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Different Types of Swim Lessons: Knowing What's Best for Your Child

child learning to swim

There are many different types of swim lessons, just as there are many different types of swimmers. If you are ready to sign your child up for swim lessons, it’s a good idea to understand the types of programs that are available in your area. Parents and caregivers should feel empowered to enroll their child in the most appropriate swim class based on skillset, age and comfortability in the water. It's up to you to determine the best fit for you and your child!

Here are just some of the swim lessons you may find. 

  • Infant Swimming Resource Lessons (ISR). ISR lessons are different from traditional swimming lessons in that they teach little ones how to use age-appropriate skills to save themselves in the water. At its core, ISR prioritizes water survival skills in young children, teaching them how to roll onto their backs, float, rest, and breathe. Younger children are taught to maintain this position until help arrives, while older children are taught additional lifesaving water skills, such as how to swim short distances and safely make their way to the edge of a pool. 


  • Swim Basics. Parents and caregivers can also sign their children up for more traditional swim lessons. These swim classes help children develop water safety and basic swimming skills. The YMCA, for example, outlines three beginner swimming stages: water acclimation, water movement, and water stamina. These lessons teach students how to safely navigate water through position and control, forward movement, and breathing practices as well as leg and arm movements. Other basic skills, like going underwater, blowing bubbles, and treading water are essential to building a little one’s swim muscles. Basic swim lessons are a great way to teach children how to interact with water beyond basic survival behaviors.


  • Swim Strokes. After learning the basics of swimming, intermediate swimmers can begin taking more advanced swim lessons. These lessons introduce students to competitive stroke techniques, in addition to building on their previous knowledge of water safety.  Learning stroke techniques can play a critical role in showing children how swimming can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle — which can actually reduce their risk of chronic illness. This can also be a building block for children who have a love for swimming and may be interested in participating on a swim team!

Lessons can vary in other ways, too. Some classes may be taught in a group setting, while others may be one-on-one with an instructor or with parent involvement. Ultimately, the best class for your child is whichever one helps address their needs and can turn them into a confident, safe swimmer. To determine the best time to enroll your child in swim lessons, read more here. To find a local swim class near you, start by looking at available programs here.

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