Girls playing at the poolSummer is almost here and you are thinking about signing your child up for swim lessons. Swimming is a life skill everyone should know.

You tried swim lessons last summer and it was a total bust. You were thinking ‘my child is a year older and maybe he/she will be ready for lessons this summer’.

I would like to tell you a story. It may sound familiar. You signed your child up for swim lessons. You arrived at the pool on the first day of lessons and it was mass confusion. Your child is confused. They look like they are going to cry and bolt for the parking lot. You are trying your best to hold it together yourself. The class your child was put into has too many kids – most of them are ‘wall huggers’. Two are crying and will not get in the water. Two of the kids can already swim. What? They should be moved to another class but the pool staff told you they are too young to go to another class. The ‘swimmers’ are very disruptive (not their fault). You are thinking of taking your child out of the class, asking for a refund and never coming back. Could this be your story?

It is time for your homework or preparations for swim lessons.

  1. Before signing up for pubic swim lessons take your child to the pool where swim lessons are going to be held. Walk around the pool, go into the locker room, and generally observe what is going on at the pool. Is it clean? Do you like the staff? Are the lifeguards guarding the pool patrons? Pools are noisy. There may be lap swimmers, swim teams practicing, coaching yelling, and water aerobics with music, swim lessons being given and generally people having fun… all at the same time. Sit for a while and check things out with your child. You will get an eyeful and know what to expect.
  2. One of the most important things (I think) is the noise. If the pool is enclosed the noise level is frightening for kids. They are not used to it. Every little bang or boom scares them. They ask “what was that”? It is usually nothing but “pool noise”. Usually someone going off the diving board…. yelling whoo-hoo.
  3. Have a couple of play days at the pool before swim lessons even begin. This will help your child and you get over their nervousness of the pool environment and the noise… most of the time.
  4. Get used to the water temperature. If you are going to a public pool the water temperature is generally on the cooler side. If your swim lessons are at a private swim school the water will be warmer. The price of your swim lessons are normally a bit higher than at a public pool and they can keep the water temperature higher. Same for a country club type environment — the water temperature will generally be warmer as the patrons are paying a premium for their membership and lessons. This is just a fact of life.
  5. Did you ask if there is a refund policy? Generally there are no refunds.
  6. Did you ask ‘what is the rainy day policy’ if the swim lessons are held outdoors?
  7. Did you ask what happens if your child gets sick and cannot attend classes? Sometimes there is a policy where they can be put into the next session. But don’t count on it. You have to have a prior arrangement with the pool for these types of situations.
  8. Let your child pick out their own swim suit and flip flops giving them some say in their swim lessons. This will make them feel important and more connected to their lessons.
  9. Is your child’s hair long? Tie it up securely in a ponytail or pigtail. There is nothing worse than hair flowing over their face and goggles. Looking like Ariel the Mermaid is not a good look for swim lessons. This applies to boy’s hair as well. Perhaps getting a shorter haircut for summer will work well.
  10. Do not feed your child a huge meal before swim lessons. A healthy snack will work just fine. Leave the big meal for later.
  11. Is your child on any medications? Be sure you have all their medications with you, just in case.
  12. Do you need to inform the pool personnel about any special medical conditions or injuries your child has?
  13. Double check you have the right dates and times in advance of your swim lessons. Be on time. Being rushed will only get your child upset and leave you feeling frustrated.
  14. Invest in a good pair of swim goggles for your child. Have them with you on the first day. Please do not forget. I recommend Finis Fruit Basket goggles for all my young students. You buy them online from Swim Getting goggles at Costco, Sam’s Club or discount stores is not a good idea. One size does not fit all. You are not buying a baseball cap. You need children’s goggles. Adult goggles do not fit kids.
  15. Get recommendations from other parents about swim schools. Word of mouth is always the best. Experience is priceless.