Swimming is a great way for kids to keep physically active at any time of year, and learning to swim is an important skill for your children’s safety. If you’re looking for private swim lessons or small-group lessons for your child with highly trained, professional instructors (or you’re just tired of the Hunger Games approach to signing up for City of Toronto swim lessons), here are a number of excellent learn-to-swim options for kids in the city.
Some of these swim schools have their own pools, but most operate at pools in schools or community centres. And if you have your own pool in your condo or backyard, in some cases instructors can come to you!
Aim Above offers private, one-on-one swimming lessons for children to help them learn how to swim, increase swimming endurance, and enhance stroke improvement.
Types of lessons offered: Parent & Tot programs, Red Cross and Lifesaving Society programs.
Locations: At your home or at a community or school pool near you.
This family-run business teaches kids at every age and skill level, believing that “all students need to learn in a positive environment.”
Types of lessons offered: Red Cross Preschool levels 1–8, Red Cross Swim Kids levels 1–10, Swim Patrol, Royal Lifesaving, and Water Safety Instructors courses.
Locations: Several community pool locations in North Toronto, North York, and Stouffville
AquaMobile provides private swim instruction at your home or condo’s pool with instructors that have a minimum of three years of instructing experience.
Types of lessons offered: Infant, child, and adult lessons. Children’s lessons: Red Cross 10-level lessons or Lifesaving Society 6-level lessons
Location: Your home or condo/apartment complex.
With their low swimmer-to-teacher ration, Aquatics Academy offers 30, 45, and 60-minute classes in warm pools.
Types of lessons offered: Parent & Tot, Red Cross Preschool, Red Cross swim levels 1 – 10, and advanced courses including First Aid and Lifeguarding.
Locations: Two owned and operated locations, in North York and Allenby:
Aquatics Academy, Champagne Centre, 2 Champagne Dr., Unit E1, North York
Aquatics Academy, 391 St. Clements Ave., Toronto
Through small-class ratios, the Beach Swim School is able to focus on the child’s swimming skills needs.
Types of lessons offered: Parent & Tot, Preschool levels 1–6, Swim Kids level 1–10, Royal Lifesaving courses
Locations: Four locations at schools in Upper Beaches, Scarborough, and Leslieville
What Are Red Cross Swimming Courses?
For more than 60 years, the Canadian Red Cross has offered swimming instruction. Its swim certification programs are available at thousands of pools across Canada and range from learn-to-swim classes for as young as 4 months of age up to adult lessons. The Red Cross also offers adapted swim lessons for people with disabilities and first-aid and water safety training for swim instructors and lifeguards.
Started by competitive swim racer (Davina), this swim school trains all its instructors in-house with its own unique hands-on teaching methods. Pools are warm (85°F–90°F) and the North York location is saltwater.
Types of lessons offered: Parent & Tot, Love to Splash Preschool levels 1–4, Love to Swim levels 1–10, Lifesaving Patrol Levels
Locations: Four locations, in North York, North Toronto, and Midtown.
Teaching swimming since 1983, Felix Swim Schools focus on water safety, progress learning, and an individualized approach to instructing.
Types of lessons offered: Red Cross swim programs, First Aid, Royal Life Saving Society Bronze Medallion and Bronze Cross
Locations: Seven locations: Thornhill, North York, Woodbridge, Markham, Downtown Toronto, The Beaches, and The Junction
Jack of Sports offers a “high tempo” swim lesson, teaching Red Cross skills and their own drills during the one-hour lesson.
Types of lessons offered: Parent & Toddler to Bronze Cross
Locations: 18 pools across the city
Co-owned and operated by an Olympics and World Championship swim coach, Olympian Swimming provides swimming lessons and competitive swimming.
Types of lessons offered: OLYMSWIM Progression Program levels 1–12, Royal Life Saving programs
Locations: Four locations in Markham and Scarborough
Propel is an online marketplace for private swim lessons booked directly with an instructor. Lessons are offered at multiple Toronto and GTA locations.
Types of lessons offered: private or semi-private customized lessons for ages 2 and up
Locations: Toronto (Yorkville), Markham, Richmond Hill, Guelph, Burlington, Barrie, Vaughan, Mississauga, Etobicoke
What Is the Royal Life Saving Society of Canada?
Many swim schools and instructors offer lifeguard and swim instructor training programs designed by the Royal Life Saving Society of Canada, a national water safety education organization dedicated to drowning prevention. The organization offers various levels of certification, including the Bronze Medallion, Bronze Cross, and Canada’s only nationally recognized lifeguard certification program, the National Lifeguard certification.
Its Swim to Survive programs are designed to train all Canadians in the minimum skills needed to survive an unexpected fall into deep water (how to roll into the water, how to tread for 1 minute, and how to swim 50 metres). The Royal Life Saving Society is currently working to ensure all children in Ontario learn these skills by Grade 3.
Register throughout the year for the “club” that suits your child’s ability. Swimmers will swim competitively and work to improve their swimming skills. Group and private lessons are available.
Types of lessons offered: beginner through advanced and competitive, for ages 5 and up
Locations: Three locations in West Toronto: Bloordale, High Park, and Roncesvalles
Sea Otter offers private and group swimming lessons and they note on their website the specific skills your child will learn in each program level.
Types of lessons offered: Parent & Tot and Pups classes, Otter program levels 1–6; for ages 5 and up
Location: W.A. Porter Secondary School, 40 Fairfax Crescent, Scarborough
Shendy’s Swim Centre’s full-size (22-metre), 85°F saltwater pool hosts lessons for all ages and levels.
Types of lessons offered: Parents & Tots, LifeSaving Preschool levels 1–5, LifeSaving Swimmer levels 1–10, Patrol Program, Royal Lifesaving courses
Location: Shendy’s Swim Centre, 25 Scarsdale Rd., Unit 10, North York
Providing support and recreation for boys and girls since 1949, St. Albans Boys & Girls Club offers swim instruction in its own pool.
Types of lessons offered: Swim Preschool, Swim Kids levels 1–10, Leadership and Elite programs like Star Patrol, Red Cross Water Safety Instructor, Royal Lifesaving courses, and more
Location: St. Albans Boys & Girls Club, 843 Palmerston Ave., Toronto
SunSwim instructors offer mobile private and group swimming lessons at a pool of your choice.
Types of lessons offered: Lifesaving Society program
Locations: Any pool of your choice
Water Babies keep their pools heated to a minimum of 30°C for babies’ comfort as they swim from as early newborn to 4 years old.
Types of lessons offered: Baby swimming
Locations: Six Toronto/GTA locations: Mississauga, Downtown Toronto, Midtown Toronto, Scarborough, Vaughan, and Richmond Hill
In terms of name recognition, you can’t do much better than the Y. Its swim classes allow children to change swimming levels as soon as they are ready to do so.
Types of lessons offered: Parent & Tot and Preschool classes; Learn to Swim, Star, and Star Leadership programs; Royal Lifesaving courses
Locations: Five owned and operated locations in Toronto (Downtown, North York Scarborough); additional locations in the GTA (find a YMCA location)
Started in 1978, Zodiac has grown to become one of the largest swim schools in Canada, with group classes and private lessons, and specialty swim clubs, including synchronized swimming.
Types of lessons offered: Zodiac swim levels 1–12 and Star Patrol for kids, Parent and Tot, adult lessons, synchronized swimming, snorkelling, lifesaving, Junior Lifeguard Club
Locations: Five locations across the city: East York, North York, North Toronto (Lytton Park), Roncesvalles, Downtown (Kensington Market)