All parents want their children to learn to swim—it builds confidence, fitness, and helps keep kids safe. And kids love the water! But not everyone has the pool access or the funds for even group lessons at a private swim school (which can run over $30 per hour). The good news is that if you are willing to forego the bells and whistles of top-of-the-line facilities, there are many other options out there, at quality facilities. Many of these locations also offer affordable swim teams, diving, synchronized swimming, water polo, and adult swim lessons, too. Consider how much better the whole family will feel around water—whether at the beach or the water park.
All locations offer age and ability based classes, and students advance to the next class once they have successfully completed the more basic class. Sessions vary from eight lessons in two weeks to eight lessons in four weeks, so be sure you're in town the whole session to make the most of your investment. All locations have certified instructors and life guards. If you have two or three children at the same swimming level (non-swimmer, beginner, intermediate) and around the same age (generally 5-12), be sure to inquire about semi-private lessons; children get much more attention this way, and the cost is often similar to two or three sessions of group lessons.
Rose Bowl Aquatics Center
360 N Arroyo Blvd
A bit pricier than the other options here, the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center offers something most of the others don't: Sunday group lessons, morning, and early afternoon. The center runs four-week sessions year-round, with 30-minute lessons that average out to less than $25/hour. The packed schedule offers twice-a-week and once-a-week options, as well as morning and afternoon times all day every day.
Many cities throughout the LA and OC region have at least one public pool. Be sure to check times and pricing at your local pool. Don't have one? Check these options, but be aware the residents typically get first dibs on class times and sometimes get deeply discounted pricing as well.
1515 N. Glenoaks Blvd
3201 Verdugo Ave
Burbank offers lessons to residents and non-residents at its two public pools. Resident registration begins in March, but many classes still have spots open. Sessions run for two weeks, with 30 minute classes Monday–Thursday. Online registration is ongoing. Residents pay less than $10 per hour, while non-residents fees even out to about $10 per hour of instruction.
Urho Saari Swim Stadium "The Plunge"
219 W Mariposa Ave 90245
The Plunge offers three-week sessions of two 25-minute classes each week, for six classes total per session. City residents pay less than $10 per hour, but the non-resident surcharge only means about $12/hour average. Spring session #2 signups begin at the end of April for residents and early May for non-residents. This facility was built by the WPA in the late 1930s; be sure to check out the bas relief swimmers on the outside of the building.
Pacific Community Pool
509 S Pacfic Ave 91204
Summer information is not yet available, but pricing usually works out to about $10/hour. Be sure to check the link above or call for updated information.
Los Angeles operates 16 year-round pools and 38 seasonal pools, and nearly all of these locations offer swimming lessons. Classes are 25 minutes and one (Saturday) or two (weekdays) times per week in 4- or 5-week sessions. Generally, lessons at LAUSD partner pools average to $10 per hour, those at city-owned facilities are $5 per hour (with exceptions). Both indoor facilities (including Venice High, Cleveland High, LACES, and more) and outdoor facilities (Glassell, Banning, and the seasonal facilities) are available. These locations are spread throughout the city; check the dates and rates for those convenient to you.
Most colleges and universities offer kids' swim lessons to their students, faculty, staff, and rec center members (and sometimes to the greater community, at increased rates). Others have cut programs as part of recent budget cuts. There are still some options open to all at affordable rates.
Cal State Fullerton
Student Rec Center Pool
657.278.7529 Learn to Swim
Registration is in person only at the Student Rec Center beginning April 26 at 5:30pm. Fullerton offers Learn to Swim classes for all ages, and each session includes ten 30-minutes lessons (or five 40-minute Saturday lessons). There is a 30-minute lot on Student Union Way off State College Blvd, and the Rec Center is next to the Union—see the map at the link above.
East Los Angeles College
1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez
Monterey Park 91754
East LA College Extension offers kids lessons only on Saturdays and Sundays. Lessons are 50 minutes long, in month-long sessions of four or five lessons. Classes work out to under $10 apiece.
Santa Monica College
Santa Monica Swim Center
2225 16th Street
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Classes at SMC's Santa Monica Swim Center are offered through the City of Santa Monica. Santa Monica residents get preferential pricing and registration at this top-notch facility—resident prices work out to about $10/hour, and non-residents pay $20/hour. Resident sign-ups begin in late April (a week later for non-residents), so be ready! Sessions are two weeks with four M-Th lessons each week.
Every YMCA branch that has a pool offers swim lessons, but facilities and prices vary drastically by YMCA system; branch prices vary somewhat within Y systems. Pools may be indoor or outdoor, older or updated—but staff is typically very nice, and lessons are usually offered year-round. Members get price deals and early signups, but non-members can take lessons at the Y. These are some of the better deals for members and non-members, but check with any Y facilities near you.
San Gabriel Valley YMCA
The San Gabriel Y in Covina has some of the best deals out there for members and non-members (under $9/hour), and lessons are 45 minutes long.
YMCA of Greater Long Beach
Long Beach's four branches all offer swim lessons (Los Cerritos branch partners with the Bellflower Thompson Park Pool). All locations offer members pricing that works out to about $10/hour of lessons, while non-members pay around $15/hour. Lessons are 30 minutes long, twice per week for four-week sessions.
Top photo by Philms/CC BY 2.0
Originally published April 16, 2013