Your first-timer’s guide to organized swim lessons

Did you know that 300 children die by accidental drowning in pools, spas and bathtubs every year? The Safer 3 Foundation cites drowning as the second leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. among children under 14 and the leading cause of accidental death for children five and under.

And then there’s dry drowning. According to Dr. Fischer, vice chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center, dry drowning is defined as drowning from fluid in the lungs not during submission in water, but rather up to 24 hours after swimming or bathing. Rob Jacobsen, from Chicago Swim School also adds, “While dry drowning is scary, it shouldn’t prevent families from participating in water activities. It simply requires parents to have a heightened awareness, in case of water ingestion, for dry drowning symptoms. Quick action once you feel something is “off” with a child is the last piece of awareness.”

With these kinds of statistics, we knew our three kids needed swim lessons. Luckily, a new swim facility opened up near our neighborhood in the southwest suburbs of Mokena whose mission aligned perfectly with what we were looking for: to prevent drowning. They do so by teaching children to be safer, confident, and healthy in and out of the water.

And for nine weeks, I saw exactly that. I witnessed how my two sons and daughter blossomed from hesitant little creatures into water-lovin’ guppies. But more importantly, they’ve learned the importance of water safety and have gained more confidence in and around water. If you are like me and have considered taking lessons but are a bit unsure of what to expect–read on.

Short and sweet

Lessons are kept short at 30 minutes each week to keep the kids engaged. But sometimes I did wish it would have been a little longer because it does go by fast. In fact, getting cleaned up afterwards probably takes as long as the lesson.

Friendly and understanding

The swim instructors were very patient with my son who had been timid and reluctant to participate. But each week, he seemed to warm up to the instructors and eventually he connected with them (a tough thing to do). They never forced him into anything he didn’t want to do; they went at his pace. In fact, he has grown attached to the instructors and looks forward to each lesson.

Squeaky clean

We obviously were looking for a facility that is spotless. The Mokena facility is brand spankin’ new so we weren’t worried about that. I really appreciated that they also strive to keep the pool area clean (no footwear allowed in the pool area). Plus, their pools have a UV system to help kill bacteria and other organisms besides the normal filter system.

Nice facilities

Changing in and out of their swimming attire was a breeze in the family changing room. We could store our stuff in the cubbies, but it would have been nice to have an option for lockers. Taking showers were made easier with a moveable shower head and shower seats. Loved that there was ample space to move around in the shower/restroom.

Lots of repetition

You may find that each week is very similar to last week’s lesson. They reinforce the lessons from last week and try to add a new skill.


Say goodbye to chattering teeth. Water stays warm at 90 degrees.

Small classes

No more than five kids in a class means more personalized attention.

Be their cheerleader

Parents, siblings, and grandparents are able to watch the kids through the viewing glass or inside the pool area. If siblings tag along, they can stay entertained at the cute little playroom.

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