C is for Classes – Infant Classes

FelixAt just one-year-old fabulous Felix swims. Well, he swims for about five seconds, turns on to his back, takes a bit of a breather, flips back over and swims to the edge of the pool. Better yet, Felix can do this fully-clothed.

Mom and dad, Cindy and Dennis, recognized once Felix began to walk at 10 months, that his new found mobility, curiosity and tenacity were going to be a challenge when it came to their backyard pool. Adult supervision and barriers were all very well, but what if he got past those? Felix needed the C in the ABC’s of pool safety too – classes.

Infant classes and approaches to swim lessons abound in Tucson. In this post we share a little information about several options for infant swim lessons. This is not an endorsement of these methods or schools, rather a resource to draw upon.

Dennis and Cindy chose the international organization Infant Swimming Resource (ISR) whose primary focus is on drowning prevention. ISR has a very specific model. Lessons last just 10 minutes, are for 5 days a week for between 4-6 weeks, and mom and dad don’t get in the pool, it’s one on one, instructor and baby. There is also significant paperwork and documentation to track sleep, feeding and diapers patterns.

At first Dennis was skeptical, “Just 10 minutes? What can they learn in 10 minutes? It took me longer to drive there than the lesson itself.”But within a couple of weeks Dennis and Cindy were convinced. “That 10 minutes is packed.” A good lesson also translated into a nice, long afternoon nap for Felix and more importantly, a baby who could float and swim to the edge. And the paperwork? It makes sense now to Dennis, tracking wet diapers, food and drink consumed, it informs the instructor of just how tired Felix was, of how much water he was drinking and what to work on. Babies age 6-12months are taught to ‘Roll-Back-to-Float’, while the year and older crowd learn ‘Swim-Float-Swim’.

ISR instructors are across the city and work in community pools and some will come to your home pool, but there are other options too.

More often, baby swim programs involve mom or dad in the pool. The DeMont Family Swim School, run by Olympian Rick DeMont and his wife Carrie, focuses on building comfort, respect and confidence in the water along with swimming skills. Lessons, once a week, include mom or dad in a heated indoor pool with a small group of other babies and last for 30 minutes. Singing songs and playing with your child form a key part of the lessons as the babies learn to float on their backs, kick their legs, make their way to the side of the pool and climb out.

Below we list a number of the infant swim programs around town in alphabetical order. All the programs we investigated suggest six months as the earliest starting age.

City of Tucson Parks and Recreation
Goal
-An introduction to the water focused on making the child comfortable and reducing fear around the water.
Class size – 12 maximum. Child with parent
Schedule – Child enrolls in a four week course, meeting M-Th for 30 minutes
No evening or weekend availability. Available only in summer months
Location – Across the city
Cost – $

DeMont Family Swim School
Goal – Simple steps and solid building blocks lead to long-term success
Class size – 6 children. Mom or dad gets in with child.
Schedule – Once a week for 30 minutes. Minimum of 8 weeks. Classes offered year round (indoor heated pool), everyday of the week, often into the evening.
Location – Northwest
Cost – $$$

ISR
Goal – Teaching the fun of swimming and survival skills
Class size – one
Schedule – 5 days a week for 10minutes. Between 4-6 weeks. Classes offered at various times throughout the week.
Location – Citywide
Cost $$$

Sunshine Swim
Goal – Skilled swimmers for life
Class size – Six max
Schedule – twice a week for 25 minutes. Daytime and evening
Location – NW and E locations
Cost – $$

YMCA
Goal – Children enjoy the water readiness activities and feel safe in the water. Children progress from water adjustment to basic skills while working with parents.
Class size –
Schedule – Once a week for 30 minutes. Only available on Saturday morning
Location – Specific YMCAs across the city
Cost – $

This is not an exhaustive list. If you know of other swim programs please share in the comments. August is Drowning Prevention Month. We urge parents to make sure that whenever there is water, a pool, a bathtub, a paddling pool, a stream, a lake there needs to be Adult Supervision, Barriers preventing children from entering the water unsupervised and even a six month old can begin to learn some basic pool safety skills.