Children's Aquatics Classes
The Boston University Aquatics Center offers swimming and diving lessons year-round to children from six months to eighteen years old.
Our shallow, warm water teaching pool offers a perfect space for infants and beginners to learn introductory swimming skills and water safety skills. Our competition pool gives our swimmers space to grow and develop their skills in our progressive classes here at BU over many years!
All of our swim sessions are six weeks long. Please check the Holiday and Exceptions Schedule before signing up for classes. We do not allow make-ups for any missed classes. Please click on the headings below to view the schedule of classes. Please scroll down on the next page for the most current session.
We are now offering a new option for lessons: Intensive Week-long sessions. These sessions meet from Monday-Thursday, each day, for a single week. It is a great way to try our program, help your child refine certain skills and stay in shape for the next session. You can view our current Intensive Lessons here.
Please view our Frequently Asked Questions section if you are new to our program.
Children's Swimming Lessons
We offer several classes for varying ages. Please check the age requirements for each category. Parent-Tot and Tots in Training classes are offered for children up to 4 years old or preschoolers who have not previously taken a swim class. Preschool lessons are available for children from 3-5 years old and Levels 1-6 of the American Red Cross Learn to Swim
Program including springboard diving classes are offered for children ages 6-18.
Are you trying to determine your child's swimming level? Check the notes under each level heading to find the best class for your child.
An introduction to water for children 6 months to 4 years old. One parent or guardian must work in the water with the infant/toddler under the direction of the instructor. These classes are not designed to teach children to survive in the water on their own. Following the American Red Cross Parent and Child Aquatic Program, children are encouraged to feel comfortable in the water in a fun and safe environment through the use of songs, activities and lots of toys! Information on safety and swimming techniques are given to parents throughout these courses. This is a great program for parents or guardians to bond with their child and families often take each class more than once as on on-going activity.
Parent Tot A: This introductory class is designed for children 6-18 months old. Children will learn how to exit and enter the water safely, feel comfortable in the water, how to submerge their mouth, nose and eyes and learn how to be comfortable on their front and back in the water. Emphasis will also be placed on teaching parents or guardians how to hold their child in the water to encourage learning. Instructors will also share important safely skills and and teach parents and guardians how to play with their child to promote learning in the pool. The ratio for Parent Tot A is one instructor for ten students.
Parent Tot B: This class builds on the skills of Parent Tot A for children 18 months-3 years old. Children will learn more ways to exit and enter the pool safely, learn how to blow bubbles and submerge under water, perform supported glides on their front and back and also add some arm and leg movements to their supported swimming skills. Children will continue to practice supported floating on their front and back. Children will be encouraged to try some skills with the instructor while the parent or guardian cheers them on. The ratio for Parent Tot B is one instructor for ten students.
Parent Tot C: This smaller class is a progression from Parent Tot B to develop the child's confidence trying skills with an instructor in preparation for Tots in Training and Preschool classes. This class is designed for children 18 months to 4 years old. A parent or guardian is still required to be in the pool for the duration of this class. Skills from Parent Tot B will be reinforced and the instructor will work with each child individually throughout the class. Skills will include front and back glides and floats, arm and leg movements on the front and back, safe entries and exits to the pool and safety skills. The ratio for Parent Tot C is one instructor for five students.
This class is for children 2.5-5 years old who have completed Parent-Tot level B and/or Parent-Tot C and are ready to transition to group lessons, but are still too young for preschool classes or need a little more experience working with an instructor and following directions in a class setting.
The first two classes will involve the parent or guardian working with the child in the water with an emphasis on the child working with the instructor on floating, kicking, and putting their face in the water. During the third and fourth lesson, the parent or guardian will remain on the pool deck. For the final two lessons, the parent or guardian will remain in the waiting area, similar to a preschool class.
Children often take Tots in Training more than once as they may need a little more experience without a parent or guardian or they are not yet turning three years old and therefore not old enough to move on to preschool lessons. The ratio for Tots in Training is two instructors for five students.
The Preschool classes available for 3-5 years old are introduction to water skills (Bubbles), fundamental water skills (Wave) and stroke development (Splash, Dolphin and Gator). Children begin to explore the water environment through floating, submerging, kicking skills, breath control and beginning strokes. Following the American Red Cross Learn to Swim Program, the primary goals for the classes are safety and comfort in the water. Children work in the water without a parent and should be ready to follow instructions in a small class environment. The class size for Bubbles and Wave is 4 students to one instructor and the size for Splash, Dolphin and Gator is 5 students to one instructor.
What level is my preschooler?
Bubbles: Bubbles is designed for preschoolers who are ready to be in a class without their parent or guardian in the water. Children will learn how to get their face wet, blow bubbles, explore the water with their instructor and practice skills with support. Children must have confidence participating without a parent in the pool. The ratio for Bubbles is one instructor to four students.
Wave: Skills from Bubbles are built upon in this class and children are encouraged to try more skills such as, floating and kicking on their front and back with limited support from the instructor when they are ready. Children must be able to comfortably and voluntarily submerge their nose, eyes and mouth to enroll in this class. Completion of Bubbles or an equivalent class is required to enroll in Wave. The ratio for Wave is one instructor to four students.
Splash: Children should be able to perform skills like floating and submerging underwater comfortably without any support before enrolling in this class. Participants will practice floating and swimming on their front and back as well as kicking and underwater skills. The instructors will encourage swimming without support from instructional devices and introduce the students to deep water. The ratio for Splash is one instructor to five students.
Dolphin: Skills from Splash will be reviewed and students will focus on building strength in the water by swimming without support. To enroll in this class, students should be able to float, glide, and swim 5 yards on their front and back without support and be comfortable in deep water. Students will learn coordination front and back crawl without support, deep water skills like treading water, and breaststroke and butterfly kick. The ratio for Dolphin is one instructor to five students.
Gator: Skills from Dolphin will be reviewed and students will focus on building strength in the water by swimming longer distances in deep water. To enroll in this class, students should be able to float, glide, and swim 15 yards on their front and back without support and be comfortable in deep water. Students will learn the coordination of front crawl with rotary breathing, back crawl, deep water skills like treading water, and introduction to breaststroke and butterfly. The ratio for Gator is one instructor to five students.
The school age swimming classes are designed for children 6-16 years old. Classes range from an introduction to water skills for beginners to a swimming skill proficiency class which works on developing strokes and endurance. Please note the descriptions and prerequisites for the classes below. Safety around an aquatic environment will be a focus throughout the classes.
Level 1 - Introduction to Water Skills
An introduction to water, emphasizing comfort
and safety. Elementary aquatic skills are introduced such
as bubble blowing, kicking and floating.
Prerequisite: None; cannot do anything unsupported.
Level 2 - Fundamental Aquatic Skills
Builds on the fundamental skills from Level
1. Students learn to float and recover without support and
explore swimming on the front and back. This level marks the
beginning of true locomotion skills.
do some skills unsupported, even if for only a few seconds.
Can submerge mouth, nose and eyes and blow bubbles and is
comfortable doing so.
Level 3 - Stroke Development
Builds on locomotion skills from Level 2. Students learn
to coordinate the front crawl and back crawl. Head-first entries
and elements of the butterfly, sidestroke, breaststroke and elementary backstroke are introduced.
swim on front and back unsupported for at least 15 feet with
alternating arm action and continuous kicking. Can float and
glide unsupported and bob fully submerged at least 5 times
Level 4 - Stroke Improvement
Develops confidence, coordination and strength in all six strokes (front crawl, back crawl, breaststroke, butterfly, elementary backstroke and sidestroke). Open turns and more advanced entries
Prerequisites: Can swim front crawl
at least 15 yards, back crawl 15 yards and butterfly kick and breaststroke kick
at least 15 feet. Can do a kneeling dive and tread water for
at least 30 seconds.
Level 5 - Stroke Refinement
Builds on coordination and refinement of all six strokes
(front crawl, back crawl, breaststroke, butterfly, elementary
backstroke and sidestroke). Flip turns on front and back are
introduced. Swimming at greater distances is achieved.
swim front crawl with rotary breathing and back crawl at least 25 yards, and breaststroke,
butterfly, elementary backstroke and sidestroke at least 15
yards. Strokes should have all elements and only need refinement.
Can do a standing dive and tread water at least one minute.
Level 6 - Swimming and Skill Proficiency
Refines strokes to focus on efficiency,
power and smoothness over greater distances. Flip turns, treading water and head-first entries are practiced to achieve proficiency. Students will work to build endurance by swimming longer distances.
swim front crawl and back crawl at least 50 yards and all
other strokes at least 25 yards. Technique in all the strokes
should be strong with good coordination. Can do flip
turns, shallow dives and tread water at least 2 minutes.
An introduction to competitive swimming for children ages 8-16. The program meets three days a week and incorporates swimming along with dry land exercises to build strength. Through this fun program, swimmers will improve endurance, focus on the four competitive strokes, refine their starts and turns, learn good training techniques and good sportsmanship. Prerequisite: Swimmers must be at least a level 5 or above.
This class is designed for swimmers with no previous synchronized swimming experience and who want to learn basic skills. Students will be introduced to sculling, the eggbeater kick and the support scull. Beginner movements will be taught including the tub turn, ballet leg, and walk over. Students will also learn a basic routine set to music. Prerequisites: Must be comfortable in deep water and able to tread water for at least 4 minutes.
Children's Springboard Diving
to springboard diving for the beginner. Learn basic dive skills
(hurdle, straight, tuck, pike position) with emphasis on safety.
Pre-requisites: Must be able to demonstrate a standing dive from the side of the pool and swim front crawl one length of the diving well. No experience on the board is required. Ages 6-12.
A continuation of beginning springboard diving. Build on beginning dive skills (hurdle, straight, tuck, pike position) with emphasis on safety. Twisting and reverse dives will be introduced.
Pre-requisites: Passed Beginning Diving or equivalent. Ages 6-13.
should meet the minimum dive requirements for FINA competition
in their age group, and/or have the approval of the instructor.
Training will reinforce the fundamentals of diving (strength
and flexibility, boardwork, posture, body alignment, dive
initiation mechanics and entry techniques), while focusing
on learning new dives and meet preparation. Ages 8-19 and interested collegiate
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you give me a general overview of your program?
Our swimming lessons are based on the American Red Cross learn to swim program. All of our instructors are certified Water Safety Instructors through the Red Cross and they all have CPR/AED for Professional Rescuer certification. Certified lifeguards are always on duty during group swim lessons. Most of our instructors are students here at BU but we also employ some recent graduates and young professionals from the Boston area. All of our employees undergo criminal background checks before employment.
What is the temperature of the pool?
The temperature of the Recreation Pool is 86 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature of the Competition Pool is 81 degrees Fahrenheit.
Signing Up and Getting Started
How do I sign up for lessons?
There are four ways to register for lessons: by mail, online, in person or by fax. Online is recommended since you’ll be able to see real-time class availability. Our year is divided into three semesters – fall, spring and summer. During each of those semesters, there are two sessions of children’s lessons. Registration for both children’s sessions opens at the same time, generally about six weeks before the start of the semester. Class schedules are generally posted online before registration opens so you can begin planning.
How can I get to the facility and where do I park?
Our building is located at 915 Commonwealth Ave. We are between St. Paul and Pleasant Streets on the Brookline side of Commonwealth Ave and by Buick St. and Harry Agganis Way on the Boston side. The Green Line B-Train stops in front of our building at the St. Paul Street stop. Parking is available at the meters on Commonwealth Ave or in the Agganis Arena garage. Parking may not be available if there is a special event at the Arena. You can check our homepage for up to date parking information.
What can I expect when I arrive for lessons?
Our entrance is Commonwealth Avenue right next to the Agganis Arena. [See parking information above]. Everyone must enter and exit through this main entrance. On weekend mornings there will be a dedicated student checking in children’s classes by the gate just inside of the front door. On weekdays, please check in at the front desk. Please allow enough time for these students to look up your class information. The students are required to look up each and every person who walks through the door for your safety and security. The pool is located one level below the main entrance and there are stairs and elevators in the center of the building. The ProShop is located at the base of the stairs. You can purchase swim diapers, caps and goggles here. The locker rooms are past the ProShop and down the hallway. [See locker room information below]. Once you have changed for lessons, a lesson supervisor will call your class into the pool area about five minutes before class begins.
What should I bring the first day of class?
All children should be in a secure swim suit. We recommend one-piece bathing suits for girls and swim trunks or Speedos for boys. No t-shirts, shorts, or sewn-in floats allowed. No swim aids (inflatables, etc.) of any kind are allowed at any time, as they can actually be a drowning risk. All children over the age of 3 with long hair (touches the shoulders) must have their hair pulled back. Swim caps may also be worn, and they can be purchased at the Pro Shop at the pool level or at any sporting goods retailer. Goggles are permitted at swim lessons, but please note that instructors will lead some skills without the use of goggles. Goggles can also be purchased at the Pro Shop. Please bring your own towels and footwear appropriate for the pool deck like flip flops.
What kind of changing facilities are available?
FitRec has family locker rooms for single use changing and bathroom use. Parents with children of the same sex or with children of the opposite sex under the age of 5 are required to use the general locker rooms. Family locker rooms are reserved for families with special needs or a parent who has a child of the opposite sex who is over 5 years of age.
Is there any place for me to store my belongings during lessons?
Day lockers are available in the hallway outside of the Recreation Pool. You are encouraged to bring your own lock, but you may also borrow a lock free of charge from the ProShop. Personal items should not be left in the locker rooms. Please note that strollers are not allowed in the lccker rooms, on the pool deck or in the hallway by the pool. We provide stroller parking outside of the locker rooms but neither BU nor the Fitness and Recreation Center are responsible for strollers or personal items.
Where can I wait during my child’s swim lesson?
After the swim instructor or lesson supervisor has checked in your child, parents must wait in either the adjoining pool classroom, pool hallway, or in the bleachers above the Competition Pool. You MUST remain in one of these areas during swim lessons as it is our policy not to escort children to the restroom. For this reason, parents may not leave the building after dropping off children. We also do not allow parents or guardians on the deck during lessons as it must remain clear at all times.
What is the protocol for children who are not toilet trained?
All children up to 3 years of age are required to wear a reusable, fabric swim diaper with tight fitting waist and legs. Any children over 3 years who are not toilet trained must also wear a swim diaper. We do not allow disposable swim diapers, cotton diapers, or plastic pants. Swim diapers can be purchased at the Pro Shop or can be found at many retail stores.
If my child is ill, should I bring him or her to class?
Due to Board of Health regulations, a child cannot participate in swim lessons if they have a communicable illness. Any unexplained sores or rashes should be checked by a doctor before entering the water. Allow 24 hours after any signs of vomiting or diarrhea before entering the pool again. All bandages must be removed before entering the water. If the cut or scrape requires a bandage, the child should not swim until the wound is healed.
If my child misses a lesson, can it be made up?
To retain class size and instructor-child ratios, we do not allow make-up lessons. Children miss lessons quite often due to different circumstances and while we’d love to have everyone attend class all of the time, we understand if you need to miss a class or two. If Boston University or the Fitness and Recreation Center are forced to cancel classes, affected swim classes will be rescheduled and made up at a later date.
What if my child is having difficulty, can I come on deck?
Our supervisors will watch for situations where your child might not be actively involved or engaged in the class. If you see that your child is struggling, you can talk to the supervisor and maybe offer suggestions to engage your child like their favorite superhero or their favorite animal. Sometimes it’s best to stay out of sight as not to distract your child or the rest of the class. Our instructors have a lot of experience with tentative or even upset children so it is ok to let us handle the situation but suggestions are welcome! We will work with you to ensure their experience is a positive one!
What happens if my child has to go to the bathroom?
If your child tells their instructor that they have to go to the bathroom, the instructor will call over the supervisor to take the child to their parent to go to the bathroom. The instructor and supervisor cannot leave the deck to take them to the bathroom; a parent or guardian must be present to take them.
What steps can I take to aid in my child’s learning?
Reinforcement from parents and guardians is important! Ask your child what they learned and see if they have any skills they can practice at home like blowing bubbles in the bathtub, splashing water on their face, practicing how to move their arms, etc. Always remember to discuss pool and water safety as much as possible - never swim without a buddy or lifeguard, discuss how to get help in an emergency situation, and reach or throw, don't go.
Can my child swim in the pool before or after their lesson?
Children who sign up for group or private lessons may not swim in the pool before or after class, unless they have a membership here at FitRec and the pool is scheduled for open swim. Members must directly supervise their children, and if necessary be in the water with their child based on the child’s swimming ability.
Can I take pictures or videos of my child during swim lessons?
FitRec policy does not allow cell phones or cameras of any sort in the building. However, on the last lesson of each session parents are allowed to take pictures and videos of their children as long as members of the facility are not photographed.
How do I know for which level to sign my child up for future sessions?
At the end of a session, your child will receive a progress report from the class instructor. This report will contain a recommendation from the instructor on whether your child should remain in the same level or advance to the next level for future sessions of lessons. As registration for the next session often opens before the end of the current session, please speak to the lesson supervisor or an Aquatics Manager if you’d like an assessment before progress reports are handed out.
My child has been in a particular level for several sessions. Is that normal?
Yes! We want the children to be confident swimmers and get the most out of their lessons. The instructors make individual assessments over the course of the class and will carefully make a recommendation for the next session based on what they saw. This is often done after consultation with the lesson supervisor or manager as well. We do not want to promote a child too quickly only to have them be frustrated in a higher level. This is also an unsafe situation. If you need help placing your child in an appropriate level or have a question about the recommendation of an instructor, please see the lesson supervisor or contact a manager.
If you have any questions or concerns, please see the Lesson Supervisor on deck or contact one of the managers listed below.
Assistant Aquatics Manager