My daughter was 14 months old when she had her first kiddie pool experience. She toddled in behind me, overcome with excitement, tripped over her own feet and fell in face first. She laid there in the water like a flaccid doll, no instinct to kick or splash at all. The whole thing lasted less than 10 seconds because I was there to scoop her right up. But that image of her face down in the water is seared into my memory.
If I hadn’t known before, I knew then, that I wanted her to take swim lessons! Enter Goldfish Swim School. A colorful, kid-centric, swim facility located in Wexford, PA (724-799-8850) and coming soon to Peters Township in the South Hills (724-942-7946).
I had researched classes online for awhile and was drawn to Goldfish immediately by their website. The site provided fantastic information on their array of classes for children starting as young as 4 months old. But what really solidified my interest was their mission:
“Not just a passion for kids or a passion for swimming…it’s a special passion for changing – even saving lives – by teaching kids to swim”
It was like they took the words right of of my mouth! As a mom that is exactly what I had hoped to find in a swimming instruction program.
The Enrollment Process
From the moment I called to register my daughter, Goldfish Swim School made me feel as if she were their number one priority. They asked me about her, her feelings about the water, and what her skill level was. They were able to recommend what level class she should begin with. We enrolled in the Junior 1 level class that day. I was also refreshing to find that Goldfish Swim School had a vast amount of class times to choose from throughout the day. Since they are open daily, year round, they are able to provide classes that meet the schedule needs of all families. Our class entailed once a week, 30 minute swim instruction sessions.
Our First Class
My daughter was a little nervous about her first class, but her apprehensions subsided when we entered the facility on our first day. We were welcomed by a vibrant, colorful, tropical themed environment. At the front desk was a large sign that said “Welcome Aubrey” along with her other fellow new students. The front desk staff were friendly and engaged immediately with us. When we mentioned it was our first day one of the staff members gave us a guided tour of the entire facility and answered all our first timer questions.
Since we were taking an evening class, we came straight from pre-school so we needed a chance to change into swim gear. There were a plentiful amount of private changing rooms for swimmers. I continued to be impressed by the highly thought out organization of Goldfish Swim School. The large, 90 degree heated swimming pool, was separated into several lanes. When you arrive you find out what lane your lesson is in that day. One of the Goldfish Swim School staff announce when it is time for you to enter the pool area for your lesson.
As I walked Aubrey to Lane 8, I was happy to see that the class sizes were small. No more than 4 students per instructor. The edge of the pool had a ledge so Aubrey, even at 3 years old, could step in and sit on the ledge easily, with her instructor just an arm’s length away. I believe this is what made Aubrey feel so at ease getting right into the pool. The instructor and students stayed inside a small, sectioned off portion of the pool assigned to them. But the intimacy of the space promoted safety and security to me and my daughter during her learning experience.
I was able to watch the entire lesson through the floor to ceiling glass window that the parent area faces. She could see me too, which I think helped her a lot. I was impressed with the patience the instructors gave to every student. I appreciated their gentle techniques they used to gradually build the child’s confidence in the water. Their approach was the complete opposite methodology from “let them sink or swim.”
During the last few minutes of the lessons, the parents are asked to reenter the pool deck to allow a few minutes of watching the student’s lesson. Each child gets an opportunity to demonstrate what they learned to their parent. The instructor provided feedback to each parent on their child’s progress and what their goals were for next lesson. Aubrey was radiant with pride at the end of her first lesson. It was incredible what confidence and initiative they were able to inspire in her in just the first lesson.
Everything about Goldfish Swim School is meant to speak to the needs of the child. From the decor to the safety mechanisms in place, they exceed expectations.
During the swim lessons, not only are the instructors in the water, but there is also life guards on the pool deck observing the swimmers, at a ration of 1 life guard for every 4 students. Also, the pool temperature is kept at 90 degrees, so you don’t have to worry about kids dreading the cold water.
It’s evident that these instructors are trained to work with small children. In fact, each swim instructor is Ellis-Trained. This means your child is with a dedicated staff member who’s received up to date training on aquatic safety.
There were restrooms in the pool area, as well as showers for rinsing off. The changing area included a “drying bar” where you could blow dry hair or dry off suits. Since we were partaking in an evening class these resources were heavily utilized and helpful. You saw many families drying off and getting into the pj’s for the ride home.
Goldfish Swim School doesn’t just consider the student but also the entire family. I had been on the fence about bring my 1 year old son along for my daughter’s lesson, concerned that there wouldn’t be a comfortable space to pass time with a wild toddler. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that the entire environment catered to engaging children, both the students and their siblings. When my 1 year old wasn’t enjoying watching his sister and all of the other kids splashing in the pool, he could color at the kids’ art table. There were also two large chalkboard walls with side walk chalk for drawing.
And Goldfish Swim School wouldn’t be complete without two large fish tanks with turtles, and you guessed it..goldfish! To top it off, they recognized that another priority of young children is snacks. And so they included their very own snack bar full of kid friendly treats. Additionally, they offer Family Swim time. During these special sessions the whole family share in the swim fun. It’s also a great opportunity for your little swimmer to show off their new skills!
Goldfish Swim School has provided my daughter a safe, fun, engaging place to learn how to swim. It has already ignited a love of the water and swimming in her after only a few classes. As a parent it is a great thrill to see the progress she makes every week. It will soon be her little brother’s turn too. If you are considering swim lessons for your little one, consider Goldfish Swim School.