Learn to Swim Lesson FAQ


Swim Lesson

Frequently Asked Questions


  1. What should we bring to the first class?
  • We provide most of the equipment required for swimming class, including fins, goggles and learning toys. All you need to bring is:
    • Swim Diaper & Plastic Swim Pants (if under the age of 3 –regardless of whether student is potty-trained)
    • Swim suit
    • Towel
    • Goggles (be sure to write your child’s name on them in permanent marker)
  1. Does my child need a swim diaper?
  • All students under the age of 3 are required to wear a non-disposable swim diaper and plastic pants regardless of whether or not the student is potty-trained. These are available for purchase at the front desk of the Frances Meadows Aquatic Center.
  1. How long is a typical swim lesson?
  • All group swim lessons are 30 minutes in length.
  1. How many instructors are there per student for group lessons?
  • At Gainesville Parks and Recreation we follow the American Red Cross guidelines that list 1 instructor per 6 students. 
  1. I’m new to the swim lesson program, how do I know what level to put my child in? What if I put my child in the wrong level?
  • Swim lesson descriptions can be found on the Gainesville Parks and Recreation website at
  • All children will be evaluated the first day of class.  If a child needs to be moved to a new level the Head WSI will move the child to the appropriate level as long as space permits.
  1. What is the make-up policy?
  • There are no make-ups for group swim lessons.
  1.  What is the Inclement Weather Policy?
  • All swim lessons are taught indoors in the Activity Pool and will not be cancelled for Inclement Weather. 
  1.  Do I have to get in the water with my child during lessons?
  • A parent/guardian must be in the water with our Parent Child class.  Our Preschool classes and above are held without the guardian in the water
  1. What if my child cries or is afraid?
  • Our instructors are trained to deal with even the most fearful swimmer. We often have extra instructors for the younger swim lesson classes. We have many toys, songs, and games, specially created for fearful swimmers. If you need help getting your child into the pool, ask our staff for assistance; we will gladly get your child into the water and swimming happily in no time!
  1. Should my child eat before a swim lesson?
  • Please do not feed your child or give him/her milk or juice one hour before his or her swim lesson. If your child is frightened or cannot hold his or her breath, no eating 3 hours before is preferred. Nervous children often swallow lots of air and sometimes water which may cause a student to throw up.
  1. What if my child does not like swimming lessons?
  • Swimming, like many activities, generates anxiety in some children. This anxiety may be most evident on the first day of lessons. As each week progresses, your child’s anxiety should be less and less evident. That's why we schedule multi-week sessions. Time, familiarity and consistency ease the anxiety. You can help your child through this period by bringing them to open swim time. The opportunity to use the pool on "their terms" often helps. Play is a terrific teaching aid. Stick with it, Mom & Dad, this is a skill for life that you are giving your child.
  1. I feel like my child is learning/progressing too slowly. What should I do?
  • It is very important that you speak with your child’s instructor and/or the Aquatics Coordinator immediately if you are not happy with the pace of your child’s swimming lessons.
  • Plateaus are common, especially when a child faces a hurdle that is especially difficult for them. Our teachers are sensitive to these issues and are trained to motivate and guide swimmers though these peaks and valleys. As a parent, keeping the line of communication with your child’s teacher open is crucial to overcoming these plateaus.
  1. How will I know when my child is ready to move to the next level?
  • Talk to your instructor or Aquatics Coordinator. Our staff constantly evaluates the swimmers. At the same time, remember, not to rush it. Each level builds upon your child's ability to master the last level. A child rushed through our program will never be as good as the child that takes the time to master each skill. Parents please remember that the journey from first blowing bubbles to swimming 50 yards takes several years. How long did it take you? Therefore, it is impractical to expect your child to master each skill level the first time they attempt it. Please be patient and supportive with your child! This is a skill that will last your child a lifetime.
  1. Is it Ok for my child to wear floaties/ float bathing suits when we are not at lessons?
  • While floatation devices are a valuable teaching tool, we do not promote prolonged use of floatation devices of any kind for teaching swimming skills. When “floatie” devices are used repetitively, children become accustomed to a vertical position and it makes it more difficult for them to adjust to a horizontal position – which is the position that which is the safest and most efficient position for them in the water. However, we do consider safety of the utmost importance and believe that floatation devices, like lifejackets, should be used in aquatic settings to protect children.
  1.  Will my child be able to swim after a session of lessons?
  • Every child is different so we cannot comment on this until we know your goals and have had your child in the pool.
  1.  How frequently should I schedule my child’s lessons?
  • *EACH CHILD IS DIFFERENT AND OUR PROGRAM IS SET UP TO ACCOMMODATE INDIVIDUAL NEEDS TO OPTIMIZE LEARNING. Please take your child’s comfort level into consideration when making these decisions. If your child is frightened, we recommend scheduling lessons as frequently as possible. Otherwise, it depends on how quickly you want your child to learn. Children learn with fewer lessons if the lessons are close together. Also, we recommend starting as early in the year as possible because the longer they are in the water, the more comfortable and excited they will be about summer swimming. If you practice “homework” and hints at home they will learn more quickly. If you are practicing and the children are grasping the concepts, twice a week is sufficient. If you cannot start lessons until summer, we recommend coming every day until your child is safe in the water. We also strongly recommend follow up lessons; especially if your child starts swimming with his/her head up. Allowing your child to swim vertically nullifies everything we have taught them.
  1.  I don’t understand why last year my child was swimming and very comfortable in the water but this year is afraid and can’t seem to remember the skills?
  • Young children learn swimming skills by repetition and practice, just like other skills apart from swimming. If a child has not been in the water in several, or even a few months, they will often "lose" their skills and have to relearn them.
  1.  I would like to talk to my child’s instructor about his/her progress, when is a good time?
  • The best time to talk with an instructor when the class is completely over. Please do not take up class time when the instructor is teaching. If an instructor has a class right after your child's class, please try to talk to the instructor the minute or two before your class begins. If necessary, you can pass along a question to one of the lessons directors and they can find an answer for you.
  1.  I have asked my child if he wants to take swim lessons, and he/she says “no”, what should I do?
  • Unlike other sports, swimming is a lifesaving skill. Ballet, soccer or karate are sports or activities that parents may want to give their child a choice in doing, but never learning how to swim. Once again, it is a lifesaving skill. A positive "you're going to learn to swim" is the correct approach with a child.
  1.  Do you offer semi-private or private swim lesson?
  • Yes.  Semi-Private and Private swim lessons are taught during the months of September – April.
  1.  May my child and I stay to swim after the lesson?
  • If you have a passport to the pool, you are welcome to stay and swim following your child’s lessons as long as open swim is taken place in the pool or Splash Zone.
  • If you do not have a passport, you may pay for a pol admission at the ticket booth or front desk. No child should stay in the water following a lesson due to other classes taking place in the Warm Pool.