Aquatics at the YMCA Take a Deeper Look

Since 1931, the YMCA has been a leader in aquatics in Canada. That year the YMCA developed the first nationally recognized aquatics program and has continued to train aquatic leaders ever since.

The facts about swimming…

 • Comfort in the water opens doors to a wide range of skills,opportunities and activities such as canoeing in Canada’s beautiful lakes, water slides with friends,   snorkeling on a tropical reef, fishing on a sunny afternoon, or becoming a lifeguard to teach others.

 • Swimming is an essential safety skill. Drowning is the   second leading cause of preventable death for children under 10 years of age.

• Participating in swimming lessons gives children and adults the opportunity to accomplish new skills and build self confidence.

Why swim at the YMCA?

• At the YMCA we focus on helping people develop. Each swimmer is challenged to grow and improve while the   levels are a tool to help parents understand progress on different items. Children will be continually challenged and not limited to completing a level before being   introduced to new skills.

• YMCA staff are trained beyond aquatics on topics such as Healthy Child Development. They not only teach swim skills but also help children understand and live the YMCA Core Values - Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility.

What is Rolling Registration?

“Rolling Registration” is the name for the YMCA format of offering lessons throughout the year without participants needing to re-register and in which people may register at any time. Participants progress at their own rate within a group.

Benefits of Rolling Registration

• Convenience of a consistent swim time throughout the year. 

• You may choose to change the day or time of your swim lesson at any time.

• Continuous feedback with the emphasis on participation. 

• When a level is completed the next level is started immediately without re-registration.

• The YMCA Swim Instructor plans to meet the needs of each participant.


YMCA Swimming Lessons
YMCA instructional swim lessons introduce and teach children a variety of skills in a values based environment. Children are encouraged to experience the qualities of water, learn safety, movement skills, and build confidence. 
Based on child development principles, the YMCA recognizes that children learn by experimenting, exploring, imitating, playing and having fun. Our qualified instructors practice changing activities throughout the lesson to assist with keeping children’s attention. A 30 minute weekly lesson promotes and supports this learning principle, and the YMCA’s continuous registration leads to regular participation and learning through progression.   Report Cards are available online four times per year.
Children who want the option of additional swim time to practice skills and/or build endurance have the option of participating in open/family swim times.

Has your child been previously enrolled in Lifesaving Society or Red Cross Lessons?  CLICK HERE for a YMCA Swimming Lesson Conversion Chart.


About YMCA Swim Lessons

Benefits of Your YMCA Swimming Lessons:

More Choice, More Fun: Your child chooses what they would like to learn from a list of optional skills, as well as learning the fundamentals.

Standardized Progressions: You and your child know what has been accomplished and what comes next.

Individual Learning: Your child is unique, and that’s why our swim instructors create diverse activities to support your child’s needs.

Quality First: Your child will spend more time receiving feedback on essential skills. Practice only makes perfect if the skill is practiced correctly. Shorter distances will be used to learn effective techniques first, and then used to build endurance.

Active and Wet: Your child will engage in vigorous physical activity as they learn. YMCA Learn to Swim and Star Programs are designed for children to be 100% in the water and swimming.

Seamless: Does your child want to be a Swimming Instructor and Lifeguard? The YMCA Star Leadership Program incorporates the Lifesaving Society’s Canadian Swim Patrol Program for young lifesavers to nurture your potential swimming instructor and lifeguard.

Here’s what you can expect to see in a typical 30 minute swim lesson:

  • 3 minutes of a fun, wet and social activity
  • 15 minutes of activities related to the 4-6 week goal of the children
  • 10 minutes of exploring the optional skills chosen by the children
  • 2 minutes of a fun, wet and social activity to wrap up the lesson

About YMCA Swimming Lessons

Continuous swim lessons is the name given to YMCA’s swim lesson format, which offers lessons throughout the year and eliminates the need for participants to re-register.  It provides the ability for participants to register at any time and progress at their own pace within a group.

Lesson schedules are pre-determined by seasons [fall, winter, spring, summer] and breaks [winter, march break, first week of school in September] and your child continues at the same lesson day and time after each break.  Progress cards are available on line at the end of each season and throughout the season when all items in a level have been completed. 

Once you register for a timeslot, it is yours to keep until: you choose to move to a different day or time; your membership becomes inactive; you miss three classes in a row without informing the YMCA

If your child is going to miss three classes in a row please inform the membership desk as this will allow us to save your child’s space.  Otherwise we will assume you are no longer interested in attending and place someone else in the space  

NEW! Private Swimming Lessons

Private swimming lessons are ideal for those members who are having difficulty in a group lesson, or may require one to one support to assist them in developing specific skills/strokes.

Private lessons occur in seasons. Registrations is for members only and occurs online or in person at the Membership Branch. Semi-Private lessons are also available.

Please speak to a Membership Host for more information and specific details. 


YMCA Lil' Dippers For infants to 5 years of age 

L'il Dippers 1Splashers and Bubblers with parent participation 

Core Skills at a Glance

  • Purpose: To build values and introduce a wide range of water activities in a fun, safe atmosphere
  • Splashers: Comfort in the water, splashes with arms and legs, pool area orientation 
  • Bubblers: hold wall and kick feet, front/back float assisted, safe swimming

L'il Dippers 2ages 3 - 5 years without parents

Core Skills at a Glance

  • Bobbers: hold wall kick and blow bubbles, front and back glide assisted, water hazards 
  • Floaters: bobs unassisted, front and back glide with kick 3m, how and when to wear a personal flotation device 
  • Gliders: deep water skills, front and back swim 5m, accessing ems 
  • Divers: surface support 10 sec, front and back swim 10m, boating safety 
  • Surfers: kneeling dive, front and back swim 15m, ice safety 
  • Dippers: surface support 45 sec, front and back swim 25m, introduction to throwing assists

Learn to Swim For children 6 years +

Your beginner level swimmer will learn foundational swimming skills that will be applied throughout their future aquatics activities. They will improve their body awareness and motor skills as they submerge, kick, roll and jump in the water. They will be competent swimmers on their front and

back when they complete Swimmer. 

Core Skills at a Glance

  • Otter: Going under water and gliding on top of the water
  • Seal: Using flutter kick and rolling the body from side to side for streamlined movement through water
  • Dolphin: Coordinating arms, legs and breathing for smooth propulsion during front and back crawl.
  • Swimmer: Front and back crawl stroke standards, treading water for 1 minute, and 25 m endurance swim

YMCA Star Program

Your continuing swimmer will learn elementary backstroke, breaststroke, side stroke and increase their swimming distance to 350 metres by the end of Star 4. The optional items give your child opportunities to explore competitive swimming, synchronized swimming, water polo and aquafit.

Core Skills at a Glance

  • Star 1: Whip kick on their back, and 75 m endurance swim
  • Star 2: Whip kick on their front, eggbeater as surface support and 100 m endurance swim
  • Star 3: Elementary backstroke, dolphin kick, and 200 m endurance swim
  • Star 4: Breaststroke, side stroke, and 350 m endurance swim

YMCA Star Leadership Program

Your competent and confident swimmer will build on their strong aquatic skills to learn to safely help others who are in trouble in the water, basic first aid skills, and to improve their physical fitness. Each level has a component of learning how to teach others, and optional items include advanced swim

skills, competitive swimming, synchronized swimming, water polo, and aquafit.

Core Skills at a Glance

  • Star 5: Butterfly, throwing a buoyant aid to a swimmer, create and teach a water game, and 500 m endurance swim
  • Star 6: First aid, towing someone to safety, demonstrate how to teach a skill, and 600 m endurance swim.
  • Star 7: First aid, teach someone a skill using effective feedback, and 400 m in 12 minutes endurance swim.

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Swimming Admission Requirements
Effective August 4, 2009

The YMCA of Niagara is committed to providing a safe and enjoyable aquatic experience. The following age restriction admission criteria for under 10 years of age are based on Public Health requirements. 

Under 6 years

  • Must be directly supervised by an adult/guardian (min 13 years of age) in the water within arms reach.
  • Maximum 2:1 ratio
  • All children not fully toilet trained must wear specialty swim diapers or rubber pants.

Under 10 years

  • If able to successfully demonstrate comfort in the water and complete the facility swim test [2 widths uninterrupted], children may swim independently.
  • If not able to successfully complete the facility swim test, children must be accompanied by an adult/guardian (min 13 years) in the water in the same area of the pool.
  • Maximum 4:1 ratio

Family Swim

  • All swimmers under age 16 must be accompanied in the water by a parent/guardian (min 16 years of age).
  • Age restriction criteria apply.

Lane Swim

  • Is for swimmers 13 years and older.

Medical Conditions

  • All swimmers with a serious medical condition should inform the lifeguard on duty.

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Family & Open Swim

Family swim allows parents and their children the opportunity to enjoy the pool together. Leisure pool spray features will be available during family times.  Open Swim is available for non-members for a fee. For a complete listing of current Family and Open swim times available, visit one of our membership branches or download a current schedule. Please note that times and availability may vary from branch to branch. 

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Aqua Fitness

Includes a cardio, stretching and strength component. Since exercise in the water reduces the impact on joints, it is a gentle yet effective way to achieve fitness. Members may choose between Shallow water Aquafit, Deep water Aquafit which requires some swimming ability and Aquafit in Moderation. For a complete listing of current Aquafit classes available, visit one of our membership branches or download a current schedule. Please note that times and availability may vary from branch to branch. 



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Lane Swim

Regularly scheduled times are designated in our pool schedule for lane swimming. To ensure a positive experience for all, ropes divide the pool into lanes so you may choose the lane that is right for you. Lanes may be provided for slow, medium and fast swimmers as well as a leisure lane for participants who wish to water walk, exercise or swim leisurely.  Swimmers are asked to swim counter clockwise, keeping the centre of the lane open for passing.

For a complete listing of current lane swim times available, visit one of our membership branches or download a current schedule. Please note that times and availability may vary from branch to branch. 

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YMCA Swim Instructor & Lifeguard Training

The YMCA has a long history of encouraging individuals both to assume responsibility for themselves and to express a sense of responsibility for the welfare of others. This sentiment is reflected in our commitment to recruiting, training and developing qualified and mature swimming Instructors and Lifeguards. What are the requirements to become a certified lifeguard?

  • Bronze Medallion (13 years or Bronze Star)& Emergency 1st Aid/CPR(B)
  • Bronze Cross
  • Standard First Aid / CPR(C)
  • National Lifeguard (16 years)

What are the requirements to become a certified YMCA Instructor? Role The YMCA Swim Instructor has completed a program of training and uses his/her knowledge and skills a qualified teacher of swimming, lifesaving and aquatic activities. Pre-requisites

  • Minimum sixteen years of age
  • Standard First Aid
  • Swim strokes at YMCA Intermediate stroke standard

For a complete listing of current NLS and Instructor classes available, visit one of our membership branches for specific dates and times or download the Enrichment schedule below . Certification Courses 

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