Get the scoop on the best family activities in Portland.

Do the Doggie Paddle: Best Swim Lessons for Beginners

Summer’s right around the corner and now is the perfect time to start daydreaming about days spent around the pool with little ones. Dive into our list to discover the best spots to get your tot learning to swim like a shark. Many pools offer classes indoor year ’round, while the outdoor pools get going when school lets out for the summer.  girl_swimming 2

Portland Parks and Recreation
3 years and up
Lessons are available at all 13 Portland Parks and Rec pools. The six indoor pools are open year ’round and the seven outdoor pools are open June 17-August 29, 2014. Many of the instructors are teens that have undergone PP&R’s training and certification and are great with kiddos. The classes are affordable, the quality of instruction is great and a variety of times are available, which makes them extremely popular with the locals.
Online: portlandoregon.gov/parks

Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation
3 years and up
Whether your kids are new to the water 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. One location, the Beaverton Swim Center, keeps their indoor, L-shaped pool at 86 degrees, which is great for little ones, and they have two family changing rooms.  This location is also the primary host for the Specialized Aquatics Program for children with developmental delays and physical limitations, and features one-on-one instruction and goal setting based on the individual’s needs.
Online: thprd.com

Children of the Sea
4 months and up
Water safety mixed with fun is emphasized in these small day and evening classes in a pool heated to 91 degrees. Parents swim with babies as young as four months as they learn do a U-turn if they fall into the water and roll onto their backs to get a breath instead of popping up. The instructors sing fun songs and have the little ones play on a water jungle gym, as well as an island that lets them jump into the waiting arms of a parent. Themed weeks, like Safari Week, keep it exciting with songs, float toys and small prizes.
10170 SW Nimbus Ave., Suite H-7
503-620-5970
Online: childrenofthesea.com

Baby Swimming

DolFUN Swim Academy
Infants and up
Before they can hold up their heads, take them swimming. Parent/Child classes offer plenty of bonding time and water safety. Sweet songs, like “Wheels On the Bus,” are used to teach the crawl stroke, while verbal cues like “Ready, Sophie, Swim!” get  kids comfortable with holding their breath before going underwater. Back floats to safety, motorboats on noodles, little fingers monkeying down the wall and safe, knee-diving techniques are all part of the master plan in this one-of-a-kind holistic swim program for infants and up.
Airport Learning Tree Day School: 12029 NE Ainsworth Circle #100, Portland
Tualatin Location: 20553 SW 94th Ave., Tualatin
503-343-3004
Online: dolfunswimacademy.com

Swimbabes
Infants and up
Swimbabes has been running for 70 years and is well known for its swim survival safety programs for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. In the 90-degree pool, qualified instructors teach wee ones how to turn over and float independently in case of an accidental fall into water or if they get into water that’s over their heads. The SynchroBabies program is specific to infants who are 0-7 months old. The facility is small and older and they have a no photos policy, which may be offputting to some parents. Still, the program is solid and has been family-run for three generations.
10552 SE 52nd Ave., Milwaukie
503-786-6250
Online: swimbabes.net

Cascade Athletics Club
6 months and up
Cascade Athletics Club has four locations, but only the main Gresham location has an area outside where you can relax in a lounge chair while your child learns to swim in a heated pool. Classes include Parent/Child, Preschool and Youth swim lessons and are divided by 11 age groups and swimming abilities. Class sizes for beginners have one instructor for every 4-5 children. They also have a water park with a slide, splash pad, dump buckets and boats, so you can stay all day. Morning classes are offered outdoors and evening classes are held indoors.
19201 SE Division St., Gresham, 503-665-4142
Online: cascadeac.com

Swimming  - girl
Mittleman Jewish Community Center
6 months and up
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 3-5½ feet deep, so it’s great for small fry. Check out the wide variety of classes for children six months to 13 years, and the variety of fun pool events held on a monthly basis. Membership is not required to use the pool.
6651 SW Capitol Highway
503-244-0111
Online: oregonjcc.org

Oxford Swim Academy
3 years and up
Oxford Swim Academy has been around since 1960 and is one of the few places on our list that actually has a pool built specifically 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 swimming.
7588 Delaware Lane, Vancouver, Wa
360-635-7249
Online: oxfordswimacademy.com

Where’s your favorite swim school?  Let us know in the Comments section!

— Suzie Ridgway

Photos courtesy of Key Conversations Radio, Wikimedia, and Wikipedia via Creative Commons.

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