Swimming Q & A

When should I start my child in formal swimming lessons? 
We recommend that children be exposed to swimming in a Baby and Me class as early as 4 months of age. This is particularly important for the child who is around a pool or body of water. Formal swim lessons can start as soon as the child can walk confidently. Swimming lessons prior to age four significantly reduces the chance of drowning. (American Medical Association Archives of Pediatric Medicine 2009)

When can I sign up?
You can sign up for our lessons or classes at any time! Check out our schedule and registration page for more information or contact us.

This session has already started; can I still enrol my child?
Yes, if there is a class with open space, we will gladly accept enrolments after the session has started.

What is the Make-up policy? 

If my child misses a lesson, can it be made up? To retain class size and instructor-child ratios, we do not allow make-up lessons. Children miss lessons quite often due to different circumstances and while we’d love to have everyone attend class all of the time, we do not want to affect lesson quality and safety. 

Do I need to get in the water with my child?
If your child is under the age of two and a half and has never done swim lessons before, we offer a parent-child swim class in which the parent does get in the water with the child. If the child is over the age of two and a half, they are placed in a class with an instructor and other children who have the same skills, and the parent does not need to be in the water

Why only a 30-minute lesson for SW0A to SW2A?
We have found that a 30-minute lesson suits youth the best. After 30 minutes, lessons tend to lose productivity due to fatigue and decreased focus and Keep their attention.

In our 30-minute swim class, we’re able to work on specific skills, and keep the kids engaged at the same time. Through different exercises and even games, they’re able to stay focused and interested, getting the most out of each time in the pool.

We’re also able to keep classes smaller. With our 4:1 (SW1B) 5:1 (SW1A, SW2) student-teacher ratio, teachers get more time with each student.  This is the best way to help children develop their confidence and comfort in the water. Smaller classes also create a strong group atmosphere, so kids can learn from each other while they’re learning from the teacher.

How long should my child attend lessons/classes?
Your child can attend lessons for as long as you see fit. You should have a goal in mind when the lessons begin. Are you working to overcome a fear? To build confidence and safety skills? To improve technique, or maybe even work toward joining the SW6 squads? Each participant's lesson is catered to fit their needs and goals.

Why is your pool great for teaching lessons and classes?
Our pools are nice warm 28 to 30 degrees, which is relaxing and comfortable for swimmers (especially little ones). Being comfortable helps students concentrate and perform.

My child is afraid of the water. How can you help them?
At ESF, we offer lessons to all ages and abilities and have techniques to ensure participants gain more confidence in the water. Over the past 20 years, we have successfully helped a great many participants overcome their fear of the water. It is important to make water-time a fun experience, and never a forced one.

Can I request a specific instructor?
While we do our best to accommodate teacher requests, but we will have to check their schedule for their availability before we can sign you up. We are always happy to work with you to find a good fit with your instructor.

Can I sign up for more than one lesson a week?
Yes! We have several families that come to the center twice a week for lessons.

Can my child take lessons with a sibling or friend?
Yes! You are free to put together your own group of swimmers if you would like. It is best if the children in the lesson are close to the same skill level.

How long will it take for my child to learn to swim?
There is no absolute answer to this question. Every child is different, and the rate at which they learn to swim will depend on how comfortable they are in the water. E.g. a child who is terrified of water flowing over their head at bath time will take longer to get used to putting their face in the water compared to the child who is happy with water flowing over their head. The child who is scared of the water will generally take longer to learn to swim. Learning to swim can be a long but worthwhile journey, and every child benefits from positivity and patience.

How long will it take my child to pass a level?
Knowing that each child learns and progresses at a different rate, the levels are not designed to be passed in one session. Like dance or tae kwon do, many swimmers will continue in the same level for 1-3 terms until they can master all of the skills. Please do not be discouraged if your child needs to repeat a level more than once. The instructors will continue to build skills in each session, and it's important that kids are in the level comparable to their skill-set, so that the classes are comprised of children with similar ability levels.  

How long does it take before the student is swimming on their own?
Every student is different, and it will vary, however, with lessons and practice, it could be just a few short weeks before they are comfortable and progressing quickly.

If my child takes a long break from swimming lessons, will he go backwards?
Being able to swim requires a certain level of skill and given that your child may only be exposed to that skill development once a week, any break from that skill development will – at best – halt their development. Children develop their aquatic skills at different rates. If that skill development is at a critical point, then an extended break may result in a regression. For example, if the child is starting to learn that the water will support their body weight, what they are actually learning is to trust the water and their teacher. Taking a break at that point could cause the child to lose that trust, resulting in a regression of their skills.

Is it safe to swim in the winter?
There are several reasons why winter swimming is not only safe but also very beneficial:

Colds are viruses, and kids are more likely to pick up the virus from school and friends rather than our chlorinated and UV-sanitized pool water. Getting colds and flu from exposure to cold air during the winter is just an old wives’ tale. We keep our pool at 28 to 30 degrees and our pool room temperature the same to ensure constant body temperature.

Research has shown that swimming helps keep lungs clear of accumulated mucus, reducing the likelihood of respiratory issues. 

Kids that swim in the winter are often healthier because of the benefits of swimming as exercise. Continuing swim lessons during the winter months not only builds skills but also provides a healthy dose of exercise. Exercise has been proven to boost immunity and help ward off sickness.

In order for kids to retain and build on their newly acquired swimming skills, they must swim beyond just the warmer months. ESF Sharks coaches see it all the time: a child has advanced to a particular level only to start essentially back over next term after the long break. The longer a child is away from swimming, the longer it will take him/her to get back to and advanced beyond their prior skill level. 

Safety is another significant reason to keep your child swimming. Swimmers that take a long break may forget the crucial water safety skills they have learned here at ESF Sharks. Without repetition, a child may forget how to respond in a life-threatening situation.

Bottom line there is no need to stop swimming because it is cold OUTSIDE. Inside we keep our pool and building clean and warm, creating a comfortable environment for new swimmers. Keep up the physical activity, dry off thoroughly after class, dress warm when you leave and continue the path of becoming a confident and safe swimmer!

My child is getting frustrated at not being able to progress?
Children, teachers and parents getting frustrated is a very common occurrence during the learn to swim journey. Swimming is a skill that requires your child deal with a very different environment to their everyday gravity filled environment. How long did it take your child to simply be able to stand up? Compare that to being in a liquid environment where your child has to rely on the water to support their body weight, but also has to develop the skills of holding that water with their hands and feet. Learning how to deal with an aquatic environment takes time and unfortunately, there are no shortcuts. Trying to learn how to hold onto a liquid can be very frustrating especially if a child is not relaxed in the water and confident the water will always hold them up. As a parent, you can help to minimise your child’s frustration with positive reinforcement at the end of every lesson.

What if my child cries?
Whether your child is apprehensive about their first lesson or has had a bad experience with the pool before, we will be patient and empathetic to their feelings. Some children experience separation anxiety or fear of a new place that both will diminish with time. Swimming lessons can be trying for both parent and child. It is never easy to see your child upset, however, we have been teaching swimming for a long time.

There’s nothing we haven’t seen or experienced when it comes to kids in the pool. We recommend that you do not pull your child out of the pool during a lesson or stop lessons altogether. This can be detrimental because it allows the fear to be reinforced without giving the lessons a chance to work and the instructor the opportunity to alleviate the student’s fears. The best thing you can do as a parent is let our skilled instructors work with your child and be there with a big hug and lots of praise when your child is finished. We work to establish a safe, trusting relationship with each new swimmer we encounter, and we are very successful. The level of trust you extend to our teachers will allow your child to experience that same trust. Your child’s safety is our top priority.

My child is very nervous in the water. How can you help?
It’s not uncommon for children to be nervous in the water, especially for complete beginners. We have specialized instructors for this type of swimmer who have considerable experience in working with children in the water. Your child will soon be happy and confident in the pool and will cry not to get out of the pool.

What can I do to make my child comfortable in the water?
The bathtub is a great place to enjoy water play and to help a child become more comfortable with the water. Many skills can be practiced in a bathtub. Don’t be afraid to pour water over your child’s head and face. We also encourage the parent to take their child in a pool as often as possible. Exposure to swimming and having fun in the pool is the best way to mitigate or eliminate any fear of water or swimming.

What can I do at home to help my child learn how to swim?
If you have a pool at home than simply let them play in the water and have fun. Of course you need to supervise them closely, however, please don’t try to put pressure on your child at home. They will experiment with the water, and as their confidence builds, the skills they learn in their swimming lessons will start to take over.  If you do not have a pool at home, the best thing you can do is get your child into having showers as soon as possible. Having your child become comfortable with the shower spraying water over their head and around their ears, eyes, nose and mouth will help them to feel comfortable when water gets in their eyes in the pool, and to control their breathing when the water goes over the nose and mouth.

Are the coaches qualified?
Yes – every one of them has been taught the ESF Sharks methods for learn-to-swim that is based on USA swimming as well as all having a level 1 or 2 qualifications from AUS, UKASA, HKASA. Our instructors are also qualified in first aid and CPR, and many of them are also lifeguard qualified.

My child has swimming lessons at school. Why should they also attend ESF Sharks?

Most school swimming lessons are more general in their teaching methods and desired outcomes and have larger class numbers. Specialist swim school lessons enables your child to develop a solid base and accelerate his or her swimming abilities resulting in better water confidence, and more effective, water safe techniques, the class sizes are smaller.

Practice makes perfect!

Do you teach children with special needs?
Yes. Often, children with special needs exhibit an incredible joy while swimming and it can be instrumental in their development. If your child has special needs, please communicate with the office staff and the instructor about their individual needs. The more information the instructor has, the more effectively the swim lesson will be.

Do you teach adults?
Absolutely, we believe that all adults should know how to swim comfortably across the pool. It is particularly important for parents, to help ensure the safety of their children. We have instructors who are trained to help swimming adults perfect their strokes and prepare students for competition in open water and triathlon.

Why was my child’s class cancelled?

Unfortunately, sometimes we have to cancel a particular class. This happens almost exclusively because of low enrolment in that class. Fortunately, we offer multiple sections of every class, and we will work with you to find an alternate time, or if need be, we will provide a credit or refund for that class. 

Why has my child been at a particular level for several sessions?  

We want the children to be confident swimmers and get the most out of their lessons. The instructors make individual assessments over the course of the class and will carefully make a recommendation for the next session based on what they saw. This is often done after consultation with the lesson supervisor or manager as well. We do not want to promote a child too quickly only to have them be frustrated at a higher level. This is also an unsafe situation. If you need help placing your child in an appropriate level or have a question about the recommendation of an instructor, please see the lesson supervisor or contact a manager.  

Why you should choose ESF Sharks for your child’s swimming lessons?

  • Our team is positive and friendly and aim to preserve the enjoyment of swimming. 
  • We have smaller class numbers than elsewhere so your child will get more specific teaching and feedback.
  • Highly experienced swim coaches with a wealth of knowledge, experience, and accreditations; 
  • All our coaches have undergone a minimum of 40 hours training. Ongoing training is also compulsory every term.
  • Friendly advice and swim safety coaching to all parents.