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Making a Splash: Preparing Your Child For Swim Lesson Success

Swim lessons are back in session! Especially for those children who are new to swimming after many pools and lessons were closed last year, swim lessons are critical for helping them learn to safely enjoy the water again, or even for the first time. Here are a few tips for helping your child prepare for swim lessons, provided by our expert, Samantha Finnegan, Aquatics Manager, Lifeguard & Certified Swim Instructor at Synergy Health Club Napa.

Preparing for Swim Lesson Success:

Q: What should my child eat and drink before swim lessons, and how early before?

I suggest drinking lots of water – even though you may not seem thirsty, your body will still be getting dehydrated after being in the water and sun! You can do a ‘water challenge’ where you encourage your child to drink throughout the day.

Encourage them to eat a good snack, such as a granola bar (Bobo’s Oat Bars are my personal favorite!) or even a small meal – something that will give your child the energy needed to pay attention and participate in their lesson. Something with carbohydrates, and also a bit of protein – like cheese and crackers, or fruit and a cheese stick are a great choice! –

Eating about 20-30 minutes prior to the lesson is probably best, you don’t want fresh food sitting in their stomach (in case some water is swallowed, as that may lead to throwing that up).

Q: What should I bring in their pool bag?

Water bottle, goggles if your child likes them (if they are unsure, it is best to bring some), and swim diapers if their child is not fully potty trained. (Regular diapers aren’t permitted in pools). Be sure to pack a pool towel-kids love having a favorite along with them to wrap up in when they’re done! For more packing tips, check out our pool bag must-haves video here.

Q: How can I support you in instructing my child in the water?

It’s best to leave the instructions up to the instructor. If you sense that your child is not listening, perhaps remind the child that it is very important to listen to our teacher when at swimming lessons, because not listening is unsafe. Another way to help is if the child is very interested in their parent/guardian, to step out into the hall, or take a walk around the building. Sometimes when the distraction goes away, the child listens better to the instructor. Another thing parents can help with is to talk up swim lessons, and make it a super fun and exciting time for the kiddo! This is especially important if the child is nervous or scared to begin swim lessons. Keeping all talk positive really helps make this time a fun and exciting process for everyone.

Q: Do you recommend that children wear goggles/swim caps for lessons?

I do recommend children wear goggles; however, it is not a necessity.

As for swim caps, as long as their hair is able to be pulled back out of their face, they don’t need a swim cap on. If they have shorter hair and it is continuously getting in their face, I would definitely recommend (and possibly require) a swim cap.

As swim instructors, we want to remove any obstacles or distractions from your child’s ability to focus and enjoy time in the water.

Q: Any other advice for parents?

Each child is totally different, so while some kids pick up swimming really quickly, it takes others more time. Try not to compare your child’s progress to others.

Also, it’s okay for your child to be nervous or scared. This is totally normal, and something that we will work on in our lessons! It is very important for everyone to feel comfortable in and around the water; that is the most important part of water safety. With becoming more comfortable, their confidence will soar and so will their skills.

We understand that swim lessons take work and commitment for both the child and the parent; so be sure to give yourself credit for making this a priority. By encouraging a positive and safe experience in the water, you’re giving your child(ren) an invaluable life skill, the gift of swimming!

Ready to make a splash? Contact our Aquatics Department for swim lessons schedules and pricing. We’re here to support you!

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Samantha Finnegan is the Aquatics Manager for Synergy Health Club Napa and handles all scheduling for aquatics lessons and teams. Her background is in Exercise Science, with a Bachelors of Science degree from Pacific Union College. She swam competitively for local teams from 2nd grade through high school, while spending summers through college (and beyond) teaching lessons both privately and for the recreation department. She loves getting to interact with kids of all ages while teaching them about water safety. Samantha lives actively by spending time out on the lake wake surfing or stand-up jet skiing. Contact Samantha at samantha.green@synergyhealthclub.org.


Team Active content is not medical advice; it’s inspiration to live actively. This information reflects personal opinions and recommendations may vary between experts. Be sure to reference your facility’s guidelines for swim lessons. For additional safety tips, visit the American Red Cross Website.

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