officiated over by your Senior swimmers. Here are some ideas:

  • Junior Dolphins™ Mini Olympics
  • Junior Dolphins™ Fast and Furious 25’s
  • Junior Dolphins™ Speeding Ticket Meet
  • Junior Dolphins™ Fun Family Relays
  • Junior Dolphins™ Swim for Distance
  • Junior Dolphins™ Skills Workshops
  • Junior Dolphins™ Aquathlon


Fun, Family Social Events

A club or swim school that provides fun and safe entertainment for the whole family will be highly sought-after. Of course a sausage sizzle or pot luck dinner still have a place. Here are some extra creative ideas to consider:

  • Junior Dolphins™ Dive-In Movies
  • Junior Dolphins™ Water Park Excursion
  • Junior Dolphins™ Swim Ninja Obstacle Course

VIP Experiences and Competitions

Elite athletes are powerful role models for young grass-roots level participants. Their impressive size, strength and speed can inspire youngsters to dream big. Exposing the entire family to the exciting world of high performance swimming and our Australia’s Dolphins team members may help to encourage and motivate ongoing engagement.

Throughout the year SAL will make information about exclusive VIP events for Junior Dolphins™ and their families here is a sample of what you can expect!

  • Junior Dolphins™ Signings and Selfies
  • Junior Dolphins™ Swim with an Olympian Clinic
  • Junior Dolphins™ Curtain Raiser
  • Exclusive Junior Dolphins™ Ticketing and Seating at National Events
  • Junior Dolphins™ National Finalist Escort


Check Your Understaning

One of the most important documents you need to create at the start of the swimming season is your Junior Dolphins  

We recommend your Junior Dolphins calendar, includes a Junior Dolphins  to introduce your swimmers to racing in a fun and age-appropriate manner.

Junior Dolphins races do not need to be  and any prizes should reward  and not placings.

There is no need for Junior Dolphins to  from the side or starting blocks, they can start in the water. 



Purple Level Games Based Learning

Big Friendly Giant Swimming

Learners pair up with someone of a similar physical size and swimming ability. The first person becomes the “Arms” whilst the other is the “Legs”. The Learner who is the legs holds onto the ankles of the other Learner and then they work together to swim a set distance. The Learners can swap roles to return to the other side of the pool. 

Hungry Whale

One Learner is chosen as the Whale, they must float on their back in the middle of the playing area. The rest of the group line up along the pool edge and on the command “Go” they try to swim past the whale to reach the other side. At a time of their choosing the whale must shout “Hungry Whale” and then try to chase and tag one of the other Learners before they reach the wall. The tagged player becomes the next Whale.

Kick of War!

For this game you will need a large mat. Form teams of 3 – 4 Beginners. Have them face off against other teams by placing their hands on the mat facing each-other and then kicking as hard as they can to move the mat forward. It works like “Tug of War” in reverse. The team who pushes the mat forward further wins.

Princess and the Pea Relay

Divide your Learners into relay teams and have each team divide in half and line up 10 - 15m apart. Each team will need a ball. Each Learner will take a turn at streamline kicking while pushing “the pea” with his/her head.

Octopus Chain Tag

One Beginner is “it” and they are given two Noodles. The rest of the group spread out in a defined playing area. The Octopus then tries to tag other member of the group with their Noodles. When they are successful that person joins hands with the tagger and takes charge of the Noodle on their end. As more people are tagged the Octopus grows. The Noodles always stay on the outer “arms”.

Rats and Rabbits

Divide your group in two and designate one as the “Rats” and the other as the “Rabbits”. The two groups stand in two lines, back to back in the middle of the playing area facing toward opposite pool walls. You call out “RRRRRRRats” or “RRRRRRRabbits” and the group called has to race to the poolside while the other group must turn and chase. Those caught must join the opposing team. You can also call out other “RRRRRR…” words to provide extra challenge.

Under and Over

With the help of the class create an “Under and Over” obstacles course of a weighted hoop followed by a floating noodle (held by a member of the class). Students then line up and proceed to go through the weighted hoop and then over the noodle and so on until they reach the end of the line, they then take their turn holding the obstacles in place for their class-mates.


Yellow Level Games Based Learning

Roll-over Ball

The Leaners stand in lines about 1m apart. The first person in each line holds a ball. On the command “Go” all members of the team lie back into a holding scull. The first Learner places the ball between their feet and using their sculling and core strength they attempt to pass the ball over their head to the player behind them. The ball then gets passed down the line. Once the ball reaches the back of the line the last Learner can wade or swim with the ball to the front of the line. The game continues until the first Learner is back at the front of the group.

Equipment Relay

Create small teams of 4 – 6 swimmers. Each team is given a small pile of swimming equipment (2 Fins, 1 Kickboard, 1 Pull-buoy, 1 Noodle for example) and then they must shuttle the equipment one piece at a time from one side of the pool to the other in a relay format. Any swimming style goes and the swimmer can opt to use the piece of equipment in a traditional or non-traditional way. The team to move all equipment from one side of the pool to the other wins.

Silly Strokes

Ask the Learners to create their own stroke by mixing and matching the arm and leg actions they know. Eg: Freestyle Arms + Breaststroke Legs. They can swim mini races, mini relays or try each “Silly Stroke” just for fun.

Synchronised Swimming

Form small groups of learners and have them design a 1min routine to perform for the group. You can set various criteria for the performance such as:

  • Must include a Safety Step entry
  • Must include 2 different types of sculling
  • Must include a somersault
  • Must include a star float

You can form a panel of judges from the group to give feedback relating to:

  • Performance
  • Creativity
  • Synchronicity
  • Team-work

If you have a bit more time you can take it further and have music and a theme. Let the Learners make this their own, one of the best performances I’ve ever had was from a group of boys and they did a Matrix themed routine complete with walk-overs up the pool wall.

Blue Level Games Based Learning

Flippa Ball (Modified Water polo)

Follow this link to Queensland Water polo’s Flippa Ball resources: http://www.waterpoloqld.com.au/index.php?id=663



Provide swimmers with a range of floating recycled materials and have them build a raft – all materials must be used. Once they have had 5mins building time they must paddle the raft across the pool and back. All team members should be attached to the raft at all times (but they don’t necessarily need to ride on the raft – they can tread and support it).

Op Shop Relay

Form teams of four and give each group a collection of old clothes from an Op-Shop. On “Go” the first person must dress themselves in the clothing provided and then swim across the pool and then remove the clothing in the water and pass to the next person.

This can also be adapted as a “Football Kit” relay and use old team uniforms.


Relays are FUN and involve team-work.

The following are suitable for Junior Dolphins:

4 x 25m Freestyle

4 x 25m Medley

4 x 25m of a Single Stroke

8 x 25m Novelty Relays