To me, there are few better sports in which to get your kids involved than swimming. It supports the heart-pumping requirements that Health Canada reminds us our kids need; it develops good co-ordination; and, it can save their lives. (I also like the idea of kids making their own money, paying for odds and ends as teens, and part of their postsecondary education so they appreciate it.)
As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve had The K Man and Miss Q in swimming lessons since they were each four months old. Some of my fondest memories with my baby boy are swimming together, as he learned what “kick your legs” meant and figured out how to jump off of the side of the pool into my waiting arms.
And as fond as those memories are, I really looked forward to the day when I could cheer him on from the sidelines. With dry hair. Getting in and out of the pool became so much less of a production once he turned three and could go in unparented.
We follow the Red Cross badges, and The K Man has been stuck at the Sea Otter level (formerly known as Sea Turtle II) for four sessions. He’s a very cautious child – always has been – but is really comfortable in the water, and is usually willing to follow his instructor’s lesson plan. So I’m not sure what the disconnect is.
Wondering if part of the challenge is that he simply needs 1:1 attention, I started scouring the internet for private lesson options. I’m intrigued by Pegasus Swimming, which is just around the corner from our house, but the 55-minute lessons concerns me. That’s a LONG time for a just-turned-four-year-old boy.
Then a service appeared on my Twitter feed: AquaMobile. Imagine – swimming lessons in your own pool. Whether you have your own, borrow a neighbour’s (or in our case, a relative’s) or live in a condo complex that has a pool, you can arrange lessons when they’re convenient for you.
After speaking with Diana, AquaMobile’s founder, I was excited for The K Man to give private lessons a whirl. She graciously provided us with five introductory lessons to get us started…and hopefully turn our little sea otter into a salamander!
Working around nap schedules, standing play dates, vacations – you name it. To me, this is the key benefit of enjoying a swimming lesson in the comfort of your own pool. If you consider that it takes 20 minutes to get to a lesson in a community pool that might only be five minutes away (when you take into account all the packing-up, getting-out-the-door, parking and getting-into-swim-gear business), plus a swim session, plus another 20-minute get-your-kid-out-of-swimsuit-and-feed-snack-before-he-goes-ballistic-on-drive-home ordeal, you’re talking more than an hour-and-a-half commitment for a 30-minute lesson.
Need to cancel because your child is sick or you want to stay an extra day at the cottage? No problem. Just call or email your AquaMobile instructor at least 24 hours in advance and reschedule your appointment. Honestly, I bet that’s just a guide. We had a wicked thunderstorm on a scheduled lesson day; I called our instructor in the morning and she was very accommodating. Try doing that with community-pool lessons.
Obviously, if you choose to do private lessons, your kid’s going to benefit from that 1:1 attention. We noticed a big difference in The K Man’s skills after just 20 minutes of solo time with his instructor, Laura. Sure, he’s four and a boy and fidgety so he has his moments. But watching him in the pool alone lesson after lesson has convinced me that private lessons are worth the money – if you can afford it.
Between Florida and Ontario, there are a whopping 58 different cities in which AquaMobile operates.
For anything other than the Tots program ($48 for a 40-minute lesson), you can share the hourly instructor cost with friends, relatives or neighbourhood kids. At around $70 per hour, split among four children, the $17.50 per-kid charge may feel like the deal of the century in a city like Toronto where various activities (like play gyms and music classes) can cost upwards of $20+ per week.
Whenever I’ve watched the instructors at our community pool with their gaggles of instructees, I can often see them trying to deal with less co-operative children rather unsuccessfully. Generally, they’re just sent to sit on the ledge. Look, a four year old is going to be unruly at times – and while I don’t want corporal-style discipline administered, I did appreciate that Laura stood up for herself when she was splashed (not in a nice way) and firmly explained that playtime comes after lesson-time.
I received a bone-chilling email a week before we started our AquaMobile lessons; it was from my sister-in-law’s friend whose two-year-old daughter was pulled lifeless from the shallow end of the family pool by her four-year-old brother. There were adults in the pool – no one saw her slip in. Her brother only saw her sink to the bottom because of her bright pink bathingsuit. Thankfully, Dad knew CPR and after three days in the world-class SickKids hospital, she’s OK. Sadly, SickKids nurses said three other children that day (just that day) weren’t so lucky. You can book AquaMobile instructors as lifeguards for only $40 per hour if you’re having a pool party. You just can’t buy that kind of peace of mind.
The registration process isn’t entirely intuitive; be sure to bypass the “view instructor profile” piece in the front end of the registration – just fill in your personal info and goals for the student swimmer and hit continue at the bottom of the page. Still having trouble? Use the “contact us” page to reach AquaMobile staff – they’re awesome, and they’ll sort you out.
When I selected the day I wanted with the instructor, it offered me one choice for her travel time: 11:50 p.m. to 12 a.m. Hmmm…no thanks, I don’t know what my kid will be doing, but I’ll be fast asleep! So I simply had to select a different day and the rest went swimmingly. (Pun totally intended.)
Tots lessons – the least expensive at $48 – cannot be shared; so if you want to put more than one kid in any given lesson, book a full hour so you can at least drop this to $35 per child. There’s no way we could afford to do weekly lessons at nearly 50 bucks a pop. Well, not if we wanted to continue to eat Swiss Chalet a couple times a month. And we really want to keep doing that.
So…how can you book it?
- Register here