Swim Lessons for Toddlers
Archived Q&A and Reviews
I'm looking for relatively advanced swim lessons for my 2.5-yr-old daughter. She can swim ten feet independently with her face in the water, using a dog-paddle-ish technique, and generally loves the water. She's pretty fearless about pushing off from me or jumping off the wall and playing around in the water for several seconds before she needs a breath and grabs onto me so that she can surface. She can't float independently on her back, come up for air while swimming, or tread water.
All of the parent-child classes I know of focus on techniques for parents who have to hold onto their kids for the entire lesson. I'm looking for a class or private lessons where I could be in the pool with my daughter but someone else could help her take the next step. I know she doesn't Need to swim yet, but I think she'd have even more fun if she had the extra independence afforded by being able to take breaths on her own.
Please let me know if you know of a program or female private instructor within a reasonable distance of Berkeley who is great with very young children and wouldn't mind me being in the pool with my daughter or sitting very close by. (My daughter is currently afraid of men and is a bit clingy. We're working on it (and we've ruled out abuse), but I don't want to pay for private lessons which she spends miserable because she's afraid of a male teacher.) Warm water is a plus. Swimming mommy
Aquatech swim school in Alameda. My daughter has been there off & on for almost a year. They teach small groups and kids advance to the next level as able. The teachers are all young and enthusiastic, lots of hi-5's, etc. You can choose between male and female instructors too (my daughter would only swim with the guys for a while-go figure). There is a mommy/me session for the very young; but they are pretty mellow about moms hanging out by the pool for the more advanced classes. Most of the kids wave their parents upstairs pretty quick, though, as there is a viewing room and the kiddos can see you from the pool. BB
You should look into Tim Oliver Swimming - http://timoliverswimming.com Sarah
Have you thought about putting your daughter into a regular swimming class rather than looking for a parent/child class? It sounds like she's well and truly advanced enough to go in a class without you. My 26 month old daughter is about to start the Pikes class at the Downtown Berkeley YMCA. The class is technically supposed to be for 3 to 5 year olds but because my daughter has out grown the parent/child class at an earlier age they have allowed her to move up. I think this happens a lot. Your daughter sounds much more advanced than my daughter (she can float on her back and is fine going underwater but can't ''swim'' yet) so I'm sure she'd be fine. My daughter's class runs on Friday mornings and is followed by Tiny Waves which is a swim session for parents and their young children without a teacher or class structure. If you're keen to spend some time in the water with your daughter this could be an option for you. Have her take the class with her teacher and then join her in the water for some fun free time afterwards The YMCA is nice and central, the pool is really warm and I believe that there is a female teacher available for this particular level (although maybe at a different time).
Regarding your daughter being afraid of male teachers I wouldn't worry about this too much. My 5 year old daughter almost always had female swimming teachers for most of her baby and toddler years and was absolutely terrified whenever she had a male teacher as a substitute. She would also become really clingy. I was a little worried when she first moved into a class with a male teacher (around 3 years) but it only took her a lesson or two to get over her fear. Since then I've found that she actually does much better in class with a male teacher! My 2 year old daughter, on the other hand, has had a male swimming teacher as long as she can remember so we've never had the problem of her being afraid - in fact, I think she has a little crush on him!
Keep up the good work. Learning to swim is a very important life skill and the earlier kids learn the better. It sounds like you and your daughter are doing a good job of it so far Sally
Our 2.5 year old twins take lessons from Patti O'Brien at her home-based swim school in Castro Valley. She has a saline pool which she domes over during the winter. Our kids started in October when they were 28 months old and have come a long way in a short period of time. They look forward to lessons and they like Patti and the other two instructors whom they've met. I choose not to go in the pool, because I was concerned that they would not learn to trust Patti as quickly if I went in (esp with my son). I sit at the edge of the pool with my feet in. That said, many other parents do go in the pool and Patti leaves that up to the parent to decide. I'd be happy to talk with you more about our experience if you are interested. Debra Sabah Press d.sabah.press [at] gmail.com
Hi there! I had to respond to your post. We moved to Oakland a year ago and began swim lessons at American Swim Academy (in Fremont). My sons were 2 & 4 years old and loved swimming, but did not have the skills I wanted them to have. My youngest had NO fear which made me feel that lessons were even more critical. We had nothing going on, so driving to Fremont was not a problem when we started. I know it's a trek, but this place is so worth it!! Over the last year I have thought about changing to Aquatech or Tim Oliver's swim school, but I just can't leave. The teachers are great!! The admin is incredible!! The water is warm (warmer than most pools, maybe 90 degrees ? ). They are moving the facility in the next few months so it will be brand new and improved!! Now my kids are 3 & 5. My youngest is learning freestyle. My older son has learned freestyle, backstroke, and breaststroke. They can float, glide, fall in-turn and grab the wall, etc... Anyway, the first lesson is free. If you go before 3pm, M-F it's only $11 a class. Good luck!!!! Happy with ASA!!
Hi swimming mommy- I just posted about American Swim Academy (in Fremont). I did not mention much about the class itself, so I wanted to add that now... At the school they teach babies, toddlers and up. They have developed a new class for kids that are too advanced for the baby (w parent) class called ''preschool prep''. In this class the parent is in the water and functions like an assistant, but the child works directly with the instructor. They work on safety skills, kicking, arms, treading, floating etc... At 3 yrs old they advance to the ''preschool'' class. Parents no longer get in, but they let you be close if needed. My son just turned 3 and they were very accommodating to me as he transitions to this new class. Each kid gets a ''passport'' and they earn stickers when they accomplish certain tasks. They then earn ribbons as they complete sections in their ''passport''. My kids love this and are very motivated by earning the stickers & ribbons. They have tons of teachers, both male & female so finding a female should not be a challenge. The facilities are not the finest, but like I said-they are moving to a brand new facility. The pool is great, though. Warm, not deep, and there are heat lamps on the ceiling. I was happy to be warm as I did classes with my son and even happier that my boys lips didn't turn blue after 30 min of class (which has happened in prior swim programs). Also, you can do private classes-they just cost more. Classes have up to 4 kids, but I have often gotten lucky and had it end up being a private class-they don't cancel if there is only 1 kid. Give them a call for more details. 1 (510) 270-2623 Sorry for going on & on...
Mommy and Me class for 16 month old
Greetings, My daughter is 16.5 months. I would like to take a swimming class with her. Does anyone have recommendations on a private pool that's toddler friendly with a low chlorine level for swimming lessons? I'm looking for a private place located in Oakland, Berkeley or the Piedmont area. Thank You
When my daughter was 12 months, we took a group parent-and-baby swim class at Patti's Swim School in Castro Valley. I highly recommend it. The pool is a 30-minute drive from our home in Montclair, but we made the trek every week because it was the only private, saline pool heated to 90 degrees i could find. The teaching staff is wonderful, too. http://www.pattisswimschool.com/ Anon
I would take a look at Tim Oliver swimming. Tim's been teaching swimming for over 20 years, and they run a pretty tight operation including Mommy and Me classes. http://timoliverswimming.com/ They're also on Yelp. Alex H.
Hello, my baby girl is turning one next month and I am looking into options for supervised swimming classes for her in a friendly and safe environment. I would imagine most of these classes are interactive with the parents also. Primarily looking into weekend options but open to a place that is convenient and what we are looking for that has classes during the week in the late afternoons. We live near Montclair as a reference point for proximity. Thank you in advance. chris
Have you tried the Y? I think it's the only place that has lessons for that age group with a warm pool. Have fun!
My daughter is 20 months now and I am hoping to get her into a swim program specifically for her age group by the summer. She started out at 1 year old last summer at Murray Callan Swim in Pacific Beach which is located in San Diego. The whole pool was indoors, shallow and heated to 93 degrees. The instructors really worked with each individual kid to help them hold their breath, kick and then use their arms to get through the water. One 12 month old had started when she was 3 months and was totally swimming. I am looking for something as close as possible to this experience in the East Bay. The thing is my daughter absolutely loved it and would laugh the whole time. She was getting really good when we had to quit because of our move to Lafayette. Anywhere within 10 miles of us will work. Where should we take our daughter to have fun and learn to swim? Lea
You're lucky -- Sherman Swim , which is in Lafayette where you live, is the perfect place -- shallow warm pools, excellent instructors. We have gone there (over the hill from Oakland) for about 4 summers, with my now 7-year-old, and last year my just-turned-3 year old started. She is asking when summer is coming so she can swim again (they do have spring classes, we just only swim in the summer) They have a web site you can google. They are not inexpensive, however, although it is a great experience. anon
Try Sherman Swim School in Lafayette (www.shermanswim.com) Not cheap, but very good. My guy started there at 3.5, but they teach kids as young as 9 months.
I'm looking for a good swim class to attend with my 2.5 year old in the area; one that goes beyond the basic intro to the water and focuses on swim skills. We are in Piedmont. susan
I recently signed my 3-yo up for the tiny tots swim at Strawberry Canyon - then he refused to get in the water without me!! They were very accomodating and switched us to a parent and kid class even though he was too old. Once I got in the water he loved it! Talk to or email the coordinator at Strawberry (or wherever else has a mommy-and-babe swim and is convenient to you) and see if they'll allow an older child. I'd also suggest going to the YMCA during their Tiny Waves family-swim time that is for 4 and under. You don't really need a class to play in the water with your kid! I think the more time in the water the better. mama to a soon-to-be fish
Try Aquatech swim school in Alameda. http://aquatechswimschool.com/ They've taught my 2 1/2 year old to swim! They have goggles and wetsuits for the toddlers to borrow for free. The classes are a bit pricey, but totally worth it in my opinion. Olympic Swimming, Here We Come!
Any suggestions for good, inexpensive classes for a two year old? Thank you! dralex
Our son was two years old last year and he really enjoyed swimming lessons. Two-year old classes are all, I think, classes with parents primarily geared to getting the little ones comfortable in the water.
The place we started was at Lions pool in Dimond park . Saturday mornings, outdoor pool but heated. They actually have two classes, an A and a B. I think the ''B'' class is supposed to be a little more ''advanced'', but in practice, I didn't see it. The classes last summer were big classes with little individual attention from the instructors, but enough room to move around with the child and some attempts at structure--getting them to blow bubbles in the water, float on their back, etc. Toys to play with in the pool also.
We then discovered lessons at East Bay parks at the Roberts Recreation pool up in the hills. Also outdoor heated pool, with a great play area there as well (good for bribing). These classes (Parent-Tot) are much smaller than those at Lions, with more individual attention. And if you can go during the week, even evenings, you can get more classes (10) for the $50 than if you go on the weekends (3 classes for $30).
Three year olds like my son can go into the next class (Super Tot), where they go without parents. Good for us and good for him to be more independent. And they also offer individual classes for not much more money.
I hear the Y also has classes that are good, but haven't been.
Hope that helps. Bryan
Hi - we just started taking swim classes at Roberts Recreation Area pool , near Chabot Space and Science Center. Roberts is part of the East Pay Regional Park system. The pool is small, beautiful, nestled in the trees, near redwood grove, a great playground, a nice open picnic area and play field (frisbee, not a base ball diamond), and several large ''in grove'' picnic areas that are perfect for parties. The cost $30 for a series of three weekly classes. They even have weekend classes (yeah!), which is why we enrolled there. We are taking parent-tot classes - not much direct teaching of the tots, but direction and techniques to the group of parents, some one on one work, and a group gather time at the beginning and end of each class. Classes are large - about 15 pairs of parent-tots, but with two teachers. We are happy with it. They have a new series beginning in two weeks, I think. Go to the East Bay Parks web page for information. D sd
I'm looking for a swim class this summer to take my 16 month old daughter to. We live in Crocker Highlands, so ideally, we'd love something in Berkeley or Oakland. Any suggestions? Vanessa
Your daughter is the perfect age for the Parent/Child swim program at the Downtown Berkeley YMCA . You can get the full schedule at http://www.baymca.org/dt/dt_program_list.aspx?categoryId=79=1790 My semi-grandson didn't start swim lessons until he was 3 and I really wish we'd started him in that program at your daughters age. jw
I'm wondering if there are any swim classes for toddlers (20 months) that attempt to teach the kids to swim. I checked the archives and most of the posts are old. We have attended classes at the Y and found that those are mostly just about playing in the water, and while I see the value in that, friends of mine who live outside the area have reported that their children responded positively to being taught how to swim and float in the water at this age. Thanks. amy
What you are looking for is called Infant Swim Resource (ISR). I have seen with my own eyes an 18month old child swim (unassisted) the length of the pool and find the stairs or ladder and get out. I have also seen babies as young as 6 months float on their backs for lengthy periods of time with the idea being that they are \x93waiting for rescue\x94. It is a very intense program which is conducted EVERY DAY (monday- friday) - the lessons are 10 min long. The idea is a swim/float/swim sequence whereby the child is taught to float on their backs for air and resting. There may be other programs out there that are similar but ISR instructors are specifically trained in this particular method and in my opinion cannot be equaled. My own child was swimming in 14 days and was a confident swimmer at the end of 4 weeks. At the end of the classes the child goes in the pool with summer and winter clothes on to simulate an \x93aquatic emergency\x94 - an invaluable experience! And throughout classes, the child is taught how to problem solve in the water. ISR has a wealth of information and research on their website (too much to go into here!) \x96 check it out: www.infantswim.com If you want to feel confident that your child could survive an aquatic incident this is a no-brainer. My only qualm is that I did not hear about it sooner! Spread the word!! Good luck!
The Sherman Swim School in Lafayette teaches children as little as one but they are closed until late April or early May. Harriet Plumber/Plummer is also located in Lafayette and teaches through the winter but I believe the youngest age is three. This may be a bit of a haul for you but Sherman is great (though expensive) and I've heard good things about Harriet Plummer. Martha
hello, we had terrific success with sherman swim school in lafayette this past summer. my daughter was 17 months and we took her there because we have a swimming pool and she always tried to inhale water. that was scary. she would constantly choke and sputter on water -- she loved water but simply didn't know how... it's a wonderful place. she has always loved the water. her wonderful teacher (and they all are great!) abby taught her how to hold her breath when submerged and kick very well. by lesson's end, my daughter was even jumping off of the low diving board (and wanting to do so again!). i must say, some of the steps she took during this lesson left my husband and i with our mouths on the ground, but it was all made fun, somehow! something i couldn't bring myself to do as her mother... i wouldn't say it's a complete submersion program, but it was 10 steps closer to ''swimming'' than any mommy and me or group lesson i have ever experienced with my now 5 year old son.! the teachers are fantastic! che
my 4 year old son was reluctantly dunking his face into the water at the beginning of summer. we attended many classes where we felt the teachers simply were too young to understand how to support him in taking the next step. they commonly said, ''ok you don't want to try to float, then go splash around a bit!'' by summers end at sherman swim school, however, he was swimming across the pool, jumping off the diving board and ultimately snorkeling with dad in hawaii! he was more than pleased with himself. i realize that children who are 5 naturally take athletic strides because suddenly they are developmentally ready to do so, but i truly believe the fun yet very structured nature of sherman's program set both of my children in the right direction. a tear was never shed, and my children both looked forward to seeing their teachers...check it out! mom of 2 lil' fish
I am looking for a swimming class for my 21months old son. I saw the past posting and tried Berkeley YMCA but their registeration deadline for this summer was already over. Other places didn't seem to have a great information on toddler classes especially in Berkeley, Oakland area. Does anyone know any classes that's still taking students for this summer? thanks sachiko
- Berkeley City Pools
- Oakland Swimming Pools Lyons
We have a 2 1/2 year old who loves the water like a fish. She is completely fearless, jumping into the pool by herself, going all the way underwater, etc. We are feeling anxious to get her swimming lessons so she can be safe in the water, but all the classes we've seen for this age have focused on getting the child aquainted with the water, rather than teaching them to actually stay afloat and swim. Does anyone know of anyplace that has actual swim lessons for this age (ideally with warm water, since it's winter) in the east bay? Jennifer Flattery And Mark Vickness
Once your child turns 3, I strongly recommend the swim classes at the Downtown Oakland YMCA. Other Ys may offer same classes, but my only personal experience is with Downtown Oakland. The kids start with three flotation bubbles on their back and gradually reduce to zero. The classes are affordable and you can buy a basic membership for about $35 a year to let your kid sign up without joining the Y. That also gives the family the right to go to the Y on Fridays for Family Fun Night for $1/person for up to 4 people to use the pool and a few other things. The classes are taught by teen/young adults who generally were very good, there are about 4-5 kids a class (but sometimes as few as one), the kids are taught important safety and basic swimming skills and it's a fun atmosphere. Water is ok, but not especially warm. The only complaints I've heard about it is from families with kids who really are afraid of the water, but that doesn't sound like your problem. They have parent-&-child classes for kids under 3 too, but I haven't tried them and it doesn't sound like they would meet your needs. You could ask if they'd take your child early in the bubble classes, after they observe her in the water, but they probably follow a bright-line rule. Good luck. Rita_Himes
My daughter was swimming at 2-1/2 & fearless as well. The problem is that lessons can't really waterproof a kid that age, because they can't be taught to be reliable, and are very vulnerable to hypothermia. The parent-kid lessons we took emphasized swimming to the wall and climbing out. The other thing is to avoid swim aids like water wings that give a false sense of security. Unfortunately, you are just going to have to be very vigilent until your child is 4 or 5 and develops a reasonable sense of caution.
I am not sure where you live, but you said you were interested in swimming lessons in the East Bay -- Little Dippers is a swim school in Pleasant Hill. You can reach them at www.littledipperswim.com or through information. This is a swim school that has been around for years and is in the backyard of someone's home. They take a different approach to swimming than anyone else we have seen, and they seem to have great success. I know many kids who are 2 1/2 and can swim quite well after spending some time with these folks. My 4 year old has been there a year and LOVES it. In winter, they cover the pool with a huge bubble so it is like a bathtub in the water. The pool is always very clean, the dressing room leaves something to be desired (like paper towels -- use your own!), but we have been happy there. Good luck -- it does take time to get into their program because it is quite popular, but if you are flexible, they will fit you in. Do it now before spring hits and everyone has the same idea! Trish
Can someone help me find swimming lessons in the Orinda/Lafayette area for a 2 1/2 year old? Colleen
I know of several, although the only one I have used is the classes taught at the Campolindo High School aquatic center (information was in the Orinda Community center class list for the summer sessions). I have also heard good things about Sherman Swim school and Harriet Plumber swim school, both in Lafayette and both in the phone book. They book up VERY early, so you should call about getting enrolled or on the waiting lists. Claire
Sherman Swim School in Lafayette is expensive, but the pools are very warm and the teachers patient and experienced with little kids. The new Soda Swim Center in Moraga is also nice. Leslie
Shermans in Lafayette is an excellent swim school. They book up really far in advance but if you call now, you might get a spot. Dylyn
My son took swim lessons at Sherman Swim School in Lafayette last summer, and he had a very positive experience (he was 4, but I know they do lessons with toddlers, too). They are semi-private lessons (usually 2 kids to a teacher, I think), and the owner was in the pool giving lessons the whole time. The teachers seem very well-trained, especially in dealing with young kids Meri