Frequently Asked Questions
You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers! For questions specifically regarding our Backfloat Baby® program, please click here or scroll down to read more.
What do I need to bring to swim lessons?
For most swimmers, all you will need is a swim suit and a towel!! For our Backfloat Baby® swimmers, you will also need to bring a swim suit for you and a reusable swim diaper for your little one (Required for swimmers under age 3.)
While not necessary, you may also want to pack your own goggles, fins, swim cap, and swimmer’s shampoo and/or conditioner.
Don’t worry if you forget something… We’ve got your needs covered!! We’ve always got extra goggles and fins to borrow and our showers all have FREE shampoo!! Additional items such as suits, towels, swim caps, swimmer’s hair care products, and much, much more can always be purchased in our retail store as well!!
When is the best time to start swim lessons?
The American Academy of Pediatrics states “… new evidence shows that children ages 1 to 4 may be less likely to drown if they have had formal swimming instruction.” See more at www.aap.org. In addition, a study released by the National Institutes of Health concluded: “Participating in formal swimming lessons was associated with an 88% reduction in the risk of drowning in children between the ages of 1 to 4.” Read more here.
Here at FOSS, our Backfloat Baby® program is designed for little swimmers age 6 mos. – 3 yrs. Parents and swimmers laugh and learn together in our warm pools. While there are great benefits to getting started as early as 6 months, the truth is, you know when it’s best for your family. Because our Backfloat Baby® program requires an adult in the water, it is really more important to have Mom and Dad on board for the weekly visit, the changing room, getting wet, and singing songs. What works for you will work for baby. We’re here when you’re ready!!
How do I know when my child is a "strong swimmer"?
Most parents have unrealistic perceptions about their child’s swimming skils. Isolated demonstration of a skill or “loves playing in the water” does not exemplify the endurance and confidence it takes to sustain a stoke over distance. A healthy love and respect for the water is essential, but the most assuring confirmation of your child’s ability is to see them swimming an uninterrupted, masterful, and confident 300 yard freestyle.
What if my child is in the wrong level?
We work hard to make sure all swimmers are in the right level before the first day of class. We offer FREE Level Assessments for any new swimmer (or past swimmers that have taken time off!) to ensure a good fit. For returning students, we keep all your past level recommendations on file – just ask our office staff what to sign up for! On the first day of class, we have managers in the water watching each student and working with instructors to ensure everyone is in the right level. Any situations where the class is clearly not going to work are addressed immediately. And best of all, at any time, teachers, managers, and deck assistants are all on the deck and the office staff are just steps away. We are always there to talk to you about any questions or concerns you may have. If you feel for ANY reason your swimmer’s class is not a good fit, please speak with a manager as soon as possible – they are the one on the pool deck wearing a navy FOSS shirt and khakis, and they are there to help!
Why is my child repeating a level?
Laughter, then learning, then confidence, then mastery! Our program is built on the mastery of skills. Learning to swim is one of the more challenging skill sets for most children. Each skill we teach a swimmer sets the foundation to learn the next skills. We structure everything, the pool, each piece of equipment, all of our curriculum, the games and songs, and the teachers who bring it all to life for your child, to do one thing… teach your child to swim with faster, stronger, and with correct technique better than any other program. Some swimmers will repeat a level, especially if they have taken a break from lessons. Our goal is to teach mastery of skills. We don’t stop at “good enough.” Swimming is a lifelong skill that could someday save the life of your child or another. If you feel your child should be in a different level, please speak with a manager right away.
What if my child is regressing?
The first thing to do is find your Deck Manager. They are there for you to help find the best solution for your swimmer. Open communication with your instructor and Deck Manager are the keys to a successful lesson.
If your child is regressing, something has disconnected in either the relationship department or the confidence department. If there is an issue with the relationship between your child and the instructor or the other students in the class, it could be as easy as finding a class that is a better fit. If confidence is the key, sometimes all a swimmer needs is praise, praise and more praise! Find something to notice about their swimming and share it with them and others. The more you show astonishment and encouragement, the more likely you are to get the results you’re looking for! Remember, your Deck Manager is waiting to help you and your swimmer succeed.
Apart from relationships at the pool, many parents can attest that sometimes the issue is really between parent/child, child/siblings, or just child/LIFE!! Be it separation anxiety, fear of water, focus and listening issues, following directions, no nap time, accidental car naps, just potty trained, not YET potty trained…you name it, we’ve seen it!! We suggest you give it one dedicated session of trying. If it’s not getting significantly better by the end of the session…take a break, wait a few months. We have HUNDREDS of parents call back after taking a few months of to “age up” a bit, get the swimmer’s schedule under control, get the family schedule under control, get the siblings back in school, etc… and voilà… now their little one LOVES her lessons!!
Can my child always have the same instructor?
It never hurts to ask!! We will do everything in our power to meet any request we can. Priority is given to requests for a male or female instructor, but the bottom line is we can’t guarantee every request. We have some rock star instructors and sometimes one of them will just CLICK for your swimmer. But the truth is, the majority of our rock star instructors have college schedules or day jobs that change every few months or so… which means their teaching schedules here at FOSS may change as well. If you place a request, the manager will do their best to meet it and if they can’t, you will receive a call (about 1-2 weeks before the start of the session or camp) to let you know. They can let you know who the instructor will be and maybe even let you know if your requested instructor has a different class available at another day or time. So please, go ahead and make requests! We can’t guarantee anything, but we sure will try!!
If you do not receive your requested instructor, no need to worry… All of our instructors teach the same skills, just with their own personal flair. Our instructors (18 yrs or older) are trained through the same intensive 52 hours of initial training and 108 within the first year by Jon Foss and a team of very experienced staff. Our program is a combination of water safety, technique curriculum, child development, motivational techniques, games, and customer service. All staff receive weekly training and must meet performance score benchmarks each session. You won’t find a more creative, energetic, and fun group of teachers in the WORLD!
Why do you encourage parents to watch poolside?
Because it’s safer, more accountable to our teachers, aids in better teacher/parent communication, and provides motivation to the swimmers. Our program is meant to be seen, heard, learned, and enjoyed by everyone participating… including parents! The more eyes on the pool the better. However, if there is a situation where your swimmer won’t let go of your leg, is crying to get your attention or just plain needs you to LEAVE… then we’ll let you know it’s time. For some swimmers, “out of sight, out of mind” can help them get over the hurdle. All of our facilities have a quiet view room and viewing area to dodge away. The majority of our students do NOT need parents to leave. That’s a good thing! Your job is to cheer them on. Watch, cheer, clap, give them a thumbs up, and listen for the homework the instructor gives for the week. Then, after class, be ready with a towel and a big hug!
Why don’t you offer make-up lessons?
We do not offer make-up lessons. Our pools are optimally scheduled for lessons and we choose not to allow drop-ins into existing classes as it upsets the class dynamic and can be hard on the swimmers who are in that class every week. Our program is designed to build a relationship between instructors and students. Teaching effectiveness can be compromised trying to acclimate a new student for one class. We do offer the following options for missed lessons:
• Receive a voucher for a FREE Family Swim. (We offer Breakthrough Clinics at our Family Swims which are taught by FOSS instructors who will work with you and your child.)
• Receive a voucher for a FREE Fun Meet!!
• Receive a voucher for a FREE Skill Clinic!!
If you have a sick child, we understand that you can’t bring them to the pool. For short term illness, just pick up a Miss A Class Voucher at the front desk to participate in one of the above options. (Each swimmer can get up to 2 vouchers per session.) For long term illness, 3 weeks or more, please provide the office with doctor’s note and the Office Manager will issue you a credit on your FOSS account for future lessons.
What is your cancellation policy?
We reserve the right to cancel any class with an enrollment of one student. We reserve the right to cancel any Middle 5 or Big 5 with an enrollment of less than four students.
You reserve the right to cancel your enrollment 24 hours prior to the start of the session for a full refund. Refunds are issued on the first business day of the month.* Cancellations during the session will be charged for lessons taken and a $30 cancellation fee per child. The remaining balance is prorated and returned to the customer as a computer credit toward future lessons.
Please Note: It is at the discretion of your credit card company as to how long it takes to process your refund. As a general rule, it can take 2 to 10 business days to receive your refund.
Why don’t you teach treading water?
That seems strange doesn’t it? Treading water is a skill that many other programs require. However, treading water is not an ideal skill to teach young swimmers as it requires a lot of energy and children tire quickly. We teach skills that result in your child being safer by floating on their back or swimming to safety.
How come I didn’t get my 1st or 2nd choice?
We register families in order of current, past, and new priority. Within these groups, forms are processed in the order they’re received. About 80% of our registrations come in via our website registration. If you’re looking for peak times… typically after school and weekends and some specific levels… these class times will fill quickly and we recommend registering as early as possible to increase your chances of receiving one of these class times. If we are unable to get you into your 1st or 2nd choice, our office staff will call you to look at alternative options. We try as much as possible to have all your options ready for you when we make the call. Most times there is something very close or suitable that works out. And don’t worry if those were “the only times that worked” when you submitted your registration… In some cases we are able to update our schedules as registration progresses to meet the needs of our families. Our office staff are like registration gurus when it comes to making something work for you.
Just remember……the sooner you get your form in the better! Not only are your chances of getting your 1st or 2nd choice better, but we will have more options and flexibility if you don’t.
Do you close for weather?
We do not close for inclement weather. As long as there are families that want to come to swimming lessons, we will be open for you to enjoy our 91 degree water!!
However, we do understand that inclement weather may prevent some of our families from safely traveling to and from lessons. If there are city/statewide school closings or authorities have issued no-travel advisories in your area, you may choose not to attend your lesson and request a lesson credit to be applied to your account. Please call the office or contact your location online to request this credit.
What happens if you have to close the pool for other issues?
We have great water. It’s clean, clear, and well looked after! State law requires “water recirculation systems must clarify and disinfect the pool volume of water in six hours or less.” Our pools are designed to typically turn over in 2–3 hours and have “back up” or redundant systems that enable us to continue running. Fecal contamination from swimmers can be a 15 minute or 12 hour closing depending on the nature of the “accident”. Remember to “Potty first” and all kids under age 3 must wear reusable swim diaper/pants! Each of our pools is managed by licensed Certified Pool Operators and all pools are checked 3 times daily for proper chemical levels. Credits or refunds are issued for families that are affected by a water or facility incident.
Can I enroll after a session has started?
Yes! And your tuition will be pro-rated. We just charge you for the lessons remaining. It’s all good!
Do you offer Birthday Parties?
We do not offer Birthday Parties. We have swimming lessons most nights and weekends in our pools in order to better meet the scheduling needs of our families. This allows us to offer more class options, but unfortunately prevents us from offering any reasonable times for birthday parities.
Frequently Asked Questions – Backfloat Baby®
When considering swimming lessons for your infant or toddler, there are many questions that need to be asked. We’ve put together some of the questions we hear most in regards to our Backfloat Baby® program. If you have additional questions, please contact us!!
Why do you call it Backfloat Baby?
The ability to float on their back is one of the most important skills a swimmer learns – regardless of age. If a child falls in the water or tires while swimming, we want the immediate response to be to flip to their back and float. This allows them to rest and breathe, all while expending very little energy. When they are older and are learning to swim independently, this skill will allow them to break from swimming to breathe.
What is the best age to start swim lessons?
Here at FOSS, our Backfloat Baby® program is designed for little swimmers age 6 mos. – 3 yrs. Parents and swimmers laugh and learn together in our warm pools. Starting between 6 and 12 months is often an ideal time as most babies this age have not yet developed a negative feeling towards water. After this age, fear of water can set in and, in addition, it can become harder to teach children to back float as lying on their backs is no longer as natural a feeling. This being said, there is no wrong time to start swim lessons.
While there are great benefits to getting started as early as 6 months, the truth is, you know when it’s best for your family. Because our Backfloat Baby® program requires an adult in the water, it is really more important to have Mom and Dad on board for the weekly visit, the changing room, getting wet, and singing songs. What works for you will work for baby. We’re here when you’re ready!!
What are the advantages to doing swimming lessons as a baby/toddler?
Swimmers who participate in the Backfloat Baby® program have a number of advantages:
• They are able to gain an introduction to lessons with the added comfort of having Mom or Dad (Grandma, Grandpa, or another trusted caregiver…) right there with them.
• They are given a very early introduction to the fundamental skills taught in the older levels and mistakes can be fixed before they have a chance to become bad habits.
• They are given the opportunity to form safe habits (walking on the pool deck, proper entry/exit, how to react if they fall in the water, etc.) at an earlier age.
• Graduates of the Backfloat Baby® program will have mastered many independent skills and in some cases will be able to move directly to a higher level in the Littles program (3-5 years).
What can my infant or toddler actually learn at this age?
The Backfloat Baby® program is designed to acclimate our youngest students to the water and eventually help them to transition into independent classes more successfully. You will be amazed what babies and toddlers are capable of in the water!!
Children just starting out will learn:
• Water Adjustment Skills
• Breath Control
• Comfort with short submersions
• Comfort on their back, relaxing with their ears submerged under water (with full support)
• Proper response to falling in the water (turn, swim to wall, and climb out.)
• Depth awareness
Graduates of the Backfloat Baby® program will have learned:
• Independent swimming for short distances with no floatation
• Independent back float
• Flipping from back to front independently
• Flipping from front to back with assistance
• Independently entering water over their head and safely climbing out
• A joy and healthy respect of the water!!
What will we do in a Backfloat Baby® Class?
In each Backfloat Baby® Class you will enter the water with your little one and your instructor will lead you through a series of songs and games. Each activity is geared towards the age and development of the swimmers and is designed to teach a specific skill set. Each class you attend will follow roughly the same routine from the start of class to the finish. While the routine will seem repetitive to you as an adult, it is vitally important to creating an ideal learning environment for children of this age. The routine helps them to know what will happen next and this aids in comfort, confidence, trust, and a sense of control – all of which promote better learning.
Do I need to start in Backfloat Baby® 1?
In most cases we recommend any swimmer under age 3 starts with our Backfloat Baby® 1 class, whether they are 6 mos. old or 35 mos. old. The Backfloat Baby® 1 class is much more than just “songs and games for babies.” The class is designed to teach each child how to properly hold their breath, how to hold their body to allow them to back float, how to safely enter and exit a pool with out stairs, and so much more! The class is also designed to help teach you, the parent, how to teach your child. You will learn different ways to hold your swimmer in order to better support them as they learn to float on their back, to teach them how to properly climb out of the water if they fall in, the proper way to hold them when practicing submersions, valuable information about water safety and the reasons why certain skills are so important, and even the words to all those songs! Even for a young swimmer who is comfortable in a pool with floatation, loves the bath tub, or already puts their face in, there can be great advantages to starting at the beginning and learning the fundamentals of the skills.
However, there are those swimmers who have already mastered the skills of a supported back float with ears fully submerged and short submersions under water. If this is your situation, call our office and they can help you find the right level for your swimmer.
What if my baby or toddler doesn’t like the water?
One of the reasons we start lessons at 6 months is that, in most cases, a fear of the water has not set it. By getting ahead of it and introducing water adjustment in a safe and baby friendly environment, odds are good your child will develop a healthy respect and joy of the water rather than fear.
However, some babies and young toddlers will already have developed a fear or dislike of the water. In these cases, we highly recommend sticking your lessons out as stopping or avoiding water could cause a child’s fear to become worse as they grow older. Most importantly, keep up a strong line of communication with your instructor. They will help you pinpoint what skills are making your child nervous and introduce you to various coping mechanisms to work on with your little one both in the pool and at home. They can also help introduce various skills and games to help your child find something they do enjoy. If your swimmer is crying in class, don’t feel that you need to force participation in every skill. Work with your instructor to find modified exercises or games to help with increasing comfort while still practicing skills. With the right approach, constant encouragement, and a whole lot of patience, your little one will be splashing and smiling in the water!!
My child is potty trained. Do I need to wear the reusable swim diaper?
All children under the age of 3 are required to wear a reusable swim diaper. While we understand that some children are potty trained before age 3, we also know that accidents do happen. A child that normally is very good about communicating when they need to use the bathroom may not realize the effect 91 degree warm water can have on a little body or may get caught up in the fun of swimming and not want to leave. If an accident does happen, depending on the nature of the accident, the pool must be closed until it is safe to swim again. This can result in numerous children missing out on their swimming lessons that day. To prevent this, we do require all children under age 3 to wear reusable swim diapers.
Can I use disposable swim diapers instead of the reusable swim diaper?
We require that all swimmers under age 3 wear a reusable swim diaper. While there are many disposable swim diapers on the market today, these products rarely seal as effectively around the waist and legs as the reusable swim diapers. As children in our classes are moving around and climbing in and out of the pool, an effective seal is necessary to prevent leaks. Because a leaky diaper can lead to pool closures and missed lessons for numerous children, we choose to require the more effective reusable swim diapers.
Do you require children be vaccinated to participate in lessons?
We do not require vaccination.
Can I bring a bottle on the pool deck for my baby or a snack for my toddler?
State law prohibits glass and food on the pool deck. A plastic baby bottle or water bottle may be brought on the pool deck. Please enjoy any snacks in our view room.
Why is my little one more scared to back float than to submerge under water?
Many parents are surprised to find that their child is more comfortable submerging under water than floating on their backs. This is due to a number of reasons, the main one being that in order to float independently on their back, a child’s ears must be fully submerged under water. Doesn’t sound scary, but remember that our balance is controlled by our inner ears. Water flowing in and around the ear can cause a child to feel as though they are falling. It is a strange sensation that often is overcome by exposure and repetition. Eventually, with enough exposure, that feeling will be completely normal.
Tom is an amazing instructor, he clearly has a gift working with a child with special needs. He meets Josh where he’s at, yet his swimming abilities (Josh’s) has improved to levels I never knew Josh would reach. I think it has helped Josh’s self esteem to excel at something, when many other areas of life are challenging. This has been a gift since working with Tom.
Absolutely stellar instruction. My son adored his instructor. He learned a lot.
Phenomenal with kids, especially special needs. Mitchell looked forward to seeing Chris every week!
Helped her master the one final thing she struggled with. Went from hating lessons to loving them again.