When should I sign up for adult swimming lessons if I want to be ready for summer vacation?

Question: I’m an adult who doesn’t know how to swim, and my husband and I are taking our two kids (ages 4 and 7) to Hilton Head this summer. I know the kids will want to spend all day, every day in the ocean or the swimming pool. I’d like to take swimming lessons before we go so I can be part of the fun, not sitting on the sidelines. When should I start lessons? How much time do I need to become…comfortable, proficient, safe?


Swim coach teaching adult swimmer how to float

In our adult swimming classes, we take the time to teach fundamentals like floating.

Answer: Fabulous question, and you’re timing couldn’t be better. While every adult swimmer learns at a different pace, the average adult student needs 3 to 4 months to become comfortable in the water and swim simple strokes on the front and back. Whether you’re planning a June or August vacation, we recommend signing up ASAP.

How Much Can I Learn in 3 Months?

Like our young swimmers, some adults become comfortable and confident very quickly. Also like our young swimmers, some adults need to work through a moderate to acute fear of the water, frustration from prior swim classes that didn’t work, or even a near-drowning experience or other water-related emergency.

Adults differ from kids primarily because they bring a result-based mindset to their first lessons.  Adults often sign up for swim lessons because they need to snorkel in Hawaii in 3 months, they want to swim a mile of freestyle/front crawl at their gym pool, or they need to complete a 1/2 mile lake swim for a triathlon.  While having goals is a great thing, results-focused adults can mentally skip a lot of the essential steps necessary to get to the finish line. 

Our Adult Learn-To-Swim Program has 3 Essential Steps:

  1. Water Comfort and Control—Develop a sense of how your body interacts with the water and how the water supports your weight and helps you float.  We’ll get you confident floating and gliding on the front and back, getting back to a standing position, and bubbling into the water to keep the pool from going up your nose.
  2. Simple Strokes and Breathing—You’ll learn simple strokes on the front and back and learn to roll to get air when necessary.  We stay away from more complicated strokes like the front crawl and breaststroke; we want you to be able to swim first and then learn the competitive strokes.
  3. Deep Water Comfort and Control—Deep water comfort is more than just learning to tread water.  We need to get you confident doing all of the skills from Step 1 when you can’t put your feet on the bottom.  In addition to teaching treading, we’ll pack your toolbox with deep water floating skills, entries and strategies for changing directions so you can get to safety.

When you complete this three step sequence you’ll be relaxed in the water regardless of the depth and will be able to swim on the front and back and get air when you need it.  In short, you will be able to swim.  Whoo-hoo!

How Are Our Classes Different?

We spend more time at the beginning working on floats, glides and facial immersions than most programs.  What we’ve discovered over the years is that swimmers who can relax, float and feel the water’s support have an easier time when we start to add the strokes.  Other programs will bypass this important water-comfort step and start with kicking and arm strokes.  The problem with this approach is that swimmers who don’t feel like the water is providing support will inevitably churn their arms and legs to provide the support the water give for free.  The result is that these lessons groove in fear, wasted motion and exhaustion. We go a little slower at the beginning, but we find that we save time later on when we need to do more complicated skills and strokes. 

Success Stories

Adult swimming lessons Chicago

Planning a summer beach vacation? Now’s the best time to start classes if you’re an adult who wants to learn to swim before you hit the sand and surf.

If all that technical mumbo jumbo isn’t your style, then let’s try this. Here are comments from just a few of our adult swim students:

  • “So glad I found Chicago Blue Dolphins!  Even though I’m in my mid-thirties, my swimming skill had never made it past the 5 year-old level (doggie paddle, head never in the water…you get the idea). I went to Chicago Blue Dolphins to help me get more comfortable in the water and hopefully get to a point where I could swim both for fun and for exercise.  I’m only two lessons in, and already there is a world of difference thanks to Coach Jason!  He is patient, explains things really well and, perhaps most importantly, made me feel really comfortable and at-ease in the water.  Now I’m excited to get into the water (I even put my head in now!) and I’m looking forward to continuing the lessons so I can improve my form and  (maybe eventually) become the mermaid I’ve always wanted to be!” – Elizabeth K.
  • “I cannot say enough good things about Chicago Blue Dolphins….Chicago Blue Dolphins was one of the few programs in the city of Chicago that catered to adults that do not know how to swim.  My instructor, Jason Carrazco, was amazing in helping me to be comfortable in the water and teaching me the basics of swimming.  Previously, I was someone who could not do anything other than hold my breath underwater for a few seconds.  After 4 weeks of classes, I am now comfortable moving around underwater and going the length of the pool on my back.  I finished the Level 1 class, and look forward to taking Level 2 and 3 to learn the different swim strokes and how to breathe properly. If you are an adult who does not know how to swim, or even someone who swam as a kid but never learned proper technique, I highly recommend checking out Chicago Blue Dolphins! The instructors and staff are extremely helpful, and do everything they can to make it a worthwhile experience!” – Joseph I.
  • “I started at CBD end of May 2016 with the Adult Level 1 class and I absolutely love it! I never learned how to swim as a child and thought that it would only get harder in adulthood. Despite that, I decided to give it a try and signed up for CBD. So far, the staff and class have exceeded my expectations! The ratio is pretty much 2 swimmers per instructor, which is great because you not only have your instructor, but also a support peer. I have overcome my fear of water, learned how to float front and back, a few arm and leg movements front and back — amazing!!! And that is all in Level 1!!” – Andra S.

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