Swimming and water safety lessons teach children skills that last a lifetime — and can even save their lives. Lessons can help protect kids from drowning and ensure that days by the water or pool can remain fun and carefree.
Being a stronger swimmer not only helps keep your child safe in and around the water, but it’s also an excellent way for them to stay active and have fun. Splashing around, learning swim strokes, and the general act of swimming have additional heart and lung-capacity benefits for kids. Plus, they provide a full-body workout and help improve strength, flexibility, stamina, and coordination.
If you’re considering enrolling your child in swim lessons, you may have some questions. Learn what you can expect with advice from Jen Rezac, director of kids aquatics and education for Life Time Kids and Aquatics.
When is best to enroll my child in swim lessons?
Life Time Swim follows the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommended guidelines for starting swimming lessons by age one. “The earlier, the better,” says Rezac. “At Life Time, we start lessons as young as four months old. Formal swim lessons between the ages of one and four years can help reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent.”
While children won’t learn formal swim strokes that young, Rezac says getting children comfortable with the water early helps develop water competency and a healthy respect for water safety rules. “The kids who start lessons at a very young age are naturally more comfortable in the water and learn to swim faster once they are developmentally ready,” she says.
If your child is a toddler or older and has not yet started swim lessons, consider their physical and emotional maturity, their developmental abilities, and current comfort level with water. Most kids are ready for swim lessons by the age of three, when the focus is on learning respect for the water and basic survival skills, such as floating, bobbing, making forward progress across the pool, and safely exiting the water.
Always keep in mind that swim lessons are one of several important factors for families to protect children in and around water. Focused supervision, proper flotation devices, and CPR training in case of emergency are also key.
Who teaches the swim lessons?
All Life Time Swim instructors complete 25 hours of training and experience regular, ongoing education with routine evaluations to be sure children are receiving the highest-quality teaching.
Each instructor receives CPR and First Aid Certification, and there is always a lifeguard-certified team member on duty — either the swim instructor or a lifeguard stationed in the stands, depending on the state’s requirements where the lessons are being held.
All team members at Life Time also undergo background checks so you can feel comfortable and confident in who is teaching your children.
What will my child do during their lessons?
Class sizes are small to allow for both ample practice space and as an added safety precaution, especially for beginner swimmers who are old enough not to have a parent in the water with them during lessons.
Activities and curriculum vary according to each child’s class level and individual progress. Older children may focus on mastering specific swimming skills or strokes, while younger kids may use water islands and benches to assist them throughout. These items allow the swim instructors to focus on first building quality swimming skills and adding distance later, when kids are ready.
How do swimming levels progress as my child ages or advances?
Rezac says the rate your child progresses through swim levels depends on their individual skill growth. “The beauty of our Life Time Swim programming is that you don’t have to wait for your child to pass all of the skills required within one level before they begin working on one of the skills from the next level,” she says. “We are a progressive program, so we begin the next phase as soon as your child has mastered the current one — even if they’re not technically enrolled in the next swim class level.”
For example, if your child is in a 101-level class but can already do an assisted back float, an instructor will not wait until they finish all the 101-level-related skills to focus on the next progression. They’ll begin working on the 201 back-float skill — learning to do it unassisted — immediately. The goal is constant progress for kids whenever they demonstrate readiness to move forward.
At which swim level is someone considered a safe, confident swimmer?
According to Rezac, children are considered safe swimmers when they’ve mastered the 401-swim level and confidently can swim the length of the lap pool for 25 meters on either their front or back without stopping.
What are the different skills required at each swim level?
You can view full class descriptions by age group on the Life Time Swim programming page.
Beginner: Levels 101 and 201 at each age group
The first ability level is for children who are not comfortable with fully submerging their heads and bodies underwater to swim and play. They are working on floating by themselves or lying on their backs in the water; they cannot do basic paddling on their own for approximately four yards.
Intermediate: Levels 301 and 401 at each age group
The second ability level is for children who have achieved paddling and floating on their own in the water. The goals at this level are to help them learn the basic swim strokes and for kids to be able to swim the length of the pool by themselves.
Advanced: Levels 501 and 601 at each age group
The advanced ability level is for children who are considered proficient swimmers. Swimming skills taught at these levels include completing the freestyle stroke with rotary breathing for 15 yards before also learning all four competitive swim strokes. Fine-tuning their stroke techniques and completing flip turns and legal finishes are also developed at this level.
How long do swim lessons last?
Our swim lessons are held weekly for 30 minutes, yet additional options are also available. Depending on the level at which your child begins swim lessons, they may continue to progress through our entire program until they are confident swimmers or until they complete the advanced-lessons stage and choose to qualify for swim team.
What differentiates Life Time Swim lessons from those offered elsewhere?
Life Time Swim offers a convenient, customized, and competitive program for children of all ages. Registration is available at any time — no sign-up deadlines to meet — with a wide variety of days and times available to accommodate your family’s schedule.
Once you are enrolled, your child’s lesson day and time remain consistent and are renewed monthly until you provide a 30-day cancellation notice.
Children are not required to pass a certain swim level before being allowed to progress to learning the next skill. Each child is tracked individually, and once a skill has been mastered, they begin working on the next phase — even if it’s a skill from the next level.
Life Time Swim also offers competitive swimming curriculum. Once your child has achieved proficiency, they’re eligible for Life Time Swim’s developmental, summer, and USA Swimming competitive swim teams — all in the same location as they took their early swim lessons.
What items does my child need to bring to swim lessons?
All swimmers will want to bring a swimsuit. And in some locations, a towel is also required. Check your club’s swim policy page for details. Goggles and a swim cap are recommended for children ages three and up.
Children under the age of three must be accompanied in the pool by a parent. If your child isn’t potty-trained, they must wear a swim diaper and tight-fitting rubber pants under their swimsuit.
During lessons, children may be provided with pool equipment to assist them as they learn to swim.
How can I help my child improve as a swimmer?
Children will make progress during their 30-minute swim lessons, but parents can help their children advance by putting their lessons into practice. Check club schedules for open family swim times to attend with your child.
This additional practice allows your child to show you what they’ve learned and explore their new skills in the water, while helping them progress more quickly. There are also practice tips and exercises kids can do with you at home.
How do I get my child started in swim lessons?
Try our virtual swim assessment to help you learn which level is best for your child. Go to my.lifetime.life/swim and select the “Register Now” button, then log in using your name and password that you use on my.lifetime.life (or create an account if you don’t have one already). You’ll then be able to answer a series of questions to help determine your child’s level — or, if you know which level you’d like to choose, you can skip the questions and go straight to the registration.