What to Expect from Your Child’s First Swimming Lesson

Children taking a swimming lesson

Swimming is an essential life skill that not only ensures safety but also promotes a healthy lifestyle.

In the UK, the importance of swimming is underscored by stark statistics: the Royal Life Saving Society UK reports that drowning is the third leading cause of accidental death among children.

Meanwhile, Swim England’s research indicates that nearly a quarter of children cannot swim by the time they leave primary school.

As such, beginning swimming lessons early can play a crucial role in safety and development. Here’s a comprehensive guide to prepare for your child’s first swimming lesson…

Your Child’s First Lesson

First swimming lesson

The initial swimming lesson for your child is crucial as it sets the foundation for a child’s relationship with water. The primary aim is to build comfort and trust between the child, the water and the instructor. It’s about creating a positive association with water rather than teaching sophisticated swimming skills.

Activities to Expect

Blowing Bubbles

This helps children get used to the sensation of water on their face, which is fundamental for learning to swim. Instructors often turn this into a game to make it more engaging.

Playing with Toys

Using waterproof toys can help distract from any initial discomfort. For example, retrieving objects from shallow steps can encourage children to put their heads underwater without fear.

Learning to Kick

This involves children holding onto the side of the pool or a float and practising kicking their legs. It’s a basic skill that helps with propulsion when they eventually start to swim.

Getting Comfortable Going Underwater

Depending on the child’s readiness, this might just be about getting the chin or ears wet, progressively moving to full submersion over time.

Each step is celebrated to build confidence.

The Instructor’s Role

swim now swimming instructor

Swim instructors in the UK are certified with safeguarding training and specific qualifications for teaching children. They use gentle, child-friendly techniques to introduce each activity, ensuring the child feels secure at every step.

Preparing Your Child Psychologically

The psychological preparation of your child is as important as the physical aspect of the childrens swim lesson.

Discuss the Lesson in Advance

Begin discussing swimming a few days before the lesson. Describe the pool and what they might do there. Highlight the fun aspects like playing games and meeting other children.

Addressing Fears

Acknowledge any fears your child expresses. Reassure them by explaining that their instructor is trained to ensure their safety and that you will be close by.

Role of the Parent

Your attitude can greatly influence your child’s perception of swimming. Display confidence in the safety and benefit of the lessons. If possible, let your child see you interact positively with the water.

What to Bring to the Lesson

Proper preparation can make the swimming experience smoother and more enjoyable!

Here’s a few ideas :


Choose comfortable, snug-fitting swimwear made from materials suitable for chlorinated water. Avoid swimwear with excessive fabric or attachments that can hinder movement.

Goggles and Swim Caps

Goggles can help protect your child’s eyes from chlorine and enhance their comfort in the water. Swim caps are required in many pools and can prevent hair from blocking vision or filtering into the pool.

Towels and Warm Clothes

Pack at least two towels – one for drying off immediately after swimming and another to wrap around if waiting to change. Warm, easy-to-dress clothes are crucial, especially during colder months, as children can cool down rapidly after leaving the water.

Snacks and Water

Swimming is physically demanding, regardless of your age. A small snack like a banana or a cereal bar can help replenish energy. Hydration is also essential, even though the activity occurs in water.

Arrival and Check-In Steps

Female Coach Giving Children In Swimming Class Briefing

The logistics of the first day are vital in ensuring a stress-free start and will really vary depending on the lesson provider.

What to Expect at Arrival

Aim to arrive at least 20 minutes early. This extra time can be crucial for addressing any last-minute nerves.

Facility Tour

Showing your child around the facility can help orient them and reduce anxiety. Point out where they will be swimming and where you will be watching from.

Meeting the Instructor

A brief meet-and-greet with the instructor can help establish a rapport and comfort, easing the transition when you leave your child at the poolside.

During the Lesson

Understanding the lesson’s structure can help manage your expectations and prepare your child for what’s to come.

While it might be tempting to stay very close, maintaining a distance lets your child engage more fully with the instructor. Some pools have specific viewing areas for parents that provide a clear line of sight without being too intrusive.

Most first lessons are structured around simple, engaging activities that last 25-30 minutes. This duration helps keep the child’s attention without overwhelming them.


What happens after the lesson is just as important for future success. Take a few minutes to discuss your child’s experience with the instructor. They can provide valuable insights into how your child responded to the water and what to work on.

Focus on effort rather than achievement. Celebrate the experience itself, regardless of whether they managed to complete all the activities.

One idea is to watch how your child talks about the lesson afterwards. Enthusiasm or pride in their achievements can really be encouraged, while any hesitation can be addressed more sensitively.

Wrapping up

Swimming is a crucial skill, and the first lesson is a significant step. By preparing thoroughly, you ensure that this experience is positive and enjoyable, setting the stage for a lifelong love of water. Your engagement and support as a parent are key to nurturing your child’s confidence and competence in swimming.

If you’re interested in finding out more about childrens swimming lessons, please contact us – we offer private 1-to-1 lessons across the UK.

by Alistair Mills

In 2016 I saw an opportunity for a new swimming company that did things a little bit differently and here we are almost 4 years later, having built a family of teachers and clients that we are all really proud of.

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