With summer fast approaching and temperatures continuing to rise, many families are shopping for new bathing suits, beach toys, and of course sunscreen! While protecting our skin from harmful UV rays is important, we also need to be thinking of safety from drowning, which continues to be the leading cause of death in children ages 1-4 in Florida. Sadly, I saw this all too often during my 15 years with Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

Although it’s only March, swim classes fill up quickly so now is a great time to check out a few of the schools and instructors around Jacksonville.

Aqua Swim School and Swim Team is located in Mandarin on San Jose Park Drive, with a newly opened location off St John’s Bluff. (This is the one I checked out.)  Aqua Swim offers 8 different levels of lessons where children are assessed and progressed on an individual basis. Their class sizes begin at 1:3 ratio, which is the smallest ratio in the country! Classes are offered in their indoor heated pool, last 30 minutes, and are available for infants as young as 2 months. They offer a free trial where your child is assessed for placement. Once you register, classes are $87/month, with a non-refundable $35 annual registration fee per swimmer.

We tried out the free trial and had a good experience! I loved the huge glass window, where I was able to watch my son. The facility was clean and offered bathrooms, changing rooms, merchandise to purchase (including goggles, shirts, bags), as well as snacks/beverages. The staff were all friendly, beginning with the membership assistant who helped set up our trial class. One drawback for me personally is they only offer afternoon/evening hours during the week, in addition to weekends.

Swimming Safari is located at the intersection of JTB and Hodges and has been in Jacksonville since 2004! They offer 15 different levels, each with their own mini-milestones. Their class size begins at 1:4 ratio. Classes are offered in their indoor heated salt pool and last 30 minutes. Tuition is charged per lesson, costing $22.25 for a 30 minute group class or $42.50 for a 20 minute private class. They also have a $35.00, annual, non-refundable registration fee.

We decided to check out Swimming Safari and had a fantastic first experience! They are well-organized, despite having multiple levels going on at once. (They do this to accommodate siblings and to offer more classes during high-volume times.) They begin each child with goggles and transition as desired by the child or parents. They, too, have a glass window and merchandise to purchase. The instructor was wonderful and really connected with my son. He got out of the pool and immediately asked to go back to “Miss Cori.”

If group classes aren’t your thing, you may want to consider a private instructor. I did some research and found two I’d love to introduce you to!

Suzi Teitelman  (aka ‘Swim Lesson Suzi’) has been teaching swim since 1988. She is a Red Cross Water Safety Instructor who teaches in her own salt water pool in her Jacksonville Beach home, (a lifelong dream of hers!) Suzi is filled with personality; she is a professional actress and singer and uses her talents in her teaching. She believes one-on-one instruction is key to developing both the love and skill-set for swim that will last a lifetime. Although she is passionate about teaching infants up to adults, one of her specialties includes teaching children with special needs. Current prices for single lessons are $80 per 30 minute session. She teaches days, nights, and weekends. Currently her spring special is 20 lessons for $950. If you purchase by April 1, there’s a 10% discount! (Siblings can split these sessions.) You can contact her at 904-476-2235 or swimlessonsuzi@gmail.com.

Kristen Reyes is a Jacksonville beach native and has been certified in Infant Swimming Resources (ISR) for close to 25 years. ISR is a nationally recognized survival instruction program for children ages 6 months to 6 years old. ISR is a 4–6-week course, scheduled 5 days per week, Monday – Friday, for 10 minutes each day, with different age-appropriate goals. With growth and changes in body structure, refresher courses are strongly recommended for 2-4 weeks on average.  Kristen teaches in an outdoor pool in North Jax Beach and sessions are $90/week. You can contact her at 904-249-5327 or k.reyes@infantswim.com.

My boys and I will be signing up for swim lessons this week! I be sure to keep you posted on our experience. In the meantime, I’d love to hear yours! How did you or your kids learn to swim? Do you have an instructor you’d like to recommend?