a group of children learning to swim

Child Learn to Swim FAQs

1. Is there a recommended Learn 2 Swim programme I should put my child into?

Yes, as National Governing Body for Aquatic in Ireland, we would recommend Swim Ireland Child Learn to Swim Programme which is based around the principles of Long Term Athlete Development. This provides a fundamental base to all the aquatic disciplines and is designed around 8 progressive levels to provide comprehensive learning for the swimmer. The purpose of the SI CLTS Programme is to set national standards for the teaching of swimming, whilst ensuring quality in its delivery through a supported network of qualified and licensed teachers and coaches

2. How often should my child attend swimming lessons?

It depends on the level and on the child’s stage of development. Once a week might be ok to start. Later, as your child progresses and if possible, twice a week would be probably better. It is important to note that between the age of 5 and 10, whilst your child is developing some important motor skills, general sport participation in multi-sport activities, which involve running, jumping, throwing and require agility, balance co-ordination and speed, 5-6 times per week is recommended. In the Swim Ireland Pathway to Aquatic Development, which incorporates Long Term Athlete Development principles, this phase is called Fundamentals

3. What should my child/baby wear in the pool?

For children who have been toilet trained the only essential swimwear is a pair of tight but comfortably fitting togs. Swimming hats are also needed in many swimming pools. Goggles might be worn depending on the level and nature of the activity. Any child who has not been toilet trained or who has not good bladder controll should always wear swimming nappies under their swimming costume. This swimming nappies can usually been purchased at the reception of the swimming pool

4. Does Swim Ireland run its own Learn to Swim programme?

No, as the National Governing Body for Aquatics in Ireland, Swim Ireland does not hire swimming teachers to run the programme and does not manage directly any swimming classes. However, we are working with centres to implement the CLTS Programme

5. Where can I do LTS classes & how much do they cost?

It depends on the facility/club running the programme. Prices may vary from place to place depending on many factors which may include: location of the pool, cost of hiring the pool to the classes provider, teachers’ salaries, pool size, programme in use etc. Visiting your local facilities and doing a bit of shopping around is a good way of getting good value for money

6. Why should I do a SI LTS programme?

Because it is the only programme certified by the National Governing Body, recognised and supported by the Irish Sport Council, Coaching Ireland and Sport NI

7. How do I know the teacher is qualified?

All Teachers and Coaches delivering the Swim Ireland Child Learn to Swim Programme must hold a recognised and relevant qualification. In addition to this they are requested to attend a specific up skilling course delivered by a Swim Ireland tutor prior to the implementation of the programme in their facility or club. If you have any concerns ask the centre providing the lessons about the qualifications their teachers hold

8. I have a nine year old daughter who would like to get involved in swimming and we would like advice as best way to do this – should she join a swimming club or should she get lessons first etc?

It really depends on her level of swimming ability and skills. If she is unable to swim, classes are the best option whilst a club environment could be more suitable for someone who only has to improve their technique. It is also important to see what is on offer locally and if that suits your family schedule. Any club and/or facility running the Swim Ireland CLTS Programme is expected to operate at the same standard and in a similar way. Furthermore, in many cases facilities and clubs work closely in delivering the SI programme – e.g. the facility runs the first 6 levels whilst the local club looks after the last 2 levels. Many swimming clubs though, run teaching classes which include the initial levels of the SI programme. Facilities, on the other hand, might be more flexible in terms of timetables and have a wider choice of days and hours to suit your needs. Visit your local pool and check what is on offer there

9. Can my baby start swimming before starting their immunisations?
Yes. It is perfectly safe for babies to start swimming from birth before having their immunisations. The diseases babies are vaccinated against are not carried in water. Babies can be taken swimming at any time regardless of where they are with their immunisation schedule.

As always, take the usual hygiene precautions to make sure your baby swims in a healthy environment.  For further information visit www.immunisation.ie

10. My child has learnt to swim where can I take him/her now to improve skills?

To any facility and/or club running the SI CLTS Programme which brings swimmers up to pre-competitive level and provides a fundamental base to all the aquatic disciplines including competitive swimming. If you believe that your child is a competent swimmer it might be a good idea to bring her/him to a swimming club to be assessed and to receive advice in regards to entering competitive swimming

11. My children are learning to swim, do I need to stay with them whilst they are in the pool?

It depends on the Child Admission Policy for each individual facility which will have to consider factors such as pool design and layout, general staffing levels and their experience, swimming ability and maturity of the children. Please ask your centre

12. My child has done a learn to swim programme and has been retested in a club and given a lower certificate – why?

Some facilities or clubs might still have a programme which is not the Swim Ireland one and therefore standards as well as assessment criteria might be different

13. My child is learning to swim but he/she doesn’t like his/her instructor – what can I do?

Talk to the aquatics coordinator or pool manager to explain your situation and your concern

14. Can you give me tips on improving my child’s swimming ability?

Enrol them on an appropriate swimming teaching class. Possibly in a facility/club using the SI CLTS Programme and be as supportive as possible without interfering with the teacher’s work, but make extra time to bring them to the pool for fun time in the water

15. What is ‘Water-babies’ and should my child do it?


16. Should I bring my child swimming once they have started lessons?

It depends on your level of confidence in the water and on your knowledge about swimming as well as on the age and skills level of the child. As a rule of thumb though, avoid interfering with the swimming teacher work but feel free to bring them to the pool to play etc.

17. Where can I get advice on what type of class, level would best suit my children?

Any facility or club running the Swim Ireland CLTS Programme will be able to assess your child’s current skills level and advice on the most appropriate type and level of swimming classes

18. Is there a place I can go to do a mother and baby swim class that is not just about getting my baby used to water? i.e. that I can get a workout too. I have tried swim-a-song but that is not really what I am looking for.

It really depends on what your local pool might have to offer in this regard. You can also look at other pools that are conveniently located for you and enquire but there aren’t any specific programmes set at national level

19. What is the difference between the Swim Ireland LTS programme and the ones run by leisure centres?

Nowadays several leisure centres are actually running the SI CLTS programme. Some others might still use their own or none at all. In these cases it really depends on what their programmes entail. For a brief explanation of the SI CLTS characteristics please, see above questions 1-8

20. I just want my child to be able to be safe in the water when on holidays etc, at what stage can they stop swimming lessons?

This may vary depending on the type and intensity of activities carried out during your holidays. The further your child progresses in the skills acquisition pathway the safer he is going to be in and around water. Please, be aware that supervision and safety equipment are needed in many activities regardless of the swimming abilities of those involved

21. Where can my child swim regularly without having to train for competition?

There are many facilities offering classes which are not necessarily related to training for competition. The best thing to do is to pay your local pool a visit and to enquire about their availability in this regard

22. My child has a disability, where should I take him/her for swimming lessons?

Training for disabled is available from various agencies. Individual members should refer to their member organisations to ensure that they meet the requirements

23. Should young children wear goggles when swimming?

Although swimming goggles are now an almost essential piece of equipment used by the majority of swimmers, as they protect from the negative effects of chlorine in the eyes and improve visibility in the water, they also have some associates dangers as any other piece of equipment. For instance, putting goggles on in an improper fashion may lead to injuries whilst poorly fitting goggles may lead to impeded user view with possible impact injuries as a result etc. During some activities, such as diving or life-saving, controlled use of goggles is advised

24. How can I find swimming lessons for my children?

The best thing to do is to pay your local pool a visit and to enquire about their availability in this regard

25. At what age is it recommended to take babies into a swimming pool?

As soon as they have been vaccinated and that the accompanying adult feels confident and comfortable with handling the baby in the water. Start with the bath and move up

26. Should my child be wearing armbands?

As with any other floating aids armbands there are pros and cons. Their use depends on many factors, including depth of water, facility design, child age, number of pupils in the class, availability of alternative floating aids, your own water confidence when taking your child swimming. If in doubt please, ask your local swimming teacher for advice

27. What is the correct Pupil: Teacher Ratio?

Swim Ireland guidelines in this respect can be found on the following document: Swimming Pool Safety Guidelines. Generally speaking Swim Ireland recommends 1:4 with a Level 1 teacher (supervised by a L2) and 1:12 with a Level 2 teacher

28. Should the Teacher be in the pool or on the bank?

This depends on many factors including: design of the pool, teacher’s level of experience, teacher’s and/or pupil’s preference, facility tradition and/or guidelines, number of pupils, level of the class, supervision, lifeguards availability etc. It is important though that a thorough risk assessment has been carried out before opting for one position or the other

29. Should the Teacher have his/her qualifications on hand for a parent’s inspection or do they need a permit to Teach?

It is responsibility of pool operators to ensure that their employees are appropriately qualified for their specific roles. The Swim Ireland licensing scheme provides qualified teachers and coaches with a license to practice

30. Are there different Levels of classes for different abilities?

Yes, there are indeed. Please look at our Swim Ireland CLTS Programme for further details

31. Is the presence of a lifeguard necessary during Swimming Lessons?

Where programmed swimming takes place – either as teaching classes or club’s training sessions – the individual facility Pool Safety Operating Procedures document should detail whether lifeguard cover is required or not. It is advised that where a risk assessment has shown a lifeguard is not required for a programmed session, that a teacher/coach on poolside has appropriate lifeguard qualification including full knowledge of CPR

32. Is there an Awards Scheme where badges or certs are awarded on completion of different levels?

The Swim Ireland Child Learn to Swim Programme has a fantastic Awards Scheme consisting of certificates and badges for all children progressing through the programme. Full awards are available for all levels 1-8.

For information on Pool Safety please click on the following link: [download id=”94″]