Swim lessons are hard to come by as pandemic eases
With the summer in full swing, parents may be searching for a place where their kids can take swim lessons, especially after a year of closed pools and social distancing.
In Sammamish, there are three primary options — the YMCA, Pine Lake / Columbia Athletic Club, and KTAP Inc. — but the latter is mostly booked for the summer.
The YMCA offers monthly swim lessons year-round. Registration for the next month’s lessons begin on the 15th of the previous month. For example, registration for August swim lessons will start July 15 through their website.
Swim lessons follow the YMCA curriculum which is split into two major groups — Swim Basic and Swim Stroke. Swim Basic focuses more on water survival and safety skills, while Swim Stroke aims to develop swimming techniques. Currently, both of these group swim lessons are only available to YMCA members.
In addition to group sessions, the YMCA also provides private lessons. According to aquatic director Katherine Early, if a student is struggling on a specific field in group lessons, they may recommend a few private lessons.
However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions do apply. All people are required to wear masks and practice proper social distancing guidelines, regardless of vaccination status, unless within the pool, Early said.
Swim instructors wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face shields to decrease the risk of COVID-19 spread. Additionally, the facility also cleans commonly touched surfaces every 2 to 3 hours.
Pine Lake / Columbia Athletic Club
An alternative choice in Sammamish has been the Pine Lake / Columbia Athletic Club (PLAC).
Typically, group classes are signed up for one week in advance. These lessons are available to members and non-members, though members are able to sign up two days earlier and get a discount. Due to high demand, spots usually fill up the day registration starts, so PLAC recommends signing up at the earliest possible time. Their website provides registration start dates for all classes.
Group lessons include eight sessions, two days per week for weekday sessions and one day per week for weekend (Saturday) sessions.
PLAC’s group lessons are split into six levels of specific focus. Level one focuses on water safety, level two focuses on strokes and kicks, level three focuses on freestyle and back stroke, level four focuses on streamline and more advanced kicks, level five focuses on endurance swimming and breaststroke, and level six focuses on training for swim team tryouts.
PLAC also provides private swim lessons. These offer more flexibility and greater focus on individual skills. Because these lessons are scheduled case-by-case, there are still spots available during the summer.
As of June 30, PLAC shifted to Phase 4, which means a complete reopening, though masks are still recommended for people who are not fully vaccinated. They are also taking extra precautions with additional cleaning and PPE equipment, touchless hand sanitizers, and state-of-the-art air filtration.
If you are looking for outdoor swimming lessons, KTAP Inc. might be the right fit for you. Unfortunately, due to high demand, the two summer sessions are full, though there may be new openings for ages 3 to 9 in the fall.
Class sessions consist of two classes per week for five weeks. These lessons are hosted in a private outdoor pool, which, according to instructor Kathie Neir, gives them greater control over the water conditions.
“It’s not like it’s open for everyone to do what they want,” she said.
Like the other locations, classes are divided by age and skill level. The instructor-to-student ratio for these classes is one-to-five. In addition, all classes are taught by adults, whereas other locations might have high school students teaching, Neir said. At KTAP, the instructors have a total of 52 years of experience.
“We believe in starting kids young,” said Neir. “Research shows kids that start young have positive impacts.”
KTAP teaches children as young as 18 months of age.