How to Choose a Swim School

How to Choose a Swim School

Ever wonder how to choose a swim school for your child or yourself? How do you decide which program is the right fit? Today, let’s look at how to choose a swim school and key things to look for.  The primary focus of this post is on a parent looking to choose a school for their child.

Qualified Instructor

The first thing to look for is a qualified instructor. In Ontario, swimming instructors are certified by the Canadian Red Cross. Look for instructors who are qualified to teach the Red Cross standards, are Water Safety Instructors, have Standard First Aid and CPR, and have training with the Lifesaving Society. Only a qualified instructor has the necessary experience and training to keep his or her students safe.

Experience with Your Child’s Age and Skill Level

To make sure the lesson is a good one for your child, finding an instructor that has previously worked with kids of the same age and skill level is important. An experienced instructor can make sure your child is learning appropriate skills and techniques for his or her age. They will also better understand what a child of that age and skill level will need to feel at ease in the water.

Pool Condition

Another key point to look for is the condition of the pool. Look for a pool that is well maintained and cleaned, void of leaves or debris. Ensure the pool deck is also clean, clutter-free and in excellent condition. Check that all rails, ladders and fences are solid. Verify that necessary safety equipment, such as a first aid kit, flotation devices and life buoys are all in place.

It’s also important that the pool water is warm enough (e.g. high 80’s Fahrenheit) to make the lessons pleasant. The pool’s water quality must be well balanced and checked on a regular basis.

Lessons Include Water Safety

Learning various swim strokes is important, but so is learning about water safety. A good swim school teaches students how to be safe in and around the water. The Canadian Red Cross’ Swim Program integrates water safety into its lessons, at all age and skill levels.

Flexible Teaching Style

Every child is different and learns in a different way. That’s why it’s important to choose a swim instructor that is flexible in their teaching style. By respecting student differences, each child can learn at their own pace while keeping safe and having a positive experience.

Positive Attitude

Learning to swim is supposed to be fun. Look for an instructor who uses positive reinforcements and keeps things fun during lessons. Children learn best when they feel at ease with the instructor without fear of being criticized or belittled for their efforts. An instructor with a positive attitude is key to making sure your child learns to the best of his or her ability, and wants to participate in the lessons.


Understanding how to choose a swim school is easier once you know which key points to look out for. In order to get the most out of your child’s lessons, choose an experienced, qualified instructor at a well maintained pool. Then let the learning, and the fun begin!

How to Help Your Child Overcome Fear of Water

How to Help Your Child Overcome Fear of Water

Is your child afraid of the water? Do they panic if you try to bring them to the pool? Has bath-time become a battle? Have you wondered how to help your child overcome fear of water?

Being afraid of the water is quite common amongst young children. According to this Canadian Family Magazine article, most kids will outgrow this fear on their own. However, it can be a difficult stage for parents to wait out. If your child has developed a fear of water, there are things you can do to help them overcome it. Here are a few key tips to help your child if he or she is afraid.

Be Patient

The first tip to remember is to take a deep breath, relax and be patient with your child. Don’t punish or push them too hard – their fear is real to them so be respectful of their emotions. Also, if you are nervous or anxious about the situation, your kids may notice and think there’s reason to be scared.

Make it Fun

Swimming and splashing about is supposed to be fun. Find ways to introduce water-related activities into your schedule that are non-threatening to your child. They may enjoy playing with water toys at a toddler water table or running around a splash pad. Start with activities they take pleasure in so they establish a more positive relationship with the water. Even though they may not go near a pool just yet, they may learn it’s OK to be splashed or get their face wet.

Reassure and Encourage

As noted in this Today’s Parent article, it’s important to praise your child when he makes progress. Give your child some reassurance that he is safe and that you are nearby. Tell them that you are sure they will succeed with practice.

Get your Child Involved

Your child is more likely to buy in if they get to make some of the decisions. Bring them to the store and let them pick out their bathing suit. Let them decide if they would rather go to the beach or splash pad. Allow them to bring their favourite water toy to the pool. The more involved your child is in the decision making and preparation, the more likely he or she will be to participate once they get there.

Swimming Lessons

Learning to swim can make your child less fearful of the water. It may be best to start with an individual or small group setting so your child is not overwhelmed. It’s also important to notify the swim instructor of your child’s fear to make sure the experience is fun and safe. Look for qualified instructors that follow the program recommended by the Canadian Red Cross, such as Emily’s Swim School.

With a little time and patience, your child can start to enjoy the water. For more tips for the reluctant swimmer, check out Swim Kids’ selection of articles here.

Hopefully this post has provided some practical tips on how to help your child overcome fear of water.

Water Safety Week: June 7 – 14, 2014

June 7th to the 14th 2014 marks water safety week here in Canada. Every year, the Canadian Red Cross works to raise awareness about water safety in order to prevent drowning incidents.

Did you know that, on average, over 400 Canadians drown each and every year? And that most of these drownings were preventable?

Children from one to four years of age are most at risk of accidental drowning. They can drown in just centimetres of water, often in a bathtub or backyard pool. The Lifesaving Society offers water safety tips for parents of children under 5 years of age here.

Men aged 15 to 44 are also in the highest risk group for drowning. Many incidents involve risk-taking, alcohol and not wearing a lifejacket when boating.

There are key elements of water safety that, when followed, can help save a life. Here are a few of the recommendations from the Red Cross Society.

Learn to Swim

Becoming a strong swimmer is an important step to preventing drowning incidents. Sign up your child in swimming lessons, and take classes yourself if you are not able to swim. When looking at possible courses, look for a program that teaches both swimming skills and water safety. The Canadian Red Cross programs teach both important skills, and offer classes from 4 month of age through to adults.  This is the program that we teach at Emily’s Swim School.

Take Safety Precautions

Make sure your backyard pool is properly fenced off and can’t be accessed by unsupervised children. Have safety equipment on hand, such as lifejackets, a reaching pole and hook, a lifesaving ring, a first aid kit and a cellphone. For a complete checklist, see the Lifesaving Society’s Backyard Swimming Pool Safety Inspection Checklist.

Prepare for Emergencies

Learning first aid and CPR skills can save a life. Consider getting training and certification through a group such as St. John Ambulance, who offers courses throughout Ontario and Canada. Also know when to call your local emergency number or 9-1-1 for help.

Supervise Children When Near Water

Proper active supervision by an adult is the best way to keep children safe near and in the water. Even if your child can swim, he or she must be watched when at the beach, in the pool, at the water park and in the bathtub.

Many drowning incidents happened when children accidentally went into the water. If playing near the water, children must still be constantly supervised. Wearing a lifejacket is also recommended for non-swimmers.


As the majority of drowning incidents in Canada occur in just three months – June, July and August – it’s important to promote water safety right now. Thanks to Water Safety Week, more adults and children will learn how to have fun while staying safe near the water.

For more information, please see the Canadian Red Cross brochure Health and Safety Tips –  Summer Water Safety.

Benefits of Swimming for Adults

Five Benefits of Swimming for Adults

There are numerous benefits of swimming for adults.  More and more doctors are advising their adult patients to take up swimming as a safe and pleasurable way to enjoy the health benefits of routine aerobic physical activity. According to the CDC, just a few hours a week of aerobic exercise like swimming can decrease the chance of acquiring chronic or even serious health issues. Here are five reasons that make swimming the ideal sport for adults.

1) Adult swimmers live longer

Studies show that weekly swimmers have approximately half the risk of death than their inactive counterparts. (Source:  Chase NL, Sui X, Blair SN. 2008. Swimming and all-cause mortality risk compared with running, walking, and sedentary habits in men. Int J of Aquatic Res and Educ. 2(3):213-23). Swimming improves many health issues including type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and even helps to deter certain types of cancer including colon, breast and lung.

2) Adult swimmers feel better physically

People with chronic diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis benefit from water-based exercises like swimming because they can get the benefits of healthy exercise such as a decrease in pain in a low impact and low injury sport without worsening symptoms or further damaging joints. Here is the link to the CDC on this – CDC link. Swimming is also responsible for maintaining or improving bone health in post-menopausal women.

3) Adult swimmers feel better mentally

Like many exercises, swimming increases a feeling of well-being and is a great stress reducer. People who swim regularly also report less depression than non-swimmers of the same age, circumstances and socioeconomic group.

4) Adult swimmers increase social interactions

Older adults can feel isolated from their family and friends and lose a sense of self-confidence and independence. Swimming can become more than a sport for older people who are missing daily social interactions. It can be a gateway to making new friends and forming new relationships. Having friends and feeling happy or content contribute to a general increase in mental and physical health, so swimming has a double impact on the older swimmers’ well-being. Swimming is a physical activity that encourages a healthier lifestyle with opportunities to connect with like-minded people.

5) Adult swimmers are less likely to drown

Statistics cite that accidental drowning is the second leading cause of death for Canadians who are 55 or younger.  Although one may assume adults have learned how to swim, many have not and are at a great risk any time they participate in a recreational activity that centers around water such as boating, snorkeling or even just enjoying ocean waves. A strong wave combined with a significant undertow can drag a person deep into the water where non-swimmers are in danger. Approximately 68% of all drownings in Canada occurs in or around the water.

Tapping into the substantial benefits of swimming for adults can improve numerous aspects of one’s life.

Emily's Swim School - Toddler Girl Sitting in Pool

Swimming is a lifelong sport

Swimming is an amazing lifelong sport. Babies as young as a few months old can learn to swim, and they can continue to swim through the decades right up to their advanced senior years. What is it about swimming that makes it possible for people of all ages, disabilities and special needs to enjoy this sport and continue to enjoy it for their life?

Swimming is a healthy aerobic exercise that is gentle on bones and muscles

Many people consider swimming the perfect sport. It offers the swimmer terrific cardiovascular exercise while it tones and firms the swimmer’s entire body at the same time. Swimming is a sport that encourages balance, flexibility and core strength. It’s a low impact sport that is as beneficial and gentle to young growing bones and muscles as it is to older adults who want a safe exercise program that will not exacerbate injuries or medical conditions or lead to new injuries or health problems (

Swimming is a fun way to get fit

It makes sense. If you’re having fun, it’s easier to continue an exercise program both in length of time you exercise and in the frequency of your exercise sessions. If nothing hurts and your body is suspended in a soft cushion of water, you can kick, glide and use your arms to propel yourself through the water without causing pain or undue stress on joints.

Swimming is an ideal sport for pregnant women

Medical experts encourage healthy pregnant women to use common sense when choosing an exercise program and point to swimming as an ideal sport for women to participate in before, during and after pregnancy. Studies show that when an expectant mother is physically active, she has a better chance to keep weight gain under control and increase muscle tone, core strength and the stamina she will need for an easy delivery. It will also help her feel better during pregnancy and aid in weight loss after the baby is born. Of course, always check with your own physician to see if there is any reason why you should not exercise during your pregnancy.

Swimming is a family friendly sport

Unlike working out at the gym alone, swimming together as a family is a great way to combine exercise and family time into one pleasurable and relaxing activity. Swimming together ensures that the entire family from baby to grandma can enjoy the benefits of a cardiovascular workout, keep weight under control and gently exercise joints to stay flexible and healthy for life.