Swimming Lessons

Thinking of signing your kids up for swimming lessons this summer? We received some great reviews of the various locations offering lessons! Follow the links provided in the reviews for more detailed info on classes including prices and dates/times and when the next session begins.

Included in this post are reviews of: Madison School & Community Recreation (MSCR), Little Strokes, SwimWest/East, and YMCA (east). If your little one has taken swimming lessons at a different location, please send the info our way. We’d love to post your review as well!

The reviews below are personal to the people who shared them. We realize that you may have taken the classes listed below and had a completely different experience. If that’s the case, please feel free to leave your own review in the comments or e-mail Raising Madison and we’ll put it on the blog!

Madison School & Community Recreation (MSCR) / Little Strokes (website)

“My boys started swimming lessons when they were about 6-8 months (hard to remember!) from MSCR. The pool at Lapham, where we took them, is very warm and the classes were convenient on Saturday mornings and most importantly so very AFFORDABLE for this age of a child – where the purpose is to just get them accustomed to the water. This is a parent/baby class, but they have classes for tots and older kids too.

Once they got a little older, we switched to Little Strokes (in the Madison Country Day school on the north side). I love this place. Bill, the owner, is wonderful, and teaches a different technique than I’ve seen in many other places (I will also confess I taught swimming for YMCA when in college). They are very accommodating if you have to reschedule a class due to illness, scheduling conflicts, etc.

We’ve since moved to the far west side, and I still drive both boys 25 minutes over to the north side for lessons if that is any indication!” – Carrie

SwimWest (East) (website)

“My daughter takes swimming lessons through Swim West (she took her first lesson at 8 months). The group has locations in Madison on both the East and West sides, as well as in Fitchburg.

While the West location has its own building with a pool and gym, the East location currently runs out of a Howard Johnson on East Washington Avenue by HyVee. I’ll admit that it is a little weird to have to go to a hotel for swimming lessons, especially when there is not a convenient changing area and the fact that you might have one or two hotel guests in there with you. Once you get past those two minor things, though, and realize that the main thing you need to worry about is a pool and a quality and qualified instructor, it’s all gravy.

They have a bunch of different levels that they offer, based off of the age and experience level of your child. We are in the Parent-Tot class, designed for kids 6-24 months where there is always a parent with them. The stated goals of this class are:

– Assisted jumps into the pool, eventually going underwater
– Back floating with parent and instructor
– Going underwater
– Instructor-child swims
– Singing with water actions
– Breath control
– Rollovers with assistance
– Climbing out of the pool with assistance

We have been through two and a half sessions so far, and we have covered all of these to at least some extent. We have not done a lot with breath control. That’s fine, because I don’t really expect my 17 month year old to be able to have that quite yet. I’ll just be happy when she starts blowing bubbles. The class is clearly more about making your child comfortable in the water.

The woman who has taught all three of the classes we’ve taken is Amy, the director of the East program. She is a great, heavily accredited teacher who knows her stuff and clearly likes what she does. She is kind and personable, and always excited and supportive with the kids. She also sends out a postcard once or twice a class telling the parents how their kids are doing. It’s a small thing, but exactly the sort of extra effort that keeps people around.

The classes are only a half hour long. We do a lot of the same things each time- throwing toys and having kids kick and reach for them (while you hold them, of course), riding in “noodle boats,” jumping in the pool with parental assistance, singing songs, and back floating, amongst others. It might feel a bit repetitive from class to class, but for the kids, each thing lasts long enough that they become familiar with it from one week to the next, but not so long that they get bored with it.

All in all, we love it. Sessions average out to $10 per class, and you can also get discounts for referring other families. They also offer one free lesson to see if it’s to your liking. I definitely plan on keeping on with Swim West even when I am no longer in the pool with my daughter.” – Jess (husband to RM blogger Kat!)

“Both Lisa and I have brought our kids to Swim West/East. Writing the check the first time was hard, but ever since then, I’ve enthusiastically found ways to afford the lessons. They classes are super small (my son has never been more than one of three) and in just a few short months changed my child from a “scared to be in the water” to a Real Swimmer, who can do the front crawl. Worth every cent.” – Lisa and Ellen (Half-Pint Resale)

“We go to SwimWest and are extremely happy there because of the instructors. They are great and truly get to know their little swimmers. Connor is 2.5 and has been taking lessons since he was 6 months. Their curriculum and expectations at each level are very clear and mapped out so we know what skills he needs to master to get to the next level. He also gets a postcard from his teacher throughout each semester and a report card. Their great!”- Katy

YMCA (East) (website)

Tiffany here:
Dave and I took Lily to YMCA (east) for her first swimming lessons. I can’t recall the age limits but she was about 6 months at the start. It was clearly more of an introduction to water than “lessons”, and included some silly songs and activities that made all of us parents feel extremely silly but seeing those huge grins in the adorable teeny baby swimsuit were worth the slight embarrassment! She loved it, and still loves water, so I guess the early introduction worked!
Things we learned:
-There is a family locker room that everyone seemed to use before and after class, it has one or maybe two changing tables, which isn’t enough for so many babies. Try having mom or dad take baby into the mens or womens and use a towel and one of the big benches in the locker room to get baby in/out of swimsuit and ready to go.
-The splash area outside is available only at certain times. for the time our class ran it was closed at the end so if you feel like playing, be sure to check the hours, you may need to go before class to splash outside.
-A reusable swim diaper is a great investment! Lily never peed or pooped when she was in the pool so we were just throwing away clean-but-wet disposable swim diapers. Nicki’s diapers in Middleton has a huge selection of swim diapers” – Tiffany (RM blogger)


4 thoughts on “Swimming Lessons

  1. I just have to say that while I have been pleased with the instruction through MSCR, most swim location pools are terribly cold! My daughter has taken lessons at Lafollete & West HIgh Schools. At West it was so cold I had to buy her swim pants & a long sleeve swim shirt.

  2. We did a lot of research on this subject too. For us, the lessons at Madison Area Technical College were the most cost-effective (less than $6/kid/lesson) and the lessons were about 1/2 longer than anywhere else. The most kids/teacher were three and we were very happy with the lessons. But, that was winter and I don’t know what the summer schedule is.

  3. I was really set on having my daughter take outdoor swim lessons this summer, since we have plenty of time to swim indoors during our very long winters here. We enrolled at the Middleton Aquatic Center and had a great experience. I highly recommend the pool for lessons and open swim.

  4. One more to add – we take Liam (15 months) to SwimWest Fitchburg for parent tot class with Anna. I cannot say enough good things about this class. Cute water babies, warm water, smaller pool, great instructor. It’s always the best part of Liam’s week! They also sell reusable swim diapers for a reasonable price onsite (although selection is limited).

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