The question we most often get at Old City Swim School is:
How long should I expect my child to be in “Level X”
At Old City Swim School, we follow the SwimAmerica model for our Learn-to-Swim Program. SwimAmerica is set up to be a 10 Level swimming system that teaches your child progressively more difficult (and more important) swimming skills. We start off at Level 1 teaching your child how to blow air out of their nose while underwater. Level 2 is where we introduce floating, Level 3 kicking, and so on…
The exact moment your child can demonstrate the necessary skills to advance levels, they will be pulled from their current level and advanced mid-lesson. There are no minimum time requirements in any Level. There are no age requirements for any level. Advancement is 100% solely based on your child’s ability to demonstrate very specific swimming skills.
That said, children advance through the Levels at wildly different rates. We don’t advance children based on anything other than demonstrated skills, so as you can imagine, there are a lot of factors that go into how quickly your child will advance through the levels. To break this down and provide you with some level of expectation, we recently reviewed the data for more than one-thousand promotions and found some interesting points to consider while assessing if your child has been in any given level for too long.
Generally, there are a lot of items which affect the time your child spends in each level: child’s age, previous swim experience, time spent in the water outside of swim lessons, natural ability, enjoyment/interest in lessons, level of cautiousness, environmental sensitivity/adjustment to program, and the list goes on…
The most important metric to how quickly your child advances in a given level is: what level, exactly, your child is trying to graduate from.
Levels 1-4 are our basic ‘freestyle and survival’ levels. In these levels, children will learn floating, kicking, basic in-water breathing, and how to swim 5 meters without stopping.
The most important metric to how quickly someone graduates a level between 1 and 4 is how much water exposure your child has gotten throughout their life, followed very closely by age.
While swimming lessons certainly accelerate the speed in which your child learns swimming, general exposure to the water for play and fun is vitally important to a young swimmer’s development. Exposure to the water reduces the fear a lot of children have with water, it ignites your child’s subconscious learning patterns, and it makes swimming something your child sees as ‘fun’ and not as a chore.
Age is also significantly important. Older kids tend to be less afraid of the water and therefore are more willing to challenge themselves during the lesson. Older kids tend to be able to listen and follow directions better, and older kids tend to have more exposure to the water.
Levels 5-10 are where we start working on more advanced skills, such as: breathing to the side, the other strokes outside freestyle, treading water, diving, swim turns, etc…
These advanced skills take children of all ages much more time to acquire than the previous levels. The skills we teach are significantly more refined and we start to look more at style and technique than in previous levels.
These advanced levels are where we transform your kid from someone who’s fairly safe in the water into a child that can confidently dive into any water situation with your full confidence of their safety. Your child will also have the foundational skills to walk onto any competitive swim team if their passion for swimming grows into a desire for competition.
As always, if you feel like your child has been stalled at a certain level and aren’t sure why, please let someone from the Old City Swim School staff know and we’ll happily give you an update with what your child is currently working on and what they need to improve to advance to the next level.
The bottom line is that we are teaching a life-long skill and it takes time to learn! Our recommendation is to enroll your child and bring them every week as consistently and for as long a period of time as possible. Regardless of what level or how quickly your child advances through the program, consistent weekly practice drives increased water confidence which creates the best environment for learning.
We want your child to enjoy lessons, have fun and with that in place, the skill development will come!