All children are born swimmers (or so Nirvana album covers would have us believe). They just need the right teachers. Find them at Foss Swim School, which is opening in Lakeview this week. This is the first Chicago location of the school, which offers swimming classes for little ones as young as six months. If you’ve researched baby and child swim schools, you know that each has its own look, feel and way of doing things. Foss is especially exciting.
Foss already has reputable area locations in Libertyville and Highland Park and is bringing the methods taught there to the new Lakeview location. Teachers break down lessons into bite-sized skills that build on one another as a session progresses.
Every swimmer comes in for a free assessment and is placed into a class based on skill level and age. The first level starts with children learning to put their heads under water with confidence. Over the course of instruction, children learn 225 skills in 21 levels. There’s a big focus on stroke technique rather than just getting from point A to point B.
For the littlest ones (ages 6 months to 3 years) there are Backfloat Baby classes, at which parent and child swim together. Tots learn to back-float and put their faces in the water, plus sing songs and play games that make them comfy in the water. Children ages 34 to 36 months only have parents in the water for the first four weeks of the session and then learn to swim independently.
Instructors are highly trained — they have to log 50 hours of training before teaching — and each is personally taught by the school’s founder, John Foss. The class ratio for beginning swimmers is kept at three-to-one.
Foss is clean and roomy, with space for parents to enjoy the experience. Parents are encouraged to watch their child’s lesson, so there is seating around the entire pool as well as a viewing room. Little brothers or sisters enjoy kid-sized chairs on the pool deck, and movies and books in the viewing room. There’s also an onsite shop selling goggles, swimsuits and swim diapers.
The pool water is kept at a comfy 91 degrees and the tiles around it are heated so the floor stays dry. Little swimmers benefit from the graduated pool entrance and get drawn into the colorful ceiling mural (perfect for when they’re doing the back float). Parents love the school’s easy-in, easy-out layout: There is ample parking, wide pathways throughout the facility and stroller parking.
Are you ready to dive in? Fall sessions run September 4-December 22 and enrollment is underway. You have to admit: 91-degree water in December sounds awfully nice.
Foss Swim School
3026 N. Ashland Ave.
What swimming school have you tried and loved? Let us know in the Comments section below.
— Rebecca Little
Photos: Courtesy of Foss Swim School