Where to find pools in the off-season

Although summer is the primetime for outdoor pools, Kirsten Conner, aquatics director at JCC Chicago’s All-In Swim program, encourages parents to make swim lessons and water-based therapies a year-round activity.

“Water skills are built over several months and with consistency,” Conner says. “It’s a great chance for physical activity in the winter and to keep building on their water skills and comfort.”

Don’t let the pool just be a summer event. Check out these local resources for year-round swimming lessons and pool opportunities.

JCC Chicago’s All-In Swim

The program provides lessons for children with special needs that teaches water safety and swim skills with patience, positive reinforcement, goals and rewards.

Goldfish Swim School

Lessons at Goldfish Swim School are for all kids, which include those with special needs. Their small class size allows children to receive individualized attention. Call one of the seven Chicago and suburban locations to enroll and let the staff know your child has special needs to customize the lessons.


Many local YMCAs offer special needs swimming instruction or private lessons. Most YMCAs also have pools with open-swim times throughout the week where you can get in the water with your child for fun and therapy.

Park districts

Check with your local park district for open-swim times throughout the year. Many park districts offer classes as well. Call your own park district to inquire about private, semi-private or group lessons for children with special needs.

Foss Swim School

With five locations in Chicago and the suburbs, Foss offers free assessments for children with special needs to determine the appropriate class and level.

Dolphin Swim Club

With locations in Crystal Lake, Wilmette, Loves Park and Rochelle, Dolphin offers year-round lessons for students of all ages and abilities. Instructors are experienced with students with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and sensory integration disorder.

Big Blue Swim School

With pools in Wilmette and Buffalo Grove, Big Blue offers swim lessons for all ages and all abilities.

British Swim School

Adaptive aquatics programs are offered at all of its 25 locations. Programs will be created depending on a child’s needs and may be done in group lessons or one-on-one.

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