Swim Lessons

Take the plunge at your local YMCA

At the Y, we teach more than just basic swim skills. Your kids will get comfortable in the water and learn about water safety, all while building confidence, making new friends, and learning life-long skills. Our certified instructors and great facilities mean there’s something for everyone, from those learning to take their first strokes to hard-core water fitness enthusiasts.

Why parents choose YMCA Swim Lessons:

  • Our swim instructors craft diverse, 30-minute lesson plans designed to meet your child’s individual needs.
  • You can speak directly with the instructor and get a progress report on the key skills your child’s developed.
  • Your child will learn water safety and lifesaving awareness while progressing through swim levels structured to build their confidence.
  • With our ongoing assessments, your child changes levels as soon as they’re ready.
  • Our warm pools with hydraulic floors make even the newest swimmers comfortable and confident.
  • Your child can tackle new challenges and nurture their potential in a variety of programs designed by the Canadian Lifesaving Society.

Registration now open

Ready to take the plunge? Find the YMCA Centre of Community in your neighbourhood and pay us a visit. While you’re here, you can register your child for their lessons and get a free tour of our facilities, so you can see where they’ll be taking their classes.

Have questions you want answered first? Give us a call at 416-928-9622, or read our FAQ.

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Two girls in the water at the edge of a swimming pool

Our swim lesson programs

YMCA swim lessons will help your child get active in a fun, safe setting. They’ll learn about water safety and build fundamental swim skills with support and guidance from our expert swim instructors. With structured lesson plans and ongoing assessments, your child will progress to new, more challenging levels as soon as they’re ready.

Infant and preschool swim lessons

YMCA infant swim lessons - program levels

Beginner level swimmers will improve body awareness and motor skills as they attempt front floats, back floats, splashing, blowing bubbles and jumping into the water. With their adult caregiver by their side, they’ll become comfortable with movement in the water.

YMCA preschool swim lessons - program levels

Preschool swimmers learn how to be safe in the water and develop body awareness and motor skills as they kick, float, glide and jump. They will be competent swimmers on their front and back when they complete the Dipper Preschool Program.

Core skills at a glance:

  • Bobber: Blow bubbles and work toward putting their faces in the pool; front and back floats, with assistance
  • Floater: Get into and out of the pool on their own; float on their front and back; swim 5 metres unassisted
  • Glider: Float and swim 5 metres in shallow water; start becoming comfortable in deeper water (with instructor assistance)
  • Diver: Float and swim in deep water; swim 10 metres, using their legs and arms, on their back and front
  • Surfer: Stay above water for 30 seconds; swim 15 metres with their faces in the water, using a floatation device
  • Dipper: Stay above water for 45 seconds; swim on their front and back for 25 metres; standing dives; introduction to front crawl and backstroke

Child and teen swim lessons

YMCA Learn to Swim - program levels

Children and teens will learn foundational swimming skills that will be applied throughout their future aquatics activities. They will improve their body awareness and motor skills as they submerge, kick, roll and jump in the water. They will be competent swimmers on their front and back when they complete the Learn to Swim Program.

Core Skills at a Glance:

  • Otter: Going under water and gliding on top of the water
  • Seal: Using flutter kick and rolling the body from side to side for streamlined movement through water
  • Dolphin: Coordinating arms, legs and breathing for smooth propulsion during front and back crawl.
  • Swimmer: Front and back crawl stroke standards, treading water for 1 minute, and 25 m endurance swim

Continuing swimmers will learn elementary backstroke, breaststroke, and side stroke while increasing their swimming distance to 350 metres. Swimmers will also have opportunities to explore competitive swimming, synchronized swimming, water polo and AquaFit.

Competent and confident swimmers will build on their strong aquatic skills to learn basic first aid skills, how to safely help others who are in trouble in the water, and how to improve their physical fitness. Each level has a component of learning how to teach others, and optional items include advanced swim skills, competitive swimming, synchronized swimming, water polo, and AquaFit.

*Children may move into these levels at a younger age, depending on their ability.

A YMCA swim instructor helps a young boy float on his back in the pool using a flutter board.

Swim lessons are just the beginning

There are plenty of opportunities for your child to keep learning once they’ve tackled all of our swim lessons. In our programs that teach lifesaving skills, your child will get to undertake new challenges, hone their leadership and teamwork skills, and build a foundation for physical fitness that will last a lifetime.

Lifesaving programs

The YMCA is proud to offer a wide range of lifesaving programs, and has been recognized by the Lifesaving Society year after year for offering some of the largest programs in Ontario.

The Junior Lifeguard Club stresses fun and aquatic skill development based on personal-best achievement. Building on skills they already have, Junior Lifeguard Club members work to develop and improve swimming and other aquatic skills with emphasis on swimming skills, lifesaving skills, lifesaving knowledge, leadership and teamwork, community education, competition, and personal fitness. Club members are provided with the opportunity to participate in both national and provincial level Lifesaving Sport and Lifeguard Competitions, all without traveling to other facilities.

Minimum swimming requirement to join the Junior Lifeguard Club: Swim 50m of recognizable front crawl, and tread water for one minute.

Bronze Star is the first of the Lifesaving Society’s Bronze Level Courses, and a prerequisite for the Bronze Medallion Course. Participants develop problem-solving and decision-making skills individually and in partners. Candidates learn CPR and develop important lifesaving skills.

Must be at least 9 years old to register.

Bronze Medallion is the second of the Lifesaving Society’s Bronze level courses. Participants will develop an understanding of lifesaving principles and learn valuable skills needed to be successful in an aquatic emergency. Course includes Emergency First Aid with CPR-B certification.

Course Prerequisites: Minimum 13 years of age OR Bronze Star Certification.

Bronze Cross is the third and final of the Lifesaving Society’s Bronze level courses. This course is designed for lifesavers who want the challenge of more advanced training including an introduction to safe supervision in aquatic facilities.

Course Prerequisites: Bronze Medallion and Emergency First Aid Certifications.

Standard First Aid (SFA) provides comprehensive training covering all aspects of first aid and CPR. SFA is designed for those who require a more in-depth understanding of first aid including: spinal injuries, heat or cold injuries, bone and joint injuries, and medical emergencies. Includes CPR-C certification.

Course Prerequisite: None.

The National Lifeguard (NL) certification is the industry standard for professional lifeguards in Canada. NL guards are water rescue professionals trained in emergency care. They prevent accidents, spot potential trouble and intervene before it becomes life-threatening.

Course Prerequisites: Minimum 16 years of age. Bronze Cross and Standard First Aid certifications.


Have questions about our swim programs? Give us a call at 416-928-9622, or read our FAQ.