Finding the local YMCA or community pool is easy and inexpensive; but since quality on these classes varies widely (even within a single facility), we’re here to tell you where Angelenos who are serious about getting the job done keep their kids afloat—and it doesn't have to cost a mint.
Private and semi-private lessons don't necessarily require a private pool, and they do get kids on the fast track to independent swimming. Several popular instructors and schools make use of public pools or swing deals with private pool owners to make private instruction accessible to everyone.
LA Surf and Swim
The legendary Coach Syd of LA Surf and Swim is the guy responsible for the highest number of successful swimmers west of the 405. He and his team apply a zen-like calm that eases the fears of students from infant to older kids, usually in tandem, semi-private lessons. The school also offers ocean swimming classes and surfing lessons. Lesson times can be booked individually online or by phone, with location options (around the Westside and Malibu) offered at time of booking.
Lenny Krayzelburg Swim Academy
The inland side of the 405 has long been the territory of swim school impresario and Olympic gold medalist Lenny Krayzelburg, whose academy at the JCC on the Miracle Mile boasts a patented learn-to-swim method developed by the Olympic star himself. Kids in the Valley can get their strokes down the Krayzelburg way at the West Hills JCC. Fees at both locations must be paid monthly, with the first lesson free.
The Water Whisperer
Another popular swim guru of the Valley is the Water Whisperer, with locations in Sherman Oaks and Woodland Hills. Head coach Emily Cohen takes particular pride in cracking tough cases and getting infants afloat, and happy parents attest to her success. Lessons must be booked in blocks of 10 and paid up front.
Photo courtesy of Beverlywood Swim School
Beverlywood Swim School
Longtime neighborhood staple Beverlywood Swim School is working on its third generation of swimmers at its highly visible location on Robertson Boulevard. All lessons are private and sold in blocks of five, with a practice pool available for use after lessons and at other times.
Jim Herrick Swim School
Valley Village families sing the praises of Jim Herrick Swim School, another that’s been in its neighborhood for multiple generations. Herrick's personal, laid back, stress-free method is taught by everyone at the school. Private lessons and classes are available and can be paid one at a time with an annual membership.
Photo courtesy of Head Above Water Swim School
Head Above Water
Head Above Water offers almost as many locations as Starbucks – if Starbucks delivered. Families with private pools can arrange home visits, and everyone else can choose from an exhaustive list of public and hotel pools. Lessons are all private, with the exception of semi-private Parent & Me classes, and available in blocks of six or 10.
Water Otters in Winnetka operates on the assumption that swimming is 10% learning to swim and 90% comfort in the water. The school's private outdoor pool is heated and shaded. Lessons options range from Baby & Me to older kids to special needs. Private lessons take place in three week cycles and meet three times per week.
With locations in Cheviot Hills, Hancock Park, and Mar Vista, kidSwim is a developmental swim school for kids 5 months and up. The unique program teaches motor, sensory, and communications skills alligned when the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines. Private lessons start at age 2, and sessions take place in six week cycles.
North Valley Swim
Servicing Los Angeles and Santa Clarita, North Valley Swim brings lessons to you, including private lessons. Lifeguarding and CPR lessons are also available.
Private swim lessons are available for students of all ages, and Waterworks Aquatics has multiple locations in both Los Angeles and Orange County. Semi-private lessons promise to eliminate "dead time" by encouraging both students to remain active throughout the lesson.
Originally published August 7, 2011