We’ve done a lot of swim lessons with our kids over the years. We’ve done everything from private instructors, to group classes to lessons at camp, all with mixed results. We’ve encountered all sorts of situations: the pool is too cold, there are too many kids in the class, the instructor wasn’t able to manage the varying abilities, or there was no consistency among instructors from week to week. Now, don’t get me wrong, my kids can swim, but Middle & Little have a way to go with their ” strokes”. So when I was offered a free week of ” Jump Start” swim lessons at Goldfish Swim School for Middle & Little, I wasn’t expecting much. I more or less accepted the invitation because I thought it might be good for them to get back in the water before they started day camp. Well, holy cow was I surprised with their program and the progress my kids made in five days.
The goal of the Jump Start program is to brush up on swim skills, technique & water safety in 5 consecutive days of 30 minute lessons. When you sign your child up for class, you’ll fill out a brief assessment of their abilities: Is your child comfortable in the water, can they float on their back for 10 seconds etc… They are then assigned in groups of 4 to an instructor.
When we first entered the facility, we were struck by the bright and happy atmosphere. The place was hopping, and what I initially thought might be chaos turned out to be a very efficient process for sorting the kids into the assigned groups and getting them into the water quickly. Middle was placed in the Glider+ group with his instructor named Emily. She helped him on with his goggles and off he went. No complaining about the water temp, and even with what appeared to be 4 spirited boys in the class, she kept them focussed and on task for a full 30 minutes.
Here she is working on his backstroke.
Little was assigned to Joe, who she now refers to as “the best swim teacher EVA!” Again, because the water was 90 degrees, she never once complained about getting in, and she didn’t ask when she could get out 10 minutes into the lesson like she normally does (because her lips weren’t turning blue). Joe taught her to stay on the surface of the water as she somehow became quite comfortable swimming at the bottom of the pool last summer, but with no stroke to speak of. He taught her rollover breathing, perfected her kicks and even taught her how to tread water.
Here’s Joe with Little
I was initially skeptical of how much could be accomplished in just 30 minutes, but now I understand that it’s an ideal timeframe. The 30 minute format kept their attention and focus, and they left the pool each day looking forward to coming back.
After the last class, the instructors issue official progress reports on the skills that each child has mastered and what they need to continue working on. One of the great elements of the Goldfish program is that all of the instructors use the same “curriculum” and performance metrics. This is quite beneficial especially if one of the instructors should ever be out sick one day and a sub comes in. The new teacher can quickly pick up the lesson without losing too much ground. This has been something that we’ve struggled with in other swim programs where there has just been a ton of inconsistency with the teachers, and very little actual progress is ever made. It also means that there is a consistency in placing kids by abilities, so you get a more cohesive group in terms of their abilities.
During the lessons, parents who choose to stay on site can sit and watch their little swimmer from the parent viewing area. After class, there are a number of changing rooms and even a hair styling station.
Both of my kids thoroughly enjoyed their Jump Start Clinics and they were a great help in getting my kids ready for day camp. In fact, just yesterday, Middle passed his deep water test on his first day at camp. Now he can proudly swim in the deep end and jump off the high dive without a life jacket!!! He’s absolutely thrilled with himself. I know that the work he did with Emily gave him the confidence and stroke technique to pass the test.