With summer just around the corner, there’s no better time to get your kids in the water so they can practice those strokes and kicks. Whether you have a mermaid in the making or a kitty that needs to get more comfortably in the water, swim lessons are the ideal way to dive into the season. From community lessons to private one-on-ones, here are the classes that will make your starfish shine.

Photo: Little Fish

British Swim School
The British Swim School is an international franchise organization with dozens of locations around the DMV. Globally, they hold 13,000 lessons per week so they clearly know what they’re doing! They have lessons for babies, children and adults and their core mission is to protect every life from drowning through education and water safety awareness. Rita Goldberg, who founded British Swim School in 1981 and remains the company’s CEO, employs a methodology that begins by teaching water safety survival skills to children as young as three months old. Drowning is the leading cause of death in children under five so BSS instructors begin with safety skills and water comfort. From Tadpoles to Barracudas, BSS is a great option for beginners.

Various locations
Online: britishswimschool.com

Nations Capital Swim Club
Almost forty years old, Nation’s Capital Swim Club has grown into one of the leading swim clubs in the United States. NCAP has 14 different locations throughout the DMV with over 90 professional coaches. They have a program for every ability and age from guppies and minnows in swim school to stroke school to senior level swimming. NCAP is known to produce Olympians so get ready for the real deal! At the 2016 Rio Olympics, US Team Members Katie Ledecky, Jack Conger, and Coach Bruce Gemmell won five Gold Medals and one Silver Medal. In addition, 25 swimmers qualified for the 2016 Olympic Trials, the most of any non-college USA Swimming Club.

Various locations
Online: nationscapitalswimming.com

Happy Swimmers USA
With a staff of insured swimming instructors—many of whom are also certified lifeguards—Happy Swimmers USA caters to families looking for private, semi-private, and group lessons in their own home pool or in the public pool of their choice. Their instruction philosophy is to “teach water safety by building a loving, trusting relationship with our students, both children and adults. We don’t teach ‘lessons.’ We don’t force learning. Our instructors are keenly aware of each student’s comfort zone.” Happy Swimmers USA does not offer lessons for children under 24 months, encouraging parents to simply enjoy the water with their babies as a family and wait until the two-year mark to commence formal lessons.

Various locations
Online:   happyswimmers.com

Photo: Matt via Flickr

The Y is the way to go if you want variety. They’ve got everything from parent/child classes to youth swim leagues. The Y’s Preschool swim lessons teach children valuable life skills, including personal safety, personal growth, stroke development, rescue, water sports, and games.  They also offer Adaptive Aquatics for young people with physical and mental challenges.

Various locations
Online: ymcadc.org

Goldfish Swim School
Known for its tropical pool climate (they keep the water at a bath tub-like 90 degrees), Goldfish uses a “perpetual lessons model” that lets families choose a lesson time that accommodates their schedule. Facilities are decked out in colorful, kid-friendly tropical décor and boast a state-of-the-art water purification system to keep the pools clean and sanitary; an air conditioned viewing gallery for parents to relax, work, read, socialize (digitally and personally), and watch their kids swim; modern training equipment and tools that support their proprietary curriculum; a private space for parties and events to accommodate groups up to 50 attendee; and an in-house Snack Shack snack bar and Treasure Island Pro Shop to grab a quick treat after lessons or purchase swim gear. With one life-guard certified instructor for every four children, kids from four months to 12 years (and of all abilities) can build swim and safety skills while building character!

Various locations
Online: goldfishswimschool.com

Lowell School
An elementary school bordering Rock Creek Park, the Lowell School Aquatics Program offers private or semi-private lessons for kids or adults three years old and up (note: children must be fully potty-trained, as swim diapers are not allowed). Students begin with water comfort and safety skills, building up to holding one’s breath, air exchange, floating, kicking, and basic arm motions for both freestyle and backstroke. Successive six-week sessions build up to different strokes, endurance, and diving for older swimmers. Looking to encourage team-building? The Lowell School’s Lionfish Community Swim Team is also open to the public.

1640 Kalmia Rd, NW (Rock Creek Park)
Online: lowellschool.org

                                                                       Photo: North Charleston via Flickr

Tom Dolan Swim School
Located in Dulles, the Tom Dolan Swim School provides a model swimming setting for all swimmers, whether they are just learning how to swim or working to improve their stroke technique. The school features three pools specifically designed for teaching children how to swim including custom teaching ledges and warm water temperatures. They also have sound absorbing wall panels so your kids can be in a quiet, soothing environment where they feel comfortable learning. Bonus for after swimming is heated on-deck showers and family change rooms and baby change tables. So, if you have a little that needs a more relaxed, pacifying environment to enrich learning, Tom Dolan’s is the place for you.

22000 Dulles Retail Plaza (Dulles, Va)
Online:  https://tomdolanswimschool.com/

Little Fish
If your little is developing fins, Little Fish Swimming is the place for you! LF offers swim classes for everyone, from children age 6 months, individuals with special needs and even adults! Their strategy it to keep classes small…no more than four students, and a certified coach is in the water at all times! And they don’t just do lessons, their facilities also offer Swim Camps, a Stroke and Fitness Program as well as Swim Parties!

6301 Campus Dr. (Fredericksburg, Va)
1600 Mine Rd. (Stafford, Va)
Online: littlefishswimming.com

University of Maryland
Offering private, semi-private, or group lessons, the Learn to Swim program at the University of Maryland can accommodate your child’s needs. Start group lessons as early as six months and continue on through stroke refinement and coaching. Adults are again in luck as the instructors offer group and private or semi-private lessons for those who need a little refresher. Note that, if your family schedule tends to change frequently, this program does not allow make up classes due to illness or schedule conflicts.

University of Maryland
Eppley Recreation Center
1115 Eppley Recreation Center (College Park, Md)
Online: recwell.umd.edu 

Potomac Swim School
This child-focused aquatic center prides itself on instructing each child as an individual with different emotional and developmental needs and abilities. Beginner swimmers will learn valuable safety rules and survival skills, also focusing on water acclimation, floating, and kicking skills while being introduced to freestyle and backstroke. As swimmers progress, they will refine their freestyle and backstroke while learning breaststroke and butterfly. Advanced swimmers are taught all four competitive strokes (freestyle, backstroke, butterfly and breaststroke) as they become developmentally ready. If your child is truly afraid of the water or just needs some extra-special attention, this is the place to go. Pay a monthly, automatically-renewing rate and choose from group lessons or private lessons. Potomac Swim School also offers sibling and multi-class discounts!


21730 Red Rum Dr. (Ashburn, Va)
Online: potomacswimschool.com

Found a great swim school we didn’t mention? Tell us about it in the comments!

–Guiomar Ochoa and Katie Brown