Register for Free Swimming Lessons for NYC Kids
Just because it's not summer doesn't mean your kids can't learn how to swim. The New York City Parks Department offers FREE aquatic programs for children under 18 all year round.
During the fall, winter and spring, the Parks Department's swimming lessons are held at indoor Recreation Center pools throughout NYC. To try to snag a spot, you need to enter an online lottery, which begins on Wednesday, January 7. You must also be a member of the Recreation Center where you'd like to swim. Membership is FREE for children under 18 but there are fees for adults. That means children old enough to swim on their own (ages 6 and up) can learn at no cost. We've got the scoop on how to apply for the swim lessons lottery as well as additional information about these popular programs.
The Parks Department is holding an online lottery for fall swimming lessons beginning on Wednesday, January 7 at 10am and ending on Tuesday, January 13 at 11:59pm. The winter session runs from Tuesday, January 20 to Saturday, March 28. Visit this page beginning Wednesday, January 7 at 10am to vie for a spot in the class of your choice. Results will be emailed by Friday, January 16. Once the lottery is over, any remaining spots will be available on a first-come, first-served basis in person at the center of your choice on Saturday, January 17 from 9am to noon.
Below are the programs that will be on offer. Locations and schedule info are available on the registration page. Remember, you're also required to be a member of the Recreation Center where you'd like to swim. Membership is FREE for children under 18 but there is an annual fee for adults. Find out how to become a member on the Parks Department's website.
For any child ages 1½ to 5, an adult is required to be in the water. We called Citywide Aquatics and confirmed that if you must accompanying your child in the water, you also need to be a member of the Recreation Center. However, if your child is old enough to swim on his or her own, the parent does not need to buy a membership. If you run into registration issues, call Citywide Aquatics at 718-760-6969 ext. 0.
Free Saturday Learn-to-Swim Lessons
Off-season learn-to-swim lessons are organized into three age groups: 1½ to 5, 6 to 17 and everyone else. Children ages 1½ to 5 must be accompanied by an adult in the water who is a member of the Recreation Center. The winter session runs from Tuesday, January 20 to Saturday, March 28, and there are locations in all five boroughs. All children ages 6 to 17 who lottery into a Saturday class must attend a water test on Saturday, January 17. Visit the website to enter the online lottery.
Free After-school Learn-to-Swim Lessons
Indoor pools across the city offer classes after-school on weekdays, usually starting at 4pm. The winter session runs from Tuesday, January 20 to Saturday, March 28, and there are locations in all five boroughs. Visit the website to enter the online lottery.
Free Swim Team
More advanced swimmers can hone their skills by joining a team. These sessions emphasize technique, endurance, speed and sportsmanship as participants train for the Borough Cup Championship. Tryouts are held on an ongoing basis. Kids must be able to swim 50 yards in reasonably good form in order to join, and are required to submit a completed application and a copy of their birth certificate. Fill out the online form and then you'll be able to schedule a tryout. Questions? Call Citywide Aquatics: 718-760-6969 ext. 0.
Free Adapted Aquatics Instruction
This program for people with special physical needs offers adapted workouts for those suffering from ailments resulting from injury, disease or aging. It's offered at a handful of sites from Friday, January 16 to Friday, March 27. To register, call Citywide Aquatics at 718-760-6969 ext. 0.
The Parks Department also offers learn-to-swim lessons during some school breaks so keep that in mind. There's no lottery, instead you contact the Recreation Center of your choice to vie for a spot.
For more information about the Parks Department's swim programs, call 718-760-6969 or visit the website.
The info below was for summer 2014. We'll update this part of the post in summer 2015.
The Parks Department is holding an online lottery for summer swimming lessons beginning on Friday, June 13 at 4am. There are three sessions this summer:
Session I: Monday, July 7-Tuesday, July 22 - lottery ends Friday, June 27 at noon
Session II: Wednesday, July 23-Thursday, August 7 - lottery ends Monday, July 14 at noon
Session III: Monday, August 11-Friday, August 22 - lottery ends Monday, August 4 at noon
Results will be emailed a few days after each lottery ends. Below are the programs that will be on offer. Locations and schedule info are available on the registration page.
Summer Swimming Programs for Kids and Adults
Summer Learn to Swim Lessons
Three sessions: Monday, July 7-Tuesday, July 22; Wednesday, July 23-Thursday, August 7; and Monday, August 11-Friday, August 22.
Children are organized into two age groups (1½-5 and 6-17) and taught basic water safety and swimming skills on weekday mornings. Note: Kids ages 1½-5 must be accompanied by a parent in the water, and there's a required ratio of one parent to each child. So if you've got two, both of you must come along! (If you're got three or more, find a really nice friend.) Adult swimming lessons are also offered on weeknights as well as adult water aerobics classes.
Children who can swim 50 meters or more with relative ease can participate. In addition to getting free training, they'll be able to compete in the annual Borough Cup Championship swimming competition. Call Aquatics at 718-760-6969 for registration information.
Ages 18 and up
During designated hours between Monday, July 7 and Friday, August 29, adults can hit the pool without having to worry about those pesky kids getting in the way. Every participant who swims 25 miles or more over the summer will receive a free T-shirt. Prizes will also be awarded to the top three male and female distance swimmers at each pool. To swim, you need to register online and you'll pick up a season admission card on the first day.
Ages 62 and up
Seniors can keep in shape with water exercise classes, swim instruction and even water ballet during designated hours. The dates for summer 2014 are still to be determined.
Ages 6 and up
Throughout July and August, swimmers with special needs can enjoy time in the water. Call Aquatics at 718-760-6969 ext. 0 for registration information.
Photo by egarc2
This post was originally published in 2009.