In the more than quarter century since Jon Foss started teaching swim classes, we have been continuously refining and improving our curriculum, but always following the same approach to teaching and the same concept of mastery through progression through the program.
The FOSS Swim Path™️ is the latest evolution of this process, and one of the most visible since it changes how we talk about the Foss Swim School program. But don’t worry—we aren’t changing our philosophy or what happens in the pool. It’s just a way to offer a simplified view of our levels.
In short, the Swim Path™️ makes clear what we’ve said all along: Each swimmer will progress through a personalized series of levels that will take them from their first dip in the pool to graduation as a more confident swimmer.
So what is Swim Path™️?
Swim Path™️ is our curriculum we teach throughout the progression of levels that lead to swim school graduation. Each swimmer’s Swim Path™️ is unique and progresses through a specific combination of the levels we teach. Our levels are not changing, nor are the skills and activities taught in them.
Important things to note about the Swim Path™️:
The Swim Path™️ is made up of core skills that are mastered as swimmers progress.
Those core skills are taught in the levels that match the swimmer’s age PLUS ability. For example, a beginner skill like floating will be taught in a Little 1 class for a 3-year-old or taught in a Big 1 class for an 8-year-old—no matter their age, they will learn floating before learning propulsion.
Learning to swim is the first progression and foundational goal we help swimmers reach.
The other progressions are Swim Stronger and Swim Faster, and a swimmer graduates when they have mastered the skills within that progression.
This doesn’t change how long it takes to learn to swim, what we teach, or how we teach it.
The Swim Path™️ shows that gaining swim skill is a process and helps swimmers understand where they are in their journey. It also helps make clear that not all swimmers learn in the same way, at the same age.
Why was Swim Path™️ introduced?
Swim Path™️ grew out of our need for a better way to talk to swimmers and their families about what we do. Teachers and staff at Foss Swim School will refer to the Swim Path™️ when helping you figure out where to start classes and when to progress to the next level. We find that the Swim Path™️ offers a few advantages over how we used to talk about swimming:
The Swim Path™️ makes clearer how levels work.
Because our philosophy says students should learn in classes with other students of similar age and ability, looking at all the levels was overwhelming and confusing. The Swim Path™️ focuses just on levels relevant to you – if you have a 5-year-old, you don’t need to read about baby classes.
It allows us to personalize for each swimmer.
The Swim Path™️ starts where swimmers are and ends with graduation. An older child who has had previous swim experience will have a Swim Path™️ very different from a 6-month-old who is just starting out on their path.
The Swim Path™️ shows swim school is a path towards a goal, not an event.
The goal of swim school is graduation, with clear standards of mastery. Some will graduate sooner and some later, but all graduates will have the same skills.
Learn to Swim is one path, distinct from advanced swim training.
We’ve always offered advanced classes that focus on refined technique, strength, and competitive swim skills, but many families aren’t looking for that. So we now have separate programs—everyone should learn to swim, and those who want to swim stronger or faster have their own path.
What does this mean for current and prospective swimmers?
If you are a long-time FOSS family, or a new family who has heard about our program’s effectiveness, rest assured we aren’t changing anything you already love about FOSS. The same levels exist and the teachers will still teach the same skills in the same way.
If you are new to FOSS, we believe you will find the Swim Path™️ tool an effective way to learn about our program, where to begin, and what to expect on your swimmer’s journey.
The Swim Path™️ is the result of many talented people within Foss Swim School taking the time to reimagine how we share our program with others. We thank you for swimming with us and look forward to helping your swimmer find success along their path!