YMCA of Greater Westfield Parents Guide to

YMCA of Greater
Parents Guide to
Swimming Lessons
Dear Parents/ Guardians:
Welcome to the YMCA of Greater Westfield’s Swimming Lessons! This handbook is
designed to inform you of the goals, objectives, staff, and expectations of our swim
lesson program. It is also designed to inform you of the YMCA polices that relate to the
pools and swimming lessons.
Our primary goal is to teach children water safety and swimming skills in a fun,
safe, and educational environment. We accomplish this by providing lessons that
encourage caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility. This can only be
accomplished when the students, parents, and instructors have a positive outlook on the
task at hand. Each child learns and progresses at different rates and we have to keep in
mind that some children will progress quicker than others. A child may be in the same
level for more than one session, and it is important that we as instructors and parents
support that and do not convey the feeling of “not passing”. It is our goal that children
learn stroke development before moving up to the next level. Together we can make the
learning experience a more pleasurable one.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to talk with
your child’s instructor or with the Lessons Coordinator. You can call the Y at 413-5688631 ext. 320 or email [email protected] . Together we can ensure a successful
and rewarding swimming experience at the YMCA of Greater Westfield.
Jennifer Butler
Lessons Coordinator
General Info……………………………………………………………………………………………… 3
Registration & Refunds……………………………………………………………………………..4
YMCA Swim Lessons (Community Preschool)…………………………………………. 5
Youth Community Lessons………………………………………………………………………..6
Other Swimming Options…………………………………………………………………………..7
Role as a Parent………………………………………………………………………………………8-9
Learning to Swim is Fun……………………………………………………………………………10
Lesson Tips and Facility Information……………………………………………………….11
Frequently Asked Questions…………………………………………………………………12-15
General Information for ALL Lessons
Pool Rules:
Swimmers may not enter the pool unless there is a lifeguard on duty
Swimmers with long hair need to have it tied back or in a swim cap
Band-Aids AND jewelry must be removed prior to swimming
NO RUNNING on the pool deck
No diving in the shallow end
Swimmers are not allowed to jump into the pool backwards, twisting, or flipping
No rough play is allowed
Swimmers are not allowed to sit or stand on any floatation devices
Lifeguard on duty may decided what pool equipment is available to use
At the end of each session every swimmer will receive a certificate of
accomplishment. This card states what each child has worked on during their lessons
and what they have accomplished and needs work on. Each swimmer will progress
at a different rate and thus may take longer to advance to the next swimming
level. If you feel there are any mistakes or inconsistencies in your child’s evaluation,
please feel free to talk to your child’s instructor or call the Lessons Coordinator.
We ask ALL Parents/ Guardians to:
Stay seated on the bleachers away from the lesson, to cut down on child
Use positive reinforcement while watching lessons
Check your personal information either on instructor clip board or at the Front
Desk, incase of a lesson being cancelled.
We accept registrations over the phone, online, and at our front desk. Online and
Phone registrations can only be made with a credit card or debit card. Registration starts
the Monday when the Y opens, one week prior to the end of the current session.
Registration for Members of the YMCA can start on Mondays and they can register up to
the second week of classes. Registration for Non-Members starts on Wednesdays and go
till the second week of classes. No registration is permitted after the second week of
When registering keep in mind which class name, time, and day you are looking
for. Also when registering please give an updated phone number and emergency phone
number incase of any class cancellations. The YMCA reserves the right to cancel any
classes if there is insufficient enrollment (3 kids per class), in which case a full
refund/credit will be issued, if there is no openings in other classes or attendance can
not be made to another day/time.
Program Refund/ Credit Policy
If a class is can cancelled by the YMCA, a full refund or credit will be given. If
a serious illness occurs, a doctor’s order will enable the participant to get a
pro-rated refund or credit toward any class in the future. There are NO
Make-ups for missed classes.
To receive a refund/credit, you must contact the lessons coordinator and explain
the reasoning for discontinuing lessons. After contact a credit will be issued with in 1
week. A refund will take up to 1-2 weeks after contact.
If a class is cancelled by the YMCA the Lessons Coordinator will reach the
family by phone the day of or day after the cancellation to offer make-up day or an
online credit. Classes are not made up when a student misses a class, if your child
misses a lesson for an unforeseen circumstance, and then contact the lessons
coordinator to get a make-up class or online credit.
YMCA Swim Lessons
Parent Child- Ages 6 to 36 months
30 mins; 1:12 ratio
This class is a water enrichment class for the child and an adult. The
program provides opportunities for the parent and child to socialize, interact
with others and be introduced to basic water skills. An instructor provides
guidance for adults to learn proper water entry and exiting, holding
positions, water skills, and safety. Circle time, consisting of songs and
games occurs at the end of each class.
Pre-School Community Lessons
Pike: Beginner- Ages 3-5 years old
30 mins; 1:6 ratio
Non-swimmer & beginner. The focus is on helping children
adjust and develop independent movement in the water. Water
orientation and adjustment to the water are introduced; proper
water entry, front kick, under water exploration, back float,
swimming on their back, jumping, intro to diving, and emphasis
on the paddle stroke.
Eel/Ray: Intermediate/Advanced - Ages 3-5 years old 30 mins; 1:6 ratio
This lesson is a combination class of intermediate and
advanced swimmers who are comfortable with the water and can
swim the width of our small pool unassisted. Stroke development is
started and refined for front crawl, flutter
kick, elementary back stroke, sidestroke,
and backstroke. Rotary breathing is
introduced; diving skills are reviewed and
refined, along with back and front floats. One lesson is
geared toward water and boating safety to educate children
on certain situations.
Youth Community Lessons
Polliwog: Beginner- Ages 6+ years old
30 mins; 1:6 ratio
A learn to swim lesson which introduces basic water skills for
the non-swimmer and beginner to build self confidence.
Skills taught are front and back paddle stroke, side paddle
stroke, elementary back stroke, and learning to swim
independently for 20 feet utilizing two of the four strokes.
Guppy: Intermediate- Ages 6+ years old
45 mins; 1:7 ratio
Child must be able to swim 25 yards paddle stroke front and
back with no assistance from an instructor. Skills learned
include stroke development for front crawl, sidestroke,
backstroke, elementary backstroke, and introduction of rotary
breathing. Learn front and back somersaults, jumping from a
swim block, and kneeling dives.
Minnow: Intermediate/Advanced- Ages 6+ years old 45 mins; 1:7 ratio
Child must be able to swim 25 yards front crawl stroke with
rotary breathing. Skills advance to scissor kick sidestroke,
backstroke alternating arms, breaststroke, elementary
backstroke, breaststroke, and alternating crawl stroke. Learn
synchronized swimming skills, diving, boating safety, and basic
water games.
Fish/Competitive Swim: Advanced- Ages 6+ years old 45 mins; 1:7 ratio
Child must be able to swim 100 yards (4 lengths of the cole
pool) sidestroke, 50 yards (2 lengths of the cole pool) crawl
stroke with rotary breathing, and 50 yards (2 lengths of the
cole pool) of backstroke. The lesson refines breaststroke and
butterfly techniques. Learn proper open flip turns and diving
skills off of the swim blocks. Progresses child’s advanced level
to a competitive level of swimming with strength training and
refining all four strokes.
Other Swimming Options
Private & Semi-Private Swim Lessons: All Ages
6, 30 mins classes
Does your child need more personal attention than large group lessons have to offer?
Try our private and semi-private lessons that are scheduled to work with your busy
schedule. Scheduling is based on pool and instructor availability. You can contact the
Westfield YMCA to talk to the lessons coordinator to give the days and times that you
are available for the lesson.
Private Lessons: It’s a one-on-one basis where the instructor works with your child on
certain skills previously discussed. You receive six 30 minute classes to achieve these
goals. If you would like to continue lessons you can purchase more and schedule them
with your instructor.
Semi-Private Lessons: it’s a one-on-two-three basis where an instructor works with 23 kids at one time on certain skills previously discussed. You will receive six 30 minute
classes to achieve these goals. If you would like to continue lessons you can purchase
more and schedule them with your instructor.
Special Needs Aquatics Program (SNAP): Ages 3-14 years
4, 30 mins classes
An exciting swim lesson program for special needs children. Basic swimming skills
are taught following our preschool and youth swim lesson formats. We give individual
attention, one on one, to learn the routines and expectations of our regular swim
lessons. Our goal is to have the children be able to attend our regular preschool and
youth swim lessons.
Adult Private Swim Lessons: Ages 14 years old +
4, 30 mins classes
Lessons are for the beginner and non-swimmer only. Conquer your anxiety and learn a
life skill, swimming. Our goal is to make you feel comfortable, confident, and safe in
and around the water. Basic water skills are introduced for the adult non-swimmer and
beginner in a relaxed environment with an instructor. Ratio 1:1
All Private, Semi-Private, SNAP, and Adult Private lessons need to contact the Lessons Coordinator to give
their basic information such as times, days, and other preferences.
About Our Swim Instructors
All YMCA Swim Lesson Instructors have been trained through the YMCA of the USA
to teach swim lessons at a variety of levels from Parent Child-Preschool-Youth. They are
all lifeguard, AED, First-Aid, and CPR certified. There will always be a certified lifeguard
present at your child’s lesson.
Your Role as the Parent
At the YMCA of Greater Westfield, we definitely encourage parents to support their
child throughout the swim lesson. We love the clapping and encouragement. We do ask,
however, for the success of your child and the other children in the class that you do sit
away from the lesson (on the bleachers not on the blue benches) and to keep the
coaching to a minimum. When a child is hearing instruction from both their teacher and
parent it can be confusing. Please help your child practice over the weekends by
reinforcing the instruction they receive during their lesson. The more they practice, the
more successful they will become!
Be supportive of your children. Learning to swim can be very difficult (even getting
in the water!). Remember that fear is learned. If you are hesitant or fearful of your child
in the water, your child will generally acquire your fearful attitude. Your child’s progress
and enjoyment can be enhanced when you and your child are enthusiastic about
Positive Reinforcement:
Any disciplinary problems during the lesson should be taken care of by the swim
instructor. Positive reinforcement is to encourage appropriate class behavior will include:
removing the child from the swim lesson (i.e. “time out” small period of time) and may
include talking about the problem with the parent and/ or Lessons Coordinator.
Practicing at Home:
A great way to enhance your child’s swim lesson experience is by practicing
at home. (You don’t even need a pool to do this!)
• If this is your child’s first experience with swim lessons, talk about
how fun lessons will be, how they will meet new friends, and how it
is important it is to be a good listener.
• After swim lessons, ask your child about the skills they learned.
• For younger swimmers (parent/tots, tots, advanced tots), practice
blowing bubbles in the bathtub, wash their face with a washcloth,
or slowly pour water over their heads. These fun exercises aid in
the development of being comfortable with getting the mouth,
nose, eyes, and ears wet, as well as future swimming experiences.
• (Parent Child Classes) Sing the songs learned in class during bathtime or in the
car on the way to lessons. These songs usually include: “Wheels on the Bus,”
“Tick Toc,” and “Motorboat.”
• Pointed Toes - Have the child point their toes at objects while sitting,
then, try kicking with entire leg.
• Holding Breath - Practice out of water or with parent’s help in bathtub. See
how long they can hold their breath while someone counts for them.
• Arm Strokes (front and back) - Have child make "big arm circles" while walking.
• Arms With Side Breathing - Child sits in parent’s lap keeping head
down as if it were in the water. They pretend to take a breath to
the side, blow bubbles down while making big circles with arms.
• Kicking (All levels) - Child lays on bed with legs off the side. Concentrates
on keeping legs straight. Emphasize kick from hip, pointed toes.
• Remind your child why learning how to swim is important (i.e. to participate
on the swim teams, to go swimming at the beach, to go swimming at a
waterpark or backyard pool).
Learning To Swim Is Fun!
The American Red Cross Learn-to-Swim courses offered at our facilities are designed to
give your child a positive learning experience and teaches lifelong swimming skills.
Regardless of your child's swimming ability, you can play a critical role in guiding, caring
for, supervising, motivating and working with your child during this experience. The following are
some suggestions to help you in providing the best experience for your child:
Prepare your child for this experience.
Give your child an opportunity to visit the pool before the beginning of class. Describe
what will be happening and perhaps talk to an instructor or our Lessons Coordinator.
Be prompt.
Children can get anxious if hurried. Allow plenty of time before and after class for
showering, going to the bathroom and dressing.
Follow rules and regulations.
You are responsible for your child's actions, not the instructor or lifeguard. Teach, talk
about and review the pool rules with your child. Lead by example.
Attend every lesson.
Frequent practice is the key to adjustment and learning. Children can regress quickly if
not allowed to practice. It is a good idea to encourage a crying or hesitant child to continue
attending the class. Just being around the pool and observing the activities can help your child
Complete all the levels.
Make sure your child completes all the learn-to-swim levels so that he or she truly has the
skills to be safe in, on and around water.
Encourage safe practices.
Young children cannot be expected to exercise good judgment and caution. Children must be
constantly reminded to walk slowly in the pool area and only enter the water with the instructor
during the class and with you after the class.
Have patience.
It is important not to pressure your child to perform before he or she is ready. Readiness
results from maturity, experiences and other individual factors.
Avoid comparisons. No two children develop at the same rate. Each child learns at a
different pace depending on factors such as physical growth, individual development, comfort,
practice and previous experience. Respect your child's qualities and do not compare them to
their siblings or other children.
Lesson Tips and Facility Information
Arrival Time:
It is important for students to be on deck and ready to go five minutes before their
class starts. Be sure to have students go to the rest room before class. Your instructor
will let students and parents know where to meet each day and that students need to
wait sitting on the side of the pool (not in the water) until instructor has arrived. Your
child should be neither hungry nor extremely full before swimming lessons.
Restroom & Swim Diapers:
Please make sure your child has used the restroom prior to class. All children who
are not fully potty-trained must wear a swim diaper. Your child will not be allowed to
swim in a regular diaper. If a child goes to the bathroom in the pool, this can result in
the pool being shut down and classes being cancelled so the pool can be shocked for
safety purposes.
First Day of Class:
The first day of class is utilized for student skill evaluation and class assignment.
Participants will be asked to perform known skills and then be placed in the appropriate
level class if needed. Participants may be reassigned to another class if necessary.
Please note that some class levels may be combined when class numbers are small,
such as our Eel/Ray classes and some Guppy/Minnow classes. To compensate for the
time allotted for check-in, the evening classes will last about five minutes longer on the
first day of each session.
Before and After Class:
Parents are encouraged to come and talk to the instructor before or after class, as
this is the time they will be available for them. If the instructor is busy with another
parent feel free to leave their name and phone number with the lesson coordinator or
the front desk and the instructor will contact you.
Last Day of Class:
At the end of your swim sessions (8 weeks) we ask that you complete our parent
evaluation form. We use the feedback to make program adjustments to meet your
needs and those of your child. When possible, we take corrective action immediately.
During the summer we share the evaluations with our instructors to give them
encouragement and let them know where they are making a difference. We cannot over
estimate the value of your appraisal. On the last day of classes we give the kids a game
day which is a bunch of water games to help with their swimming skills.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the best age to begin enrolling my child in swimming lessons on
their own?
A: Generally, children at three years of age are ready to enroll in swimming lessons on their
own, appropriate to their level of comfort and skill level. For some preschoolers, especially those
who have not had water experiences or who show fear taking the swim lessons slowly will help
gain the child’s confidence, make sure you as the parent are their to support not to distract. For
a child who is fearful of the water it will take several lessons for them to become comfortable,
try to practice as much as you can. For younger children (6 mths- 2 ½ years) , consider
enrolling them in a parent and child aquatics course.
Q: What causes fear of the water?
A: Some of the more common causes of early fear of the water have to do with the way parents
or guardians relate to their children in and around water.
These causes include:
• Being raised by parents or guardians who are afraid of the water and have either
knowingly or unknowingly communicated this fear to their children;
• Being forced into water activities beyond the ability or comfort level;
• Being carelessly handled in water experiences;
• Being involved in or witnessing a traumatic water accident; or
• Having a fear of the unknown or a general fear of new experiences.
Q: What helps prevent fear of the water?
A: No matter how cautious you are, fear cannot always be prevented. You can help reduce fear
in the following ways:
• Provide enjoyable non-threatening water activities that are simple and fun, to build
confidence and success.
• Arrange for regular, continued contact with a water environment for your child.
• Select safe water environments and supervise all water play.
• Treat water mishaps sympathetically, but do not alarm your child, make their mishaps
into an accomplishment! (i.e. ‘Did you go under water to see Nemo? Did you find
• Be aware of your facial expressions and choice of words so that you do not
• signal panic or fear(picking a child up after they have fallen under water and asking
are they ok?).
• Try using goggles. This may help children explore under the water.
• Teach your child “respect” for the water and water rules without implied threats or
• Lead by example. Follow rules and enjoy the water with your child. Get your face wet
and perform some of the simple and fun activities in the program.
Q: What if my child already has a fear of the water?
A: Respect your child’s feelings. Teasing or getting angry only makes matters worse. Progress
slowly by following these guidelines:
• Provide plenty of time for your child to adjust to the new setting.
• Concentrate on activities with which your child is comfortable and ready.
• Expose your child to other children who are having fun.
• Enjoy the water yourself with your child.
Q: How many lessons is it going to take for my child to “swim”?
A: Children vary widely when it comes to learning a skill. In general, each child’s readiness is
influenced by physical development, previous experiences, home environment, parent/ guardian
attitudes, and individual preferences. For most skills, there are simple prerequisites, activities
and lead-ups that can prepare the child to perform those skills. For example, before children are
ready to put their entire face in the water, they may need to practice blowing bubbles, washing
the face, splashing and putting parts of the face in the water. It may take 30–80 lessons before
a child can swim independently. However, to make sure your child does learn to swim well, be
sure that he or she completes all of the learn-to-swim levels.
Q: What if my child cannot keep up with the class?
A: The progress of your child is not compared with that of any other child. Because they have
different experiences and backgrounds as well as different learning rates, children acquire skills
at different times. The instructor can adapt and adjust the level of difficulty to the individual
child. This way, your child will feel a part of the group but will practice at his or her level. If you
believe that your child needs to be in a different level class, consult with the instructor and/or
the lessons coordinator.
Q: How many levels should my child complete?
A: Your child should complete all of the Preschool Learn-to-Swim levels (beginner, intermediate,
advanced) to develop full swimming competency. If he or she swims only during the summer
months, skills will be diminished or change during the year. Regular
practice is necessary to keep skills and progress to the next level.
Q: Will my child learn to swim in one session?
A: Most children take several years to really learn to swim proficiently. We encourage you to
keep your child in YMCA Swim Lessons until they can truly swim a variety of strokes the
length of the pool. Swim Lessons are more than just “being okay” in the water. It is
important for your child’s safety that they build endurance and body awareness in the water
so they will be safe in a variety of water environments.
Q: Will my child become “drown proof” after participating in the Preschool
Community Lessons (Pike, Eel/Ray)?
A: Participation in any swimming lesson program does not “drown proof” your child. It is only
the first step in developing your child’s water safety and swimming skills. Year-round practice,
regular exposure to water and positive encouragement are the tools needed for developing your
child’s comfort level in water and improving his or her swimming skills.
Q: What should my child bring/wear to class?
A: All children should wear appropriate swimwear to class. T-shirts, loose fitting suits and
jewelry are prohibited for your child’s safety. Tight swim shirts are okay. Your child SHOULD
NOT bring toys, arm floats, life jackets or any other aquatic devices to class unless asked to do
so by the instructor. We do provide swim aids for the children. All children with long hair MUST
have their hair pulled back into a ponytail. All children who are not fully potty-trained MUST
wear a swim diaper.
Q: Will I need to be in the water with my child?
A: Only participants in the PARENT-CHILD swim lessons will need to be in the water with their
child. All other parents should sit AWAY from the pool (on the bleachers) to observe their child’s
swim lesson.
Q: Can my other children swim during their siblings swim lesson?
A:Only the children participating in the swim class are allowed in the pool, an occasional private
lesson or another swim lesson are sharing the small pool. In the large pool the lesson will have
1-2 lanes just for their class. Other lanes are used for lap swim, aerobics classes, or swim team.
All other Swim Lesson participants and family MUST wait out of the pool for their lesson. Please
be respectful of this policy.
Q: Will you make up my child’s class if he/she is sick?
A: Unfortunately, no - if you miss a class due to illness or personal reasons we are unable to
provide make-up classes. If your child misses more than 3 classes due to illness, you may put in
a refund request (accompanied by doctor’s note) at the YMCA of Greater Westfield’s
Front Desk.
Q:Will I get the same instructor each class?
A:We do our best to keep your child with the same instructor each session. However, when
your child progresses to a new level or switches times this may not always be possible. When
the sessions change not all the instructors can stay on certain days, ask the instructor if they are
staying on the certain days.
Q: How do you know my child’s level?
The first day of EVERY session, we will assess each child during the first few minutes of the class. This
way, we can ensure that they are being taught the appropriate skills, if the instructor notices that your
child needs to switch to a different class they will mention it to you at the end of the class time.
Afterwards you can talk to the desk and they will offer the times of the other class that the child needs to
switch to. A note will be given to the Lessons Coordinator to switch you, and you will receive a phone call
confirming the switch.