Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Why We Love Swim Lessons & Goldfish Swim School Too


 My kiddos love the water!

My youngest is more fearless when it comes to it.  He will splash water in his face, fill stuff and dump it out, and go for hours.  If you try to get him to be done because you can tell he is cold he gets mad.  He keeps asking for more of the water fun.  In fact, we spent some time recently at a water park.  There is a climber with easy to navigate slides and it didn't take him long to start doing one of them on his own.  He even wanted to ride the tube down the big water slide with Mama.  Just as we got to the end he started asking for more.  He would have gone all day if we let him.

My oldest is more cautious.  When the water is deeper he clings onto you with a grip so strong. In water he can stand in, he would splash and play.  But getting his face wet wasn't going to easily happen.  It took a long time for him to just put his belly in the water.  And the idea of floating freaked him out even more.  He liked to play, but just didn't have the confidence.

This Summer we decided it was time to invest and enroll in swim lessons.  My oldest needed someone else to get him to put his face in the water and to get him to put a little effort in trying to swim, as well as learn safety basics.  He needed help growing his confidence in the water.  My youngest needed to learn basic swimming moves, how to be safe, and be okay with going under water all the way.

I made a lot of phone calls and asked friends their thoughts on where they took lessons.  But I kept coming up with the same feeling..."this is not right for my kiddos".  Until I found Goldfish Swim School.

Here is what I was looking for:
  • A swim lesson time when both my kiddos could be at the same time.  I knew I would have to be in the pool with A.  I didn't want to have one kiddo wait while the other had their turn and I also was uncomfortable with my oldest sitting on the pool deck while I did swim lessons.
  • I was hoping to find something budget friendly.  I knew going in swim lessons could be expensive.  But I didn't want to pay extra for stuff we wouldn't use.  Like having to have a membership to a place and then paying extra for swim lessons.  We weren't looking for a place with extra amenities and other classes.  We just wanted swim lessons.
  • We wanted to do weekly lessons, but didn't want to be locked into long sessions.  We were hoping to do a couple of months during the end of the Summer and some of Fall.  Take a break and then pick up a few come Spring as a refresher before Summer.
  • We wanted somewhere that made swim lessons fun and the kids would look forward to going.
  • We wanted a location an easy, short drive from the house.
  • Had morning swim times available any time of the year.
As I started calling around, I added a few more things to the list:
  • Have open swim times and other fun family nights.  Though most right now fall during nap times or too close to bed time.  The option to go is a benefit.
  • If you miss a class, be able to make it up.  Most places you were out of luck or received a voucher to use on their family swim times or something similar.  I figured if we were paying for the lesson, it would be nice to make up an actual swim lesson.
I know what you are thinking, what place has all of that?  Goldfish Swim School!  They are new to Minnesota and opened their first location this Summer.  After talking to them, they had all I was looking for.  We enrolled and here is why:
  • They are willing to work with your schedule and could get both kids classes at the same time, in the morning even.
  • We pay roughly $160 per month we are enrolled for both kiddos.  We get a discount having a sibling signed up.  There is also a $45 per year membership fee.  
  •  Because you pay by the month, with a simple 30 day notice of stopping lessons, you can easily take a break if you want to.  Then when ready to start back up, call and set up lessons.
  • Swim lessons are about learning the skills, but having fun while doing them.  
  •  They have family swim nights, open swim times, and many other fun activities outside of swim lessons.  A small fee, $5 per kiddo, no more than $15 for family for most.
  • It is a quick and easy drive.  Even if it were a little longer, we still would have gone with Goldfish because of what they offer.
  • Added bonus, if you miss a class, you can find another time to make it up.
After two months here is what we have found beyond what we knew about after signing up:
  • From the time you walk in the place it is engaging and fun.
  • They give just enough push of encouragement to give them the confidence to do the skills and help them overcome their fears.
  • The staff is always excited to see you and will take time to chat.  Their staff is an amazing group of people who make the kid's swimming experience better than I could have imagined.
  • You get to watch your kiddo show off a skill at the end of each class. Being in the pool at the other end with my youngest, the staff helps him to finish his lesson so I can go watch.
  • They have great advice and tips to make things go more smoothly.  My youngest, like a lot of kiddos, didn't like the feeling of water in his ear, so he wouldn't relax during back floats and was reluctant at first to go all the way under.  They suggested an ear band.  Wearing it lets him enjoy getting wet from head to toe.
My kiddos love going!

By the second week my oldest was going underwater, yes underwater completely.  He learned how to walk a long the pool edge using his hands and climb out easily on his own, which is one of his favorite things to do.  He loves to float on his back.  His biggest struggle has been using his muscles to keep strong kicks and strong pulls.  He has gotten there and once he lets himself put his face in the water while he swims, he will be able to go faster and farther.  He loves to get his whole self wet now.  His confidence even led him to go down a water slide head first, all smiles, on his own just on a whim. At the end of every class he gives his teacher a hug.

My youngest still loves the water.  The consistency of the routine has him now where he knows what to do, what is coming next, and still has lots of fun.  I wasn't real excited about being in the pool at first, but I will admit I love taking classes with him.  He has learned basic skills and is getting stronger at doing them.  He knows that when he needs a rest to flip over to his back and float.  He can crawl along the edge using just his hands on his own now after two months.  He has learned that he can still have fun in the water and still be able to move around, as well as how to be safe.

Here's what my kiddos think:

Because there is a fish tank and fun to watch (*The waiting area has a small play area, a fish tank filled with fish, chairs and tables to watch lessons from, and cubbies for your gear*)
Love my teacher!
Cool painted wall (*The wall in the pool area is one giant underwater mural. They have also decorated the rest of the space in a cabana type theme.  With lots of changing rooms, a blow drying bar, several family style bathrooms with a shower in them.  So many bright colors and engaging when you walk in*)
Like to show off new skills (*He waits for me to come down and watch.  He would do all the skills to show off if he could*)
Loves to crab walk the edge of the pool

Bubbles the fish! (*OMG, my kiddo loves Bubbles! Every fish he sees now is bubbles.  Bubbles is their mascot.  They utilize big floating Bubbles to get the kids to move around the pool or play games like peak.  He is also on the items they give out to the kids each week at the end of their lessons.  From a bath toy Bubbles, to posters, to tattoos, and more.  We won a stuffed Bubbles and A has had it in his bed since.*)
Scooping water onto his head (*One of the things we work on is getting used to having water run down the kiddos face.  The teacher doesn't even give me a scoop any more, it just goes right to A.  He dumps a scoopful on himself, and then on me.  The technique is meant for gradual, you scoop and dump on the arm, then the shoulder, then the head. From the second week on A just takes the scoop himself and dumps it on his head*)
Big kicks (*We practice lots of kicking.  For awhile he would do more of a frog kick...until he saw his brother doing big kicks at the other end of the pool (another added bonus to being at the same time), so he is loves doing big kicks!*)
Catching balls while kicking and paddling around the pool (*They use puppets, balls, Bubbles, mirrors, and more to help get the kiddos comfortable, excited, and have fun*)
Boat rides and train rides (*At the end of class they get to do a special activity. They made boats using pool noodles and a block. The kiddos get to go in the middle with their arms out and motor around the pool. The trains are giant train shaped foam the kiddos sit on and ride around the pool.*)

All this is why we love Goldfish Swim School and swim lessons too!

Some fun photos and videos.  Sorry some are blurry, but they are the best photos that I've gotten so far of the kiddos swimming.

The ones in the pool are from shortly after we started.  Hopefully I will get some new and updated ones now that we are over two months in.  I know so much has changed in what they can do.  They both have grown in the skills they can do, gained more confidence in their ability, and still have lots of fun.


A received a Happy Birthday postcard with bubbles on it.  
He went around carrying it and doing his happy dance.

A practicing his wet dips and going all the way under. 
T practicing his crab walk along the edge and then getting out of the pool. 

Using their new confidence in the water at the water park.

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