Frequently Asked Questions

What should I expect for my first lesson?

Plan ahead and show up early. 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. Upon entering the MSSD Athletic building, turn right at the Trophy Case and walk through the hallway to the set of blue double doors where the pool is located. Check in with the front-desk greeter just inside the pool.

The first lesson is primarily focused on getting a swimmer into their correct level based on their current ability level. To do this, we start everyone out in Level 1 and will immediately promote them to Level 2 as soon as they perform the skills required in Level 1. 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.

Check out our blog post here for a detailed overview of how to ace your kid’s first lesson!

What gear does my child need for their first lesson?

Kids: swimsuit, goggles, and a towel is the short answer. For insight on what style of swimsuit will help your child perform his or her best (hint: it’s not baggy surfer shorts, a rashguard, or a tutu-inspired ruffle suit…), check out our blog post here.

Parents: The temperature inside the pool area is quite warm so 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 prerequisites for the Learn-to-Swim program for kids ages 3-12?

We work with kids of all abilities and backgrounds. BUT… there are a few things your child will need to be able to do in order to be successful in our learn-to-swim program. Check out our blog post here to determine your child’s readiness level.

Not quite ready yet? We have lots of resources available for parents to help you successfully prepare your child for our learn-to-swim program.

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 admin@oldcityswimschool.com 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?

We are constantly evaluating swimmers across a number of areas. Each week we review how students are performing, including which students work well (or don’t) with other students and which coach-student pairings are working well (or not). We flag students who have been in a given level for extended lengths of time or may be exhibiting repeated behavioral issues or a change in attitude. 

In short, on a week-to-week basis, no news from us is good news and means your child is doing that they are supposed to be doing, i.e. following directions, maintaining a positive attitude and willingness to try. We do not provide updates to parents on a weekly or even monthly basis unless there is a problem that needs addressing. Simply, learning to swim takes time and because our program is designed to teach technical proficiency across a specific set of skills at each level, we are satisfied if swimmers are showing progress over an extended period of time and appear to be enjoying lessons. 

That said, we understand parents like occasional updates!  Email us directly or let the Greeter at the front-desk during lessons know that you’d like an update on how your child is doing. We’ll make a note to send you a detailed email update outlining specifically 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 the Learn-to-Swim Program?

Our learn-to-swim program is designed for 3-12 year olds who are able to participate in a small group lesson without a parent physically present with them. We offer a parent & tot program for children ages 18 months through 3 years old. 

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 admin@oldcityswimschool.com 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 1st of the month (unless it’s a bank holiday) you will be billed for the upcoming month of swim instruction under the plan you originally purchased. Around the middle of each month, as a courtesy, we post the upcoming month’s tuition fee to each active member’s account as a reminder of their upcoming membership payment.

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?

Our Learn-to-Swim Program membership is $130/month per swimmer. We do not offer discounts for additional siblings, multi-program discounts, etc. Every member receives the same high level of quality and service regardless of how many students they have enrolled!

What should I expect for my first lesson?

Classes are 20 minutes long, so missing even a few minutes can reduce the effectiveness of your child’s learning and disrupt his or her lesson experience. This is especially the case for our Tot clients! We encourage families to arrive a few minutes early for each lesson. Arriving beforehand can also help your child to settle into the pool environment on deck and get comfortable before class begins.

When you arrive, check in with the front-desk greeter on the pool deck and let them know it’s your first lesson. They will point you to the locker room facilities and where families are allowed to sit.

Old City Swim School Parent & Tot lessons take place at the Kendall Elementary School. This is one of three pool facilities on the Gallaudet University Campus. Please pay close attention to the location of your assigned pool – it can be tricky to find on your visit! Turn by turn directions and a map to the Kendall Pool can be found on our website here.

The caregiver in the pool is expected to actively participate with their child. Children at this age take their social cues from their trusted “inner circle” so if you are participating and following along, they are more likely to as well! This includes learning and singing the songs! (Click here to see our blog post that includes the Tot class songs.) We follow a routine each week that is adapted to each child based on their comfort and ability in the water – we promise you’ll catch on quickly!

What should I bring to my first lesson?

For those getting in the water: swimsuit and a towel is the short answer. For insight on what style of swimsuit will help your child perform his or her best (hint: it’s not baggy surfer shorts, a rashguard, or a tutu-inspired ruffle suit…), check out our blog post here.

We strongly prefer kids get used to submerging underwater without goggles at this age. When your child is older and focusing on stroke technique, goggles become helpful. We want your child to be completely comfortable getting wet and submerged without any of these devices before they start relying on them.

For parents who may be watching from the deck: The temperature inside the pool area is quite warm so dress appropriately!

Are there showers available?

Locker room facilities with showers are available for use at the Kendall Pool where our Parent & Tot lessons are held.

Are there any prerequisites for the Parent & Tot program?

Nope. Outside of being a minimum of 18 months old and have a caregiver in the pool with the Tot at all times 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 admin@oldcityswimschool.com with notice to cancel. (See how do I cancel FAQ below for detail!)

How does my child advance through the program?

Our Parent & Tot programming focuses on developing the foundational skills required to successfully participate in our SwimAmerica Learn-to-Swim Program. The Parent & Tot program runs on a repeating six-week curriculum designed to get your child comfortable in the water and getting wet. We teach fundamental water skills including safe entry into and exit from the pool, incremental introduction of going underwater/water submersion, flutter kicking, and front and back floats. As your child advances in skill level over time, our coaches will scale the difficulty of each drill to match the progression your child is making.

What's the Tot Pool like? Is it warm?

For our youngest swimmers, we are pleased to be able to provide lessons in a space that is welcoming and friendly. The Kendall Elementary School Pool we use for Parent & Tot classes has an infinity ramp entrance, overall shallow depth, is smaller and warmer than a competition pool, and full locker room facilities are accessible from right inside the pool deck area.

How long should my child be enrolled in the Parent & Tot Program?

At Old City Swim School we believe exposing your child to water as frequently as possible throughout the first two years of life will greatly increase their comfort and confidence transitioning to an eventual learn-to-swim program without you! Our primary goal is to help your Tot become completely comfortable and confident getting wet and soaked in the pool with you by the age of 3. Our second goal is to prepare your child to be successful in our learn-to-swim program for kids ages 3-12. To learn more about our learn-to-swim program and your child’s readiness for independent swim lessons click here

While your tot is young we believe, you, as the parent, are the best possible swim instructor your child can have. We are here to equip you with everything you need to set your child up for a successful transition into our learn-to-swim program that begins at age three. To help you prepare your child for this, there is no minimum or maximum length of time for any child of any age in any of our programs. As your child advances in skill level over time, our Tot coaches will scale the difficulty of each drill to match the progression your child is making. 

How big is each class?

Our Parent & Tot classes do not exceed 10 students per scheduled lesson time. Often, it’s smaller than this number and also varies slightly week to week based on each member family’s schedule and attendance. As an active member, your time slot at a given lesson time is yours each week whether you use it or not!

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 admin@oldcityswimschool.com 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 1st of the month (unless it’s a bank holiday) you will be billed for the upcoming month of swim instruction under the plan you originally purchased. Around the middle of each month, as a courtesy, we post the upcoming month’s tuition fee to each active member’s account as a reminder of their upcoming membership payment.

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?

Our Tots Program membership is $65/month per swimmer. We do not offer discounts for additional siblings, multi-program discounts, etc. Every member receives the same high level of quality and service regardless of how many students they have enrolled!

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.