Swim lessons: What can I expect at Goldfish?

As you and your children are deciding what kinds of activities to put on your weekly schedule, you might be going back and forth on swim lessons. To be honest, it was probably the last thing on Larkyn's list of princessy activities she would like to do. However, after she fell in a pool over the summer, it was at the top of my list.

If you are able to fit in a weekly lesson at Goldfish, I really encourage you to give it a try. Aside from making the pool experience more fun for reluctant swimmers like mine, it will give them the strategies to potentially safe their own life one day. When she fell in, she had zero skills.

Here is what you can expect from a 30 minute lesson. You can see photos of the facility here.

At the entrance, you will use a convenient card on your key ring to sign in. Then, head to the private changing rooms to get the kids changed and relax for a few minutes until class time is announced. Depending on the age and skills of your child, you will most likely walk them to their lane and then go back to the other side of the glass.

From here, you will can watch their lesson from the seating area, and if you have other children, they can play on the chalkboard, color, read, or look at the turtle tank. There is also a small selection of dollar snacks (big fans here!)

Children 3+

Your swimmer will work on skills based on his or her development and age, and Larkyn is a Junior 1 (swimmers with the least experience). The most basic goal is to have no tears for 3 consecutive lessons. This will be reassuring to you if your child cries, because it is very common!  Next, they will kick with the barbell and demonstrate breath control for short durations.

They will also work on the Superman glide on their bellies and the sea otter float on their backs. They will use a variety of learning tools that look like toys. They "condition" with little duck cups full of water to get used to feeling water on their face, use barbells, rings, and an "island" with a platform and bar for holding. They will work on climbing out themselves and the "jump-turn-swim to the wall" routine.

When there are five minutes left in the class, parents will be called into the pool area to briefly discuss the swimmer's progress/learning for the day. They will show you one of their new skills and might even receive a ribbon for their effort.

They can shower in the nearby warm showers and head out to change clothes and dry their hair with provided hairdryers.


If your child is very young, like Rhys, you will be getting in the water with him! There is an area for towels right by the first lane, where the baby classes take place. You will join the few other families in the water and the teacher will begin with a welcome song with lots of splashing.

Little ones will focus on kick-kick-kicking to songs on your lap and kicking around in a circle with a barbell. You will help them do an otter float on their back, reinforcing the idea to roll to their back should they ever fall in. Babies love to stand with support on the in-pool bench for "conditioning". This is when you will just practice getting them wet, starting with their shoulders and working toward their head. Or in Rhys' case, he just dumps the whole thing on his head right off the bat. That moves into a supported jump off the bench to parents, with an emphasis on holding "a bubble" (which is actually quite a challenge!). Swimmers will practice pulling with their arms by chasing after balls, they might practice balancing with their core on a floating mat, or even using the mat as a slide (that's a crowd favorite).

One of the most important skills they practice is climbing out of the pool by using their elbows and knees. We practice jumping in, immediately turning around, and climbing out so that it becomes intuitive.

The lessons move quickly to keep the babies entertained and with such a small group, it is easy to get clarification or actually have the teacher model the skill with your child. We need a lot of support with holding a bubble (see below--I'm showing him how to hold a bubble and he just opens his mouth!), so it is good to have extra help with that.

There will be many staff members outside the pool, monitoring safety, taking attendance, and intervening if needed. We did a Jump Start clinic a few years ago with Larkyn and she was so petrified that another staffer joined in to give her extra comfort.

Personally, I am so proud of my kids and impressed with the learning that takes place each week. Larkyn has gone from total water aversion to putting her face under for a few-second dip. Rhys is much more wild and will do anything to put his face in. BUT, just tonight, he began pulling himself through the water by kicking and pulling like a little froggy.

I hope this gives you a good picture of our experience and might encourage you to give your child the gift of learning to swim. Don't forget that the Westerville location will be opening very soon!

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