Frequently Asked Questions
What do I need to bring to swim lessons?
Start with your kids. Get them in the car and seat belt them in. In your swim bag we suggest you stuff: swim suit, swim diaper (if under age 3), suit for adult (if in Backfloat Baby classes), diapers/wipes, towels, goggles, and fins. Depending on your “routine”… families from all levels of prepared/unprepared arrive and depart from our pool. No worries! If you forget anything… we have extra suits, towels, goggles, and fins. We’ve got you covered! We might even have some extra kids if you forgot yours…
When is the best time to start swim lessons?
The National Institutes of Health recently released a study that supports the positive impact learn to swim lessons can have on young children and drowning prevention. It states, “Providing very young children with swimming lessons appears to have a protective effect against drowning and does not increase childrens’ risk of drowning.” Contrary to long held beliefs, introducing your infant to swimming lessons at even 6 months, does not encourage them to be overly bold and unsafe around water. The study concludes: 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. (Arch Pediatric Med. 2009; 163(3):203-210) Click here to read the full study.
We start our Backfloat Baby® program at age 6 months. This is what feels comfortable for our instructors and curriculum. The real answer is… you know when it’s best to start. Because the Backfloat Baby program requires an adult, it is really more important to have Mom and Dad on board for the weekly visit, the changing room, getting wet, singing “Hannah’s here today…” 5 million times… What works for you will work for baby. Try us when you’re ready… and don’t forget your new leopard Speedo.
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 (like holding your knees face down and “bobbing” in the water like a chicken nugget in a vat of frying oil… favorite trick!) 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 put up about five checkpoints BEFORE the first day of class to ensure you’re on the right track. Your assessment online or in person is a huge starting point for new families. Our office staff personally handle and register each student. Typically, they will know the returning students and have notes on each class on every day regarding the exact type of class with an opening, who the teacher is… and who the other swimmers may be! On the first day, a manager will be in the water watching and asking every instructor about the “right fit” for each swimmer. Any situations where the class is clearly not going to work are addressed immediately. During week two, your second lesson… we check again. And best of all, at any time, teachers, managers, and parents are ALL on deck and can TALK to one another if there is a question. We LIKE having our parents on deck to see what we’re seeing! Then if there is a change needed… the office is right there and you’re only a step away from a new class! Please feel free to talk to your teacher, the Shift Manager, the Office staff, or the Site Director at any time about your child’s progress.
Why is my child repeating a level?
“I’m paying all this money and I could just go elsewhere for half the price?” Ahhhh… yes, the #1 concern we hear about. Learning to swim is one of the more challenging skill sets for most children. With swimming, your child has to meet and overcome all the fears associated with just being in and around a pool BEFORE we can even get their attention on skills… or peel them off your leg. All of this takes time, patience, practice and a WHOLE lot of planning. We structure everything we offer, every piece of equipment we use, all of our curriculum, our games, our songs, and the teachers who bring it all to life for you child to do one thing… teach your child to swim faster, stronger, and better than any other swim program. It’s true, some children will repeat a level 2, 3… maybe 4 times. It happens. Rest assured, our goal, is to move children as efficiently as possible when they are appropriately ready to move.
What if my child is regressing?
When a child starts to regress, something has disconnected in either the relationship department or the confidence department. There could be an issue with the dynamics between the teacher and your child or your child and the other swimmers in the class. Hot Chicken!!! This is the easiest to fix! If you suspect your child is noticeably uncomfortable with the instructor or any of the other mates in his/her class, please find the Shift Coordinator immediately so we can quickly start working on finding a better fit. We accommodate requests for specific male/female instructors and try our BEST to fulfill any other specific request you may have for a teacher.
Apart from relationships at the pool, many parents can attest that sometimes the issue is really between parent/child, child/siblings, or just LIFE!! Separation anxiety, fear of water, focus and listening issues, following directions, not wanting to share ANYTHING, no nap time, just potty trained, not YET potty trained… you name it! We suggest you give it ONE dedicated session of trying. If it’s not getting significantly better as the session continues… stop for awhile and wait a few months. We have had HUNDREDS of moms call back after taking a few months off to “age up” a bit, get the “schedule” under control, get the house under control, get the siblings back in school… and voila’… now Cutie Pie LOVES her lessons!
Sometimes you’ll have a child who has been cruising through lessons, enjoying every minute, learning skills like crazy and then increasingly they start to become very hesitant, reticent, or downright “done” with swim lessons.
Go through these steps:
1. Talk to your child’s instructor or request they call you. Your teacher understands the dynamics of the class and the how your child is doing. Tell them exactly what your concerns are. Don’t hold back! Having an active communication line open with your instructor ensures your expectations, the teacher’s direction, and the child’s progress are all being accounted for.
2. If you think it’s a teacher or classmate issue… go directly to the Shift Coordinator because that’s the EASIEST to fix!
3. If you think it’s a schedule overload issue… scale down and simplify EVEN IF IT MEANS TAKING A BREAK FROM LESSONS! Often kids just need a break in routine. Remember, getting your child to demonstrate a strong and continuous 300yd swim is the goal… it may take a few stops along the way to get there! Don’t give up… learning to swim takes time!
4. Praise, Praise, and Astonishment! Find something to notice about their swimming and TALK about it in front of them to other people! Encourage but don’t force your child to attend swim lessons. Once you start forcing you immediately take the FUN out of it and the teacher has a MUCH harder job ahead of them at lesson time. Remember, the more you show astonishment and encouragement… the more likely you are to get the results you’re looking for!
Can my child always have the same instructor?
OK… we’re going to have to go in the broom closet and speak very hush hush here but… you could just call the office and ask! The truth is, we have some rock star instructors (We call them FAB affectionately) who keep similar schedules ALL year long because THEY CAN! But, the majority of our rock star instructors have college schedules or DAY JOBS that change every few months or so. Our managers get VERY GOOD at noticing who you love… and they’re often “consulted” by the office to assign classes. So, the bottom line is still, “NO we can’t guarantee specific instructors”… but we sure do try.
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 hospitable to everyone, and the best… most accountable to our teachers. Our program is meant to be seen, heard, learned, and enjoyed by everyone participating… including parents! The more eyes on the pool the better. If there is a situation where “Cutie Pie” really can’t shake your leg, can’t stop crying to get your attention or just plain needs you to LEAVE… then we’ll let you know it’s time. All of our facilities have a quiet view room and or other space to dodge away. The majority of our students do NOT need parents to leave. It’s a good thing! Your job is to cheer them on. Watch! Be ready with the towel and a big hug.
Why don’t you offer make-up lessons?
We know what you’re thinking… “Why can’t you just stick my kid in any of your open classes for makeups? Really? How hard can it be to add a kid?”
Whoa Nellie……them are fight’n words!!! Makeups are a very BIG BUTTON for parents and staff alike. Currently the way our program is structured, we do not manage our classes with a continuous “in/out” of students. This is partly due to the scarcity of popular prime time openings for makeups to “join” existing classes and partly because our program is designed to build a relationship between teacher and each new class for an entire session.
We have three options currently for makeups:
• Receive a voucher for 2 admissions for a Family Fun Swim.
• Receive a voucher for 1 Fun Meet participant.
• Receive a voucher for 1 Skill Clinic.
Three great ways to get more pool time, one with instruction and one with real FUN racing!
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? Well, our pools are teaching pools which means they are at maximum 4.3 feet deep. Treading water… well, we teach swimming not treading. When it comes right down to it… your child will get farther and be safer by back floating or swimming than treading water.
How come I didn’t get my 1st or 2nd choice?
We register families in order of current, past, and new priority. Within each of these groups there’s still a little elbowing and clawing to get to the front of the line! 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… it can be a little tough. We try as much as possible to have all your options ready for you when we make the call. If you DON’T get your 1st choice, we call and talk it over. Most times there is something very close or suitable (ha ha….get it?) that works out. 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 your chances.
Do you close for weather?
“Every school district is closed for crying out loud!” Mr. Foss is exceptionally adamant about this one. You should know he’s part Norweigan Viking, eternal optimist and swimming die-hard. This means he is always open for teaching swimming… especially in snowy weather! This rule doesn’t apply to outdoor summer programs. Seriously, we’ve tried more than a few different ways to handle this and the best really is to just remain open for all those faithful Midwesterners who brave ANY kind of weather and show up. For those of you who question “Are they open?” please always consult the website immediately for an update and instructions. Frequently, we will offer credits for families that miss class during city/statewide school closings even though Foss Swim School is ALWAYS open!
What happen 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 swim diaper/pants! Each of our pools is managed by liscensed 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 (non weather) 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!
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.