Our lessons are restarting from the 1st September 2020. There will be some changes to the way our lessons operate whilst we are working with COVID-19 guidelines so we have put together some 'FAQs' and 'What we are doing to keep you safe' so that you can be assured that our standards are as high as ever and that our lessons will still be the Swim Academy lessons that our children know and love. The biggest change for our Swim Academy Levels 1 & 2 is that, temporarily, parents will be in the water with their children as our Teachers are teaching from poolside. Please do not hesitate to contact your local team if you have any questions.
We've answered your most common questions and concerns below. If there is anything else we can help you with, please don't hesitate to contact your local team who will be happy to help.
How do I find my nearest class?
Just pop your postcode into www.puddleducks.com/class-search and your nearest classes will appear. You can refine your search by clicking on Swim Academy on the left hand side so only the Swim Academy classes show.
How is Swim Academy linked to Puddle Ducks?
Swim Academy has been delivered by the baby and child swimming experts at Puddle Ducks since 2007. We have just grown up a bit - just like our swimmers! The new and improved programme retains all the reasons 19,000 children and parents love and trust Puddle Ducks to teach their child to swim every week but we just have a new look!
Which level does my child need?
Swim Academy caters for swimmers (and non-swimmers) of all abilities. Those without any swimming experience will enter the programme at Level 1. Levels 1 and 2 are our foundation levels where we focus on water confidence and introducing basic technical elements. Children will leave Level 1 being able to swim 5m unaided and with the basic skills needed to start more technical stroke work. We have a 4:1 teacher/child ratio in Levels 1 and 2 and more often than not have up to 8 children in the water with 2 teachers. This means the children are constantly doing activities and aren't waiting around for a teacher to supervise.
Level 3 is the first programme level with no teacher in the water, and as such swimmers must have achieved 10m front swimming distance to move into this group (amongst other criteria). Level 4 is for stronger swimmers, developing clearer strokes on front and back.
If your child are a direct entrant into Swim Academy i.e. haven't come up through the Puddle Ducks Baby & Pre-school programme, we will most likely assess your child in Level 1 or 2, where we have two teachers in the water, to make sure we place them in the correct level going forward, whether this be Level 1, 2, 3 or 4.
Levels 5 and 6 are our Elite Swim Academy and are for children progressing from Level 4. Children will leave Level 4 being able to swim all the basic strokes and we focus on technical excellence and stamina building in Levels 5 and 6.
Your local team are there to advise you on the appropriate level for your child so please do give them a ring and talk it through.
My child has no swimming experience at all, can he/she attend your lessons?
Absolutely! We provide a nurturing environment with highly qualified and trained teachers who are experts at dealing with children who have little or no water experience. On the flipside, we can also turn the 'gung-ho cannonballer' into a disciplined and beautiful swimmer. Speak to your local team about either coming to observe a lesson or having a free assessment so you and your child can be reassured that you are in the best hands.
Our lessons are truly inclusive and our teachers are trained, over and above anyone else in the industry, in deaf awareness and attachment awareness. Find out more here.
How long will it take my child to learn to swim?
Learning to swim is a journey, not something that happens in a few weeks. We expect our children to stay in each level for up to one year - some will move faster but Swim Academy classes focus on developing a graceful and efficient style of swimming.
How will you keep my child motivated?
Our lessons are full of fun as well as hard work! Our children love coming to their lessons; they make new friends, our teachers are loved by our swimmers and they learn how to swim beautifully, meaning they have more fun in the pool and on family holidays!
As well as 'Recap and Reward' at the end of each lesson, where children are recognised for effort, good listening and mastering new skills, certificates and badges are awarded for each level as well as distance swims.
How do I book in? Can my child start any time?
Once you find the class you want, just click Join Now. This allows you to fill in an enquiry form which will be submitted to your local team. If you wish to complete your booking and make your first payment, there is a clear path to doing this after you have submitted your enquiry form.
Alternatively, you can email or call your local team who will be able to book your child in over the phone.
Your child can start any time. The programme is progressive and children can join at any point.
How do I pay for classes?
Class payments are made by debit or credit card either online or over the phone. Payments are made regularly (every 8 weeks), either by you online (we send out reminders via email) or if you sign up for recurring payments, it all happens automatically. We do require payment by your Payment Due Date to secure your place in the class.
All of this is manageable online in your My Puddle Ducks account which you will be able to access when you book your child into a class. There are loads of other great features and benefits in your online account.
What do we need to take to our first lesson?
Swim hats are compulsory in Swim Academy lessons (for your free assessment there are usually spare swim hats poolside - please check with your local office before attending).
Goggles are recommended but are not compulsory.
These are both available from our online shop.
We recommend your child wears well-fitting swimwear and not, for instance, baggy shorts which can cause drag in the water.
We also recommend that you take a towel poolside to wrap your child in when the lesson is finished.
Arm bands and other buoyancy aids are not permitted.
Can my child wear armbands?
Your child, no matter how young or how new to swimming they are, will never wear armbands in a Swim Academy lesson. We want to teach your child to swim independently and how to be safe in the water. There are compelling reasons why we don’t use armbands:
If your child fell into water when on holiday or even just on a riverside walk with the family, they probably won’t have armbands on. Their experience in their swimming lessons needs to be as realistic as possible. Water safety is a core building block in our lesson plans and everything your child learns will, unbeknown to them, be teaching them vital life-saving skills.
We teach our children to swim beautifully. Technique is ingrained at every level and wearing armbands hinders this. Your child will learn to swim on the surface of the water, gracefully and efficiently. If they wear armbands, they will not be aligned in the water. Their top half will be bobbing above the water, forcing their bottom half to dip down, making the alignment required for independent swimming all but impossible.
Non-fitted buoyancy aids (such as floats or woggles) allow children to push away from them when they are ready to be independent whereas fitted aids (arm bands) require an adult to deflate them.
What if my child has a genuine fear of water?
Yes – with care, nurturing and reassurance. It is important never to rush because children develop at different stages on land and it's the same in the water.
Our teachers have helped many children overcome a fear of water. They fous on staying relaxed and having fun – if you start to force an activity on a child when they are nervous, they will respond with resistance, develop further nerves and the lesson will not be enjoyable. If they are struggling with nerves, we allow them to watch others and to just be in the pool.
We find that children who also swim with their family outside of structured lessons progress from being nervous much quicker than others so go and have fun and allow your child to lead. Never force.
What if my child misbehaves or disrupts the class?
Please don’t worry, we have dealt with tens of thousands of children over the past 15 years and we can deal with yours!
In Swim Academy, you will see that our teachers are very good at controlling a class of up to 8 children. If a child repeatedly causes disruption in a class, they are asked to take time out and sit on the side of the pool.
The teacher will then come and speak to them to see if they are ready to re-join the group. Think of our disciplinary measures being just like your child’s teacher would carry out at school. We have never had an instance of having to exclude a child from classes – an important part of our teachers’ training is to learn to deal with all kinds of personalities.