The New York City Parks Department offers FREE swim lessons for children and adults all year round, but you have to apply through an online lottery for each session. The FREE summer swimming lessons are on the horizon, and the lottery for registration opens Monday, June 10, 2019, at 7am.
Read on for the details on where to swim for free, or check our directory of paid kids' swim classes, and mommy-and-me swim lessons for babies and toddlers, including those in Brooklyn and in Queens.
Swimming lessons are hosted by the city's outdoor pools in summer, while the Parks Department's swim programs are held at indoor recreation center pools throughout NYC in the spring, winter, and fall.
You can register your child for every session, or just one. What you don't want to do is try to register at multiple locations for the same session. (This is not school ranking, folks.) The system will remove your application as a duplicate if you apply for more than one spot.
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Get ready to be a great swimmer at NYC Parks swim lessons.
Summer Swim Program Details
The Parks Department offers summer swim sessions FREE of charge at outdoor city pools. There are three separate sessions over the summer, broken down by age, with lessons for toddlers ages 1½ to 5, lessons for kids ages 6 to 17, and lessons for adults. The full list of participating pools by borough will be released on the Parks Department's website when registration opens on Monday, June 10. Important note: If your child is age 1½ to 5, you are required to be in the water with them during lessons (one caregiver per kid). Children absent from more than two consecutive lessons will be dropped from the class.
Session one runs from July 8-July 19, 2019, Session 2 runs July 23 - August 5, and Session 3 runs August 7 - August 20. There's also a session for advanced swimmers from August 21 - August 23. Registration for all summer sessions opens at 7am on June 10, 2019.
Line up for spring swimming with NYC Parks.
How to Register
Enter the online lottery for the session you'd like to join. Register separately for each child, and remember to submit only one application per child, since duplicates are automatically deleted from the lottery system. Winners are chosen at random, and the Parks Department will email you if selected.
Additional NYC Swim Sessions
The Parks Department offers swim lessons free of charge at indoor pools year-round. Below are the programs that are usually on offer. Locations and schedule info are available on the registration page. If you run into registration issues, call Citywide Aquatics at 718-760-6969 ext. 0.
Free Saturday Learn-to-Swim Lessons
Saturday 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 in the water by an adult who is a member of the recreation center.
Free After School Learn-to-Swim Lessons
Indoor pools across the city offer swim classes for ages 6 and up after school on select weekdays, usually starting at 4pm.
Free Swim Team
More advanced swimmers can hone their skills by joining a competitive team. These sessions emphasize technique, endurance, speed, and sportsmanship as participants train for the Borough Cup Championship. Kids must be able to swim 50 yards in reasonably good form to try out, and are required to submit a completed application and a copy of their birth certificate. Tryouts and registration for the summer 2019 team take place on July 5, and swim team sessions run from July 8 through August 19, 2019 with a championship on August 10. 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, and at outdoor pools during the summer. *Please note that the lottery dates and session times are slightly different than those posted above, so keep that in mind as you plan ahead. Call 718-760-6969 ext. 0 to register.
For more information about the Parks Department's swim programs, call 718-760-6969 or visit the website.
This article was originally published in 2009 but is updated every season.
Photos courtesy of NYC Parks