Water safety and swimming are essential skills, which is exactly why British Swim School uses a gentle, survival-focused approach to effectively teaching children and infants from 3 months to swim.
Between busy school schedules and busy weekends, I recently found myself watching another summer with a 4 and 7 year old who still hadn’t learned the first thing about swimming. So when I heard that my children had had the opportunity to take some lessons with British swimming schoolI jumped at the chance to enroll them in a nearby pool.
I learned from a mother friend that the British Swim School was a ‘survival first’ programme, but it wasn’t until I read more about the approach that I understood what it really meant. While many swimming programs prioritize swimming development, the British Swim School focuses first on water acclimatization and survival skills – teaching children basic swimming skills and of safety that prepare them for an accidental fall into the water. Not only does this help reassure parents, but it also has a big impact on children’s confidence in the pool.
Enthusiastic about the British Swim School approach, we embarked on four weeks of lessons and, spoiler alert, my children have made so much progress (and enjoyed their lessons so much) that we have decided to continue the programme. Read on to learn more about our experience and British Swim School’s smart and efficient teaching model.
Conveniently, British Swim School offers swimming lessons at over 300 locations across the country. Photo courtesy of UK Swimming School
UK Swimming School Levels & Lessons
The British Swim School offers lessons for children from the age of 3 months and places children in one of nine swimming levels depending on age and skills. To determine your child’s starting point, simply find your favorite pool and take a quick online rating quiz. The quiz placed my two daughters in Starfish – a beginner level that focuses on water acclimatization and building confidence in the pool. Each level requires children to master five specific skills at their own pace before they can progress to the next level. By week four, our instructor let me know that my two daughters were ready to move on to Minnow, which emphasizes beginner survival skills and independence in the water.
Not only was I blown away by how quickly my two daughters learned brand new swimming skills – from floating on their backs to being completely submerged with confidence – but I was truly impressed with how our instructor Ashante worked with each child.
The British Swim School has maximum student to instructor ratios of 4:1 and 6:1 depending on level, and our lessons never exceeded three children, which meant plenty of personalized time and attention. When one of my daughters was feeling very nervous about going underwater, Ashante encouraged her to practice blowing bubbles with just her chin in the water first and helped her to fight its way until it puts its whole head under water. And when a new little boy in our lesson was too scared to get into the pool, Ashante worked with him and his parents until he was splashing around happily. This gentle individualized guidance made a huge difference in how quickly my daughters and other children in the program developed their skills and confidence.
A few minutes of free swimming at the end of each lesson was a real bonus for my children.
UK Swimming School Locations and Pools
British Swim School offers swimming lessons at over 300 convenient locations nationwide, including hotels, gyms and private clubs. Our classes took place in the swimming pool of a small luxury building here in New York.
In order to best accommodate families, these sites are often equipped with features such as pop-up changing tents that allow children to quickly put on and take off their bathing suits, high chairs and changing tables in the cloakroom to facilitate the preparation of the little ones. swimmers and children’s equipment for use with lessons.
The easiest way to locate the pool closest to you is to use the “Find a pool” tool, which allows you to search for British Swim School options by postcode. Once you have found the nearest pool, you can choose your child’s level and view the lesson schedule.
With maximum student-instructor ratios of 4:1 and 6:1, kids get plenty of personalized time and attention. Photo courtesy of UK Swimming School
What to know before starting lessons with British Swim School
- Classes are offered all year round, so children can start at any time. Swimmers can also progress through levels at their own pace, stepping up whenever an instructor feels ready to progress.
- Although it is recommended that children arrive at the pool 15 minutes before their lesson, it is best to arrive very early on the first day. A member of staff will be there to greet you and show you around the facilities, so you will need time to familiarize yourself with the grounds.
- Once you are familiar with your location, you can think about how best to optimize your time with the British Swim School. For example, we found that stopping at home to drop off backpacks and change into bathing suits before getting to the pool made our routine much smoother. Having comfortable, easy-to-change clothes after class also helped.
- Each child receives a color-coded swim cap with their name on it. Be sure to keep track of it between classes, so you don’t have to buy a new one.
- Goggles are not recommended for all survival level lessons. When a swimmer becomes addicted to goggles, losing those goggles in the water can actually cause a panic that puts their safety at risk. Other swimming aids are also discouraged.
- The British Swim School app makes it easy to report an absence, schedule a make-up lesson, make a payment, and more. Be sure to add it to your phone.
- Note that parents are asked to stay by the pool during their child’s lesson for extra supervision and encouragement. Fortunately, this is a great opportunity to show your support from behind the scenes!
Unless otherwise stated, photos by the author