What to Look for in a Swim Class

Archived Q&A and Reviews


As an experienced lifeguard-swim instructor (although I have been away from it for a few years) I would recommend the following: - for parent-child classes, the quality of instruction isn't all that important in my view, as long as you have an instructor who is supportive and gentle (for example, it's not a good idea to have someone else hold your child if s/he has any insecurity about the water at that age-under three years). So you can probably settle for a less expensive package, since you will be holding your child and this class is strictly for creating comfort with the water (the most important factor of all), - look into the quality of instruction as it relates to price in toddler classes and levels above. If the program is good, the price might be worth it. Some suggestions on how to gauge the quality of a program: - find out what is the certification of the instructor (not the person overseeing him/her). Does he/she hold official Red Cross certification in: lifeguard training, WSI (Water Safety Instructor) First Aid, and Community CPR? - how long has s/he taught? - what is the level of maturity and responsibility of the instructor (enthusiatic teenagers can be a lot of fun, but do they know how to deal with kids besides hyping them up?)? This is a very personal matter. Talking to the tentative instructor (not his/her supervisor) can be a good idea. Other places to look for programs: Contact cities in the area. For example, Albany has less expensive options. Also look into the YMCA's. Final note: My own Red Cross instructors have always vehemently told me to never guarantee any results, especially in terms of drownproofing a child, or pretending to teach the child any real swimming before the age of six (of course, results vary and some kids will learn very early). I have taught a child who had previously been through the type of private program that makes such claims. He felt very confident in the water and could easily squiggle about on his own, but I am still partial to a more progressive, graded, and collective (for some kids, this is their first structured activity with others their own age) approach.