Growing up, my parents insisted my siblings and I take swimming lessons every summer – “Until you can swim like a life guard,” they said. I never did become a life guard, but I have vivid memories of shivering poolside on cool mornings, waiting my turn to practice the breast stroke or leap off the diving board. This came in handy when, years later, I attended the University of North Carolina, where every student must pass a swim test before graduating!
A university requiring a swim test might seem kind of crazy, but knowing how to swim truly is a valuable life skill. It enables kids to have fun in the water but also be safe. With this in mind, swimming lessons generally focus not only on ensuring kids are comfortable in the water and learn how to swim, but also teach safety skills like treading water, floating, and simple rescue techniques.
As summer nears, many parents will have swimming lessons on their radar – although lessons are in fact available year-round. Wondering where to go? Several options are available and I’ve listed them for you below. But first a few things to note, regardless of where you go:
- Lessons generally last 30 to 45 minutes.
- Young children and new swimmers often spend a lot of time waiting their turn during lessons, because they tend to require more 1:1 from the instructor. For this reason, classes with a low student-teacher ratio, parent-child lessons, or even private lessons are ideal. As kids actually start swimming and are refining their strokes or learning new ones, they can work in a large group and “wait time” is less of a concern.
- The quality of lessons tends to vary greatly by teacher. Having experienced lessons at three of the locations below and with a variety of teachers, I say this from experience! Some are more experienced and better with kids than others, and the teacher’s “philosophy” about how to teach swimming also has an impact.
- When should you start lessons? I imagine the answer varies depending on who you ask. Based solely on my own experience, I can say that a round of parent-child lessons really helped me learn, as a parent, how to help my littlest one be comfortable in the water from an early age. Preschooler lessons were great when I had a child who was afraid of the water. Around age 5 or 6, I saw my boys actually start picking up strokes and learning to swim independently. But this obviously varies a lot across families and depending on how much time you spend by the water.
Carlisle Family YMCA
- Ages: 6 months to 12 years.
- Location: Carlisle Family YMCA (indoor)
- Schedule: Options include two days/week for three weeks or one month of Saturday morning lessons. Sessions available year-round.
- Fee: $45/member or $75/non-member
- Additional information: A number of different options are available. Parent-child classes are offered for children 6 to 36 months old and children with special needs. For ages 3 to 12, there are several levels of preschooler and youth lessons, split by ability. Parents can also register their children for private and semi-private lessons. In my experience, morning lessons during the week are your best bet for a low student-teacher ratio!
- Website: Carlisle Family YMCA
Carlisle Parks & Rec
- Location: Carlisle Community Pool (outside)
- Ages: 4 years and up. There are four levels of Beginner and Intermediate classes.
- Schedule: Each session is three weeks long, with lessons 2 evenings/week. This summer two different sessions will be available – one in June and another in July/early August.
- Fee: $45/Borough resident or $52/non-resident
- Website: Carlisle Parks and Rec Department
Carlisle Swim Club
- Location: Carlisle Swim Club (outdoor pool)
- Ages: 3 and up
- Schedule: Each session meets Monday through Friday for two weeks with both morning and evening lessons available. This summer there will be three sessions of group lessons offered. Private lessons are also available for $20/half-hour lesson.
- Fee: $42/member or $63/non-member
- Website: Carlisle Swim Club
South Middleton Parks & Rec
- Location: Boiling Springs High School (indoor pool)
- Ages: 12 months and up
- Schedule: Meets for every evening for two weeks. Sessions are offered year-round.
- Fee: Ranges from $36-$45, depending on the class and whether you are a South Middleton resident.
- Additional information: Options include Baby Bubblers (a parent-child class for 12 months to 3 years), Kinder Kids (for age 4 & 5), and the Red Cross Learn-to-Swim program (ages 6 and up).
- Website: South Middleton Parks and Rec (see the Program Guide at the very bottom of their website)
- Location: Big Spring High School pool
- Ages: not available
- Schedule: Meets daily for nine consecutive weekdays. Summer lessons are held in the morning.
- Fee: $35-40, depending on whether you are a resident.
- Additional information: The district also offers a lifeguard certification course for $100-125.
- Website: Big Spring School District
Boiling Springs Pool
Last but not least, Boiling Springs Pool offers private lessons during the summer months, for $25/half-hour. Discounts are offered for multiple lessons. Visit the pool’s website for more information.
There you have it! Plenty of options for swimming lessons, whatever your child’s age and ability, the time of year, and your schedule!
Note: All information, including fees, is based on program websites as of 3/25/2016.