Screams to Smiles: Learning to Swim at Goldfish

I will admit that the invention of splash pads was my parenting dream come true. I don't have to put on a bathing suit or worry too much about the safety of my kids. I grew up as a "fish"; either in the local pools or in the ocean for most of the summer. Honestly, as an adult, I'm just not crazy about getting in the pool anymore.

The handful of pool visits we have had together has opened my eyes to the drawback of pool aversion. First of all, the less time we spend at the pool, the harder it is to ever get them in again. It is a lot of tears and screaming and very little fun. Second, water safety. You may remember when Larkyn fell in a pool this summer, and she really didn't know what to do. She treaded water like a champ, but was not equipped with any other skills to get her to safety.

Our family has gotten the opportunity to take perpetual swim lessons at Goldfish Swim School, which has locations all over the country. They have lessons 7 days a week, all day long. When your schedule changes, it is easy to switch to a new day/time or make up a lesson. Our hope is that this accomplishes two things:

  1. Development of water safety skills
  2. Enjoyment/less fear of the water
I think both are possible, given the amazing facility and programs they offer. Take a look at the inviting atmosphere! Kids are just happy to walk through the door of such a fun place...



There are some major differences between taking kids to Goldfish as opposed to other swim centers. Most notably, the viewing gallery for families. It is air conditioned, most of the noise is kept on the pool side, and parents can watch the lessons without chasing siblings around the side of a pool or distracting their swimmer. 


There are private changing rooms rather than a giant, unappealing locker room. Of course, Rhys thinks it is funny to crawl under the door and escape while I am changing, so he's confined to the stroller until further notice. 


Check out the thoughtful vanity area with hair dryers to get the kids nice and dry before leaving. There are really warm showers that are directly outside the pool, so families can rinse off immediately. 

The pool area is super warm, and the pool is kept at 90 degrees. There is nothing worse than swimming in cold water, so I sincerely appreciate this. Look at all the people watching the kids. There are instructors in and deck supervisors and lifeguards out, constantly watching.


The pro shop has been convenient for us to buy an adorable, reusable swim diaper instead of a big bag of disposables that we will surely forget. We also picked up a pair of fruit-scented goggles for Larkyn. It will astound me if she wears them, but that is our goal.



We all know that kids enjoy rewards and prizes, and the team at Goldfish gives a tiny prize for lesson completion each week. There are snacks and candy, because sometimes it is just a necessary part of parenting, right?

First Impressions

Aside from the first-class facility, it is the program and staff that make the difference. The ratio is 4:1, and I get in the water with Rhys, so that makes it 1:1 for babies plus the instructor. 

Larkyn is a little leery of men (even the nicest and friendliest!), and I appreciated how the staff was flexible with this. I would never request a change be made because she is more comfortable with women, but they picked up on that preference and had no problem shifting instructors around to make Larkyn more comfortable. 

The instructors worked together to coax her into the water at her pace. They used different tools to help her balance and I don't know where they find the strength to hold her wiggly, sturdy little body for 30 minutes!


The last five minutes is dedicated to parent communication, so parents are invited in to watch their child's new skills and hear what steps can be taken to improve success. For instance, Larkyn's instructors think she will do better with her face in the water if she wears goggles. She hates that idea, so our assignment this week is to get her acclimated to some goggles at home. 

She was excited to show me how she swims from one point to the other and briefly dipped her face under. This is HUGE for her, seeing as how our vacation pool time in August was spent clinging to the wall screaming. While waiting for lesson #2, she was literally bouncing around with excitement. I'd say things are off to a good start for Larkyn.

While she is on one end of the pool in the Junior 1 class, I am on the other end in the Mini 1 class with Rhys (where I obviously cannot take pictures because I am in the water). He whined through lesson #1, which I completely expected. He had some fun, but was mostly annoyed with the situation because it was so new to him.

The other children in the class were having fun and I could tell they knew the routine. The instructor has a nice, loud voice and gives simple directions. When I am not sure how to hold him, she doesn't mind showing me easier ways and always explains why we are doing each exercise. We learn how to help the kids flip over so that if they fall in, they know that they can buy some time and flip on their back. We are also working on learning to climb out on the wall and "click clack" down the wall (holding on and moving along the wall using hands).  

Rhys loves when the toys come out! The instructor has barbells to support kicking skills and body position, large rubber duckies, a mat that becomes a bridge, and his favorite, the balls. Also, cute little songs and rhymes all around!

Lesson #2 was much less whining and more interest. Not exactly "enjoyment" yet, but his pool experience in August was complete terror. So, this would be a total win in my book. 

Our second week went much smoother than the first. I allowed more time for signing in and getting changed, and that made a huge difference. Both kids knew they were in a safe place and I was kind of over the fact that I was wearing a bathing suit in October (the horror!).  I am grateful for the opportunity to help the kids in the water since we have found ways around it for too long.


I'll be back with an update on our progress...although he looks pretty chill with his post-lesson sucker.











4 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Great post!

Kristin said...

What an adorable place! We had a pool at our old townhouse and my mom has a pool so Kenley has been a fish from day 1 but I still feel like formal swim lessons would be smart to be sure she really knows what she's doing. I'm glad she's comfortable around water but if she were to fall in, I'm not sure she'd know what to do! Thanks for sharing!!! Hope it continues to go well. :)

Nana said...

So happy that you are helping them conquer their fears and in Rhys' case, his dislike of all things water. I know it will change and just become second nature for both of them! Good decision to swim!!!!

Jeff Anderson said...

My son was also very scared of the water. I enrolled him in mommy and me class in February and now he is in junior 2 class and enjoys going every week. I have nothing but positive reviews for this place!

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