First Swimming Lessons :: Overcoming Fear of the Water

Disclosure :: This post was sponsored by Swimtastic in Franklin, a local swim school devoted to teaching water skills to all Milwaukee area kids and families and written by one of our writers who got to take her child there for his first swimming lessons. We believe water safety skills are crucial and are looking forward to sharing our writer’s experience with her child attending Swimtastic

Swimtastic in Franklin

The Starting Point

This post could alternatively be titled like an episode of Friends: “The One with All the Crying.” 

When I was given the opportunity to try out Swimtastic for my 2-year-old son Oscar, I jumped at the chance! My superhero and pop music-loving son really struggled with swimming. We go to the Wisconsin Dells every 6 months and each time we have gone, he has a hard time enjoying even the simplest of splash pads. He doesn’t mind baths too much as long as there are toys in their with him, but every time we have to wash his hair, he would scream bloody murder! Needless to say, the water struggle has been real for this kid.

First Impressions at Swimtastic

When we arrived to our first Wednesday night lesson, I will admit that I wasn’t totally prepared. I had checked out Swimtastic in the past when searching for swim lessons for the kids but all I knew was that it was a swim school with several locations and sessions available.  After a long day at work on the east side of Milwaukee followed by getting the kids picked up and fed before the lesson, we arrived with just enough time to change for the pool.

When we walked in, I was greeted by a friendly staff member who offered to give us a quick tour. The lobby is very welcoming and neat and leads to what I like to call the “viewing room” (this is important and I will get back to this later). This was a large space with rows of chairs facing windows overlooking the pool area. It also featured a play area and a TV showing kid movies. There’s also a few snack machines, which have come in handy when dinner before swim lessons was not possible. We were shown the locker rooms complete with a shower, cubbies and several changing tables and benches to making changing kids of all ages a breeze.

At this point, I was less frazzled and ready to change for the swim lessons when the viewing room came back into my mind. I asked Ashley, our tour guide, if I would be getting in the water with my son. She replied with no, that at age 2, swimmers are paired with a coach sans parents. My stomach dropped. I should have called ahead and asked more questions! I should have studied! I should have realized I was going to hand my kid over to someone he’d never met to do the one thing he already struggled with most in his short little life.

Starting Lessons

I was beyond anxious at this point.  I asked if I could stand inside the pool area and I was told that I could if I wanted to but I could tell, it wasn’t advisable. I learned very quickly the 2 reasons why it’s not recommended: 1. It’s very warm in there which is great for the kids but terrible for an adult in work clothes and 2. It made my son even more upset when I didn’t get in the water with him. His swim coach, Damaan, powered through the 30 minute lesson with my sobbing son. She showed him different swim techniques with the use of pool noodles, foam dumbbells and kick boards. She patiently endured his screaming while introducing him to back floats, kicks. He grabbed her head nervously like a frightened cat while she moved him through the water and he tried to get out of the pool several times. The lesson ended with another swim coach assisting Oscar down the pool slide into Damaan’s arms. I was anxious he would hate it, but was pleasantly surprised that the experience was shocking enough to jolt him out of his crying!


All in all, it was a bit rough of a first go-round, but Damaan promised that things would get better over time. The following week, he was joined by 2 other classmates. When we arrived for week 2, Oscar started crying in the changing room and never stopped until the end of his lesson. I did notice that he was willing to high five his teacher during this lesson and when he was done, his tears turned into this big, proud smile. The next night during his bath, for the first time in his 2 years of life, he willingly dumped water on his head and let us wash his hair without protest. I was shocked and elated as we realized that the lessons were helping ease his discomfort in the water….
Stay tuned! Mariana will be back to share how Oscar does at the end of his swimming lessons journey and talk about the progress he has made as well as any lessons SHE has learned in the process. 


What makes Swimtastic unique? 

  • You can register for swim lessons year round! Swimming isn’t just for summer and they want to work to accommodate a variety of schedules for busy families.
  • The pool is kept at a warm 90 degrees, specifically designed to make young swimmers feel comfortable and at ease.
  • Small class sizes! As Mariana mentioned, her child got individual attention because there are no more than 4 kids per class and no more than 6 per parent/child in the infant class. Instructors are really able to cater the class to the child’s needs. 
  • Professional Instructors. Swimtastic teachers must be lifeguard certified and complete 30 hours of water training and 10 hours of book training.

Learning to swim is a very important skill that could save a child’s life. Check out Swimtastic for lessons or try them out with a FREE Family Swim Pass

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