On your summer radar: trips to the beach, pool and maybe even a lake. Get your little guppy water-ready by enrolling her in swim lessons. Not sure where to begin? Check out our list below, and everything will go just swimmingly!

photo: La Petite Baleen

San Francisco

Rolling registration throughout the year makes it convenient to secure a spot at this highly-acclaimed community center. The swim program for kids, starting at age 6 months, runs year-round and costs $128 to $139/ month with discounts for members. The teachers are reliable and give parents a monthly report card on the progress of their little swimmer. The facility is clean with a spacious viewing area. When it comes to showering, they make it easy: there’s always soap and shampoo on hand, a fresh supply of towels and a spinner for soggy suits.

3200 California St.
San Francisco, CA

SF Rec and Parks
With half-hour group lessons working out to about $6 a pop, sessions at the city-owned pools sell out fast. There are a huge range of classes each season, everything from parent/tot aqua fun to more expensive private lessons. The sessions run for 7-10 weeks and are offered at nine pools throughout the city. Check here for which pools are closed for annual scheduled maintenance. You’ll need to set up an account online in advance, or visit your closest registration office. Classes fill up quickly so get poised at your computer to click submit at 10 a.m. on registration day. Once you get a spot, bring your own towels, locks and goggles to the pool.


Rec & Parks Headquarters
501 Stanyan St.
San Francisco, CA
Online: sfrecpark.org

La Petite Baleen
This swim factory in the Presidio (it has other locations in the Bay Area, too) uses a custom-built pool designed especially for teaching ages two months and up. The instructors use lots of floats, noodles and swim toys and as motivation, little ones get tokens for free ice cream if they meet their swim goals. With no more than four students per class in Level 1 and up (there’s a 6:1 ration in the toddler and baby classes, which require one adult per student), the cost is $110 to $118/month. One perk is the complimentary family swim times, generally over the lunch hour or on the weekends, where kids get to splash in the 90 degree water outside their allocated lesson time. Be sure to bring your own towels and goggles.

933 Old Mason St.
San Francisco, CA
Online: swimlpb.com

photo: Presidio Community YMCA via Yelp

Presidio YMCA
Sessions run year-round and are $26-29/lesson for community participants and $20-23 for facility members. Check online to see when registration for the next session begins—you can register online, too. Parent-child lessons are offer for babes ages 6 months to 3 years. There is a decent-sized family changing room and the teaching pool is within a fence so you can sit poolside with non-swimming siblings without worrying they’ll try to jump in the water. Towels are provided as well as kick-boards, fins and noodles.

1151 Gorgas Ave.
San Francisco, CA
Online: ymcasf.org

Chinatown YMCA
This YMCA has basically the same swim program for kids as their Presidio counterpart. Times will be slightly different so check the website for details.

855 Sacramento St.
San Francisco, CA
Online: ymcasf.org

photo: Waterworks Aquatics

Waterworks Aquatics
With two kids per class and a year-round lesson schedule you can customize, it’s easy to see why this school is expanding its locations. An eight-week package will set you back $218 for semi-private or $405 for one-on-one. Highly-trained swim instructors teach theory based on muscle memory. The indoor heated pools are inside City Sports Club at the Stonestown Galleria, so there’s plenty of parking. Registration and scheduling are done online or by phone. No goggles required for early learners, but you will need to bring a towel.

3201 20th Ave.
San Francisco, CA

Pomeroy Recreation and Rehabilitation Center
What’s different at this pool is that parents or caregivers are in the water until their child turns 5 years old. While this might not suit everyone, the teachers say it helps the learning process and the longer lesson time (45-60 minutes) allows for play and helping non-swimmers get comfortable in the water. Babies as young as 6 months are welcome. Seven-class session are $168 to $182. Bring towels and goggles.

207 Skyline Blvd.
San Francisco, CA
Online: prrcsf.org

photo: AquaTech Swim

East Bay

AquaTech Swim School
This teaching pool has two locations, Alameda and Concord. Both pools offer the full range of lessons from parent/tot classes to swim team prep. The cost is $90-92/month, plus a $20 annual enrollment fee per swimmer. Lessons for beginners have a teacher/child ratio of 1:3. As kids get more proficient in the water the number rises to 1:4 or 1:5. Parent/tot classes can facilitate 6 infants per class. Check out the website for swim schedules and open swim times. Towels are not supplied but goggles are available during the lesson.

2203 Mariner Square Loop
Alameda, CA

1220 Diamond Way, Suite 110
Concord, CA


Albany Aquatic Center
This pool in Albany has classes year around (they have both an indoor and outdoor pool), but summer sessions fill up quickly so get on it. Check the full schedule online. The cost for group lessons is around $86 for residents and $99 for non-residents (for twice-a-week weekday classes). Makeup lessons are not offered. There are changing rooms and a nice sitting area for parents. Bring your own towels and goggles.

1311 Portland Ave.
Albany, CA
Online: albanyaquaticcenter.com

Safe Splash Swim School
Safe Splash boasts a very cool partnership with Olympic champion Missy Franklin. Their curriculum has 11 levels, starting with a Parent-n-Me introductory class for the littlest swimmers. Next comes Toddler Transition, and onwards and upwards from there. Come prepared with a swimsuit—of course, goggles, and towel. Those who need swim diapers should wear them and a swim cap is necessary for kids with long hair. No makeup classes are offered. Classes are 30 minutes long and the price is $79/month plus a $25 registration fee. No makeup classes are offered.

There are four Safe Splash locations in the East Bay—Fremont, Antioch, Concord and Pittsburg.

Online: safesplash.com

YMCA Berkeley
Lessons at the Y run year-round on an eight-week schedule and cost $84 for members and $120 for program members. At least four kids need to enroll per class. There is a decent-sized changing room and the teaching pool has a separate viewing area with a tots books corner, making it quite easy to keep non-swimming siblings entertained without worrying they’ll try to jump in the water, too. The Y provides one towel per person as well as kickboards, fins and noodles.

2001 Allston Way
Berkeley, CA
Online: ymcacba.org

East Bay Regional Park District
At the Roberts Pool in Oakland, set among coastal redwoods, students meet Monday through Thursday for two weeks, and lessons are 25 minutes. At the Contra Loma Swim Lagoon in Antioch, the classes meet twice a week over four weeks and lessons are 30 minutes long. The cost is $55 for residents and $61 for non-residents. Weekend lessons are $25-39/session. Registration takes place online and there’s a full range of classes from parent/tot to classes that improve and refine your child’s swim technique.

Roberts Pool
10570 Skyline Blvd.
Oakland, CA

Contra Loma Swim Lagoon
1200 Frederickson Ln.
Antioch, CA

888-327-2757; select option 2

photo: Anderson’s Swim School


Anderson’s Swim School
This school has been operating for 40+ years and only offers private lessons. The pool is a balmy 90 degrees and the the teaching method aims to get kids totally water safe, kicking two lengths of the 40-foot pool before the technical elements of freestyle are introduced. Lessons are sold in packages of between 7 and 21 classes, and cost $45/half-hour class. The schedule is flexible—attend once a week or once a day. The more classes you buy the more flexible the cancellation policy. Kids must be 3 years old and potty trained.

541 Oceana Blvd.
Pacifica, CA

Giammona Pool
Registration for these classes is on a first-come, first-served basis so the four-to-six week sessions are snapped up quickly. Daly City residents get priority registration for aquatic lessons and pay less than non-residents. The cost varies for classes, but is $53-74. If you want semi-private lessons where it’s one teacher to three students, it’s $110-138. The pool is part of the Westmoor High School. It’s clean and warm and the teaching levels range from parent/tot Sea Turtle classes with games, songs and toys to stingray classes where students tackle tumble turns and tread water for ten minutes.

131 Westmoor Ave.
Daly City, CA
Online: dalycity.org

La Petite Baleen
There are three La Petite Baleen locations on the Peninsula. The year-round teaching pools are custom built and kept at a toasty 90 degrees and they run the same program as the SF counterpart. Their Redwood City location is the newest one with great views. One enrollment perk is the free family swim times, generally for an hour at midday, where the kids get to swim outside their allocated lesson time. Be sure to bring your own towels and goggles.

Locations in Half Moon Bay, San Bruno and Redwood City.


photo: Shipman Swim School via yelp

Shipman Swim School
Run by husband and wife team, Zumer and Stacy Shipman, this outdoor family-oriented swim school offers highly personalized swim lessons with a low teacher/student ratio capped at 1:3. There are no parent/tot classes because the focus is on teaching kids to swim with high elbows and straight legs on their own from as young as 18 months in private lessons ($50 for 20 minutes). For group lessons the class fee is $25 per student. There are no other enrollment or membership fees. The outdoor pool is heated to the mid 80s year-round. Another plus is easy parking and flexible make-up classes when your little guppy is under the weather. The pyramid curriculum makes it easy to see children progress and they get certificates of achievement when they move onto the next level.

229 W 20th Ave.
San Mateo, CA

King’s Swim Academy
King’s Swim Academy offers instructors that are gentle with kids, encouraging and methodical. Classes have a teacher/child ratio of 1:3 or 1:4. For the parent/tot class, it’s 1:6. There are other perks at each school, from practice swim time to musical story time. Check out a free trial class for new students.

Three locations in San Mateo, San Carlos and Redwood City.


photo: California Sports Center Aquatics

South Bay

California Sports Center Aquatics Sunnyvale
This outdoor pool at Fremont High School offers a progressive swim lesson program in a fun, comfortable environment. Parent-Tot classes have up to 12 in the group and are not offered winter. Babes as young as 3 months to 3 years are welcome with their parent/guardian. Sunnyvale residents pay for three- or four-class sessions, which are about $10/lesson. The teacher/student ratios for classes with young kids, which are offered year-round, is 1:3 until they become more advanced. In summer, sessions are $140 for 10 lessons for residents. There are no make-up classes and lessons go forward rain or shine. Bring a lock if you plan to stow gear in the locker room.

1283 Sunnyvale-Saratoga Rd.
Sunnyvale, CA
Online: calsportscenter.com

Maki Swim School
There’s a Hawaiian theme to this Montessori-based swim school. The class-size is capped at three students per group and there’s a mix of ages so siblings can be in the same class. This makes scheduling for multiple children a breeze. Another great feature is that kids are allowed to warm up in the pool before class for 10 minutes and are welcome to stay at least 15 minutes afterwards to practice and play. The half-hour semi-private classes are the most popular, where the teacher to student ratio is 1:2 and a package of ten costs $340. There’s a decent seating area for parents and—bonus!—wifi is included. Students get gold coins for meeting swim goals and can exchange them for prizes from a treasure box.

973 Apricot Ave.
Campbell, CA

Safe Splash Swim School
With three location in the South Bay—two in San Jose and one in Mountain View, Mountain View classes are $89-100/month.

Online: safesplash.com

Waterworks Aquatics
There are four locations offering year-round Waterworks instruction in the South Bay, three in San Jose and one in Sunnyvale. The Sunnyvale and two of the San Jose locations are located in City Sports Clubs. An eight-week package is valid for a year and lessons can be scheduled when it’s convenient. New swimmers learn to roll over to their backs to take a breath, which leads eventually to side breathing when they become more advanced. Instructors move the child’s body to show them the technique rather than simply telling them how it’s done and hoping it sinks in. A package of 24 20-minute semiprivate lessons is $483. Registration and scheduling are done by phone or online.


photo: Osher Marin JCC via yelp


Osher Marin JCC Fitness & Aquatics Center
This location has the Hall of Fame award for best in Marin. The Southern Marin Mother’s Club voted the pool and swim program the best in Marin as well. Parent-and-child splash classes are offered here as well as independent swim lessons for kids 3 and up. Lessons run year-round. Instruction usually takes place in the shallow end of the indoor 88-degree teaching pool. There’s a family changing room and towels are provided. Swim diapers are also available at the customer service desk.

200 N. San Pedro Rd.
San Rafael, CA

Strawberry Recreation Pool
This sunny outdoor pool offers lessons February through November. Half hour classes are about $11 to $14.50 each, and run in 9- or 12-week sessions. There are parent/tot classes as well as programs for children 3 to 5 years old, which take place in their small shallow pool. For the six and older set, the program takes them from bubble-blowing to coordinated freestyle and beyond. Goggles are recommended and students with long hair must tie it back or use a swim cap. The staff is friendly, and there’s a spinner for wet swimsuits.

118 E. Strawberry Dr.
Mill Valley, CA
Online: strawberry.marin.org

Marinwood Aquatics
This pristine community pool opens in the spring and offers private swim lessons during the school year at a rate of $26 for members and $29 for nonmembers. Each lesson is 25 minutes. When school’s out what’s offered is week-long intensives for kids 3 years old and up. Kids are grouped with four others for four half-hour lessons, Monday to Thursday. The cost is $55 for members, $69 for nonmembers. Parents get report cards at the end of the week and lessons for the younger ones get the added bonus of support from the junior lifeguards. There are also parent/tot classes with similar schedules in the morning. Afterwards, spend the rest of the day playing in the pool. Older kids who pass a swim test can get a wrist band for the water slides, and there’s a kiddie pool for the littles.

775 Miller Creek Rd.
San Rafael, Ca
Online: marinwood.org

Ann Curtis School of Swimming
If weekly lessons are reducing everyone to tears, an intensive two weeks in sunny San Rafael might be the answer. This swim club, with its three outdoor pools, was originally set up by Olympic swimmer Ann Curtis and is now run by her daughter, Carrie. Instruction for kids 4 years and up is based on a theory of muscle memory. In half-hour lessons, four days a week, the instructors break down the stroke, get kids to practice until it’s perfect, and then build the stroke back up again. There are no more than four kids per class and the pool has a great club feel. Two-week sessions cost around $155 to $180, and run June through August.

25 Golden Hinde Blvd.
San Rafael, Ca
Online: anncurtis.com

Hamilton and Terra Linda Pools
Hamilton in Novato and Terra Linda outdoor community pools offer a wide range of swim classes, that are diverse and plentiful. From Orange Octopus to Purple Piranha, there’s a class for every age and ability. The teacher/child ratio is low, and for the youngest swimmers it’s a great way to get them started blowing bubbles and feeling easy breezy in the water. Lessons are affordable but be prepared to sign up early. One bonus is that students can usually stay on and play in the toddler pools after their lesson finishes.

Hamilton Pool
203 El Bonito Dr.
Novato, Ca
Online: novato.org

Terra Linda Pool
670 Del Ganado Rd.
San Rafael, Ca
Online: cityofsanrafael.org

Do you know of an amazing swim school? Share it with us in the comments.

—Sabrina Martire, Olivia Boler, Sabine Klensch and Emily Myers