Formal, high-quality swimming lessons reduce the risk of drowning by 88%, according to estimates from the National Institutes of Health. And considering that drownings are also the number one cause of accidental death among children ages 1 to 4, here’s what that math adds up to: You can help save your child’s life by signing them up for classes—and thankfully, there is no shortage of swim lessons available locally in Dallas-Fort Worth.
There are so many options for swimming lessons offered throughout the year and over the summer too, including at:
– Your local municipal or recreation center (such as through Dallas Aquatics or Fort Worth Parks & Rec, to name a few)
– Your local YMCA (including the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas, Metropolitan Fort Worth YMCA and the Arlington-Mansfield Area YMCA)
– and online and in-person through the American Red Cross.
Below, we share the details for some of the premier swim schools offering lessons at multiple locations across North Texas, and not just during the summer but year-round in heated, indoor pools.
Aqua-Tots Swim Schools
Ages: 4 months to 12 years, and up to adults
Location: 13 locations in Dallas-Fort Worth, stretching from Fort Worth to Rockwall to McKinney
Cost: Pay monthly tuition for weekly classes, with options of one, two or three lessons per week. Discount available for siblings. Look online for specific pricing for your nearest location. Aqua-Tots also charges an annual registration fee per family.
About: Aqua-Tots has been around since 1991, now with more than a dozen franchise locations stretching from Fort Worth to Rockwall up to McKinney. You can enroll any time because Aqua-Tots offers lessons year-round. All lessons run 30 minutes and depending on your budget and/or your child’s needs, you can also choose between private (one-on-one), semi-private (two students to one instructor) and group lessons (max of four students to one instructor).
Parents get in the water with their babies or toddlers during the Parent-and-Tot classes, open to babies as young as 4 months old in the level 1 Tadpoles class and 13 to 30-month-olds in the level 2 Minnows. During lessons for older kids, parents can sit back in comfy, red chairs and watch the lessons.
Also, depending on the location, Aqua-Tots also offers competitive and noncompetitive swim teams, lessons for teens and adults. Have a child with a disability? Ask about the S.N.A.P. program for lessons tailored to their specific needs.
Call your nearest location to schedule a free evaluation to see which class is best for your child. Once you’re set up for weekly classes, download Aqua-Tots free smartphone app, which makes it easier to get class reminders, schedule make-up lessons and handle billing. You can also use the app to track your child’s progress via the Aqua-Card, which shows you which skills they’re working on or have mastered.
Learn more: Visit aqua-tots.com
Follow: Facebook @AquaTotsSwimSchools and Instagram @aquatotsofficial
RELATED: Water Safety Classes in Dallas-Fort Worth
Big Blue Swim School
Ages: 3 months to 12 years
Location: Allen: 170 East Stacy Road, Suite 2010, Allen; 945/800-9190; and Plano: 1805 Preston Road, Plano; 945/455-3402
Cost: Pricing is per lesson and varies by location. Limited time pricing may be available. (Allen is still running its grand opening special until May 31st.) Reach out to them for a free trial.
About: Founded in 2009 by national champion swimmer Chris DeJong (he once lost to Michael Phelps by only three-tenths of a second), Big Blue has opened two swim schools North Texas: in Plano and now, as of mid-May 2023, in Allen too. (Stay tuned, too, for Frisco next year.) Check out Big Blue for year-round, weekly lessons that run either 30 or 45 minutes, with the option for drop-in or second weekly lessons too. Their instructors have more than 100 hours of training in Big Blue’s own Progress Program.
Swim students are divided into small groups for classes by age, and—big bonus here—you can schedule all your children for classes at the same time, no matter their age or skill level. So you may see separate classes at the same time in one pool. Use the free app to track your kids’ progress and schedule.
Classes are offered for 3 months to 3 years (with their parents in the water); 3 to 5 years; and two classes for 6 years and older. And yes, 3 months is quite young for classes. What do they learn? Reps say the focus is learning to float on their backs and holding their breath until reaching the surface, a skill which could save their life.
Learn more: Visit bigblueswimschool.com, call 888/918-3076 or email email@example.com
Follow: Facebook @bigblueallen or @bigblueplano and Instagram @bigblueswimschools
British Swim School
Ages: 3 months through adult
Location: Held at pools inside 24 Hour Fitness and LA Fitness locations in Coppell, Euless, Fort Worth, Frisco, Irving, McKinney and Southlake. See them all here.
Cost: Pricing varies by location and there are discounts for siblings. Plus, annual membership fee, which is either per student or per family and varies.
About: What makes it British? Specifically, Rita Goldberg, of Manchester, England. She founded British Swim School in her own basement pool back in 1981 and today more than 200 schools, mostly in the U.S. and Canada. Its focus is survival-based swimming instruction and water safety education. And yep, they’ve got an app too.
Kids learn through songs and activities during 30-minute lessons offered up to three times each week, depending on how often you’d like your kids to go and which days are offered at each location. And you can choose from private, semi-private or group setting—again, depending upon location—with a student-instructor ratio of either four-to-one or six-to-one. Parents either stay in the pool or sit on the edge of the pool deck for during classes for their kids under 3 years. See a description of all the programs by age here.
For children with special needs, look into the Dolphin classes available at select location. These focus first on water acclimation, to then survival skills, for those with varying abilities.
Interestingly, British Swim School mandates swim caps (color-coded for each level) that are mandatory for all students to wear during the lessons. Also, for one week each quarter, British Swim School hosts its Survival Week, when they encourage students to wear additional clothing on top of their swimsuits. This is so they can feel the weight of the clothes and without goggles to become familiar with how to react in a water emergency.
Learn more: Visit britishswimschool.com
Follow: Facebook @BritishSwimSchool and Instagram @britishswimschool
Emler Swim Schools
Ages: 2 months through adult
Location: 10 locations, in Dallas and Collin counties, and in Flower Mound, Southlake and southwest Fort Worth
Cost: Tuition by semester varies slightly with location, plus a registration fee. Payment plans are available.
About: Our readers previously voted for Emler as Best Infant Swim Lessons, no doubt in part because the Emler opens its lessons to infants as young as 2 months. Bathtime Babies (only $5 per class) is for 2 to 5-month-olds to enjoy water play with parents—and on up through 20 levels through the schools’ own Swim Script curriculum. Notably, Emler incorporates fins (either on the hands or the feet) during swim lessons because they help propel littles through the water.
Their pools are at max depth of four feet. Its water is heated to 90 degrees and runs through a UV water purification system that also cuts the chlorine smell. Unless parents in the water with your kids or sitting on the deck, you’re welcome to sit back and relax in the observation room. Classes are 30 minutes, which means you’re in and out with a stamp on your hand in no time. If you miss a class, make-up lessons are available, but they do have a limit. See their policy for details.
Emler offers trial lessons only for the Waterbabies orientation class (3 years and younger) and for swim team practice for older kids. Don’t have a location near you or want additional training online? Visit the website for EmlerSwim@Home’s instructional videos and live video calls with a trainer.
Learn more: Visit emlerswimschool.com
Follow: Facebook @emlerswimschool and Instagram @emlerswimschool
SafeSplash Swim School
Ages: 6 months through adult
Location: 13 locations across Dallas-Fort Worth
Cost: Pricing is paid by month, plus an annual service fee. At participating locations, get $15 off when you refer a friend.
About: Sign up online or ask about a free trial class (participating locations only) to get start on group, private or semi-private lessons. The instructors work together with your kids to develop fundamental swim and safety skills, and the curriculum can be adapted to each swimmer, starting with ParentTot 1 (for littles 6–18 months old). Depending on your child’s age, parents can join in the classes (for infant and toddler classes) or watch poolside or from our lobby viewing area.
Customization is also key at SafeSplash Swim School. Before diving into the 30-minute lessons, parents meet with instructors to discuss goals and develop a teaching plan. SafeSplash also offers adaptive aquatics classes for adults and children with special abilities such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, ADHD, autism or sensory struggles.
Learn more: Visit safesplash.com
Follow: Facebook @SafeSplashSwimSchool and Instagram @safesplashswimschool
RELATED: Kid-Friendly Pools in Dallas
Top image courtesy of Aqua-Tots Swim School