Berkeley YMCA Swim Classes

All Ages
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Parent Reviews

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RE: Baby/ toddler swim lessons ()

When my daughter was that age we did a parent/child swim class at the Downtown Berkeley Y (you don't have to be a YMCA member) and it was fantastic. 30 min weekly and the pool was REALLY warm. I don't know if they've reopened yet and I don't know what COVID precautions will look like at either place but we are planning to check it out.

The City of Berkeley Aquatics program just sent an email that they are starting up swim classes again in May (they have 2 outdoor pools). They did mention planning to offer a parent/child class but I didn't see it listed yet on their website when I checked yesterday. I imagine they will post the schedule in the next few weeks. 

You've already gotten some good answers about other options for swim classes. If you want to continue with the Berkeley Y, I suggest that you abandon any attempt to use their website and instead either call and/or go in person to make arrangements for lessons. I have complained *repeatedly* (in person, at the front desk) about the lack of timely information on the website, but to no avail, and the only solution I've ever found was to call and call and call again, and email multiple times. Good luck!

Our daughter took lessons for years at the Y, and it was definitely frustrating trying to sign up for classes there. Eventually she moved to the Berkeley city swim team at King pool on Hopkins; that's where she really, truly learned to swim. They also have private lessons there, and I appreciated the programming there. 

Downtown Berkeley YMCA has a great pool for little ones, they keep it heated to about 90 degrees. They have rec swim as well as lessons but you have to be a member of the Y. If you're inclined to use the gym at all yourself I think it's worth it,  they have childcare and  tons of great classes for parents and babies. The Kindergym is open for free play almost all the time and has been a lifesaver for me on those cold or wet days when your kid needs to blow off steam.

Another suggestion is the  Albany Pool at Albany High School. They have parent-tot  lessons and open swim and the water is not too cold. El Cerrito pool is nice in the summer.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Feb 2011

Re: Music/Movement/Art/Outdoor Classes for Toddler?
I also take him to a swimming class at the Downtown Berkeley YMCA. It's definitely been a great way to get him comfortable in water and to learn about splashing, blowing bubbles, and kicking in the water. It's been very fun for him.

Jan 2011

Re: Competitive Stroke Swim Lessons for 8 year old
When my daughter was 8 she took private swim lessons from the Berkeley Y and thrived under that instruction. She now swims competitively with beautiful crawl, breast and back stroke. Karen

June 2010

Re: Swim lessons for 16 y.o. almost-beginner
My kids are younger but they've had a great experience with private lessons at the Berkeley Y with Miranda Boon and Shelley Prater. The Y also has male swim instructors (UC students?) so that might feel better to your son. I think you can do lessons at the Y without being a member. You could probably also arrange to do at least 2 or 3 lessons a week so that his learning builds on itself.

Oct 2009

Re: Toddler/baby pool in east bay
The Berkeley YMCA has its indoor shallow heated pool but it is not shallow enough for toddlers to really walk around in. It is also where they teach swim lessons for their youngest clients. Both my kids benefitted from lessons there. You don't have to be a member. You can just get a kids' membership if they are taking lessons. kl

March 2009

Re: Baby swim class in Berkeley/Oakland
We have a 20 month old who loves the Baby Swim Class at the Berkeley Warm Pool at the Berkeley Downtown Y. It is currently on Fridays 3-4pm and Saturday 10-11am. We took her a few times at 4 months as well. It's great. Carey

March 2009

Re: Baby swim class in Berkeley/Oakland
We like the classes at the downtown berkeley YMCA. Their website is Andi

March 2009

Re: Swimming class for 4-month-old
The Y program is great! My son started in the water when he was about that age. We met great parents/kids with whom we are still in contact, and while my son didn't continue swimming training, i.e. special strokes, etc., he is perfectly comfortable in the water, and a very competent swimmer. Berkeley Downtown is where we went. kim

May 2008

Re: Swim classes for 14-y-o who hasn't learned to swim
In the past I have seen private (and semi-private: two students per teacher) lessons offered at the Berkeley Downtown YMCA. It's great that she is interested in improving her skills here! Cheryl

May 2008

Re: Swim classes for 16 month old
Your daughter is the perfect age for the Parent/Child swim program at the Downtown Berkeley YMCA. You can get the full schedule at 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

April 2008

Re: Infant-parent swim class
The Downtown Berkeley YMCA offers parent-child swim classes for infants. You can find more information at Click on the ''Downtown'' branch. You can reach the program director directly at 510-665-3257. Her name is Julie Martin. Eden

The Berkeley Y has a ''warm pool.'' I have had good experiences at the Berkeley Y, and while some teachers are definitely more skilled than others, my daughter has since learned to swim there (in the warm pool. She's not nuts about the slightly deeper, slightly cooler pool).


The YMCA has afternoon and early evening lessons for kids in their nicely heated indoor pool. We went there for almost a year, until my daughter graduated to the class that uses the bigger pool that is not as warm. She dosen't like to swim in cold water. This bigger pool is about 84 degrees, but compared to the smaller 92 degree pool it is colder. So we decided to take a break. The teachers there are all trained to work with children of all levels and ages, they always have a lesson devoted to safety, and there is always 5 minutes of free play time at the end of the lesson. I think their program is great for young children learning to swim. Leslie

My 5-yr-old son takes lessons at the downtown Berkeley YMCA. Classes are small and lots of hours are available. Sessions start every 6-8 weeks. A child can get a community membership for $22/year, which lets him/her enroll in many of the programs (including summer camps) at a slightly higher fee than regular members pay. Fran

My son that is 5 now has been going to swim classes at the downtown Berkeley YMCA since he was 3 and 1/2. They have a very good program for kids, starting at 3 years. Classes are 1/2 hour, 2 times a week. The first class is at 4:00 pm and the last one starts at 5:30 pm. They also have Saturday classes, but I don't know much about it. Sessions are 4 weeks long and cost around $40.00 for Community members (membership is $20.00 a year). The beginner levels start in the shallow pool, that usually is not deep for a 3 year old, and the water temperature is around 85 degrees. As they progress in their skills, they move to the deep pool, that ranges from 3 1/2 to 5 1/2 foot in depth and water temperature is around 78 degrees. Class ratios are 4 to 1 for the beginner levels and 6 to 1 for intermediate to advanced levels. My son has been taking classes for almost 1 1/2 year now and I can say that he truly enjoys it. Ana

The downtown Berkeley YMCA offers swim classes starting at 6 months of age with a parent accompanying them in the water, and at 2 years old without the parent. They have both week-day classes and Saturday-only classes.

A 3-year-old would be assigned to the Tadpoles class, which is a good, low-stress preparation for swimming. At that age, they don't try to learn fully developed strokes, but they learn to be comfortable and safe in the water, to put their faces in the water and breath out, and useful things like kicking.

My two older children started taking YMCA swim lessons at 6 months of age and continued for several years. My youngest just started at 4 years old, and loves it. Beverly

This message is in response to the 3 year old swim lessons.

We have just completed the Downtown Berkeley YMCA tadpole swim program (ages 3-5). My daughter is 3-3/4 and was ready to take lessons. The program signs up 5 children per instructor, but in Callie's class there were two instructors and only 3 children.

There are eight lessons per session and there are many time slots. The classes are progressive and your child will be moved up according to ability.

The kids in Callie's class seemed to have a great time and there was no pressure for the kids to perform.

Other YMCA's may have similar programs as well.

Good luck, Denise

Reply to Nancy on Saturday swim classes:
The Downtown Berkeley YMCA on Allston Way holds Saturday morning classes for kids from 3 years up. The half hour classes are held year-round and usually in 8 week sessions. Each session costs $44 for non full-service members. You will need to pay an annual community member fee in order to have your child enroll in the classes. Maximum class size is 5:1; usually there are 3 students to 1 teacher. My 5 year old daughter went year-round for 1 1/2 years and I'm pleased to say that she can swim on her own. I highly recommend the Y's progressive swim program. Call them at 848-9622.

From: Beverly
Subject: Saturday swimming

The YMCA in downtown Berkeley offers Saturday swim classes for children, and I think sign-ups are going on right now. Some of the Saturday time slots fill up very quickly.

Swim classes are indoors, with the younger kids in a shallow, warm pool, and the older kids in a regular, cool pool with a deep end. My kids have taken the classes on and off from the time they were 6 months old (with Mom) to now, when the oldest is 10 years old, and they still enjoy the classes thoroughly.