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Swim Lessons for Preschoolers and School-Aged Kids

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2011 - 2013 Recommendations


Private Swim instructor for 3 and 6 year olds

June 2013

Three families are looking for a private swim instructor (or two) that can teach swim-adverse kids. We have four kids (two 3 year olds and two 6 year olds) that we want to get semi-private lessons for (one instructor for the 3 year olds and one instructor for the 6 year olds). We are looking for specific days/times - twice a week only, in the afternoons and for a 4 week period this summer. We have tried Tim Oliver and AquaTech and they are all booked up. Piedmont Pool only has a daily instruction option. Any recommendations or ideas would be much appreciated!


Sherman Swim offers T-Th lessons, for 3 week sessions. You could get semi-private, which is 2 kids per class. Or private, which is 1 kid per class. They also offer diving lessons and have a dive team. In Lafayette, right off the 24 Fwy. Our kids have gone in the past, and our 6 year old will be there this summer. Google for their website. anon
You should check with Roberts Pool. I think they are pretty flexible in setting up a schedule for private or semi-private lessons. Good luck

Swim ''Clinic'' for 5-yr-old?

May 2013

I'm curious about ''beginning'' swim teams for very young children. A friend of mine in the city said that her young daughter started out with a swim ''clinic,'' which met less often and was more low-key than a full-on team. Does anyone know of anything like that here in the east bay? We're located in East Oakland, but are fine with driving to Berkeley, Alameda, Orinda or Montclair (those are areas that I think may have swim teams happening).

Our daughter will turn 5 in early September and will be starting kindergarten a week before that. Her school has an extended school day, starting in K (8:30-3:15!), which will be a HUGE change for her. She currently attends preschool 3 mornings per week, and has for 2.5 yrs. But I am a full time SAHM with her and her little sister, so... She's used to a lot of free time, personalized attention, etc. I predict this transition to be a big one. Which is why I want to be careful about taking on other new challenges right away. (Another thing is that most of the kids at her new school are fluent Spanish speakers and she is not- yet. But that adds another layer of potential challenges to her, all around the same time.)

The thing is, she's really enjoying her swimming classes and it has been suggested to me that she may be a great candidate for swim team. She tends to thrive on competition (which she gets from my partner- not me!), so... I want to support her in that vein. It's not a huge deal, we could always wait until the following year (and just keep up with her lessons), but I thought I'd throw it out there. If anyone has any suggestions and/or leads for me I'd sure appreciate it. thanks


Tim Oliver Swimming http://timoliverswimming.com/ near the intersection of 13 and 580 has a developmental swim team that sounds like it would be a perfect fit. Kids are not required to attend any minimum number of days per week, and they can go as many as 3 times per week. The teachers/coaches are great and it's a wonderful and supportive environment.

Swim Schools in Lamorinda/WC area

Jan 2013

I have a three year old and a six year old who need to learn to swim this spring. I have done some preliminary research and the following three schools look like good options for us. We are in the Lamorinda area - has anyone had kids who have learned to swim at these schools? Please share any positives or negatives about your experience. Thank you!
Splash Swim School - Walnut Creek
Harriet Plummer Aquatic School - Lafayette
Little Dippers Aquatic Center - Concord

Mama of baby guppies


My daughter had swim lessons with Harriet Plummer in Lafayette quite a few years ago. Harriet is wonderful! My daughter became an excellent swimmer and participated on swim teams through high school and still loves swimming today.
We go to Harriet Plummer, and we love it. My child is super cautious, but under their tutelage she has turned into a water loving little fish. Amanda

Winter weekend swim class for reluctant 5 year-old?

Dec 2012

Our exuberantly obstinate five-year-old says he doesn't want to learn to swim--and he's proven it by participating in two years of on-and-off (but mostly on) swim classes at the Berkeley Y without mastering any swim skills at all. We've tried both private and group lessons. He's reluctant to put his face in the water, but this really doesn't seem to be about fear. Any advice on what to try next? We live in North Oakland, both work, and are not inclined to spend a ton more money on this endeavor. Mother of a landlubber


We have had good success with Aquatech. They have A LOT of classes all week and on the weekends. We started my daughter when she was 3 and a half last march (she wouldn't put her head in the water either) and now she can swim without assistance with her head under water. I am not sure about the Y, but Aquatech has the kids use goggles. The classes are ongoing and once they master the skills required to move up levels, they move them up automatically and the kids get a ribbon. My daughter is pretty proud of her ribbons. It is in Alameda, just on the other side of the tunnel. We have been pretty happy with them. Mom of a reluctant mermaid
Try Tim Oliver swimming. Tim Oliver is a good coach and can provide some advice. Maybe call first. Anon

Best swimming classes in North Berkeley/Albany?

April 2012

I'm seeking feedback and recommendations for youth swimming lessons at the Berkeley YMCA, King Pool on Hopkins, and the new Albany City Pool. My son has been slowly working his way through the swimming lessons at the Berkeley Y and, while he likes swimming and wants to keep going, I think we're all getting a bit bored with the Y. If you have experience with one or more of the swimming programs in the N. Berkeley and Albany area and can compare them, I'd love to hear your thoughts. The current recommendations online are rather old. We value small class sizes, engaged and skillful instructors, and a warm pool! mom of a swimmer


My kids have had lessons at the Berkeley Y and at King pool. I think King is better because the classes are 4 days a week, instead of twice a week at the Y. It's the repetition that teaches them how to swim. At King, some of the teachers are great, and some are not. Since the lessons at King are only half an hour long, some people sign up for two consecutive classes a day. I also know a lot of people who love a place called Canyon for swimming lessons. Maybe it's in El Sobronte? Mom of one great swimmer, and one not so great
We got our kids semi-private lessons at Strawberry Pool 3 summers in a row & now they are absolutely strong, confident swimmers. Strawberry Canyon Pool is UC and the parking is brutal. The instructors are worth it. Swimming is important!
Two new Albany pools just opened in February - and swim lessons are underway. The pools are next to Albany High School at 1311 Portland Ave at Key Route, and are shared by the HS and the community. Check on the availability of swim lessons for all ages from babies to seniors, as they fill fast. I know people who have enjoyed Albany swim lessons in the past, and the current swimmers seem very happy.

The pools (yes - TWO pools, one indoors and warm, the other outdoors and olympic size) are amazingly wonderful. The pools and locker rooms are clean and beautiful, and there are lots of open hours for lap swim and family swim. Check the Albany pool site for swim lessons and hours by going to the website http://www.ausdk12.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=92446&type=d. Happy to be back at the Albany pool


Provate swim lessons for 3 and 5 year old

April 2012

We are new to the area and I was looking for private swim instruction for my 5 and 3 year old sons. Never had lessons before. I do not have my own pool. Any recommendations? Thanks margaret


My 3 1/2 year-old son adores his private swim instructor Hayley Piersol (we found her via BPN). She's been fantastic with him and he has made a TON of progress. He had been in lots of ''Mommy and me'' style swim classes and so he was very comfortable in the water, but he wasn't doing anything remotely close to swimming.

When my daughter was born, I was suddenly aware of how hard it was to manage two non-swimmers in the water and I wanted him to be safer in the pool as soon as possible. I wasn't looking to create a competitive swimmer necessarily, but I did want him to learn proper techniques and water safety. Hayley fit the bill perfectly. In just a few lessons, my son has made more progress than in months of group lessons. Ultimately a lot cheaper than investing in all the group lessons, although I think they made a difference in getting him comfortable in the water.

In terms of logistics, Hayley teaches weekend lessons in an odd but warm little pool, up in the Oakland Hills by a church. There have been a few lessons missed due to pool problems, but Hayley always communicates with us via text message and keeps us updated. My only complaint is that the older gentleman who is seemingly in charge of the pool is kind of a grumpy guy. He doesn't have a lot of patience for kids. But we don't really interact with him -- he's just there running things while Hayley and several other private instructors give lessons. I really recommend Hayley -- she's sweet and lovely and has a great style with kids. My son absolutely adores her and looks forward to swimming every Saturday. shannon


Indoor swimming lessons w/small class-size for timid 4.5yo

Jan 2012

My 4.5 yr old daughter loves to be in water and wants to swim, but is shy and is terrified of classes. We tried this summer and she literally clung to my husband, who had to get in with her (while the rest of the children happily jumped in on their own, etc.). She's been asking to go swimming, so I'm hoping to find a place with an indoor pool with a very small class-size.. We're in Oakland (but would travel up to 20 mins or so). Thanks! Melissa


Try Aquatech in Alameda (they also have a site in Concord). It's just through the Webster tube. Both of my kids go there, one of whom was very fearful. They have classes every day, all day, so they are able to keep class sizes small. Max class size appears to be 4 kids, although plenty of times my kids end up with just 1 or 2 kids in the class! Amy
I'm not sure about their class size, but I know that AquaTech Swim School hosts indoor swim classes at Mariner Square Athletic Club in Alameda (right next to the Webster tunnel). You could also look into the Hayward Plunge and/or the (Point) Richmond Natatorium, which are both indoor pools. Good luck, and if you find a great one, would you mind emailing me? I'm looking to get my son involved in swim classes within the next year or so but haven't started doing serious research yet. Cara
Aquatech swim school in Alameda (at a facility called Mariner Square) has class sizes of 3, 4 or 6, depending on what level your child is. They have platforms in the water so the kids can relax & be in the water for the full 30 minutes. My son began at the lowest level and the ratio was 3:1. The instructors are great and they are understanding of little ones and work well when your youngster is having a bad day! They make it manageable for your child and give them confidence in the water. It's not that long that your child will feel it's torturous, but it's long enough that they make progress.

I would say they are well worth the money, because, in the end, it is a safety issue. My son now pushes off the wall, kicks by himself, rolls over on his back, floats, jumps in off the side and is willing to not only get his face wet, he is willing to submerge! These are all things he wouldn't do- even with me in the pool right beside him. If you are coming from Oakland to Alameda, they are right through the tube.

I think you'll be impressed with how they set up the lessons-not only do they have instructors in the water, they have people posted around the pool keeping an eye on the little ones who are waiting for their turn (the ones the instructor is not working with). So your child is safe at all times and supervised. They are a program which is definitely worth checking out. Good luck. Mom of a developing swimmer


Try Patti's Swim School in Castro Valley. The instructors there are AWESOME and classes are small. We did private lessons for a very frightened 3 year old. Their patience with her was amazing! Happy Swimming
Dear Melissa, I would like to recommend two wonderful teachers who do private swimming lessons with children: Hayley Peirsol and Kim Vandenburg. My children did not want to take lessons and struggled with classes at other facilities. They learned very little as the classes were too big. They now take lessons with Hayley and Kim and LOVE the classes. They have asked repeatedly to take more classes and have the instruction times be twice as long. They can be contacted at kvberg@mac.com and aislingtwelve@gmail.com. Ina

Looking for a swimming instructor for children

Oct 2011

Hi, I'm asking for a friend who's looking for a great swimming instructor for her daughter. She also has another friend who is looking for the same for her children. The children range in age from 4- 10. They are looking for someone who's located or could travel to the Berkeley/Albany and Kensington areas. Thanks for helping out with your suggestions. anonymous


I have discovered 2 amazing swim teachers that do private lessons: Kim Vandenberg (kvberg@mac.com) and Hayley Peirsol (aislingtwelve@gmail.com). Each gave my sons a 1/2 hour lesson and both boys wanted many more lessons after it was over--this was after many complaints of taking lessons at all. They both felt that they had learned a lot in that 30 minutes. Hayley and Kim are both professional swimmers and are kind, fun, and give clear instructions.

Swim classes for 4.5 year old who needs a little push

Sept 2011

Hello- Since moving to the East Bay I've had a hard time finding the right swim classes for my 4.5 yo son. We've been taking lessons at Canyon all summer and now need to find indoor classes as the season closes. My son needs a kind and consistent teacher who will push him and not back down from his insistent cries that he can't do something. He has fun in the water but needs help reaching his potential. I'm thinking of singing up for classes at the Berkeley Y and was wondering if people could share their experiences with me. Thanks! looking for swim whisperer


We've had only great experiences with the Y's swim classes, with my daughter attending them all year round for the past 3 years. She started at 4.5 and would not put her face in the water with her parents. She was doing it on day one in the class with no tears. She is now an avid and excellent swimmer, joining the swim team at the Y. We're about to start with our 4.5-year-old son, so maybe we'll see you there!
If you are thinking of swim lessons at the Y, don't waste your time and money with the nightmare of group lessons. The pool and locker room are very crowded and the kids are distracted. Invest in private or semi private lesson. After almost two years of group lessons we saw little results. When we switched to semi private lessons, the kids were actually swimming within a few classes. Totally worth every penny. And it's obvious that all the instructors love their job. Swim mom
My daughter has been taking swim lessons this summer at Tim Oliver and will continue through the winter because they have a tent they put over the entire pool in the cold and rainy months. She has learned an incredible amount and I have found their combination of encouragement and firmness to be a good fit for her. We took classes all last summer at the Sherman Swim School (which was fine) but we like Tim Oliver better. We live in South Berkeley and it takes about 15 min. Also, for what it's worth, I think private lessons are more efficient and cost-effective in the long run. Susan

Private swim lessons for 3.5-yo around Berkeley?

Feb 2011

Hello -- I want to take my 3.5 year old to swim classes but as a working mom the drive to Canyon, Haufler, or Harriet Plummer is impractical. I'm wondering if anyone has experience with private lessons at the downtown Berkeley Y? I'm also wondering if there are any experienced private swim instructors who work near Berkeley. Our child has never taken any swim classes, so he would be starting fresh. S


My daughter has been taking private swim lessons through the City of Berkeley at the King Pool on Hopkins Street in North Berkeley, and she finally learned how to swim. The only downside is that, although the pool is heated, it is outside. Google ''City of Berkeley Aquatics'' for current schedule and cost. Robin

Competitive Stroke Swim Lessons for 8 year old

Jan 2011

I have been trying to find a swim coach who gives private lessons. I have an 8 year old daughter who swims on a swim team and takes group lessons at the Y but could really benefit from some one-on-one instruction in stroke technique. This person must be a current or former competitive swimmer - not just someone who has taken a Swim Lesson certification course. I would prefer someone who will get in the water with her. And they need to have access to a pool. Thanks! swim mom


Tim Oliver Swimming off Redwood Rd in Oakland. timoliverswimming.com. They are amazing. Lynne
An excellent and very experienced swim coach is Tim Oliver. He and his staff teach all of the competitive swim strokes. He is great with kids, beginners and advanced students. He offers semi and private lessons in at a private pool in the Oakland hills year round. He also has a non-competitive swim team. We are in Berkeley but it was well worth the drive to Oakland. He has the expertise to really develop a high level of swim technique even for young students. timoliverswimming@gmail.com ku
When my daughter was 8 she took private swim lessons from the Berkeley Y and thrived under that instruction. She now swims competitively with beautiful crawl, breast and back stroke. Karen

2009 - 2010 Recommendations


Swim clinic for older kids, not a swim team?

July 2010

I can't be the only one with this request...for those of us who have kids who are not swim team material but want them to be competent swimmers - what are the alternatives? Are there swim clinics that include games and freestyle swimming maybe twice a week? We just can't do the swim team but I am worried that my child won't be a competent swimmer when it gets to lake swimming or other unexpected circumstances. Shouldn't there be something like this out there? Thank you! Anon


my kids take lessons at Canyon Swim School in El Sobrante. after two summers, my son is a competent swimmer and my daughter is almost there. It is lessons, though, not play time. if you want free swim time, check out The Plunge in Point Richmond, scheduled to open in August, I think. swimmy

Want to be in pool with four year old for lessons

May 2010

My four year old daughter hasn't taken any swimming lessons yet, and it's high time. We live in central/east Oakland. Which places do you recommend that allow parents in the pool with this age group, give plenty of individualized attention, have good instruction, and also have lots of fun? I'm currently considering Mills and Tim Oliver. Thanks! late starter


We've had a great experience with the lessons at Roberts Pool, up in the hills near Chabot Space center. I'm not sure if they let parents in, or how many openings they still have for this summer. But the head guy is approachable and may be willing to work with you. The instructors seem to do a good job of tailoring the lessons to the kids, getting the shy or scared kids into the pool and involved. The number is 1-888-EBPARKS (1-888-327-2757), option 2. My son has learned a lot there the last two summers. Bryan in Oakland

Swim lessons for 4 year old

Jan 2010

Hi, Could someone recommend some great swim clases for children? Our 4 year old wants to take lessons and we would appreciate any feedback on great instruction for kids swimming. Thanks so much, Angie


We are a big fan of the Canyon Swim School in El Sobrante. We tried the Y, we tried the now defunct Albany pool and none of these places matched Canyon for the commitment of their instructors, their effective program, and their results. Our child has been going there for years and has excellent skills and confidence in the water. www.canyonswimschool.com KK
Canyon Swim School in El Sobrante is the best! We tried several other places, and lessons didn't work at all. At one place I actually had to get in the water and help the instructor! Then I found Canyon. My kids took lessons there for 5 years. The teachers are experienced with kids and with swimming, and they have a method that works. They start lessons in April, I think. Their number is (510) 223-4600, website: www.canyonswimschool.com Good luck Pat
Aquatech at Mariner's Square in Alameda is great. Our 4yo went from afraid to be in the pool to swimming in less than a year! My older daughter has become a much stronger swimmer which was very reassuring during our trip to Hawaii. The classes are 30 min with 1-4 kids to a teacher. They have multiple levels and the kids get ribbons as they advance from starfish to Orca. It is just on the otherside of the Webster tube. swimmer's mom
my kids go to Canyon swim school in El Sobrante. They went to the Oakland Y once a week for a year when they were 2 and 4 years old. During that year they had fun and the 4 year old learned to put his face in the water (not his head) and to sort of steer while kicking with a kick board, the younger made no progress that was tangible. Within a month of going to canyon swim school in El Sobrante (twice a week), they were both doing things happily that they had never even tried at the Y. anon

Swim teacher to come to our house

April 2009

I am looking for an instructor to give swimming lessons to our 3 children (age 2, 6 and 10). We live in the Berkeley Hills and have our own pool, so I would need somebody to come to our house after school (around 5PM) once or twice a week. Experience with teaching children a must.


Hi I just wanted to put in a good word for two wonderful special needs swimming instructors, Derrick Hensman and Alon Altman. They have taught my autistic son at the Berkeley High Warm Pool for many months now and he has made terrific progress swimming and he absolutely LOVES to go. Both the instructors are really patient, calm, and understand kids with sensory issues and limited verbal abilities. Derrick's email is swimdivesail@gmail.com. Alon's email is noo_shoin@yahoo.com Mary
My son's regular swim teacher had a substitute last week. My son really liked him. I don't know if he's amenable to coming to your house, but I do know he's looking for instruction opportunities (he sent an email around asking us for recommendations). His information is: Derrick Hensman 510-296-5069 swimdivesail@gmail.com Qualifications: 15 years as a swim instructor for children 6 months of age and older; 15 years of teaching adults and seniors; 7 years of teaching developmentally challenged individuals (i.e. Autism and Down Syndrome); Certified Water Safety Instructor (WSI); Lifeguard; First Aid and CPR certified. Karen

Swim class for 4 and 7 year olds

March 2009

I need classes for my two kids my daughter is 7 and my son is 4 and are eager to learn, if you know a public place were i can take them please tell me. thanks


You don't say where you are located, but Oakland Parks and Rec does kids swimming lessons at a number of pools around the city. My daughter (4 1/2) is currently taking their Tiny Tots program at De Fremery pool; last year we did a parent/child class together. Carrie
I used to take my kids to the Berkeley Y for swimming, but didn't like the ratio of kids to teacher, the hassle of parking, and the slow progress they made.

I then found out about Haufler Acquatics via BPN. I was really happy with them - excellent ratio, daily except Fridays, good variety of teachers. No website, only phone: 510/446-7946 I've also heard positive things about Oakland Park and Rec swimming, but find their website difficult. They hold their lessons at a variety of pools. https://securerw.oaklandnet.com/registrationmain.sdi Search by category: Swimming, then look for Youth Learn to Swim. I also looked into lessons at the Orinda Park Pool. http://www.orindaparkpool.org/tm_swlessons.html Ellen


2007 - 2008 Recommendations


Morning Swim Class for 4 year old

Sept 2008

I'm looking for a weekday morning or weekday 2 or 3pm swim class for my 4 year old. Can anyone recommend one within reasonable distance from Rockridge? Thanks so much! (The Berkeley and Oakland YMCAs only have morning classes on Saturdays, and don't currently offer early afternoon classes.) (We're aiming for early bedtimes.)


My son is an instructor at Aquatech Swim School http://www.aquatechswimschool.com/ They have a wonderful program that allows kids to graduate from one swimming level to the next. It's right on the other side of the Alameda Tube and a convenient location. They have an indoor poor for swim lessons all year.
Here is the exact email I just got from the berkeley Y - because I was also curious about a swim class for my 3 year old. For our pre-school lessons we have a few options. Our first option is to attend one of our 4 week sessions (classes meet 2x week for 4 weeks). These classes are offered on Monday/Wednesdays or Tuesday/Thursdays. The second option is to attend one of our 8 week sessions (classes meet 1x week for 8 weeks). These classes are offered on Saturdays and Friday mornings. g

After-school swim lessons for 6-year-old

August 2008

looking for swim lessons appropriate for a 6 year old, after school near alameda or oakland. candace


AquaTech Swim School in Alameda has a great program. They are very organized and offer high quality instruction. They are also indoor and year round. We have our 3 kids in the program 5, 7, 10 are their ages, and they love it! The website is www.aquatechswimschool.com if you want to check it out. swim mom
You should try Tim Oliver - he is fantastic. He had my daughter swimming in the first couple lessons. Everyone i know raves about him. He is very patient and calm. His pool is fabulous-warm and uses an ozone system instead of chlorine (great for those of us who have ecxema problems). For those of you looking at the archives he used to be at the piedmont swim club. His pool is off redwood road on campus drive. Email timoliverswimming@gmail.com or phone 510)759-2782. andrea

Outdoor Parent-Child Swim Class for 3-year-old?

August 2008

Hello, I'd like to help my shy and water-shy 3-year-old daughter get comfortable in the water and am looking for a good class/pool. I fear anything where I'm not allowed to be with her in the water would be a no-go for her. To add to this, she is mildly asthmatic and eczematic so chlorine levels in water and air (vapor) are a concern. Does anyone know of an open-air, not-too-chlorinated pool in or near Berkeley where they allow parents in the water with the kids? We are open to either late-August or early fall classes. Thanks! --Not Mermaids Yet


For this question and the one about toddler swim classes, I highly recommend Canyon Swim School in El Sobrante (510-223-4600). The parking lot is on San Pablo Dam Rd, just past Appian Way. I first heard of this place ~24 years ago, from a mom who lived the other side of Montclair (from Berkeley). It is true that gas was cheaper then, but the warm water, small classes, and high quality of the teachers can't be beat. My kids are now 18-29, but I have taken other kids here more recently (as well as to other swim classes) as an occasional summer nanny - this still gets my vote as the best place for your kid to learn to love swimming and become proficient at it. The youngest class is for baby and mom, and the classes progress up through competitive swim techniques like flip turns, etc. The classes usually have about 4 kids per teacher. What I found to be a real plus was that if a child was afraid to try something, rather than ignore the child, or make the other 3 wait for ! eons, an extra teacher came out of the office to help with the child that was anxious. Anxious child was happy, other kids weren't frustrated - great all the way around. teachergran

Swim lessons for 5-y-o with selective mutism

May 2008

I'm looking for someone to teach my 5 yr old grandson to swim. He has selective mutism and needs a special environment where I can be in the pool with him. All the places I've looked at thus far require that caregivers are not in the pool, sometimes not even in the area. It would be great if his 3 yr old twin sisters could also be in the pool, learning to swim, as this would make him more comfortable (and teach them to swim). If anyone has any ideas, I would be appreciative. Thank you. mj


My children have been taking private lessons at AquaTech Swim School in Alameda since the beginning of March and they both love it. Recently, a boy with autism has started lessons at the same time we are there and I've been very impressed with the way the teacher (Adrienne) interacts with him and his progress. Family members have gotten in the pool with him, so I'm sure that wouldn't be a problem. I would definitely contact them to discuss your grandson's situation. It's quite possible they could arrange lessons with a different teacher for your granddaughters at the same time. Here's the contact information: http://www.aquatechswimschool.com/ Phone number is: (510) 337-0200 Happy Swim Mom

Solo swim class for 4.5-year old?

May 2008

I'm looking for a group swim class in Berkeley or Albany that my 4.5-year-old daughter can take by herself (i.e., I don't have to get in with her). An added bonus would be that I could take my 1-year-old into the pool while she's having her lesson. I thought the city of Berkeley let 4-year-olds take classes without parents, but it looks the age limit is 5. My daughter is almost swimming and very very interested and independent. Keri


Well, it's not in Berkeley or Albany, but we drive down to Aquatech Swim school in Alameda. I needed lessons for my son that I didn't need to get in the water for, and they have them. They are great and I highly recommend them. Mama of a Solo Swimmer

Private swim lesson for 4 year old

April 2008

I'm looking for private swimming lessons for my son who will be 4 this summer. Any suggestions will be welcome. Thanks! Patty


The best place I have taken my kids for swimming lessons is, hands down, Canyon Swim School in El Sobrante. They do offer private lessons. My kids were absolutely freaked by the water, hated swimming lessons everywhere else. Within 4 weeks, my then-6-yr old son went from puking on his first day he was so scared, to swimming across the pool unassisted in a clearly-recognizable crawl stroke. They are not a ''tough love'' type of teaching place... it is all about what the kid is ready for and willing to do. They are the BEST! Their website is canyonswimschool.com. I am so sold on them that I commute from Oakland to El Sobrante. Happy swimming! Canyon Rocks!
Yes, I have to agree Canyon School is a great place. Their program is great for all ages and children learn fast and have fun. Each teacher understands and approaches each child carefully and meets child needs without pushing to hard. Several years ago I worked for them as swim instructor and had a lot of successful stories. Now I am thinking to take my own 20 month old for lessons. They do offer private lessons they are 20 min long and they have very nice make up policy. You're also might consider group lessons because this is where children strive and do a lot better after a couple private lessons. Children love to learn by example and be in the group. Instructors are always dedicate equal amount of time for each child. Brown family who runs this program have experience for over 70 years so everything is very well structured. lola

Swim Lessons for 4-year-old, without mom in the water

Sept 2007

I'm looking for someone skilled to give swim lessons to my 4-year-old and her friend privately so that I would not have to be in the water (I have a baby). In Berkeley if possible, or nearby. Thanks!


Although they are not in Berkeley, I HIGHLY recommend Aqua Tech Swim at Mariner Square in Alameda http://aquatechswimschool.com/. They do offer private lessons, but their maximum student to teacher ratio is 3:1, so you could save a lot of money if your child and her friend are in a class, plus one other student.

The teachers are great--and the staff work really hard to ensure that the kids are learning and progressing. The pool is indoors and parents are not required to get into the pool at all.

My kids have been at aquatech for awhile and we are very happy. happy mom of fish children


2005 - 2006 Recommendations


Swimming lesson for 3yo (need to also take my 9mo)

March 2006

I would like to sign my 3yo up for a swim class. (He hasn't really ever spent any time in a pool.) I also have a 9mo whom I would need to take to the lesson. I think some classes don't require parent participation, but I know my son would want me to participate while he's learning something new. I wouldn't feel comfortable taking the 9mo with me in the pool. Know any instructors/clubs who are experienced dealing with this? mom needs ideas


Your son's old enough to take lessons at the Downtown Berkeley YMCA (my 3.5 y/o is taking lessons now - he's a ''pike'') w/out you if you want to give it a try. The instructors are very patient and sweet w/ the little guys. OR - you can do a parent/ child class to start (he'll prob be the oldest kid, but who cares? It's fun for both of you!) And bring your baby to childwatch while you both take the class. Give them a call and talk to Beth, the Assoc. Aquatic Director for more info. Water Babies' Mom

Swim classes for 2-yo and 5-yo

Jan 2006

Can anyone recommend a swim class appropriate for me or my husband to take our 2 and 5 year old boys? I recall there was one at the Berkeley High warm pool, does that class still exist? I'm looking for classes other than those offered at the Berkeley YMCA, for some reason my husband wants to look elsewhere... Thanks.


Have you looked into the Albany pool. It's an indoor pool, warmish, around 84 degrees. They have parents and tots classes for small people and then more advanced classes (without parents in the water) for older ones. If you went on Saturday mornings you can almost do them back to back. The parents and tots teacher, Shirley, has been doing the classes for years. The facilities are quite a bit funkier than the Y however, but then you don't have to pay for a membership etc...either. andrea
We tried several places, but found the best place to be Canyon in El Sobrante. It is a bit of a drive but well worth it. For one thing it tends to be a bit warmer than Berkeley (I am talking about Spring and Summer). The pool is heated and they have the most wonderful instructors as well as smaller classes. If you start in the Winter I think Albany's indoor pool would be a good place. I love to swim

Swim classes for 3-yo and 6-yo

Dec 2005

We are trying to find a really good place to take our children (3-6 years old) for swimming lessons. We have already tried Strawberry Canyon, the Berkeley YMCA, and Canyon Swim Lessons (El Sobrante). But does anyone know of a place for swim lessons with great, experienced teachers, a warm pool, decent facilities, good management, and parking? We are willing to pay more and to travel a bit farther (from Berkeley) if necessary for the right place. Has anyone tried the El Cerrito Community Pool for lessons? Thanks!


I can't say enough great things about Sherman Swim School in Lafayette. They teach children from infant on up. The pool is warm-90 degrees-which takes the whole cold factor out so they can learn! It's warm outside and it has covered UV shade over the pool, so no sunburns. The teachers are well trained, kind and have boundless patience. The lessons are only 15 minutes for 4-5 and under and 30 minutes once they have a longer attention span and more skills. This keeps everything fun, warm and moving. They are private lessons. While it might seem like a lot of drive all the way there for 15 minutes (we live in El Cerrito) is has been well worth it. My son has been going since he was 2 years old, he is now six and surfs-by himself- boggie boards, kayaks and has a great time in the water. My daughter is three and loves the water too. We are a water family and while we don't push for ex.''you have to surf'' the swim lessons are a must. El Cerrito's lessons are fine but the weather is cold and windy most of the time. We drive to Lafayette and love it. It's also samll and friendly. swim mom
I can't say enough good things about Harriet Plummer's Aquatic School in Lafayette. 30 years of experience, warm pool (even a bubble and 90+ water in winter!), proven methods, convenient location right off of Hwy 24, 15-minute lessons for the little ones, reasonably priced. We took our daughters to Harriet when they were each 3 years old. She's taken them from putting their little faces in the water at 3yrs old to stroke refinement at 10 yrs old. In 10 years of living in the East Bay, I've never heard anything but raves review about Harriet! Swimmers' Mom
I take my son to Aqua Stars Swim School in Lafayette. It's a swim school run out of the woman's house. She offers private lessons for 15 to 30 minutes at a time. Monday-Thursdays 0900- 4ish. You pick a time that is available and that is your slot for as long as you continue lessons. What's great is that the pool is always heated to at least 90 and during the winter months, she has this huge bubble dome (6 feet high) that encloses the pool so that it stays quite warm inside this bubble (like a mild sauna). This, of course, allows for year round swim lessons and not just in the good weather months. The teachers are quite good and patient. You enter at the side of the house and there is a changing room and bathroom in the back area by the pool. She usually offers 4 week sessions at a time. The number there is 925-283-7119. anon
My son took swimming lessons also at the YMCA, Strawberry Canyon, Canyon swim school and addionally at Campolinda highschool. Nothing worked. He refused to get his head under water, and I was exhausted and out $600+!! Then I found out about Harriett Plummer Aquatics in Lafayette (Just off hwy 24 on the Pleasant Hill Road Exit). The drive was WORTH IT. Harriet has operated a swim school for over 25 years out of her home. She has a tried and true swim instruction method and experienced swim instructors (who are long term employees). They teach specific things on each day of instruction. Classes are individual and only 15 minutes long, and she's a bit expensive. But totally worth it. My son had his head under water in the first lesson, and was swimming across the pool by the 2nd month (only after 6 lessons). In the winter she covers her pool with a big dome to keep it warm - you have to enter via a zippered opening. She has a comfortable dressing room and parking. You might say, ''why should I spend all that money for a class that is 15 minutes long''! The class is your child and the instructor, which means your child gets individual attention instead of hanging onto the side of the pool waiting for 5-6 other kids. They pack a lot of instruction into 15 minutes. Then at the end of the class, your child doesn't want to leave, and says that was quick! Children don't get burnt out in a long 30 min. class. I cannot say enough about her and her swim school. I wish I didn't waste my time and money on all the other swim schools! Harriet can be reached at 925 943-7331 Maya
I've been taking my 2 year old son to La Petite Baleen in San Bruno. It's excellent, and meets all your requirements. It's a bit far, about 45 minutes, but worth it. Check out their website: http://www.swimlpb.com/ Mom of a baby fishy

Weekly swim lessons for 3-y-o

Mar 2005

Does anybody know of a swim program that offers classes at the same time each week rather than a continuous program? I would love to sign my 3-year-old up for a swim class every Friday this summer if one is available. Jessica


The Downtown Berkeley YMCA has swimming lessons on Friday mornings at 10 or 10:30am. The swimming lessons are in a shallow, warm pool and the teachers are trained to teach skills in a fun way. Call the YMCA for more details (510-848-9622) or check their website at www.baymca.org. Paula

Afternoon swim lessons for 5-year-old

Mar 2005

I'm looking for an afternoon swim class for my 5 yo in the Oakland/Lamorinda area for this summer. I'd like to find a class for him rather than private instruction. He's a beginner. Thanks for any suggestions. Trying to plan

Recommended:

  • Berkeley City Pools
  • Haufler Aquatics Swim School Oakland
    If you live in Lamorinda, the Canyon Swim School in El Sobrante would be a relatively easy commute. However, if you are in Oakland it would be terrible! I tried Canyon after being dissatisfied with teaching abilities of the young instructors at the Berkeley YMCA. All of the instructors at Canyon are adults, and I have been very pleased with their teaching abilities. After a week at Canyon, my 4 year old went from bobbing to swimming across the pool. We continued that season and the next, and I've been pleased with her progress. The sign-up process may seem a bit disorganized at first, but once you're in it gets easier. Call them at 223-4600 to get a brochure. Sessions are already starting and continue through the summer. Maria

    2003 - 2004 Recommendations


    Winter swim lessons for 5-year-old

    Oct 2004

    I'm looking for winter-time swim lessons for my beginner-level, almost-5-year-old. We did classes at the Berkeley Y last year, which were ok, but the pool was too deep for her to touch bottom, and the instructors weren't as attentive as we'd have liked. We LOVED the Canyon Swim School this summer, but it's not open in the winter. Any suggestions? Warm, shallow, great teachers??? Thanks. Heidi

    Recommended:

  • Albany Pool
  • Berkeley Bears
    my 6 year old daughter takes private swim lessons in lafayette, all year round by Harriet Plummer Aquatics. She has a covering over the heated pool in the winter and the water is very warm. I cannot speak highly enough of this program. it got my (then) 4 year old who was afraid to put her head under the water to swim across the pool within one week. we have had all the teachers and they all are great (altho if you are lucky enough to get harriet, she's the best) i don't have the number handy but she's probably listed in lafayette under harriet plummer. betty

    Saturday swim lessons for 6-y-o -Lamorinda

    July 2004

    We have been fruitlessly trying to arrange private swim lessons since May for our just about 6 year old and have come up short. We have been having a terrible experience trying to arrange this through the Walnut Creek YMCA (through whom she had private lessons last summer), which uses the JCC pool (our daughter is in summer camp there). Our daughter broke my heart the other day when she said she doesn't want to go in the pool during camp because she's embarrassed as she's the only one who can't swim. My husband and I both work, so Saturday lessons are the only thing that will work for us. Our daughter insists on private lessons with a female instructor. If anyone has any recommendations for anything in the Walnut Creek area (Lamorinda, WC, Pleasant Hill, Concord), I would really appreciate hearing them. I am so sad for our daughter. And it's HOT out here and I really want her to get into the water at camp if at all possible to have fun and to cool off! Thanks. Lori


    I know of a really great swim school in Lafayette but I don't know if they have lessons on Saturday. Try giving them a call, Sherman Swim School (925) 283-2100. Kristin
    My children learned to swim at Canyon Swim School years ago and I thought they were great. It is in El Sobrante but convenient to Orinda. I don't know their schedule now, but I think I recall that they had Saturday classes (and they do have private lessons--or at least did). You can reach them at: Canyon Swim School Fred & Bill Brown 21 Campbell Lane, El Sobrate, CA 94803 510 223-4600 Marcia
    Try Harriet Plummer in Lafayette, Sherman Swim School in Lafayette, or Little Dippers in Pleasant Hill. They do private lessons, but do fillup fast. Anon
    Have you tried Sherman Swim School in Lafayette.They only give private lessons and looks like a great place. anon
    The Sherman Swim School in Lafayette just started Saturday lessons. They are private lessons (15 or 30 minutes) depending on the age of your daughter. They are a little pricey - but amazing! I have rec'd to many friends and all have come away saying - why didn't I do this years ago. My son learned more in two 15 minute sessions than he had in two years of other group and private lessons. He's now jumping off the diving board and swimming the length of the pool and he is only 5 - call right away as they are often booked. kwm

    Swim Lessons for 6-y-o in Oakland

    Apr 2004

    Does anyone have any recommendations for swim lessons for a 6- year old? I would like to enroll my daughter in a swimming program this summer and want to see if there are any advice on where is the best place. We live in east Oakland, in the Diamond District and would like some place close-by if anyone knows of any program. Stephanie


    Mills College offers summer swim lesson for swimmers of all ages and abilities, no college affiliation necessary. For more info call the pool at 430-2170 or visit the web site http://www.mills.edu/ATHL/pool/index.html Have a fun summer! Kristin
  • Oakland Hills Tennis Club
  • Oakland YMCA

    Other advice:

    Oakland Swim Lessons: Oakland Parks & Recreation swim lessons at Lions Pool in Diamond Park; Mills College summer swim lessons (fills up fast); Head-Royce School summer swim lessons; and East Bay Regional Park runs summer swim lesson at Roberts Pool in Roberts Park. If you live close to Oakland/San Leandro border, City of San Leandro runs swim lessons at a number of pools and only charges a few dollars more for non-San Leandro swimmers. Diane


    Private lessons for 3-year-old

    Feb 2004

    I'm looking for recommendations for private swim lessons for my 3 year old son. I'm not interested in classes because I have a baby and I am unable to get in the water with my 3 year old for group classes. Any solid recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Also, what is the going rate for private swim lessons? Thanks.- kathy

    Recommended:

  • Piedmont Swim Club
  • Richmond Swim Center
    Try Sherman Swim School in Lafayette. They only have private lessons and for a 3 year old they are about 15 inutes long. The sessions are usually 2 or 3 days per week for 2 or 3 weeks. I think they are open March-October. They are amazing! It is pretty expensive, but it really worked for our 4 year old. I wish we had started him there at 2 rather than waster two summers of other lessons. mother of a swimmer

    Instructor for four 5-year-olds

    May 2003

    Four families in search of a swim instructor to teach in an Orinda backyard pool. All four children are at five years old and can swim at differing levels. We're looking for someone from a high school or college swim team who is enthusiastic, friendly, and willing to teach with some of us parents in the pool (for the more fearful of the four kids!). Can provide transportation to Orinda from Oakland or Berkeley. Please write me back and let me know if you have any folks in mind who would be interested in doing this - we're ready and raring to go! Thanks - Julie


    I would check with the folks at Strawberry Canyon. They offer private swim lessons and we have had great luck with the teachers. They seem to be very bright and motivated students with really good training. swimmom

    Swim Lessons for a 1st grader

    April 2003

    I'm seeking information on swimming lessons for a first grader. Can someone recommend places to get Swimming Lessons, on Saturdays, in or near Berkeley. Full-time working parent with first grade daughter needs to have her daughter ''water safe''(or nearly so) by this summer, and I'm at a loss as to where to look. Does anyone have recommendations for excellent group lessons, or individual lessons. She is not particularly fearful, just needs the ''push'', and instruction. I'm not looking for information on which pools are open, but on where the actual lessons (not for a preschooler!) can be obtained. Thanks so much! Seeking Saturday Swimming

    Recommendations received:

  • Oakland YMCA
    Canyon Pool in El Sobrante has Saturday lessons during the spring. Last year spring was significantly less crowded than the summer scene. Saturday lessons start 4/12. My kids been going to Canyon for group lessons for a few years and have learned to swim well while having a good time. It takes about 15 minutes to get there from Berkeley on a Saturday AM. The instructors are experienced and the water is warm at Canyon. Albany Pool has Saturday lessons throughout the year. Some people really like their lessons, though they were a disaster for our son and I've heard similar reports from other parents. The quality of teaching varies significantly, depending on the experience of the teacher. Berkeley Y probably has Saturday lessons, never done these but have heard positive comments. swimming mom
    After trying the YMCA and Albany Pool with mixed results, I finally discovered Canyon Pool Swim School, and I have been taking my elementary-aged son there for several years. Canyon is very good for older children as well as toddlers. The school is located at 21 Campbell Lane in El Sobrante, where San Pablo Dam road intersects Appian Way. Their phone number is 510-223-4600.

    I would say that classes once a week, on Saturdays, is a slow way to learn how to swim. I noticed a big difference in my son's ability to swim when we went twice a week, in the evening. Canyon does offer Saturday classes, but they also have classes M/W and T/Th every half hour, as late as 6:30pm, so you might consider that as an option. The pool is heated and the instructors are fantastic. The small class size (usually 4-6 kids with 1-2 instructors) really helps the kids learn to swim.

    Canyon Pool Swim School is located at 21 Campbell Lane in El Sobrante. Their phone number is 510-223-4600. The spring classes begin on April 17th. Sima


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