Swim Lessons

Youth Swim Lessons

Learning to swim at the Y is more than just stroke development. Children are taught in small groups with others of their own age and skill level to facilitate the students' socialization skills. Instructors use a child-centered approach which offers more active involvement and a better understanding of swimming, thus more learning and more fun. Of course, YMCA Character Development is at the core of each lesson, as are the essential components of stroke development, boating safety, personal safety, and rescue skills.

Swim lessons are available in group, private, and semi-private formats, and classes are available for children with special needs. Please refer to your branch's program guide for current lesson times and prices.

Some branches offer a Swim Team, and/or Pre-Competitive level classes, where the emphasis is on learning the fundamentals of competitive swimming: stroke mechanics and turns, endurance and strength.

Be part of it all, and experience swim lessons the Y way!


Swim Level Descriptions

This guide provides an overview of skills covered in each level, not a comprehensive list of all skills taught. Consider your child’s skill level and place your child in the first group they are not able to perform all the skills. It is better to underestimate the child’s abilities and move a child to a higher level than to move him or her down. If you are still not sure of your child’s level after reviewing this guide, please connect with our aquatics staff to set up an assessment test for your child.

Parent/Child Classes: Age 6-36 months

Infant and toddler water adjustment classes enhance motor coordination and social skills, and introduce water safety. Parent and child enjoy time together in the water.

Preschool Lessons: Age 3-5 years

Flotation devices and simplified swimming strokes help the child gain confidence and endurance.

   


  • Willingly put face in the water when asked, five bobs with bubbles, getting a breath each time
  • Release from the wall, swim/paddle away, turn, paddle back to the wall
  • Front and back float 10 seconds, take a breath, and recover
  • With an IFD paddle stroke 5 yards front and kick on back 5 yards
  • Gain self-confidence
  • Swim 5ft of each without an IFD:
    • Paddle on front
    • Paddle on back
    • Paddle on side


  • Push off the wall, swim/paddle 5ft, turn, and grab the wall
  • Front and back float 20seconds, take a breath and recover
  • Jump in with IFD, paddle stroke, kick on back 10 yards
  • Swim 15ft of each without an IFD:
    • Swim on front with face in arms reaching out
    • Swim on back with horizontal position
    • Swim on side with alternating arms


  • Front and back float 30 seconds without an IFD
  • Tread water 30 seconds with an IFD
  • Jump in deep end, swim 5 feet, back float 10 seconds and return
  • Hold the HELP position 1 minute
  • Bob 10 times in shallow water, getting a breath each time
  • Swim 20ft of each without an IFD:
    • Front crawl with side breathing
    • Basic breaststroke with rhythmic breathing
    • Side alternating paddles
    • Backstroke with straight arms
    • Basic elementary backstroke with glide


  • Jump into deep water, swim up 5-7 feet
  • Head-first surface dive
  • Front and back float 1 minute without an IFD
  • Tread water 30 seconds without an IFD
  • Jump into deep water, swim 15 feet, back float 10 seconds, and return
  • Bob 10 times on deep water, getting a breath each time
  • Swim 40 feet without a float belt of each:
    • Crawl stroke with side breathing
    • Breaststroke with glide and rhythmic breathing
    • Sidestroke with scissor kick
    • Backstroke with straight arms and horizontal position
    • Elementary backstroke with glide

Youth Lessons: Age 6-12 years

Progressive swim lessons take the child from the basics through to a competitive level, with an emphasis on water safety.


 


  • Walk or swim away from the pool wall, turn around, reach and grab the wall
  • Front and back float 30 seconds without and IFD, recover/stand
  • Jump in and return to the side without assistance
  • Jump in deep water with an IFD swim 10 yards on front, kick on back 10 yards
  • Gain Self-Confidence
  • Paddle for 20ft without an IFD of each:
    • Front Paddle with face in the water
    • Back paddle with horizontal body position
    • Side paddle with ear in the water


  • Front and back float 1 minute without IFD, recover/stand
  • Tread water 30 seconds without an IFD
  • Jump into deep water, swim up 5-7 feet, paddle 15ft, back float 10 seconds, and return without IFD
  • Perform 10 bobs in deep water, getting a breath each time
  • Swim for 25 yards without an IFD of each:         
    • Front crawl and rotary breathing
    • Basic breaststroke with rhythmic breathing
    • Side alternating paddle
    • Back crawl with straight arms
    • Basic elementary backstroke


  • Tread water 1 minute with and effective kick/Circle Kick for 1 minute
  • Bob 10 times in deep water, getting a breath each time
  • Kneeling dive off deck
  • Swim 25 yards of each (all with GOOD form):
    • Front Crawl with side breathing and arms glide front
    • Basic sidestroke with scissor kick
    • Back crawl with opposite straight arms
    • Elementary backstroke with glide & symmetrical whip kick
    • Basic breaststroke with rhythmic breathing, glide & symmetrical whip kick


  • Float 6 minutes with minimum movement front or back without an IFD
  • Tread water 3 minutes using a combination of kicks
  • Head-first and feet-first surface dive own 6-8ft
  • Swim 50 yards of each:
    • Crawl stroke with side breathing and open turns
    • Breaststroke with pull, breath, kick, glide rhythm and open turns
    • Elementary backstroke with glide
    • Backstroke with body roll, bent arm pull, and open turns
    • Sidestroke with scissor kick and glide
    • Basic butterfly (15 yards only)
    • Scull head first and feet first, 45ft each


  • Tread water 6 minutes using all four kicks:  single, double, circle, and rotary
  • Swim under water 3-4 body lengths with modified breaststroke
  • Freestyle flip-turn for crawl and back stroke
  • Kneeling dives with streamline (focus on distance and body position)
  • Swim 100 yards of each (focus on efficiency):
    • Crawl stroke with bilateral breathing and open turns
    • Breaststroke with proper rhythm and open turns
    • Elementary backstroke with flexed hips and glide
    • Backstroke with body roll, bent arm pull, and open turns
    • Sidestroke (alternate sides) with scissor kick
    • Lifesaving stroke (50 yards)
    • Butterfly (25 yards)


  • Take your own heart rate and swim within target heart rate range
  • Swim 200 yards individual medley (fly, back, breast, crawl)
  • Start dives with step up, take your mark, and go!
  • Swim 100 yards of each (focus on endurance and pace):
    • Crawl stroke with streamline, body roll, and flip turns
    • Breaststroke with pull-out and glide
    • Inverted breaststroke (50 yards)
    • Backstroke with dolphin kick/streamline and flip turns
    • Over arm sidestroke (50 yards)
    • Butterfly with push off wall and streamline

Teen Lessons: Age 13-17

Smaller classes are tailored to the teen's skill and comfort level, building confidence and safety skills.