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Infant Swimming Lessons

Beyond the toddler swimming lessons, can other mamas and papas share experiences with toddler swimming lessons?

I am looking for input on peoples experience with infant swim programs in the Portland area. My little guy is 6 mos old and I would like to get him involved in a swim program but feel a bit overwealmed by the different options out there. Any anecdotes or recommendations?


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We are starting swim classes this week through Portland Parks and Recreation. So, after next Tuesday we will let you know what we think. We had to wait a few months to find a class that fit with Papas schedule.
For the most part, PP&R offers low dough classes (from artbabies to sign language) that are pretty good.

Living a few blocks from Dishman, that is where we almost always take the kids. The PP&R classes can be great depending on the instructor. With swimming you do not know who the instructor is until the first class. Both my girls have loved it and my 6 year old is a great swimmer. We are looking forward to taking them to Hawaii in a few weeks to see how she does snorkeling.

I don't know about other places, but at PP&R six months is a little young. With my youngest I did the classes that young since her big sister was in the pool. We played games and she became more comfortable in the water. I know people who have just done that on their own. Some other places might offer more.

Our six year old is a really strong swimmer and I think the age she started did not matter as much as consistancy. Being so close to Dishman there are times when we do swimming classes year round. This has helped her to be a much stronger swimmer than her peers that take lessons just in the summer.

I started my son at Children of the Sea (located by Washington Square) when he was 5 months old. They have a fabulous program. I've recommended it to everyone I know.

At 5 months I was enrolled in a class with just infants, so we were doing activities suited for that age. And at this swim school it is more than just playing and having fun in the water. They are teaching real skills and water safety. So even though my son may not be truly swimming until he is much older they are building the foundation for that to happen. Some examples are: getting accustomed to going under the water, floating on the front and back, grabbing the edge of the pool to eventually learn how to climb out of the water, how to turn around once they come into the pool to eventually learn how to turn around and swim back to safety if they fall in the water, plus much more. They also introduce the kids to swim props (arm floats, flippers that are used to help them learn to swim as they get older) and life jackets.

All of the teachers I've had have been fabuluous. Each one understands how young children progress to becoming a swimmer and can guide your child individually toward that goal.

Once my son started swim class he began to really enjoy his bath time too. And now at 13 months he can confidently go under the water holding his breath. He's doing pretty good with his back floats and loves the little slide. He's even started putting his face in the water trying to blow bubbles (which he hasn't quite figured out yet). All of these are skills that he is building to be confident and safe in the water.

I plan on swimming with this school year round for the next several years. I highly recommend this program! I enjoy coming to class too!


Riverplace Athletic Club does great parent and child classes, and they are open to non members at a pretty reasonable rate.

I started my daughter at 5 months at Riverplace Athletic Club, and she's still taking lessons there at 26 months. You can start them as young as 3 or 4 months, there, I think. The nice thing about the RAC that is not offered at any of the Portland Public pools is an emphasis on safety skills--teaching them how to take a breath before going under (starting with infants), how to push off from the bottom to rise to the top, how to flip to a back float if you fall in. They start learning to kick, do arm movements, and move through the water when they move up to the pre-beginner class (around age 2 or 2.5). As mentioned in another post, you don't have to be a member to take lessons there. They do sing and play in the infant class, but it's more skill-based than the public lessons.

We did PP&R when my son was 6 months. It's true, it was a little beyond him, but there were other kids his age there, and he was able to experience the water. Most importantly, it was really cheap and there was little commitment. Had he not been interested in swimming, we could have pulled him out without losing a lot of money.

I started my daughter at the Dishman Center when she was 6 months. It was a nice, low-key, inexpensive experience. She did not get much out of the instruction, but she loved singing and bouncing and splashing around with the other kids. She "practiced" kicking and getting her head wet and bopping around in the water. Most of the kids in the class were older and many were terrified of the water. Hopefully starting her early will keep her from being scared. I highly recommend the PP&R program.

While I have not had any experience with any other places I did do A LOT of research about swimming lessons before choosing Dolfun Swim Academy (hokey name aside) at the Salvation Army in NE (The lessons are not affiliated at all with the Salvation Army, just use their pool - I think they have some other pools they also teach at).
I have to say I was very skeptical how much my son would get out of the lessons. We started at about five months because he hated the water and he was definitely not too young. In fact the youngest baby was nine or ten weeks I believe. The instructor said she started both her kids at six weeks! Sometimes she brings her daughter to class (who is now 14 months) and she is a little fish! She has learned to walk along the side of the pool safely, she grabs the side of the pool and holds on all by herself, she NEVER cries when she goes under water...in fact she comes up smiling.
My son has nights when he is more cranky than others but all in all really likes the lessons too. He has certainly come a long way from hating the bath tub. Both my husband and I look forward to swim night all week. Now he's ten months and I plan on continuing with his lessons for a long time.
I think its close in price to PP&R, our instructor is always the same lady, the pool water is very warm - 92ish- (the Dishman is NOT warm at all), as is the temperature in the pool room and locker room, and the babies in each class are all with in a few months of each other so no one feels left out.
I have no affiliation with the company or anything, so I don't get anything out of talking so highly of them but I can honestly say I love it, love it, love it!


I second the dolfun swim academy in ne. our five and a half month old boy started classes there when he was about three months old. miss debbie, our instructor, (and also the owner of the academy) is competent and we look forward to class every week. our son really loves the water, so that helps, but it feels right to have him getting used to floating and diving (going under water)now before he loses the swimming reflexes. the sessions are 25 minutes and the class runs for 14 weeks (but many people join half way into the session). it's also nice to chat with other mothers (and fathers!) who have babies the same age. i highly recommend dolfun.

My 4 month old takes class at swimbabes.net in Milwaukie - he took an "intro" 1 time class at 8 weeks (good to see if you and your child like it--my mother and I both went and were in the pool with him during the class), and started the "aquabond" class a little after the 12 week time they generally recommend as the minimum age for that class. The next new session starts in February.

There's a lot of singing and toys, but the focus is getting them comfortable floating on their backs, getting them used to water on their face, ears and eyes, and safety. The official goal is to teach them to turn over and float on their back if they fall into water, but I think it's also just great for getting comfortable in water and socialization.

I love the pool because it is very warm, which makes a big difference in their comfort. For when he swims in a cooler (normal) pool, I have a little wetsuit for him. The other positive thing is that he's now quite comfortable taking a shower with me and doesn't complain about his face getting wet - he's quite happy with getting submerged under water for a few seconds and is getting close to floating by himself a bit.

I also take him to a water play class on Sundays at Portland Adventist hospital. This is more of a just fun, play class, not really any emphasis on learning to swim, no submersion, etc. The teacher, however, is very nice and it gives him a bit more time just to goof around in the pool and see other kids. The pool is somewhat warmer than a normal pool, but cooler than that at Swimbabes, so an extra layer may be a good idea.

We LOVE Dolfun Swim Academy too! We don't even live in Portland, but every time we travel from Honolulu to Portland we take classes there. We started with Miss Debbie at 4 months and recently had classes with Jenna. They are both excellent teachers. It is about floating and exploring the water below without coercion or focus on technique (you never hear "kick, kick, kick). My daughter loves the water. I believe this started in the bathtub as a newbor following the same principles used at Dolfun. The water and showers are nicely warm.

DolFun is awesome! We started there when my daughter was 10 weeks and the teachers we've had are great. The classes are designed to get the babies comfortable in the water and to work with their natural reflexes. My daughter is 5 months not and she loves kicking, slashing and going underwater. The school has classes for older kids and adults but their main focus is on infant classes. Like the previous commenters, I can't say enough about the program.

Mamas, if anyone has additional suggestions for infant swimming lessons, please share. We received a recent email from Camellia:

"We're looking into taking our 5-month-old son in baby swimming classes. I know that La Petite Dauphin and DolFUN offer baby swim lessons, and I'd like to hear feedback about the programs from mamas who have tried the classes. La Petite Dauphin appeals to me because they have a saline pool, but I don't know anything about their methodology. If you've done baby swimming classes at either place or elsewhere, I'd love to hear about your experiences, including how fun it was for the baby, whether you felt they learned a lot, how you felt about safety, whether the chlorination was an issue at all, etc."

check out SWIMBABES tm
oregon's first swim school and internationally known award winning program
for infants and toddlers

I've tried contacting DolFUN 4 times through 2 emails and 2 phone messages over the last three weeks, but haven't had a response. Has anyone had better luck contacting them recently? Are they still in business? The website seems to be up to date. I just don't understand why I can't get a response.

SWIMBABES has a new program all to music for newborns as well as their early childhood development Infant Swim Survival Safety Course . The program focuses not only on skills but pre school readiness for toddlers . the children progress all the way to competetion readiness with our coachs Sara and Vladimer a former Russian Olympian. you can find out more about swimbabes on our websites.

I heard from DolFUN today- it took them a while to get back to me also, but they are having an introductory clinic this Saturday, July 25th. The email of the person who got back to me is debparham@yahoo.com.

I took my 4 and 2.5 year olds to SWIMBABES and I can hardly believe my eyes. They are really learning survival swim skills! If you are looking for your child to learn survival and respect for the water, this is the place to go. I know of many places, including private lessons, that don't focus on the importance of back floating. SWIMBABES had my kids floating on their backs every day and each lesson involves this critical technique to help them survive if they were ever stuck in a difficult situation. I can't say enough about this amazing, yet admittedly tough program! www.swimbabes.com

anyone know if DolFUN is still in business? like one of the posts above, i've emailed and called several times with no reponse...

DolFUN is closed for winter...the website shows they will schedule classes again in May. I am looking at Children of the Sea...anyone have any recent experience with the Parent/Baby 4-16 month class? My LO is will be 13 months come March when the next classes start.

Just FYI, DolFUN SWIM academy has three pools and only one is closed for the winter, the outdoor Tualatin pool. The Portland NE and Vancouver pools are open All YEAR Long with warm 92 degree water. Check them out they are the best swim school for children of all ages. They really know what they are doing. Absolutely, amazing to see how much progress, they make and the safety skill attained are incredible and...they have FUN.

I have 2 kids in lessons at Farber Swim School. The schedule is super open and flexible which works great for me! They have baby group classes for infants (My 2 year old has been in 1 year now & we love it!), she is floating on her back doing assisted dives, and diving for toys in shallow water. My 6 year old has been in private 1-on-1 lessons for a year now too, he started afraid to put his face in, and now swims a confident freestyle down the length of the pool! The baby classes are cheapest I've found, and the private class (Compared to other private lesson prices) is pretty good too. My 6 year old loves his lessons, he's ended up with about 3 different instructors in a year, each one has been amazing, and he's gotten attached to them all!

Both of my boys have had lessons from Jolene Granly with Infant Swimming Resource, ISR. The skills they learned in the short period of time with Jolene were priceless. I know you can view videos of her students in action on her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/swimbabyisr It is truly remarkable. Anyone with young children I highly reccomend her classes. Your child will not only learn how to swim, but will have the safety skills for when they are caught in an emergency! Plus her energy and connection with the kids is amazing.

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