You’re pretty sure it’s time. You or your child really should learn how to swim. But if you’ve never been a swimmer before (or your entire experience with “swim lessons” was your uncle throwing you a lake and then laughing at you), the idea can be nerve-wracking. Who can benefit from swim lessons? Is it affordable? Do you need any fancy equipment?
Take a deep breath.
Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about swim lessons but were afraid to ask.
Is there an age limit on learning to swim?
Short answer: NO. Anyone can start learning to swim at any age, from babies getting comfortable in the water with their parents to seniors exploring swimming as a low-impact form of exercise.
Longer answer: Still no! But generally speaking, classes will be set up for a particular age group. You will often find beginning classes for very young children along with their caregivers, classes for children and younger adolescents, and classes for youth and adults.
Some facilities may also have specialized swimming lessons for people with a fear of the water or for people with disabilities. If you find that a particular doesn’t offer classes for the age range you’re looking for, ask the instructor if they can refer you elsewhere. Swimming can be a tight-knit community, and it’s likely they’ll know somewhere suitable.
Are swimming lessons expensive?
Sometimes! But they can also be very affordable. Many communities offer affordable swimming lessons through their recreation departments. If you belong to a gym or other facility with a pool, classes may be available at a discount.
If your physician recommends swimming for health reasons, you can ask them for a Letter of Medical Necessity, which means you can pay for swim lessons with pre-tax money in your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA). And it never hurts to ask about scholarships for lessons! Many go unclaimed because they are poorly publicized.
Do you have to learn to swim, you know, in front of people?
Learning to swim, especially as a teen or an adult, can feel awkward. It feels unnatural to put your face in the water or to let yourself float if you’ve spent your whole life up until this point fighting to stay upright in the pool or avoiding the water altogether. There are a couple of things you should know about this, though:
- It is never shameful to be a beginner. It doesn’t matter if you’re learning to speak Spanish, play the violin, tap dance, bake a cake, or change the oil in your car. Everybody starts somewhere.
- Experienced instructors know how to teach beginners. They enjoy teaching beginners. They aren’t embarrassed to have you in their class. Ever.
All that being said, if it makes you feel more comfortable, then private lessons (or semi-private, where you and a friend go together) can be a good option.
Do you need fancy equipment to learn to swim?
Well, you’ll need access to a pool. That’s the fanciest part.
You will definitely need a swimsuit. It doesn’t need to be a high-tech athletic swimsuit, but it should be one that you’re comfortable moving around in and that fits well. You don’t want to spend your swimming lesson pulling on straps or strings. If you feel better with a little more skin coverage, swimming trunks, swimming tights, and rash guards can offer that.
You need a towel.
If you have long or easily damaged hair, a swim cap is an excellent purchase. It’s not “required” for learning to swim (unless your pool mandates them, as some do), but it can save you a lot of frustration and conditioner.
It’s nice to have a bag to put everything in, but one of those plastic tote bags that businesses give away as promotional materials will certainly do.
As far as anything else goes, ask your instructor! They may recommend goggles, ear plugs, certain swim aids, or various other kinds of equipment. Or they might not! But you probably won’t need them at your very first class.
Who should take swim lessons?
Everyone. Your child. Your aunt. Your best friend. Your neighbor. You.
Across the United States, 10 people die from accidental drowning every day. But most people soon discover that swimming isn’t just about not drowning, it’s also a joy.
So why wait?