Frequently Asked Questions

What should I expect for my first lesson?

Try to show up 10 mins early and check in with the greeter at the entrance of the pool. The greeter will be able to show you where the locker rooms are if you need to change.

The pool can be hard to find, please make sure to check out the map of the Gallaudet Campus to ensure you know where to go. Parking is available.

All of our lessons are level based, so the first lesson is primarily focused on getting the swimmer into their correct level based on their current ability level. To do this, we start everyone out in Level 1 and immediately promote them to Level 2 if they pass the test. Once in Level 2, we’ll test them and if they pass, move them right up to Level 3, and so on… At the end of the lesson, we’ll have found the Level that they’ll return to when they come back for their next lesson.

What should I bring to my first lesson?

Swimsuit, goggles, and a towel for yourself or your child depending on who’s swimming. 🙂

The temperature inside the pool area is quite warm so parents dress appropriately!

Are there showers available?

There is a bathroom that’s large enough for changing at the MSSD pool, but unfortunately, due to school regulations, we’re not allowed to use the high school’s locker room and shower facilities.

There are locker rooms and showers available at the Kendall Pool (where the Parent & Tot lessons are held).

Are there any prerequisites for any of the swim programs?

Nope. Outside of being the right age for a specific program, there are no other prerequisites. We work with people of all ages and all ability levels.

What does my membership include?

Membership includes four lessons per month on the specific day and time at which your child is enrolled on a recurring basis. We operate using a 365-day mentality with the goal of providing a consistent weekly lesson for your child at his or her scheduled lesson time. Classical violinists aren’t created overnight and neither are competent swimmers. Members are charged every month for lessons until we are notified via email at with notice to cancel. (See how do I cancel FAQ below for detail!)

How does my child advance through the program?

Swim America has 10 Levels. Each level builds on the skills learned in the level before, and each level requires successful completion of a skill-based evaluation before your child advances to the next level. For example, in Level 1 once your child is able to complete 10 relaxed wall bobs while exhaling air underwater through their nose they will advance to Level 2.

What happens when my child advances to the next level?

Level advancement takes place during lessons whenever your child successfully completes the skill-based evaluation with a member of the deck staff observing them. With a bit of ceremony and celebration, your child will be invited to climb out of the pool and ring a large bell (which causes everyone on deck to cheer!) Then your child is walked by a member of the deck staff to where the next level lesson is taking place. Your child will be greeted and welcomed by the coach of the new level and other swimmers in that lesson.

How long does it take for my child to advance through each level?

There is no minimum or maximum length of time for any child at any Level. Once the level specific skills are mastered, your child is promoted to the next level. Because SwimAmerica is a building block technique-based program that teaches proficiency in each stroke, your child will not advance until he can consistently perform the skills required of the level. We find several factors can contribute to the length of time your child remains at a particular level, including: age, previous swim experience, personality, and natural ability. We find that most kids thrive under consistent, repeated practice, i.e. taking lessons un-interrupted for a long time. It takes time to learn a life skill!

Why is my child sitting on the edge and not participating?

At Old City Swim School safety is our number one priority. When swimmers do not listen or follow direction from their coach or our deck staff, they are given a verbal warning. If the violation occurs again, they are asked to sit on the edge and take a break until they are ready to listen and follow directions from the coach. If your child’s behavior does not change when he/she returns to the pool, then they will be asked to exit the pool and find their parent.

How can I find out how my child is progressing in his/her current level?

Simply let the Greeter at the check-in desk know that you’d like an update on how your child is doing. We’ll either send you a detailed email following the lesson or have a member of the deck staff speak with you directly. We are happy to provide you with an update specifically on what your child has mastered at his/her current level and what they are still working on achieving before they will be ready to advance!

Does everyone start at Level 1?

Yes. At your child’s first lesson, they will be assessed by an Old City Swim School evaluator at each level until they reach the level appropriate for their current skill set. Experienced swimmers can be promoted through multiple levels in one class. It’s important to remember that our learn-to-swim program is taught linearly, so if your child possesses the ability to float and glide (skills taught in Level 2), but can’t properly exhale through their nose underwater (a skill taught in Level 1), then your child will remain at Level 1 until they master the skill of exhaling through their nose underwater.

Why is my child not advancing even though they've had lessons before?

It’s common for kids who’ve had lessons elsewhere before coming to Old City to get “stuck” or even appear to “regress” after starting lessons with Old City. SwimAmerica, unlike other swim programs, requires very specific skill-based techniques to be mastered at each level in order to prepare a swimmer to be successful at the next level. It may take time for your child to correct their form or “un-learn” habits they’ve picked up over time in other programs. This is OK! Remember, patience is key when it comes to learning to swim properly.

What ages can participate in SwimAmerica?

SwimAmerica is designed for 3-12 year olds. We offer a parent & infant class for children ages 18-36 months. That said, if your child is less than 3 years old and has mastered the skills required to start Level 1, we will absolutely start your child in the SwimAmerica program. If your child is older than 12, don’t worry! We offer a SwimAmerica program just for teens. If you have a teen older than 12 and are interested in our learn-to-swim program, let us know!

How big is each class?

Maintaining a low instructor to student ratio is vital to the success of any learn-to-swim program. At Old City Swim School, our goal is to not exceed more than 5 children per instructor. Depending on the daily advancement of children, it’s possible that a level could briefly have more than 5 swimmers. Before each lesson, we review the levels of each swimmer and add/move coaches around beforehand as well as during lessons as necessary to maintain our ideal ratios.

Are make-up lessons available?

Lessons cannot be rescheduled, made-up following an absence (planned or unplanned), placed on hold, suspended, sold, transferred, or shared. To ensure every child the best possible coach to student ratio and the highest level of instructional consistency, we undertake significant preparation in advance of each lesson to schedule plan, and staff for the specific swimmers attending at that lesson time. Because of this, we are not able to accommodate members on a different day or time than their normally scheduled lesson. Friday Family Swim Nights are a great opportunity to make up missed pool time or just get some extra swim time in addition to your child’s 4 monthly lessons.

What is the holiday and inclement weather policy?

In the event of a planned closure such as the 4th of July or Thanksgiving Day holiday, major events that cause area road closures (i.e, Inauguration, Rock and Roll Marathon) Old City will communicate an alternative lesson day and time in advance. Following an unplanned closure, every member will be provided with an opportunity to attend an additional lesson on a rescheduled day and time that is determined by Old City. The rescheduled lesson time may take place any day of the week at any time, including on a Sunday. There are no credits, refunds, or make-ups for a rescheduled lesson.

How do I cancel?

To cancel, members may notify by email at least 30-days notice prior to your next bill date. Membership payments scheduled during the 30 day notice period will be charged as scheduled and all sales are non-refundable regardless of usage or personal circumstances. If your child returns to Old City Swim School (and we hope they will!), they will be placed at the level they were in at the time of they left the program.

When does billing occur?

All children’s programs at Old City Swim School are recurring monthly programs. Every month on the date you enrolled (typically the 1st of the month unless you join mid-month) you will be billed for another month of swim instruction under the plan you originally purchased.

As long as you don’t cancel your plan, your day/time spot within your selected program will be the same each and every month. If you cancel your plan, your spot will become available to the next person on the waitlist for that spot. If you sign up again at some point after canceling, we cannot guarantee that the same day/time spot will be available.

What's pricing look like?

– Kids: $130/month

– Tots: $65/month

I can't swim, is this program for me?

Yes! We have 3 groups running at the same time, with 2-3 coaches present depending on the size of the class.

If you can’t swim, or your swimming looks more like doggy-paddle than freestyle, we’ll start you off in our ‘Learn-to-Swim’ group.

This group is perfect for anyone regardless of your starting point.

I can swim pretty well, is there a program for me?

Yes! Our SwimWOD Beginner and Advanced groups are a perfect fit for anyone looking to improve their technique or anyone looking for a really good swim-based workout.

Our Beginner group is good for anyone who can swim 2 lengths of the pool without stopping using good freestyle technique.

Our Advanced group is great for any former competitive swimmer, be it high school or college. It’s also a good fit for any Triathletes looking to improve their swimming leg of the race.

What should I expect for my first class?

Try to show up 10 mins early and check in with the greeter at the entrance of the pool. The greeter will be able to show you where the locker rooms are if you need to change.

The pool can be hard to find, please make sure to check out the map of the Gallaudet Campus to ensure you know where to go. Parking is available.

Bring a suit, goggles, and a towel. We’ll take it from there.

How are the classes structured?

The Learn-to-Swim class is a 1-hour swim lesson. We will work on your specific swimming weakness and each class we’ll give you specific instructions on specific drills designed to improve your specific weaknesses.

The SwimWOD part of the class has ~30 mins of detailed stroke instruction and drill work designed to improve your swimming technique and efficiency. Followed by a ~30 min swim based workout.

When does the 10 Class Pass expire?

The 10 Class Pass expires after 10 classes or 3 months, whichever comes first.

What's pricing look like?

$180 for a 10 class pass. The class pass can be used on SwimWOD (Beginner/Advanced) and/or Adult Learn-to-Swim

The class pass can be used on SwimWOD (Beginner/Advanced) and/or Adult Learn-to-Swim. This pass expires after 3 months or 10 classes, whichever comes first.