I had my 4 year old going for swimming lessons starting this summer in June. She was doing ok at first, got into water learned a lot. She can bobs, front float, back float with no problem, as far as swimming freestyle she is not there yet it is too hard, but sometimes she is trying hard.

The main problem is that it is January now and she has been in the swimming lessons for 6 months already and she doesn't want to do anything, just stays in a pool by the wall and when instructor wants her to do something she just doesn't do it. The lifeguard at the pool told be after last class that they are going to move her to level 1, (she is in level 2 now) but I don't feel that it is a good solution.

I think that they should change the instructor in the class, which they could, they have lots of them. I have seen my child with other instructors and she was doing ok there was no problem and now when they changed to this boy lifeguard she is not swimming at all. I have tried to persuade my child to be good and do what the lifeguard is telling her to do, but she just doesn't want to, she says that she is afraid, but if she is with different teachers she does things.

I don't know what to do anymore. I see kids that started swimming at the same time as she did and they are in level 3 now and I just have been told that they are going to move her back to level 1. I don't think this is a good solution to this problem. Does anyone have a better idea how to solve this?

  • Welcome to the site! You've got a good question here, thanks for contributing. One note, please use paragraphs next time - it's very hard to read a single blob of text!
    – Joe
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 16:09
  • So what if she doesn't like swimming? It's not like it's an indispensable life skill... It's not her thing, just move on.
    – user7953
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 22:51
  • 3
    It's not indispensable if the child happens to fall into deep water. For examle, several hundred children die from drowning each year in the U.S., most of whom would not have drowned had they known how to swim (or been better swimmers).
    – Rex Kerr
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 23:34
  • 2
    you're very wrong fkraiem...swimming is exactly that - an indispensable life skill
    – Black
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 1:46
  • 1
    Rather than trying to get the pool to switch their instructors around, can you just switch your daughter to a different class (with a different instructor)?
    – A E
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 12:51

4 Answers 4


It sounds like she might be scared of that particular instructor -- for whatever reason, silly or serious, I think that should be treated as valid. Ask her if she can explain what about him scares her. Swim with her yourself sometimes (not during a lesson) and try to observe particular actions in the water that scare her -- face in the water? water in her eyes? being out of depth? etc.

When approaching the pool/lifeguard about a change of teachers, approach it diplomatically. He may have done absolutely nothing wrong -- maybe she hates the color of his hair or his voice sounds like the bad guy out of a cartoon, neither of which he can control and don't affect his teaching techniques. (Of course, if your daughter says he once ducked her under the water or said mean things or other actions which are clearly inappropriate teaching techniques, definitely bring it up. Either he sees it as an opportunity to positively improve, or the pool realizes he shouldn't be teaching that age group.)

Be willing to change to a different class time if that's the only way to get a different instructor and that is agreed by everyone as the best solution.

  • 5
    I would definitely encourage asking the child to explain what/why she's scared. While it might be something minor or imagined, it could also be something real. If it's a true issue, take care of it. If it's something minor, don't trivialize it, instead try to work through it (depending on what the issue is, you may be able to do this away from the pool or instructor too).
    – Doc
    Commented Jan 14, 2015 at 19:50

Have you tried teaching her swimming yourself? With both of my kids, we'd go to the pool a fair bit and swim together to get them used to water, basic dog paddle, putting their heads underwater, etc. This means that when they did their proper lessons, at least they were not afraid of the water.

A different instructor may help, but I often see parents trying to get involved from the side of the pool rather than getting in with the kids.

  • 3
    I second this; both our boys had similar issues to this and in both cases the comfort level was established by swimming with either parent. Didn't take long either, and you might just enjoy it ;)
    – Black
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 1:47

As someone who has taught thousands of kids, worked management level at a pool with a massive swimming lesson program and spent literally thousands of hours in the pool I'm gonna jump in on this.

First things first: While the pool may have many instructors, it is very very difficult for them to actually change the instructor of a particular class. Not to mention the lesson coordinators will HATE this idea. Instructors build trust with the class from the first moment of the first lesson in a session. So asking them to switch an instructor could very well be detrimental to 8-10 other kids even if its a benefit for yours. Not to mention that often parents will request specific instructors if they have had older kids come through the program or know a teacher they have already had teaches a higher level.

The best thing you can do if you notice that your kid is not responding to a particular instructor is to, as soon as possible, bring it up nicely with the coordinator and ask for your child to be switched (the actual instructors in the pool have no ability to change things and distracting them will put you on the coordinator's bad side very quickly). Do this during your kids lesson so they can observe your child specifically.

Second: If it's already past the time in the session you can do the above (i.e. past the first or second lesson), then consider moving your kid down to level 1. You say that you don't like this solution but it's really not as bad as you think. Most instructors teach either the upper levels or lower levels depending on how they do with age groups and the instructors skill level with swimming. However all instructors that are certified Water Safety Instructors are taught to teach all levels. And while a teacher does spend time with the group, a good one should be spending some one on one time with each child. Often an instructor will notice a kid is slightly above level on their own, but the coordinator can always tell them your child is coming from a higher level class. In these situations the instructor can do extra with your child during one on one time. As a side note for your kid personally, unless your talking about pre-school levels, I as an instructor/coordinator would hardly ever feel comfortable having a 4 year old in a level 3 class.

I would also like to mention for everyone out there: Often teachers are 16 or 17 years old and feel terrible if they don't pass all the kids in their class. However just because your kid passed a specific level does not mean that they are proficient at all the skills taught at a particular level. Every instructor has seen their coordinator or another instructor yelled at cause a kid wasn't passed. Think about when you were 16, would you have felt comfortable failing a kid if you thought it would get you yelled at by a random adult?

Finally: Are your lessons split into summer/winter sessions or have you been in lessons for the last 6 or 7 months straight? The answer makes a huge difference. If it is split and this is the first active swimming your kid has done since the last session, your kid would almost definitely benefit from repeating level 1. In fact if this is the case your kid is probably terrified of the water depths and skills being taught in level 2 and not the instructor at all. If you expect your child to go smoothly from level to level with a split session set up then it is CRITICAL that you observe their class, and in the months in-between sessions you get in with your kid OFTEN and practice those skills. If you don't then you should have 0 expectation of your kid being prepared for the next level up each session even if they did pass their last class. And your doing your kid, others kids and the instructor a huge disservice by moving your child up to the next level.

The very best thing you can do for your kid at the end of each session (besides practicing with them!) is to talk to the instructor, show them your nice, and your not going to yell at them, and then ask for their honest opinion. This will be much more informative then a pass/fail card. Do this twice during a session, half way through and at the end. Again, only do it when they are not in the water, and don't keep them from their next class!


Does the current swimming teacher/coach get into the water with the children? Finding one that does, especially with the youngsters makes a massive difference. It allows the children to feel that someone is there with them if something does go wrong. It is also useful to have someone push your back up, legs down or whatever to correct the swimming style rather than just shouting commands from the side. If they are not in the water, try and ask for or find someone that does.

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