Swim Lessons for Teens & Pre-Teens
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Swim Lessons for Teens & Pre-Teens
Each of the past two summers, my teenage son has taken
private swim lessons at King Pool. He is a very reluctant
student - has no interest in learning to swim, but we are
insisting. The first summer, he made some progress, getting
to the basics of how to swim. Last year he pretty much
stagnated. He can get into position and swim a few strokes,
but then either fear or something makes him stop and put his
feet down. At King, there was always a different teacher,
and they didn't really have a consistent plan to help him
attain our goal: being able to swim well enough to be fairly
safe around water. He seemed to work on something different
each time, with the result that he really got no further
than the previous year. He hates doing this, but for safety,
we really need to get him into a program that will help him
learn to swim this summer. Our schedule is pretty flexible
and I'm willing to drive for the right situation. Private
teacher? Adult beginner classes? (joining a little kid class
is definitely not an option). His perspective is that he
wants to go as little as possible, and not every day (but we
might override that preference if that's best). Any
suggestions are welcome, especially if your teen has
succeeded in a similar situation. R.K.
I have a 14 year old son in the same situation. What's worked best
for him has been private lessons. (You can do this through Strawberry
Canyon rec or any public pool.) He's now at the point where he can
actually swim, but he needs practice to have more confidence that he
can make it across the pool without stopping. He doesn't want to be
embarrassed when there's the swim unit in PE, so he's been motivated
to work out it (finally). It really has to be one-on-one at this age
though and it might only take a few lessons for the basics. After
that it's just time in the water.
mother of reluctant swimmer
My experience as a swimmer, former lifeguard, parent of
kids-learning-to- swim is that private lessons with the same
person are the most efficient way to teach a kid to swim.
And given your sons age and not wanting to be with little
kids (completely understandable) probably the way to go.
(I'm not clear from your post if the lessons at King were
My kids are younger but they've had a great experience with
private lessons at the Berkeley Y
with Miranda Boon and Shelley
Prater. The Y also has male swim instructors (UC students?)
so that might feel better to your son. I think you can do
lessons at the Y without being a member. You could probably
also arrange to do at least 2 or 3 lessons a week so that
his learning builds on itself.
If you're willing to travel through the tunnel, there are
swim schools over there that would also be worth a look.
(They're in BPN archives.) Their lessons might also be
daily or 4 days a week.
I think your son would do better with private lessons. Its
always hard to be a beginner when your 16 and others are
watching. I recommend either Erin Lucas or Claire Donaldson
at the Mills College pool. They are both experience
teachers who teach children and adults. They are aware of
their students, when to push and when to back off. Also,
the Mills pool is great because they have a large wide area
(about 4 lanes wide) that is all shallow enough that your
son can stand up any time he needs to and the lap swimmers
are in a different area. Tyler
I think you're on the right track with private lessons, but
need to find a situation where he can work with the same
person every time. Working consistently with a 'coach' a
couple days a week would probably work well. What we did
with our (younger) child is find someone who was giving
lessons at a public pool and then work out a private
arrangement directly with her. That way she built a rapport
and trust with our daughter and could track her progress.
You need to try Canyon Swim School in El Sobrante. It is
probably a hike from where you live, but they are THE BEST!
We commuted from Rockridge daily for the past two summers.
A 16-yr old would definitely want to be in an adult class.
They have them at Canyon. My extremely-resistant children
have all learned to swim there. One huge draw (in addition
to the excellent instruction) is the VERY warm water!
Canyon Swim School is the best
I would recommend the adult beginner classes at the
El Cerrito pool. My daughter's kid class followed that one
and I noticed how the adults, including older teens and
young adults, really progressed and seemed to enjoy the
class. Contra Costa College also has swimming classes. -- a
You might try Aquatech Swim School in Alameda. They do
private lessons and are great with beginning swimmers.
http://www.aquatechswimschool.com/ My son took private
lessons with them for a year and they gave him the same
instructor every week so that he had consistency. They
offer group lessons as well, but those are primarily for
little kids. Your son would probably be more comfortable in
a private lesson. good luck!
I am interested in a beginning scuba/certification class
for my 14 yo boy which is local.
I HIGHLY recommend Nautilus Aquatics in Concord (Willow Pass
Road exit from highway 680.) Both of our sons were certified
through them around age 14. The instructors are very good.
They have an indoor pool on-site for classes and do
certification dives in Monterey Bay. They also sponsor fun
dives once a month--some from boat and some from
shore--mostly in Monterey Bay. If you don't have a dive
buddy they will find someone from the group for you to dive
with. They also have a Scuba Rangers program (in the pool)
for younger children. See their website: www.bayareadiving.com.
At 14, my son still hasn't learned to swim. We've decided that
this must change this summer. He is not into it, but we are
insisting, so we need a place and instructor that will engage him,
respect (and help him overcome) his anxiety, and make the
experience a good one. This is a priority for us this summer, so
anywhere in the east bay (though the closer to Berkeley the
better), and any time or day will work for us.
mom of landlubber
My son (age 10) was, until recently, also a non-swimmer. We
also wanted private lessons for him, as he was older than most
beginning swimmers and wouldn't have been comfortable in a
group. We found Aquatech Swim School
in Alameda (just through
the Webster tube, only 20 minutes from our house in South
Berkeley) and have been thoroughly delighted. My son started
lessons in March and is now comfortable in the water and can
swim at a very basic level. The teachers are kind and willing
to let the kids progress at their own speed, but at the same
time are very encouraging. I wholeheartedly recommend their
Their website is www.aquatechswimschool.com and their phone
number is 337-0200.
Mom of New Swimmer
Canyon Swim School
in El Sobrante does private lessons. They
also do adult beginners. The teachers there are so nice and
effective. There is no judgement, no nastiness. One thing,
though, it is a small pool and the kids who take lessons tend to
be younger than 14. But I think you would find the age issue
pretty much anywhere. I really think Canyon has a very
effective program and great teachers. It would be totally worth
it to give them a call and ask what they think. I would suggest
you call and ask for Julie... she is usually there between 4 and
7 pm, and she is really helpful, honest and knowledgeable about
their program. They have a website www.canyonswimschool.com.
Mom of another late swimmer
My 12-year-old daughter can barely swim - she can make her
way across a pool but that's about it. She has been afraid
to swim for years and is now determined to learn - but still
afraid. Group lessons haven't really taught her much in the
past. Are there any private teachers in Berkeley or Oakland?
Or if we have to go to the Other Side of the Tunnel, is
there someone really good (worth the drive)? Or any other
Ann in Oakland
In the past I have seen private (and semi-private: two
students per teacher) lessons offered at the
Downtown YMCA. It's great that she is interested in
improving her skills here!
My 15 year old son is working as as swim aid at a Berkeley
pool this summer. He says that they do have individual
lessons at the Willard Pool.
I have a 14 year old daughter who never got comfortable in the water and
never took to swim lessons, and now refuses to consider lessons. Although
she has some basic skills, she's not adept enough to actually swim across a
pool. She is self conscious about going to local pools where she might run
across kids she knows. I would like to find a pool somewhere that is not
super crowded where she and I could review basic swim and water skills.
Does anyone know of pools that are close but a little way outside of Berkeley,
Albany, and El Cerrito where we could give a try? Ideally a place that would
not be too crowded and she could practice and get more comfortable without
being run into and constantly splashed. I hope for her to know the basics
graduating high school. Thanks!
My son took lessons
at Canyon Swim School in El Sobrante last summer.
You didn't say specifically that you were
looking for lessons for your daughter, but I mention this
pool because there were several non-swimming teens there
getting lessons, as well as adults, and since almost
everybody else milling around the place was relatively
young, the chances of being spotted by friends would be
small. Also, I was pleased to find that the drive there was
only about 10 minutes from our Albany house.
I would suggest calling the city parks and rec and maybe Golden Bear at UC
Berkeley - look for private lessons. A good swimming teacher can have your
daughter swimming in no time with one on one lessons. At this point just
being in the pool is not likely to be enough. I learned to swim in graduate
school. I could barely swim the length of the pool, so I was chosen to be in
the ''slow'' group. There were four of us that were taught by the instructor
while the teaching assistants taught everyone else. I was swimming by the
third class. A good instructor one on one or in a very small group makes a
huge difference, helps you with your ''flaws'' and really makes you feel safer
and less awkward.
Try Canyon Pool on San Pablo Dam Road in El Sobrante. It's been around for
years; I took lessons there (decades ago) and my kids learned to swim there. It's
very good with well-trained teachers, both younger and older.
It's great that you're doing this for your daughter. Good luck,
The Transpersonal Swimming Institute, www.conquerfear.com,
is located in Albany. It was recently featured on the
Today Show and in the Berkeley Voice. It is specifically
for people with a fear of water. Melon Dash runs it and has
years of experience teaching swimming.
I am looking for a private swim instructor or private lessons for
my 11 year son who is just learning to swim.
I know Haufler Aquatics offers private swim lessons. Their
phone number is 510/446-7946. You could also call Strawberry.
They also have offered private lessons in the past.
Lakeridge Athletic Club El Sobrante
Piedmont Swim Club
For an older child who is afraid of the water I'd suggest
private lessons. I dealt with this when my son was 7. He
took private lessons in Lafayette at Harriet Plummer Aquatic
School and was over the fear and having a good time by the
second lesson. The instructors were excellent. It was
expensive and a major schlep, but well worth it. We wasted a
lot of money trying to do group lessons at Albany and El
Cerrito and learning nothing but major fear, but he made
astonishing progress in one week of private lessons. Now we're
back to group lessons and he's happy in the water.
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