It may seems a ways off, but summer is coming, and with that, time by the pool and at the beach. Which means now is the time to make sure your kid knows how to swim! Finding a place for swimming lessons for kids in NYC is not as easy as you might think. (Classes fill up fast around here!) That said, there are many options and pools around town offering both group and private swimming lessons for kids from qualified instructors. We’ve rounded up our favorites, from tried-and-true, to affordable, to brand new!

photo: Goldfish Swim School

For a New Pool That's Always 90 Degrees: Goldfish Swim School

There's a new pool in town, and it's in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn. Goldfish Swim School's brand new, state-of-the-art pool will open on March 10. If your kid gets chilly in the water, never fear: this pool is kept at 90-degrees to ensure shiver-free swim lessons. (And parents can stay comfortable in the climate-controlled viewing area.) Weekly swim lessons are 30-minutes long and offered year-round with a low 4:1 maximum student-to-teacher-ratio to ensure that your child receives the most patience, supervision and guidance. Small group lessons are $140 month and are booked perpetually; you are auto-charged at the beginning of each month so you don't need to continually re-enrolling for sessions. Head to Goldfish's Swim Assessment to get a recommendation on what class your child should take, and signup using the handy Parent Portal. In addition to swimming lessons offered year round, Goldfish Swim School hold Family Swim, and they will also host your child's birthday party. 

Goldfish Swim School 
620 Degraw
Gowanus
929-470-7946 
Online: goldfishswimschool.com 

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For a Lot of Flexibility: Penguin City Swim

Penguin City Swim is one of the most relaxed businesses in this roundup, thanks to year-round rolling admission with monthly billing. If you’ve missed the sign-up deadline at a larger swim center, it’s worth getting in touch with Penguin City Swim. Owner Gordon Miles founded swim school Take Me To The Water, and then left to start Penguin City Swim to offer more specialized classes for both kids and adult. You'll find Penguin City Swim in four locations across the Upper East Side of Manhattan where classes are offered Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at various times. Private, semi-private, small group lessons are available, with 30-minute private lessons starting at $81 and small groups (1:4 ratio, starting at $55.)  Penguin City Swim also has a  30-minute Water Babies/Aqua Tots class for $45. Unlike fancy “destination pools,” Penguin City Swim uses apartment complex pools—you can find descriptions of each on the company's site— and the flexibility factor is high: you can start and stop lessons at any time. The only catch: Maximum flexibility means fluctuating enrollment numbers, so Miles will only enroll students seven days in advance (to make sure he has space and an appropriate spot.

Four Upper East Side locations
212-717-2000 or 917-909-7946
Online: penguincityswim.com

photo: JCC Manhattan

For a Cool Pool & Community: Marlene Meyerson JCC

Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan is a bit of an urban oasis. The gorgeous 14-story complex is equipped with an amazing pool of varying depths that's heated and clean as a whistle. The goal of JCC's aquatic program is to create confident, safe, strong swimmers, which it does with an extensive range of skill-tiered group classes for children starting as young as two-and-a-half, all the way up to 14. Recently introduced are Dolphin drop-off classes for kids two-and-a-half to five years of age. Special needs group swim classes and private lessons for those who need a more one-on-one approach are also available. Private lessons start at $66 for a 30-minute class for members, and $89 for non-members;fill out this form to inquire about private swim lessons. JCC Manhattan is known for creating a feeling of community, so perhaps it’s no surprise that its swim lessons take place over six-month semesters (one just started), which allows swimmers to really get to know, not only their teacher, but their fellow swim students.

Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan
334 Amsterdam Ave.
Upper West Side
646-505-4444
Online:  jccmanhattan.org

For a Preschool Slant to Lessons: Imagine Swimming

Imagine Swimming is at a lot of pools around town, and they just opened a new flagship location on the Upper West Side at 752 West End between 96th and 97th. The new facility at the Paris building is custom built with busy families in mind, with a 90-degree pool, stroller parking, multifunctional private changing facilities and a comfortable lounge and viewing areas. Classes are personalized and rooted in play, with no more than four students per instructor. Each class is organized by age an ability. In addition to classes for infants, toddlers, children and adults, Imagine offers special programming during school breaks, holidays, and the summer months as well as an array of competitive swim teams, water polo and synchronized swimming. Imagine Swimming has rolling admissions so you can start at any time. 

Numerous locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn
212-253-9650
Online: imagineswimming.com

For a Location Likely Near You: YMCA

More native New Yorkers have learned to swim at the Y than anywhere else. Convenience probably has a lot to do with it: With 24 locations spread throughout all five boroughs, it’s easy to find a nearby pool. Registration is open now, and lessons run for six to eight weeks and are organized according to skill and age, with students as young as six months and as old as 18. (Parent and baby classes happen here, too.) The potential downside to the Y?: Class size. At 10 to 12 kids, the classes are definitely are larger than many of the more expensive swim school offerings, but the price is very competitive. However, you can take private lessons at your local Y; inquire with your branch's aquatics director for info on pricing and availability. 

Tip: A YMCA membership will shave 10% to 30% off your swimming class fee, and will give you an early edge when it comes to registration (members get early access), a big plus because classes do fill up fast. 

Locations throughout the five boroughs
Online: ymcanyc.org
212-630-9600

photo: Asphalt Green

For an Old Standby: Asphalt Green

 

The granddaddy of NYC swim programs, Asphalt Green’s warm water and Olympic-size pools, highly trained instructors, and performance-based curriculum make it a favorite of kids and parents. The curriculum was developed in partnership with world-renowned coach Milt Nelms, who has worked with Olympic gold medalists Ian Thorpe, Natalie Coughlin, Dana Vollmer, and Missy Franklin. Classes run once a week per session and are broken down by age group: 0-36 months, 3-5 years, 5-8 years, 9-14 years and 15-17 years. In each of these age categories, there are classes for beginner, advanced, and intermediate swimmers. Specialty classes include lessons for children with special needs and clinics on specific strokes. Asphalt Green is also home of one of the top competitive swim teams in the Northeast. Classes are offered every day, and private lessons are scheduled based on pool availability. You must pay up front for the full session.

Tip: Downtown families may want to look into Asphalt Green’s Battery Park City facility at 212 North End Avenue.

555 East 90 St.
Upper East Side
212-369-8890 x2082

212 North End Ave.
Battery Park City
212-298-2900

Online: asphaltgreen.org

photo: NYC Parks

For Free Lessons: New York City Department of Parks & Recreation

You may already know that the oversees several free public pools located throughout the five boroughs. But did you know that it offers free, weekly, eight-week session group swimming lessons for children ages six through 17? Yep, it’s true. Surprise: Only a certain number of spots are available at each pool, and competition for these is fierce. The only way to secure a place in one of these free classes is through an online lottery. Classes are year round, but spring classes start March 21. For more information, go here.

Tip: These are large “general ed” style group swim lessons for children ages 6 through 17. If your child has special needs, doesn’t do well with crowds, or you prefer they learn with children near their own age, these lessons aren’t for you.

Locations throughout the five boroughs
718-760-6969
Online: nycgovparks.org/programs/aquatics

—Mimi O’Connor

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