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Choosing Your Swim School To Suit Both You And Your Child

Choosing Your Swim School is Serious

You can't just assume when choosing your swim school, that because a pool is advertising Learn To Swim classes, they know what they are doing.

Wait... Get Your Lesson Plans Here

Learn to swim teaching methods have come a long way since I was a child and I’ve continued to watch them develop over the years as a teacher. However, there is still no consistent research into what is the best way to teach.

The fields are narrowing however, with the advent of the internet and the dissemination of video, teaching methods have become more and more similar. Even so, almost every swim school has its own philosophies that differ ever so slightly from each other.

One day a swim school will come along that will do proper research. That is they will, for example, have three classes that all teach exactly the same lesson plan and teaching techniques in every way except one and at the end of each term, the results would be compared to see what, if any effect it had on the improvement of the student's abilities.

Such a school will I believe become a keystone school for all others. But a small private school does not have the capacity to do this and it is hard to convince backers of the larger schools that change is a good thing.

So How Do You Decide Which Swim School?

I suspect that there are always going to be some differences between swim schools so how do you decide which school is right for you and your child?

Image of a rubber duck in a swimming pool: Choosing Your Swim School To Suit You
Choose Your Swim School Well

Well, basically you ask each school what their philosophy is and choose the one that you feel the most comfortable with.

Obviously, you make sure that they are qualified to teach and that they are registered with a reputable state or national body. And it would not hurt to ask the parents of the school you are looking at if they are happy with the progress of their children. But in the end, it is what you are happy with that counts.

The only ones I would stay away from are the ones who believe it is okay to stress a child out as long as they learn to swim. It is not okay to nonchalantly stress out a child! Unfortunately, however, just like the old belief that teaching a child to swim is simply a matter of throwing them in the deep end and seeing what happens, this philosophy often works. But for those, it doesn’t work and even for many of those that it does work for, the consequences are disastrous.

Worse still, teachers like me end up with rejected cases from these schools and it is very sad and often a long road to recovery and a child being able to enjoy the water.

Certified Instructors

Swimming classes should be led by qualified instructors with specialised training in working with infants and toddlers. These instructors prioritise safety and fun, having completed rigorous certification programs tailored for teaching young children in aquatic environments.

Instructors' qualifications may vary from one swim school to another and from instructor to instructor. Here are some common variations:

Swim Instructor Certification

This is the most prevalent qualification. Instructors have undergone formal training and certification programs specifically designed for swim instruction. These programs cover teaching techniques and child-specific instruction methods, with a strong emphasis on water safety.

Paediatric Training

This level of qualification is reserved for specialists. Instructors with paediatric training have a deep understanding of child development and psychology. They are equipped to work with children of various age groups, including infants and toddlers.

Water Safety Certification

This certification encompasses CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) and first aid training, ensuring that instructors can respond effectively to emergencies. Every instructor should have this basic training. We strongly recommend avoiding schools that do not require this of their instructors.

Some instructors may also hold an additional lifeguard certification, which is a valuable bonus but not always essential.


Experienced instructors have a proven track record of successfully teaching babies and toddlers to swim. They possess a wealth of knowledge about age-appropriate activities, techniques, and safety protocols.

Patience and Communication Skills

The best instructors excel in communication, particularly when it comes to conveying instructions and establishing a rapport with young children and their parents. Patience is a key quality as they work with children who may have varying comfort levels in the water.

Qualified instructors are pivotal in creating a secure and enriching learning environment for children in the pool. Parents can trust in their abilities to teach and guide children while making safety and enjoyment their top priorities.

Curriculum and Teaching Methods

Swim schools often feature unique curricula and skill progressions, with a focus on different techniques and skill sets. These variations are a result of the diverse approaches to achieving the same ultimate goal of teaching swimming. It's important to note that no two swim schools are identical in this regard. However, this should not be a cause for concern as long as you are not constantly switching between schools, as they all aim to successfully teach the fundamental skills required for swimming.

Teaching Methods

Within the same swim school, you may encounter different instructors who utilise varying teaching techniques and lesson plans. These methods may involve the use of different games, songs, or specific training aids to engage students and facilitate learning. However, it is less than ideal for instructors within the same swim school to employ vastly different teaching methods, especially in baby-infant classes. To ensure consistency and prevent confusion among children, it is essential that all baby-infant classes follow the same lesson plan, regardless of the instructor. This consistency should extend to all levels of learn-to-swim classes, as it has been proven to be more effective in building skills and promoting faster progress.

Other than that one caveat and checking out the qualifications of the school, it is up to you to choose the one that you feel the most comfortable with. Don't let anybody make it more complicated than that for you.

Learn more about: Baby and Toddler Swimming Classes: What To Expect.


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