Swimming through the winter plus five more reasons why Goldfish Swim School is different - MetroFamily Magazine
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Swimming through the winter plus five more reasons why Goldfish Swim School is different

by Callie Collins

Reading Time: 5 minutes 

Oklahoma City family fun isn't always the same old experience. 

Swimming lessons have been a pointed issue in our household since my oldest son, now 10, was a baby. I wanted to enroll Sam as a toddler and get started on life-saving skills that could keep him from drowning plus just teach him how much fun pool time can be. 

My husband was less certain. I love to swim, absolutely enjoy the water. Mario doesn't, which is ironic since he's from Costa Rica, a tropical country known for its beautiful beaches, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Pacific on the other. He remembers swimming lessons before school at 6 a.m. with freezing water and unfriendly instructors. I was also really cold at childhood lessons in Wyoming, where people break out shorts when it hits 50 degrees because it's comparatively warmer to the -50 temperatures common in winter. I didn't mind, though, and had fun, even though I came out of the water shivering with blue lips. That pool only closed when it froze over, which probably wasn't the safest approach either.

I signed Sam up for several sessions starting at age 4 and he did learn to love the water. The chill factor was still there, though, and something to work through since I could never enroll in time for a summer session. I remember setting a timer to complete the online form as soon as enrollment opened and we still ended up waitlisted. I tried exactly one semester with our middle child, Isaac, at age 2. The lessons had the opposite of the intended effect: what Isaac learned was that he didn't like to swim. The experience wasn't what I expected, as he couldn't get past the cold and the chlorine and cried at every lesson. We unenrolled both children after that and decided to wait it out. Honestly, I didn't miss the Saturday commitment or hauling home wet clothes in a backpack either.

The new Goldfish Swim School – Edmond opened a few weeks ago and it felt like an ideal jumping in point. Isaac is 5 now and I wanted to give it another try before he's too old and in a different setting.  We also have a toddler now, Gabriel, who was excited to start too. 

Here are five reasons Goldfish Swim School is different:

The water isn't cold: A 90-degree shiver-free pool is the swim school's main feature and what makes it ideal for small children. Getting into the pool and submerging enough of yourself to transition to a comfortable temperature is not an issue. There's no trepidation when kids realize it's more like stepping into a lukewarm bath. I forgot to bring a towel last time for our first lesson but it didn't matter. The room is heated to be warm as well. Winter lessons are much more inviting when you aren't freezing all the way in and out of the pool.

There's no chlorine: The water isn't treated with the usual chemical mix since Goldfish features a saltwater system. Your child's eyes won't burn, so they're more likely to put their face in the water to practice strokes. Blonde hair won't turn green and swimwear doesn't discolor in the same way that eventually happens with chlorine. Goggles are permitted too, which give kids an extra sense of security. 

Instruction is gradual: I haven't met a child yet who just loves going underwater. My toddler is working up to that as one of the end goals for the course rather than a requirement just starting out. Both of my sons are just starting out, so this is a good opportunity to observe the staff's approach. Skills are taught and practiced through song in the younger levels. Isaac's in a more advanced class but he didn't feel pressured to put his face in the water right away either. I know they'll get there when they're ready and the instructors can encourage that in a way that doesn't feel traumatizing or unpleasant. Their main goal is to foster a love of swimming. Homework for littles doesn't feel like a burden since the skills are taught through songs and can be are easily practiced in the bathtub. 

Goals are clear: Skills to pass each level are clearly identified in writing. Ribbons are offered throughout the course rather than just at the end to offer encouragement and reinforce what students are doing right during their lessons. There's no mystery about what your child needs to master before being allowed to move up. 

Comfort and safety are key: Showers are within view of the pool and the parent waiting area, a large set of chairs outside the pool deck, separated by glass. Swimmers keep their suits on to shower and parents are asked inside to help small children use the restroom during lessons. There isn't a group changing area but rather, individual stalls that are more like fitting rooms you'd find at a department store. No lockers are needed, as the place to store belongings is within plain view. There's a nice station with built-in hairdryers and benches for after the pool. My favorite parent-friendly feature is a spinning mechanical drain that wrings pool water out of wet swimsuits. It was really nice not to worry about getting my backpack and other belongings wet. 

Today is Thursday and we're headed to Goldfish tonight for our second lesson. What impressed me most about the experience was Isaac's reaction to it. He had been warming up to the idea of swimming over the summer but I was anxious about committing to lessons again since the first try a few years ago was miserable for both of us. When I woke him up this morning and reminded him what day it was, he jumped out of bed and said "Thursday is swimming night! Yay! Can I wear my swim trunks to school?" 

Gabriel is also adjusting well. I like that I can be in the water with him. I'm expecting our fourth child in the new year and even just going through the lessons with him feels great, like low impact exercise, at this life stage. Click here for more info about available sessions.

Lessons begin at four months and go all the way to age 12, with Family Swim open on the weekends. I can see it being something our family could be interested in later, especially since birthday party packages are available too, which would be something out of the ordinary. I love that lessons are offer year-round so that summer isn't the only chance to get in and participate. Sam keeps asking me when he can go deep-sea fishing with his grandparents in Costa Rica and my answer is always the same: when you can swim better. Goldfish is a terrific possibility for him since he's still within the age range for it. 

We're signed up for two sessions. I'll post again in a few weeks and let you know how Isaac and Gabriel are progressing! 

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