Drowning is one of my biggest fears, and as a mom of three young children, lakes and pools induce serious anxiety in me. Luckily for me, British Swim School Round Lake Beach recently opened at LA Fitness. With the main focus on water safety, this is the perfect swim school for families in Lake County who want their children to have survival skills around water at all ages.
Our whole family came to lessons last week, which are held at LA Fitness in Round Lake Beach. The front desk staff was helpful, and showed us how to get to the pool, located around the buzzing gym and through the pristine locker rooms. As expected, the pool area was warm, the water was comfortable, but to my surprise, there was no smell of chlorine. I also loved the wall of windows. The pool area was bright and busy, but not crowded.
We arrived five minutes early and found tents for changing on the pool deck. This is incredibly helpful since I will typically be bringing my son and daughter to lessons on my own; they can change privately right on the pool deck. Our instructor began class promptly at 4:00 p.m. by introducing himself to our family and children. He asked about their swimming skills:
- Brooklyn–able to swim two lengths of the pool, tires quickly, treads water, can swim “doggy style,” and is overconfident.
- Owen–cannot swim, but thinks he can swim, does not like putting his ears and face in the water unless he is jumping in to play, panics while on his back in the water, and is overconfident.
Friends, I did this to myself. I bought my children life vests that gave them an invincibility complex while trying to keep them safe. All of my children love the water and do not realize that they cannot swim for long periods without their vests on. I am so glad we came to British Swim School!
Instructor Sam assessed their skills (knowing they were both over age three) and mentally leveled them based on what they were showing him in the first few minutes. Brooklyn is a Red Turtle One (can swim and float) and Owen is a Yellow Minnow (cannot swim or float). The website explains skill levels and goals for each level.
Our lesson is a semi-private format, and I wish I had signed up sooner. Classes are 30-minutes long and the class size is based on ability and need; it is apparent that safety is of utmost importance to the staff.
Teaching a child to float is their first skill–even great swimmers need a rest and floating on your back is far safer than floating face down. Children who cannot swim can float, too. It is incredible to see an infant floating safely! Another important early skill is the how to exit the pool without a ladder; with safety on my mind, this was a huge relief to watch.
Brooklyn and Owen waited patiently on the side of the pool for less than three minutes while the other child practiced. Owen jumped into the water twice when it was not his turn. For safety reasons, when children cannot swim, the instructor will never be more than a step and arms reach away from your child. With the small class sizes and proximity to the child, Sam calmly pulled Owen out, told him he made a dangerous choice, and kept going with the class, No one was traumatized, and we all encouragingly smiled on.
First lesson highlights:
Brooklyn was able to paddle to her instructor lifting forward to breathe, roll into a back float, roll back over and swim to the wall, climb out of the poolside, push off of the wall. With an inner tube on, she jumped into the water and swam about her lane.
Owen floated on his back, bending at the waist, and tried to sit up to avoid putting his ears into the water. However, with Sam’s tender singing, he relaxed his head onto Sam’s shoulder and let a little water touch his ears, blew bubbles and put his mouth under the water. He also jumped into the pool, fully submerging his head, using an inner tube, and then swam freely in the lane with toys.
Using games, singing and imagination, Brooklyn and Owen felt like they were simply playing with a friend in the pool. The slow steps, constant support, high-fives, and quick turns allowed for a class that taught a lot in a short amount of time. I can’t wait to see where we’re at in the following weeks. (The last five minutes of class is set aside for playing, jumping, and splashing in the pool–my kids took full advantage!)
What my kids had to say:
“When is it Wednesday again so we can do our swim class?” (When we got into the car after lessons.)
“Is it Wednesday yet?” (Thursday morning.)
“I like this swim class more than my last class;my teacher is silly and we have a lot of fun!”
“Good job, Brooke! Good job!” The encouragement to one another in the small class was very tender and sweet!
At the end of our lesson, my children were given colored swim caps (they are not made of rubber, but rather a nylon swimsuit material that is stretchy and comfortable). I view them as karate belts, Brooklyn wears red and Owen wears yellow; the children could not be more proud and are excited to move up to new colors at some point! We will wear them weekly so the teacher knows their ability level. Another way the colored caps are used (titled and dated) is for progress monitoring, if six weeks have passed and we are not seeing much progress, the teacher will meet with the parents to discuss goals and strategies to practice.
Our bags are packed and ready for next week. Brooklyn will have goggles from here on out as Turtle One students begin using them for rotary breathing and confidence building. Is it Wednesday, yet?
British Swim School Round Lake Beach
540 E. Rollins Road (LA Fitness), Round Lake Beach | (773) 661-4004
British Swim School Waukegan
452 Lakehurst Road (LA Fitness), Waukegan | (773) 661-4004
Disclosure: British Swim School provided us with swim lessons in order to facilitate my reviews. No further compensation has been received and all thoughts and opinions are my own.