My Experience with Parent & Toddler Swim Lessons


Author’s Note: If you’re wondering why I say “My,” my intent with this blog is not to go into too much detail about either my daughter (for the parenting parts) or my players (for the TTRPG parts). Neither have given their consent per se to be discussed in this blog, so it’s just my side of it.

Earlier this year, we were waiting to schedule swim lessons for our toddler. Although outdoor pools don’t seem particularly risky, we in general have been holding off until she got her COVID vaccine to commit. Well, she got her first shot within days of the approval, and we were on the waitlist.

Getting into the class

In retrospect, I should have predicted this, but it seems quite competitive to participate in swim lessons. Our city provides swim lessons at public pools through the parks & recreation department. I later found out that some families signed up as early as February. Even if I were willing to sign up then, I certainly wouldn’t have had the wherewithal to do so.

Despite my delayed signup, I got a call with the caller ID for the city within a week. Surprised, I bumbled my way through the call to start classes in three days. I hadn’t exactly confirmed that it would work with Julie, but I figured it was worth a shot.

Getting ready

If you’re wondering how to handle swimming with babies in diapers, I found out that afternoon when we went to Target to buy a swimsuit and swim diaper.

Diapers, of course, are very absorbent, so unless you want to carry the pool around with your baby, you need something else. Swim diapers don’t absorb water like diapers, so yeah, babies will pee in the pool. However, they will hold in the poo, which is what really matters.

We didn’t get any instructions on what to do or what to expect for the class: we just had a time and place. I figured that all of the other details should be self-evident, like parking, changing, equipment, etc. Still, I was a little anxious about the details, so we arrived a half-hour early.

Of course, it ended up being fine. We asked and found the changing room. We watched other youth swim lessons and got familiar with the pool environment.

What happens in the class

I figured that a swim class with an instructor would be better than just taking my daughter swimming on my own. There were a good mix of activities: bouncing together, bobbing, climbing on the side of the pool, kicking, and more. However, there were a few details I wasn’t quite expecting.

First, I thought that the instructor would have special techniques or suggestions for handling unhappy babies. He did not. I presume the games and activities were calibrated for the maturity level, but there wasn’t much past that.

Each day, the instructor made minor changes to the activities to progress through new experiences and skills. For example, we started by sprinkling water on the toddlers’ faces. Later, we did quick bobs as part of other games. Then we did deliberate bobs. Then, we dove across swim lanes.

And I’m glad that we had the instructor to lead us through the activities. Were it just me, I would have been much more hesitant to try out activities like going underwater. I don’t know what the reasonable limits are, but I could be more confident that he knew what we could do.

Final thoughts

Knowing what I do now, I don’t think we need to do parent and toddler swim lessons again. I suspect that each class will repeat similar activities, and I remember (and also took notes) roughly what happened.

However, we might do swim lessons again anyways.

First, at least for us, they’re not too expensive. In fact, the price is pretty similar to getting day passes to go to the pool anyways.

Second, the class would make us go swimming. Like a gym membership, knowing that we’re paying for the classes creates a reason and structure to keep going. The timing wasn’t perfect, but we made it work in a way that I’m not sure we would if left to our own devices.

After speaking to others about swim lessons for either themselves or their children, it’s clear that swim lessons aren’t the only way to get started. But at least I had a great time doing it with my daughter.


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