I get this question often. And really, any time is a great time to find and start swim lessons. Gearing up for Spring Break and the summer season, now is a perfect time to get started in a refresher or even to get a head start so when you get to the summer pool, you'll be ready.
If your child is 7 or older and ready to swim as one of their sports (once or a few times per week), I would suggest finding a USA swim team and committing to a full season! USA Swimming Find a Team Link!
If your kids are under 7, or not super confident in the water, here’s what I’d suggest to find swim lessons:
Where to start
1) Ask your friends. Ask your neighbors. Ask your network. Ask about their experiences with the teachers, ask about their child’s progress during the lessons. A lot of times, simply exposure to the pool consistently provides so much benefit in developing skills in the water. And follow along with me on IG @LTSwims for more great ways to help your kids be better in the water!
2) Visit the facility. Don't know where a pool is? Use the link above to find a swim team and see where they practice. Most swim teams will have a swim lesson program - whether it's their own or a program they work with to refer kids once they graduate from lessons and want to continue swimming.
Once you find the pool, stop by for a visit! Ask the person at the desk if you can check out the pool and ask about swim lessons. Is the pool clean & is the water a comfortable temperature for you/your child (ideally, warmer than 82-83 degrees for lessons will be comfortable)? Are the pool deck and locker rooms well kept and clean? Is it manageable with your schedule to get to this facility?
3) Ask to try a drop-in lesson or if they have evaluations. If the cost is a overwhelming to you (as they sometimes can be), ask if they offer prorated lessons. If you can’t start right at the beginning - start half way through to get a feel for the place without feeling like it’s a huge financial commitment. It will help you get into the program and kids will still get the benefits of the class!
How to Evaluate the Program
When you’re visiting the facility, which I would highly suggest, here are the questions to ask the program director:
How are the teachers certified - swim instructor training, CPR & first aid? Not completely necessary for all instructors to be CPR & first aid certified, but as long as someone supervising on the pool deck (i.e. lifeguard & lesson supervisor), you want to make sure things would be covered in the event of an emergency.
What is the skills progression the kids will be learning? Program training is important because you want to make sure they’re following a curriculum and have a clear direction on what they will teach your child. #goals...
Are the instructors in the water with the kids? YES!! They should be if your kids can’t swim the length of the pool confidently.
Can parents watch the swim lesson? With COVID, places are generally controlling how many people are allowed into the facility, but I would suggest finding a place where you can actually watch the lesson. If you have to bring siblings along, be sure to have an activity that will keep them occupied so they're not potentially disrupting (since you're going to be fairly close to the lesson).
What is the teacher : swimmer ratio? Max of 1:6 with a more experienced teacher and a more advanced level of swimmer, 1:3-4 is ideal for a less experienced teacher and beginner swimmers.
What survival skills do they teach? American Red Cross’ programming is based on survival & lifeguarding skills, ISR is focused on teaching getting back to the wall, SwimAmerica’s programming is based on swim technique. Programs should at the least be teaching bubbles (air exchange) and back floating at a minimum.
Send me any recommendations of swim programs in your area! I'll compile a list to share on the blog!