Home to the first Olympic Games to be held outside Europe and the USA, Melbourne is considered to be the sporting capital of Australia with no less than five international-standard sporting facilities — more than any other city in the world.
A city of 'firsts' — first traffic lights in Australia, location of Australia's first pizza restaurant, the site of the filming of the world's first feature film (The Story of the Kelly Gang) to name a few — the Melbourne 1956 Olympics coincided nicely with the first television transmissions in Australia.
But, what about swimming?
Australia is known for its medal-winning swimmers at the Olympics and other world events; the Melbourne Olympics was no different with Australians winning eight out of a possible thirteen gold medals, and topping the overall medal tally in swimming.
Melbourne is also the birthplace of a number of Australia's most talented swimmers, including Frank Beaurepaire (33 Australian titles), Nicole Livingstone (10 consecutive titles in 100 m backstroke) and Rob Woodhouse (one of only two Australian men to have won a medal in the individual medley).
Whether you'd like to follow in the footsteps of these Melbourne Olympian swimmers or just learn to swim or improve your stroke technique, there are plenty of swimming classes in Melbourne that can help you achieve your goals in the pool.
Choosing the Best Baby Swimming Lessons
Given Australia's aquatic environment, learning to swim is one of the most essential skills for children. While opinions may vary on the best time to start your baby in swimming lessons, most learn to swim schools who offer 'mum and bub' (or 'dad and bub') classes prefer a baby to be at least 4 to 6 months old before enrolment.
Prior to this age, it is often recommended that adults start fostering a love of water in their baby and familiarity with the aquatic environment (whether this is the pool or the beach). This can be done by making bath time a fun experience and 'pre-conditioning' (pouring water over the head and face of your baby and showing your own enjoyment of water and swimming).
A few of the best recommended baby swimming lessons in Melbourne include:
- Babies to Kids Swim School — water familiarisation, water safety for parents, submersions and returning to safety, fun for both adult and child
- Melbourne Sports Centre — water babies learn to swim program develops confidence, safety and a sense of fun in the water
- King Swim — the Foundation program is aimed at children from 3 months to 3 years old and focuses on fun and safety in the water.
Swimming Lessons for School Age Kids
For young children, learning to swim independently, without mum or dad directly by their side, can be a huge step. It is essential that teachers and instructors are not only qualified but are also able to build rapport with the students they teach. Great swimming lessons can nourish a lifelong love of the water, but a single bad experience can instil a fear of water in children that is hard to break.
Children will naturally progress at vastly different rates, and it is important they do not move up to the next level until they have mastered the skills of their current level. Some of the skills young children need to learn include:
- safe pool entries and exits
- unassisted movement through the water
- freestyle kick
- general water safety
- treading water.
As children move through each level, new techniques, strokes and increased distances will be added.
A few recommended swimming lessons in Melbourne, catering for school age kids, include:
- Aquastar Swim Schools — with 5 locations in and around Melbourne, this swim school provides baby swim classes through to advanced lessons and squad opportunities. While their focus is on children, Aquastar Swim Schools also offer adult lessons. A number of schools in the area use Aquastar for their school programs.
- Just Swimming — located in four areas across the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, children from babies and toddlers to primary age and squad level can learn to swim in a fun and friendly environment with AustSwim qualified teachers. Just Swimming offers small group classes as well as private lessons. Adult lessons can also be arranged, as can swimming carnivals and school group bookings.
- Jump! Swim School — this swim school describes itself as a boutique learn to swim facility for all swimmers aged from 3 months, although they do specialise in the 'child' bracket. The teachers at Jump! understand the fears first time swimmers can have, particularly children, and are trained in strategies to build confidence and solid water awareness and safety skills.
Even though most swim schools now limit their class sizes to between 4 and 8 students (smaller classes for younger students and slightly larger classes for older students), some children will find the group environment challenging.
If this happens to your child, and they start to seem reluctant to go to their swimming lessons, they may benefit from a private program with lessons delivered in a one-on-one scenario. Your local pool will often be able to assist with this, or you can check online advertisements.
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Adult Swimming Classes in Melbourne
Not everyone is lucky enough to grow up in an environment where they could experience quality swimming lessons. It may be that your family could not afford swim school.
Or you may have had a negative experience as a child. You may have only recently migrated to Australia from place where swimming lessons were not an expectation.
Alternatively, you may know how to swim — but not well and you want to improve.
Whatever the reason, adults sometimes need access to learn to swim programs just as much as children.
To put it more starkly — 248 people drowned in Australia's waterways in 2020, a large proportion of whom did not know how to swim.
If you're thinking it's high time you got your swimmers on and learned some water safety and swimming skills, here are a few adult swimming classes in Melbourne you might like to try:
- Melbourne H2O Swimming Club — this swim club is for members 18 years and over and offer competitive swimming, ocean swims, fitness and learn to swim classes. The classes cater for every level from the complete beginner through to advanced level swimmers. Both small group and private lessons are offered, with every class tailored to suit individual needs including stroke correction, breathing technique, water safety and confidence.
- Melbourne City Baths — the instructors at Melbourne City Baths provide an individualised experience with classes in water familiarisation, water confidence, basic strokes (freestyle and backstroke), stroke development and stroke refinement. Lessons run for 30 to 45 minutes during the school term.
- Aquamobile — instructors at Aquamobile come to your home, allowing you to have private lessons in your backyard pool or other suitable location. Each swimming program is individualised to meet your personal goals, whether it be stroke correction, survival skills, competitive training and even surf-lifesaving skills.
What to Look For in Swim Schools and Instructors
Whatever your level, and irrespective of whether you're looking for swimming lessons in Melbourne for your baby, child or yourself, make sure you start with these pointers to ensure you find the right swim school for you:
Check certification requirements
Are the instructors qualified and up-to-date with their First Aid and CPR training and swim teacher certification from a reputable corporation such as AustSwim?
Check teaching experience
Great swimmers do not necessarily make great swimming instructors — especially if they don't have any relevant training or experience. Don't be shy about asking instructors for testimonials or for evidence of their training and experience.
Make sure the swim school or private teacher is adequately insured
If the unthinkable happens and you have an accident during your lesson, or if your teacher has an accident while they are at your home, for peace of mind you have to ascertain that they have the correct coverage. The last thing you want is huge medical bills. It's not nice to think about, but absolutely worth it.
Personality and rapport
To learn how to swim effectively, you must trust your teacher. If you get along with your instructors and they make you feel comfortable and supported, and they are patient and tolerant, you will improve your confidence and, hence, your swimming much faster.
Above all else — learn how to enjoy the water, and the wonderful waterways we have here in Australia, safely!
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