Goldfish Swim School – An Honest Review
As you may or may not have seen from our Instagram stories recently, we’ve been taking swim lessons with Goldfish Swim School (the Cleveland East Side location) for about 8 weeks now. Our boys (they’re 2 and 4) are not afraid of the water – we’ve been taking them swimming since they were infants in both pools and lakes – but this was our first experience with legitimate swim lessons. Here’s my honest review.
First, though, I should tell you guys two things. The first is that my husband is a former swim coach, so he does know a thing or two about teaching swimming. The second is that Goldfish didn’t charge us for these lessons.
Goldfish is a kids’ membership swim school that charges by the month. Their model is similar to a gym or a fitness club in that you have to give 30 days advanced notice if you want to quit as well. When you become a member, you choose a day of the week and a time for swim school. This can be a little challenging when you have two or more children and you’d like them to swim at the same time. Goldfish doesn’t allow more than 4 children in a class, so popular times can fill quickly.
However, Goldfish (specifically the Cleveland East Side location) has a LOT of swim school times. If you have a inflexible schedule, you will absolutely find a time that works for you within their programming. They offer swim classes for children as young as 4 months (with parents), and they’re pretty committed to being the most convenient. There are some other great features to their programming, too.
We signed our sons up to swim from 6:30-7 on Monday evenings. I didn’t tell them we were going to swim class the first time, and they were both SO excited when the they learned where we were going after school on the day of their first lesson. Remarkably, there’s proof of this, and you can check out the video evidence on our Instagram account.
The Goldfish facility is made for kids. It’s a bright and colorful environment, and every time we entered the facility they had a free toy or activity for the kids – a poster, a bath toy, a watercolor activity – it was something we all started looking forward to on our way home every week.
Goldfish is a pretty popular facility – the pool was packed on Monday nights and both boys were in swim lanes with 3 other children.
Overall, we enjoyed our experience with Goldfish and would recommend it, but it wasn’t without drama. Here’s what we liked:
The Class Size
Having no more than 4 kids per swim class was really great. It gave both kids the opportunity to watch and interact with other children in their age group and it gave them both more skilled swimmers to watch and copy. I think this was really helpful overall, and I watched our older son improve his swimming significantly with just 8 weeks of lessons.
The Water Temperature
Goldfish knows kids don’t like cold. They keep their pool at 90 degrees year round. The pool deck is equally warm. This is seriously great for new swimmers, and very different from pools that are not built explicitly for teaching children how to swim. This is a definite win.
The swim instructors at Goldfish are really in-tune with the children they’re teaching, and they aren’t afraid to let kids flounder a bit while learning. As a parent, I’m grateful for this, because of course my first instinct is to immediately jump to their rescue, then strap them into a floatation device.
Here’s what we didn’t like as much:
The Class Size
Having 4 kids in a half-hour swim class means your child will spend approximately 5-6 minutes actually swimming in a half-hour. They learn a lot in the time they’re in the pool, but that’s not a lot of time actually in the water.
Swim instructors spend a HUGE amount of time adjusting goggles for children. I’m probably going to get a lot of push back here, but I do not think kids need goggles. If they can’t adjust them on their own, wearing them is mostly a novelty that does little more than occupy the swim instructor’s time. If I could change one thing about this swim program, this would be it. No goggles. Seriously.
And finally, our lessons learned …
If you start young, swim with them.
I really did not have much desire get in a pool on a Monday evening (or really any evening), so we signed our younger son up for solo lessons. Well, as it turns out, that was not a great idea. He cried through his entire first lesson and half of his second. By the third lesson, he seemed to be improving, but he really relapsed on the 4th and never improved. By the last lesson, he was a hot mess and we let him decide if he even wanted to get into the pool. He did not. He’s only 2, so we really don’t think its worth making him power through. Our son isn’t an emotional kid, either, he just REALLY didn’t like swim lessons. He has spent every summer of his life so far swimming with us and loves it, so if I had the option of going back in time and doing this again, I’d sign him up to swim with one of us for his first formal lessons.
Floatation devices create bad habits.
Our boys have had puddle jumpers since they’ve been big enough to wear them. We love them, but we learned the hard way that swimming without one for the first time means breaking a lot of bad, ingrained habits. Keeping your head level with your body is pretty essential in swimming – something puddle jumpers actually discourage.
Overall, we loved our time at Goldfish and would recommend it to anyone looking for year-round swim lessons for their children. Since a large percentage of parents we know already have their children enrolled, I am inclined to think may of them agree with me.
Goldfish Cleveland East Side is located at 4670 Richmond Rd, Ste 100, Warrensville Heights, OH 44128. Give them a call at (216)208-3952 to learn more!
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