Goldfish Gets the Pace Right!: How the Playful Method Aces Swimming Lessons

Let me tell you a story of two swimming lessons.

In one (location not to be named), six very small kids with little-to-no swimming skills were grouped with one instructor for a 30-minute lesson.  While they awaited their turn, they happily bobbed up and down on the wall.  But after several minutes (yes, minutes – a.k.a. eternity to the average 3-year old) elapsed, the happy faces turned to that face we parents know all too well: the furious search for something better to stay occupied.  The quick-moving eyes.  The shifting around.  The, “Hey Mommy – look at me!”.  The attempt to get out of the pool.  Then the “I’m cooolllldddd!  I don’t want to swim anymore!”


Me: “Why are we here? What is this teaching them?  Howlong do we need to do this for? How much are private lessons?  Do we really need to swim?  Can I just do this myself?”

Now, learning to swim is one of those things that takes time no matter where you are.  Each kid will have their own obstacles to conquer on the path to success.  But something we don’t want is time wasted on top of this already arduous process.

I share this story as it is something I experienced.  It’s one of the reasons we came to Goldfish.  In our original location, my daughter went out “into the water” about 6 times in a 30-minute lesson.  As a parent, it was an awkward experience.  Everyone seemed very nice.  I liked the facility (minus the water temperature).  But ultimately, she wasn’t learning much.  She quickly lost the motivation to go.  It just wasn’t working.  So, we looked to Goldfish, and the comparison is alarming.

We just completed a two-month stint at Goldfish Oaks.  In a 30-minute lesson here, she was in the water actively practicing her skill at least 20 times!  To be frank, I stopped counting.  It was an immediate sense of satisfaction.  I felt like our investment was returned because every ounce of that lesson was focused on getting the kids the most practice possible.  She was learning, and she was SUPER happy to be doing so.

What did I fail tosee?  Those wandering eyes.  The shifting around.  The attempts to leave the pool.  And never once have I hear complaints aboutthe cold from any kid (The temperature in the water and pool area is kind ofinsanely perfect.   I’ve been in there onsnowy days and don’t want to leave.)

Why does this matter?

The kids are focused.  The kids are HAPPY.  The kids feel comfortable and WANT TO LEARN how to swim. Because of that, they learn better.

In particular, I love how I see kids really watching theirpeers in the small group (PS. Goldfish maxes out at 4 in a group.  And when my daughter went in 20+ times, itwas in a 4-child group).  They were learningfrom their teacher and their peers.  Thattruly helps progress.

Now, if you’re wondering about how the youngest of swimmers fare: Goldfish has a solution.  Oftentimes, two teachers will be working with a group.  One may be in the water and the other on deck playing water games while they await their turn. So, no worries there!

It’s all because of their philosophy in The Science of SwimPlay®.  I spoke with Stephanie Spock, Assistant General Manager of the Oaks location, about this philosophy.  We had a great conversation about how learning comes best when children are in “a safe environment and learning through guided play.”  That’s why you’ll see this sign posted at each location.

The Science of SwimPlay®

Growing up, I remember that time when all of a sudden sports “became work.”  The fun seeped out as competition grew steep.  Some may choose to approach swimming lessons the same way.  After all, swimming is a vital safety skill.  It’s important to learn.  However, I choose the route of fun.  The route of smiles.  The route with Goldfish.    

I’ve consistently found that both of my daughters have improved in swimming a direct result of their experience at Goldfish.  We will continue to go there because of it, and I give it my highest recommendation.  If you need more convincing, just consult my other piece on 9 reasons to be a Goldfish family.

Now, summer is only a few months away!  (Woohoo!) It’s the perfect time to enroll!  In our area, Goldfish Swim School can be found in Oaks and Fort Washington.  A new location is opening in Doylestown soon too!

If you want to test drive Goldfish, try going to a family swim!  Anyone from the community can attend.  Fees are $5/swimmer or a max of $15 per family.  We have it linked on the NPUT calendar if you need a reminder 😊 .

See you at the pool!