What can we do outside of swimming lessons to help my child learn to swim faster?

In our Podcast and Blog, Jeff and I spend a lot of time talking about how you can help your child learn to swim safely and quickly without swimming lessons. But not every parent is ready to skip out on the expensive swim lessons altogether.  


If that's you, you're not alone! We get messages from parents all the time asking us, "what can we do outside of swimming lessons to help my child learn to swim faster?" And it's the right question to be asking.  


Because (insider secret), the average family spends around $1,500 to $3,000 and 2 to 3 years in swimming lessons (per child). And there's a lot you can do outside of lessons that coaches don't mention that can really speed things up. 


And they're way too simple to skip out on. So I invite you to skim through or take a deep dive below to see what you can do at home to help your child learn to swim faster. 


The first thing to understand is that learning to swim in swimming lessons is too slow!


There are several reasons why - but here are some of the big ones:


Group Lessons:

Group classes with 3 to 4 kids (or more) are the most popular, and most kids end up in them. Compared to private lesson tuitions, group classes are priced very attractively (although still too expensive in our opinion). The problem is when your kid only swims once a week and shares that time with 3-4 other kids, your child only swims 7.5 to 10 minutes per week. 


Not Enough Learning Time:

Learning to swim takes time, and 7.5 to 10 minutes once a week just isn't going to cut it. Even if you can afford the private swimming lesson tuition, swimming 30 minutes once a week isn't much better! It's why most kids are in swimming lessons for 2 to 3 years before they master the basics. 


Coaches Do All The Teaching: 

Think back to when you were in school. Your teachers spent 30-60 minutes introducing a new topic and then sent you home with homework! Most of my learning happened at home with mom and dad (and not my teachers). Because that's when I got the most practice. 


But for the most part, kids are only learning to swim in swimming lessons. Coaches aren't sending parents with any guidance on what to do for learning between classes. Instructors just teach a short class and send your kids home without homework - it's a disservice! 


Because "Homework" accelerates learning!

Almost all learning happens outside of lessons. But (shamefully) swim instructors don't tell you what you can do at home to speed things up. And that's a bummer - because there's a ton you can do outside of lessons. 


Now I'm not saying your coach is doing you wrong or swimming lessons are a big rip-off. But it's almost like swim schools have an interest in helping your child learn to swim slower than they can. We could speculate why ($), but we can save that for another day. 



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Here are 3 low-hanging fruits that every parent with kids enrolled in swim lessons should be taking advantage of.  


If you do these things - I promise you - your child is going to learn to swim faster and become a safer and more confident swimmer sooner.  



Don't overthink this! If you don't have a pool of your own, don't sweat it. We don't have a pool at home either. Here's how we make up for it - my wife and I give our daughter fun time in the bath every night. It's water playtime, but these 10 to 15 minutes every night make a huge difference!  


We don't do any structured learning - We just give her the freedom to play in the water. Here's what we do:


  • Keep water temp comfortably warm, between 100-101
  • Fill the bath with her 3-5 favorite water toys. Some that pour, some that shower, and some that entice her to splash. 
  • And let her play - That's it! 

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She's done when she's done, and we never force her to do anything. But her water comfort is through the roof! She willingly dumps water on her own head, puts her face in the water, explores dipping her ears under, and asks me to hold her so she can float on her back - all unprompted!


(I know what you're thinking… "swim instructor's daughter, blah, blah." But she's only 14-months, and we've done zero structured learning and absolutely no swimming lessons. I let her lead the way and just give her time to play.)


If your child is a little older and working on more advanced skills at swimming lessons, the bath is a perfect place for them to practice too! For example, the tub is an ideal place to practice breath control. Because it's a smaller and less intimidating body of water, kids feel more in control and more open to exploring. 


The bottom line is that consistent water-fun-time in the bath always makes for faster progress at swimming lessons. 


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Backyard pools, community pools, and public pools are everywhere. Almost everyone has access to one of those options. And if you can squeeze in some extra pool time, you should because it's really going to speed things up for your child! 


Extra swimming time is always a great idea! But you can't just zip your child into a puddle jumper or hold on to them the entire time and expect to accelerate their learning. These are both overly restrictive, "waste your swim-time" options. 

The best thing you can do is zip your child into a Learn-to-Swim Life Jacket, explicitly designed to help your child learn to swim!


These things are game-changers, built with 8-pieces of removable flotation.


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There is no wasted time when your child is zipped into a Learn-to-Swim Life Jacket. Every second of play and fun is actually helping your child learn to swim quicker! Read more about them here


Imagine if your child could learn to swim in half the time. That's the kind of accelerated learning we're talking about when your child uses a Learn-to-Swim Life Jacket.



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Your child is going to benefit from mixing in all types of new water experiences - and they're fun for the whole family too! Take advantage of what's around you, pools, tubs, lakes, oceans, water parks, and spray parks are all awesome to accelerate learning! 


My family happens to live in the Finger Lakes in Upstate NY, so we take advantage of what's around us by heading to the lakes and visiting local splash parks (where water shoots up from the ground) in the spring and summer. 




If your child only swims at swimming lessons, they're only experiencing a hyper-controlled and artificial swimming environment. This means they aren't going to be safe and most likely will not feel comfortable in a real-life swimming experience. 


crying kid swimming


You can read more about artificial and hyper-controlled swimming lesson environments here. But in a nutshell, swimming lessons are almost always taught in artificially warm water, in waveless pools, with short swimming spaces and coaches reminding them when to kick and breathe. No other swimming or water experience will be so forgiving. 


Kids need to experience real-life water to be ready for real-life water experiences. 


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In a Nutshell  

Spend as much time in the water with your child as possible, in as many different settings as possible." I know it's not revolutionary, but it doesn't have to be - we know it works. 




Since opening our Swim School in Atlanta, GA, we've seen what we call "learning explosions" two times a year - every single year - with hundreds of kids. Kids only swim at swimming lessons 1x week all winter, but when kids go on a family vacation or get out of school for the summer, their learning shoots through the roof! It's basic, but it works! All because they're swimming more and spending a lot more time in the water.


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There's more you can do outside of swimming lessons too! If you're looking to help your child with the specifics, we've got you covered with a SwimAble Kid membership. We've got videos showing you how simple it is to help your child: 


  • Enjoy the water
  • Get water on their face
  • Hold their breath
  • Paddle Swim
  • Kick
  • Tread Water
  • Jump in 
  • Get in and out of the water safely 
  • And so much more. 


We'll show you how to accelerate your child's learning and keep them safe using a Learn-to-Swim Life Jacket. And we'll tell you exactly when your child is ready to remove flotation and how much to remove so you never have to guess.  


All you have to do to start accelerating your child's learning with our specific tips are to:  


  1. Go to SwimAble Kid:  https://swimable.com/swimablekid/
  2. Click on: START YOUR FREE TRIAL to try out SwimAble Kid free for 7-days
  3. Start watching videos instantly!


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One Last Thing About Learn-to-Swim Life Jackets

Some parents have misconceptions (or genuine fear) about putting their children in life jackets. But Jeff and I have helped thousands of kids learn to swim in them since 2012 - here's what you need to know:  


Think about how you learned to ride a bike or how you're planning to teach your child to ride a bike - you're probably going to use training wheels - that's how I learned, and that's our plan with my daughter. These Learn-to-Swim Life Jackets are exactly like training wheels for learning how to swim. 


And there are several reasons why they actually accelerate a child's learning. Here are two: 


They remove the fear of sinking and allow kids to start having fun and swimming immediately.

It makes them instantly safer in the water - which means they can start swimming and building the strength and skill needed to swim safer on their own. 


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They instantly allow kids to start swimming longer distances and for more extended periods.


This means kids build endurance and skill much faster than they could if they weren't wearing the Learn-to-Swim Life Jacket. Beginner swimmers can't swim very far, if at all. Which means they hardly get any practice outside of swimming lessons (or even in swimming lessons). 


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Who do you think will learn to swim faster - the kid who swims further for longer or the kid who swims shorter for less time? 


These aren't small things - I promise you they work. When you use them with a SwimAble Kid Membership, your child is going to learn to swim stronger and safer, quicker than with swimming lessons alone. 


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Even if you want to keep your child in swimming lessons (which you don't have to) to help them learn how to swim... You have the power to accelerate their learning and help them become stronger and safer swimmers, faster. 


And just to reiterate - these things are simple to do - Here they are one more time: 




SwimAble Kid memberships start at only $20 a month and are proven to help your child learn to swim quicker and safer. Membership also comes with a free 7-day n-risk trial. Join SwimAble Kid and start watching videos instantly!  


You've got nothing to lose and can only gain a safer swimmer, quicker. 

Until next time. Safer Swimming and Happy Swim Discovery!


JIM Wood, Co-Founder of SwimAble.com