Swim School FAQ


What are the JCCSF Aquatics Office hours?

Monday – Thursday:
8:45 am – 11:00 am
2:30 pm – 5:30 pm

9:30 am – 12:00 pm
1:30 pm – 4:30 pm

Saturday & Sunday:
8:00 am – 1:00 pm

For swim classes, what if I'm not sure about my child's skill level?

No problem! We've made it easy for you to figure out exactly in which class your child belongs. Check out our online selection system now.

Here's more on swim school levels.

When do sessions begin? How many times a week do classes meet?

We don't have sessions; we offer ongoing lessons, once a week. This approach is deliberate and has been shown to be effective. Swimming needs to be maintained over a period of time in order to retain what is learned, especially for children ages 5 and under, who have not yet developed long-term muscle memory. Our program, based on the Aquatics Concept method, allows students to gain skills progressively and retain them over a lifetime.

How do waiting lists work for swim lessons?

If the class you prefer is full, you can sign up online for the waiting list. No need to check in about your status, you will automatically be informed when a spot opens up for you. There are a total of four waiting list spots on each wait list. You can be on three waiting lists at once for each of your children.

How much does Swim School cost?

Weekdays (Mon – Thu):
M $103 • P $128 per month

Weekends (Sat & Sun):
M $114 • P $139 per month

Pricing is based on 3 – 5 classes per month

Reduced rates for swim lessons is just the beginning – learn about all the benefits of Membership.

*Rates effective July 1, 2017

Is financial aid available?

Yes, financial assistance is available for group swim lessons. The JCCSF is committed to making sure its programs are accessible to all families. Learn more about financial aid (you’ll want to fill out the JCCSF Youth Financial Assistance Application). Please note that financial aid is not available for private or semi-private swim lessons.



How are swim lessons structured?

The Aquatics Concepts method has developed a set routine that helps students of all ages become comfortable in the water. Each level has a routine that the instructor follows, with the freedom to adjust the routine to meet the individual needs of the students. Repetition and routine have been proven to be excellent methods to teach swimming, especially with children, who like routines because they like to know what comes next.

How comfortable in the water does a child need to be to learn to swim?

A child cannot learn to swim until they are comfortable putting their head down and face in the water. Young children have not developed the upper body strength to swim with their head out of the water. We work with you to help your child become comfortable underwater, which is the first step in learning to swim.

How long will it take for my child to learn to swim?

Some families come to our program with the idea that there is a set time for how long it takes a child (or an adult) to learn to swim. This is not the case. Children – and all students – progress at their own rate. A good analogy would be a child learning to walk. Children start walking at their own pace. A parent cannot make their child walk any more than they can they make their child swim. Once a child starts lessons, the parent can get an idea of where the child is, and then usually have an idea of their progression rate. Instructors communicate with parents on the individual circumstances of their child. Some students progress out of a beginner group right away, while others will be in that group for perhaps six months.

Are you worried about your child's progress?

Has the progress your child is making in swim lessons slowed down? We know our swimmers, especially the younger ones, will acquire new swim skills and milestones in bursts. Right after learning a new swim skill, there may be a plateau for a while. Often we see this when a swimmer moves to the next level. That pattern is normal; neither parents nor instructors should view it as a problem.

Learning new swim skills can be affected by comfort in the water, strength and coordination, ability to focus, maturity, motivation, and the emotional climate both inside and outside the swim lessons. When the proper level of all of these factors is sufficient, you will see incredible progress made in short periods of time.

When parents ask our teachers to push their children at a faster rate, we listen to the request. Parents know their children best and sometimes the children do improve with increased pressure. However, there is a danger, especially with younger children, in pushing too hard if they are not ready physically or emotionally, or if they do not have the maturity to move on to the next level. What often follows is that the child loses interest in attending swim lessons. It's not uncommon to find out that at home, these students are crying or begging their parents not to come back to swim lessons!

If the parents notice occasional plateaus in progress, it's best for the child id the parent doesn't worry about it. As long as the child is still interested in the swim lessons, they'll eventually progress to higher levels of swim skills. When a children quit swim lessons because they're pushed too hard, they lose all opportunities to improve those swim skills. Talk to our Deck Coordinators or the Assistant Aquatics Program Manager (Jess Coutts) if you have more questions.

What if my child cries during class?

It's hard to know what to do when your child cries during swim class. A part of you wants to go and rescue him or her, while another part of you wants the child to tough it out and conquer this fear. You may feel embarrassed that your child is crying while others appear to be fine. Rest assured that a crying child is not uncommon around a swim school. The crying is a natural expression of emotional discomfort due to the new environment. Most parents sitting next to you have experienced the same situation.

How long is too long to let your child cry during swim lessons? On average, most crying has stopped after the child's third lesson. At the very least, you should notice the crying is diminishing with each lesson. If not, it is possible that your child may need private lessons. Some children are more comfortable with the undivided attention of a caring teacher. However, we've found that most students are able to overcome their initial fears without private lessons. Coming consistently helps the swimmer adjust to the environment and experience a sense of belonging at the JCCSF Aquatics Center.

What can I do to help my child progress outside of the weekly lesson?

It can be helpful for students to practice some of their new swim skills at home. Here are some level-specific exercises students can do outside of the pool.

Learn more about the different swim class levels.

Frog & Puffer Classes
1. Play with buckets, sponges or watering cans in the bathtub. Help the child get used to the feeling of water on the head, neck, shoulders and face. Tub time can be very useful in getting rid of water fears.
2. Another great way for children to get used to water on their faces is to place toys at the bottom of the shower. The water will stream down as they look at the floor.

Gobies & Stingrays
1. Practice doing Big Arms in front of the mirror. Make a game of it…have children change directions on your command!
2. From a floor tummy position, the child can do small leg kicks for 5 – 10 seconds, then rest. This is excellent for strengthening the torso for kicks. (Parents can benefit too!)
3. Have the student do mini push-ups from a position of all fours. Do three raises, lower the torso, and repeat. This strengthens the arms for freestyle and backstroke.

Tiger Barbs & Seals
1. Guide children in rolling over on the floor from front to back, then back to front, with arms stretched overhead. This makes the children use their stomach and back muscles to roll, rather than using their arms and legs, which will improve their ability to body breathe.
2. In the tub, have your child practice holding their breath while you count. Or in the car, have your child practice holding their breath at red lights. Both exercises help increase lung capacity. Emphasize how much easier it is to hold your breath when they relax.

How are the JCCSF Swim Instructors trained?

At the heart of our program is a group of swim instructors known for their skill, patience and warm manner. Swim instructors are trained by the Aquatics Department, utilizing the highly effective Aquatics Concepts method. Our training mimics the way in which we teach swimming. Water Babies instructors require extra training; they go through a series of models and complete several hours of practical training.

Are private lessons available?

Absolutely! Learn more about the JCCSF's private and semi-private swim lessons.

Are private lessons better than group lessons?

Depending on the age and goals of the swimmer, private lessons may or may not be the best option.

1. For beginner children, private lessons are not recommended. Children learn from one another. They feed off of or mimic each other in their behaviors and so do better in a group setting. However, a very fearful child who is not functioning well in a group may benefit from private lessons.

2. An adult or teen interested in attaining a very specific goal – such as flip turns or bilateral side breathing – might be a good candidate for private lessons.

Does the JCCSF have swim teams?

Yes, we do. Learn more about our swim teams.

Is it possible for my family to just go swimming at the JCCSF pool?

Yes, we have dedicated family swim hours from September – June.

Are there any guidelines for a safe and enjoyable experience at the pool?

So glad you asked! Check out our pdf Pool Rules .

What if I have more questions?

Come into the Aquatics Office during operating hours, call us at 415.292.1268 or email swimlessons@jccsf.org.
See you in the pool!