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Do The Doggy Paddle: Swimming Lessons for Kids

You’d think living in Portland our kids would get enough of being wet during our rainy winters, but come summertime they’re ready to ditch their tennis shoes for sandals and shorts for suits. Now that summer is (almost) here, they’ll want to spend as much time getting their fingers as pruney as possible. Before you let them go exploring the deep end by themselves, you’ll want to make sure they’re got the water skills and safety to stay afloat while having fun. Below are our picks for indoor, outdoor, group, or private swim lessons that work with every age, skill level, and personality. Read on to get your kids ready to dive in this summer.


Public Pools
These public pools offer classes for kids as early as pre-school age, and with multiple locations offered all over the city and beyond, there is likely to be one in your neighborhood.

Community Pools Portland Parks
Starting from 3 years and older, lessons are available at all 13 Portland Park Pools, check the website for details on specific class levels and locations. Or call them at 503-823-5130.

Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation
Whether your kids are just learning how to float with water wings or want to develop some pre-lifeguard skills, Tualatin Hills Parks and Rec offers classes for swimmers of all levels. There are 8 pool centers with two open during the summer only, so be sure to check the website for details on the facility closes to you.

North East Community Center
Offering Parent & Child, Preschool Aquatics, and Learn-to-Swim classes, the NE Community Center has a six week all-ages swim class or a more streamlined Fast Track class that build on the water safety skills learned at each level.

1630 NE 38th Avenue, Portland


Children’s Swimming Specialists
If your kids are looking to hit the deep end quickly, check out these classes designed just for them. With small class sizes and individualized attention, these swim schools will have them looking more like barracudas and less like flounders in no time.

Children of the Sea
4 months and older
With a uniquely innovative water-safe program, Children of the Sea offers small class sizes during the day and evening. The facility is open 7 days a week, with professional staff trained in CPR and First Aid.

10170 SW Nimbus Avenue
Suite H-7, Portland

DolFUN Swim
Infants and older
Even before your kiddo is born, you can get their kickers going so that they feel even more natural in the water when they’re older. DolFUN Swim Academy offers a one-of-a-kind holistic swim program for little ones as early as 0-6 months, and aims to help build an educational experience in the water.

12029 NE Ainsworth Circle #100, Portland

Infants and older
Experts in swim survival safety for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, this program has been running for 70 years. Their main focus is the Swim Survival Safety program, which teaches infants and toddlers to turn over and float independently in case of an accidental fall into water.

10552 SE 52nd Avenue, Milwaukie

kids swimming

Athletic Clubs
Mom and dad don’t want to be left out of all the fun, which is why these athletic clubs have gyms, spas, and more for parents in addition to the pools for kids. Many of these clubs do require a membership to use the facilities, so you’ll want to check out the fees before committing.

YMCA of Sherwood
6 months and older
Located in Sherwood, this YMCA branch offers a variety of lessons for kiddos of any skill level. Swim classes are offered to members and non-members, in classes or private, or can be customized through “Build Your Own Class” with 3 or 4 close family friends.

23000 SW Pacific Highway, Sherwood

Bethany Athletic Club
3 months and older
With a large selection of days and times available, finding a class for your kids should be no problem at the Bethany Athletic Club. They also offer group or private swimming lessons.

15670 NW Central Drive, Portland

Cascade Athletics Club
3 years and older
This water park offers swim lessons and camps from Monday to Thursday (starting at 10:30 am) and are divided by age groups and swimming abilities. They have a class description for each of their swim levels, so you can find out what your kiddo is already a pro at and sign them up for the appropriate class. Be sure to check the website for updated information on their summer swim lesson schedule.

19201 SE Division Street, Gresham


Mittleman Jewish Community Center
6 months and older
Your kids will love getting in the water at this center, as their pool is a heated therapy pool that’s kept at a comfortable 94 degrees–no chills here! Plus, it’s only 3-5.5 feet deep, so it’s great for the litter set. They have a wide variety of classes for future swimmers up to age 13 and even host a variety of fun pool events on a monthly basis. You need not be a member to use their pool.

6651 SW Capitol Highway, Portland

Oxford Swim Academy
3 years and older
Oxford Swim Academy is one of the few places on our list that actually has a pool that was built just for lessons. Parents can grab a seat within viewing distance of the pool and there is a special designated play area just for the preschool set or siblings who aren’t getting wet. Remember to pre-register for these classes!

7588 Delaware Lane, Vancouver, Wa

Did we miss any? Help us out and share your favorite place for swimming lessons in the comment area below!

–Abigail Matsumoto

photo courtesy of lizbadleydeanwissingthedianna, Tim Dorr, & Jeffrey Tripp


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