Registration Opens for Free Spring Swimming Lessons in NYC

Kids can learn to swim for free through the NYC Parks Department.
Kids can learn to swim for free through the NYC Parks Department.
3/7/23 - By Katie Nave

The NYC Parks Department's FREE swimming lessons have returned from a prolonged pandemic hiatus, and we have the details to get you—and your child—back in the pool. These FREE swimming lessons require entering an online lottery for each session, which run year-round in spring, summer, fall, and winter. The FREE spring swimming lessons are on the horizon, and the lottery registration for these swim classes is open through noon on Monday, March 20, 2023.

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.


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Swimming lessons are hosted by the city's outdoor swimming pools each summer, while the Parks Department's swim classes 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 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.

RELATED: Free and Cheap Afterschool Programs for NYC Kids

Free swimming lessons in NYC: Kids on edge of pool
Get ready to be a great swimmer at NYC Parks swim lessons.

Spring Swimming Lesson Details

The Parks Department offers FREE swimming lessons at indoor city pools, with classes for toddlers ages 1 1/2 to 5, kids ages 6 to 17, and adults. The full list of participating pools by borough is available on the Parks Department's website. Important note: If your child is ages 1 1/2 to 5, you are required to be in the water with them during lessons (one caregiver per kid). Children who miss more than two consecutive lessons are dropped from the class.

The spring swim session runs from Monday, March 27 through Saturday, June 24, with a mandatory water test on Saturday, March 25. Lottery registration is open and runs through Monday, March 20 at noon. Walk-in registration is available on Saturday, March 25, if space is available following the lottery. See the Learn to Swim page for full details.

RELATED: Indoor Swimming Pools in NYC Offering Day Passes

Free swimming lessons in NYC: Kids kicking in swimming pool
Line up for swimming lessons with NYC Parks.

How to Enter the Swimming Lesson Lottery

Enter the online lottery for the session. 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. You'll have three days to accept your spot or risk being placed on the waitlist.

While these swimming lessons are FREE, participants must be members of the recreation center where the swim lessons take place. So, if you have to accompany your child in the water (remember: that's the rule for children ages 1 1/2 to 5), you and your child will both need a recreation center membership. Find out how to become a member on the Parks Department's website. Membership is FREE for youth and young adults up to age 24, but there are fees for adults ages 25+. That means children old enough to swim on their own (ages 6 and up) can learn at no cost.

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 offered. Locations and schedule info are available on the registration page.

Saturday Learn-to-Swim Lessons

All ages
Saturday learn-to-swim lessons are organized into three age groups: 1 1/2 to 5, 6 to 17, and adults. Children ages 1 1/2 to 5 must be accompanied in the water by an adult who is a member of the recreation center.

After-School Learn-to-Swim Lessons

Ages 6-17
Indoor pools across the city offer swim classes for ages 6 and up after school on select weekdays, usually starting at 4pm.

Swim Team

Ages 6-18
Advanced swimmers can hone their skills by joining a competitive swim team. These sessions emphasize technique, endurance, speed, and sportsmanship as participants train for the High Point Meets and 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. Register for a swim team try out online.

For more information about the Parks Department's swimming lessons, visit the website.

This article was originally published in 2009 but is updated every season.

Photos courtesy of NYC Parks