Swimming lessons - FAQs
Behind the scenes
Swim programs formats and sessions
1. What sessions are available to me and my family?Permanent link to What sessions are available to me and my family?
As of October 11, there will be two types of programming sessions available in Strathcona County throughout each year – full ratio programs and low ratio programs. Full ratio programs have between 7-10 lessons, while low ratio programs operate over just 5 or 6 lessons, typically over summer holidays, Christmas holidays, or Spring Break. Please consult your Strathcona County Recreation Guide or our website for specific details about what swim sessions are available to you right now.
2. Why do you offer different session formats?Permanent link to Why do you offer different session formats?
Our goal is to provide each of our guests flexible options that best suit their busy lives. For some, longer, regular sessions are the best fit for their schedules, while others want a “get in and get out” approach over a relatively short time frame. Each option offers distinct advantages to students and families, but all sessions meet the curriculum guidelines set out by the Canadian Red Cross, Lifesaving Society of Canada, and Strathcona County.
3. How is pricing determined for swimming and water safety programs?Permanent link to How is pricing determined for swimming and water safety programs?
Pricing for all swimming and water safety programs has been carefully analyzed, taking into account the student ratio (the amount of personal attention each student receives), total class time, and program requirements (such as equipment, manuals, etc). Furthermore, program fees are compared to current market prices found throughout Alberta to ensure program pricing remains competitive.
4. Where are swimming and water safety programs offered?Permanent link to Where are swimming and water safety programs offered?
Swimming and water safety programs can be found at the Kinsmen Leisure Centre and the Emerald Hills Leisure Centre. Millennium Place continues to focus on spontaneous use opportunities such as recreational swim, lap swim, and fitness programming. Please note the facility where your lessons are held to ensure you register in the correct class for yourself or your family.
We are proud to offer programs year round, with options in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings.
Swimming and water safety programs
1. What kind of swim programs are available to me and my family?Permanent link to What kind of swim programs are available to me and my family?
In Strathcona County, we offer three types of swim programming – learn to swim, swim for sport, and instructor/lifeguard development.
In Learn to Swim, we feature the Canadian Red Cross Swim programs for Preschoolers, Kids, Teens, and Adults. These programs focus on developing swimming skills, water safety, and fitness in all students.
Swim for Sport is a growing area for us, but features our popular Learn to Dive programs and our new Red Cross Swim Sports program. These programs are great for people that want to stay active in the water, but want more than swimming laps or stroke development. Come try your hand at swim sports like diving, underwater hockey, water polo, and more.
Lastly, our Instructor/Lifeguard Development programs prepare candidates for a future in the aquatics industry. If you are hoping to lifeguard or instruct one day, look no further than our development programs.
2. How do you maximize pool space for program registrants?Permanent link to How do you maximize pool space for program registrants?
Our aquatic programming team, with support from industry experts, has designed an aquatic learning environment that is optimally suited to high numbers of classes without a loss of program quality. With the addition of Emerald Hills Leisure Centre, pool space has been redesigned to create optimal program spaces across each facility. These are delineated with various lane ropes, allowing students the ideal depth and distance for their respective programs.
3. I want to register in swimming and water safety programs, but was previously in a different program. How do I determine what to register in?Permanent link to I want to register in swimming and water safety programs, but was previously in a different program. How do I determine what to register in?
Red Cross Swim is perhaps the largest and most recognizable learn to swim program in Canada, operating for over 60 years. This program teaches students how to be safe in, on, and around the water by featuring on three key elements: water safety, swimming skills, and fitness skills. That said, there are several other programs available across Canada and making the leap from one program to another can sometimes be confusing. To ease the confusion, we have comparison charts from some of the other programs in our area, including Lifesaving Society, YMCA, and the City of Edmonton Preschool program.
4. I want to register in swimming and water safety programs, but my child is not the correct age. When I can I register them?Permanent link to I want to register in swimming and water safety programs, but my child is not the correct age. When I can I register them?
Age limits can be a pesky thing, but they can be incredibly important to a swim program. Our age limits are set by program content providers such as the Canadian Red Cross and Lifesaving Society of Canada, and are based on safety, supervision, ability, and regulations. To ease the confusion, we have made one standard age rule across all program families – all students must be the correct age by the end of the registered program. This means that we can accept students so long as they turn the correct age at some point during their program. This allows us to ensure we meet age limits without making our guests’ lives complicated.
5. My child is struggling to complete a swim level. How can I help them?Permanent link to My child is struggling to complete a swim level. How can I help them?
Many students that are struggling with a level may do so because they are still growing, developing their coordination, strength, and agility. This can be very frustrating for a young person, but often comes down to time – either practice time or just time to grow. Sometimes, a skill is particularly difficult and extra attention makes the difference. In Strathcona County, we have a couple of options available to help every student:
- Repeating a level is okay. Sometimes a little extra time, or even taking a break, is all a student needs to grow into their abilities. When re-taking a level, please ensure you bring your old report card and let the instructor know. This helps them better plan for your individual needs within the context of the larger group.
- When students are struggling with a particular stroke skill, sometimes the best option is to take Stroke Improvement. We offer three levels of stroke improvement for Swim Kids, focused around levels 3-5, 6-7, and 8-10. These three levels are organized around student’s most consistent struggles with front crawl, whip kick, and breast stroke. If you are interested in a more dedicated approach, Private Swim Lessons are available in single, or multi-lesson, options.
- If a student is facing extraordinary difficulties, please contact our programming team who will be happy to work with you to find a solution. Our programmers can be contacted by calling the Swim Line at 780-464-8237.
Swimming and water safety registration
1. Programs are hard to get into. Why aren’t there more lessons available?Permanent link to Programs are hard to get into. Why aren’t there more lessons available?
Program registration trends are closely monitored and program offerings are based on the balance between high demand programs and offering a full slate of opportunities. Since 2005, our population has increased by 16,281 residents (17%) and we have focused on creatively managing the increased demand in swim programming.
During this time, we have implemented a number of strategies that has nearly doubled our program offerings, including:
- Incorporating multiple session formats to best utilize calendar time
- Adding classes in direct response to waitlist demand each session
- Monitoring registration levels and adjusting offerings based on current population trends
- Adjusting class sizes and pool space to maximize program quality and efficiency
- Offering lesson-only time slots, as opposed to hybrid opportunities seen in other communities
2. Why can’t we restrict non-residents from signing up for our swim lessons?Permanent link to Why can’t we restrict non-residents from signing up for our swim lessons?
While there are a small number of people registering for Strathcona County swimming and water safety programs from outside of our community, this is consistent with the amount of our residents signing up for programs in other municipalities, for reasons such as work location, preference, availability, swim clubs, and specialty training.
This is a regional trend that is representative of growth in the area and is something that we closely monitor. With the addition of programs offered at Emerald Hills Leisure Centre, we have seen a large increase in the number of program opportunities for all registrants and a tremendous decrease in program waitlists.
3. Why does the registration system always seem to be overloaded on registration day? Can’t you fix the online system?Permanent link to Why does the registration system always seem to be overloaded on registration day? Can’t you fix the online system?
Our current online registration system functions efficiently, with the capacity to accommodate up to 750 users at one time. This is one of the highest user rates across the region that allows for the most registrants online at one time. On the first day of registration, approximately 88% of our registrations are completed online. For example, our Spring 2015 aquatic session saw a total of 1,240 participants successfully registered online in the first 15 minutes, and over 2,800 registered by the end of the day.
4. Sometimes registration days happen before the end of the current session. Why don’t you change this so I don’t have to guess what level my child should be in?Permanent link to Sometimes registration days happen before the end of the current session. Why don’t you change this so I don’t have to guess what level my child should be in?
In order to run continuous programming options in Strathcona County, there are times where registration cycles will not line up with the end of a swimming session. Wherever possible, we have pushed registration cycles to fit the swim program. We hope that the increase in lesson opportunities provided by Kinsmen Leisure Centre and Emerald Hills Leisure Centre programming will offset the demand for lessons and the quick fill rates for programs.
On deck for lessons
1. What do I need to bring to swimming lessons?Permanent link to What do I need to bring to swimming lessons?
You’ve signed up for lessons, but aren’t sure what to bring. Fortunately, the list is simple. Please ensure a properly fitting bathing suit for each participant and a towel, and goggles if the participant requires them. Children that are not bathroom trained must wear a properly fitting swim diaper (cloth or disposable) and disposable diapers are sold at our front desks. Please avoid using regular diapers because they are ineffective in swimming pools and can damage our filtration system.
2. Where do we go once we’ve arrived at the facility for swimming lessons?Permanent link to Where do we go once we’ve arrived at the facility for swimming lessons?
Please ensure you arrive at the correct facility for your swimming program. Once you arrive at the facility, you can head directly on deck through one of our change rooms. We have male and female change rooms available at both facilities. At Kinsmen Leisure Centre, we have a multi-use specialty changeroom available, while Emerald Hills Leisure Centre boasts a universal changeroom for families and individuals, as well as an accessible changeroom for those with specialized needs.
Once changed, you can head onto the pool deck. Each of our programs has a sign mounted on deck where you can meet your class and your instructor.
3. Do I have to stay on deck during my child’s swimming lessons?Permanent link to Do I have to stay on deck during my child’s swimming lessons?
We ask that all parents stay available on deck for any children under 8 years old. Instructors, often with 4-6 children in their class, are unable to properly assist a younger child who is upset (eg. Crying and wants Mom or Dad) or needs to use the washroom. While lifeguards are on duty, they cannot leave deck to attend to these needs. The industry standard in Canada is to ask parents to be available for their younger children.
4. Do you offer student feedback opportunities during the swim session?Permanent link to Do you offer student feedback opportunities during the swim session?
Caregiver feedback opportunities occur once approximately 60% of the class has occurred. At this point, instructors can provide a detailed evaluation of the student and their current abilities, while providing the student time in which to practice suggested skills. Please note that the intent of caregiver feedback is to aide in student learning and not to indicate which level to register your child in next.
5. Are goggles required for swim programs?Permanent link to Are goggles required for swim programs?
Goggles are not required for any particular swimming and water safety program, but may be helpful to students who struggle to open their eyes under water. Some skills in preschool and kids programs do require students to attempt the skill without goggles, but they can be worn at any other point in the program.
6. Do I need to return my previous report card to my new swimming instructor? What happens if I don’t have it?Permanent link to Do I need to return my previous report card to my new swimming instructor? What happens if I don’t have it?
Whenever possible, it is ideal for students to return previous report cards to Swim Kids or Swim Preschool instructors. This allows the instructor to carry on the feedback and report card, as well as provides them valuable information about each swimmer’s abilities. Our water safety instructors will take care of your card and return it to you on the last day of lessons.
7. Can I use the whirlpool before/after swimming lessons?Permanent link to Can I use the whirlpool before/after swimming lessons?
Children under 8 years old cannot use the whirlpool alone, but parents/caregivers can bring their suits and join them for free following lessons. During lesson times, the whirlpool will be available to students and their families for free.
8. Is there someone on deck that can help me with questions, concerns, or positive feedback?Permanent link to Is there someone on deck that can help me with questions, concerns, or positive feedback?
Most evening and weekend shifts feature an Aquatic Instructor 2, a swimming and water safety team member who is there to help manage on-deck operations. If you would like help, please ask one of our wonderful lifeguard or front desk team members to call for an Instructor 2 or Aquatic Programmer.
9. Can my child swim if they have been recently ill?Permanent link to Can my child swim if they have been recently ill?
If you or your little swimmers have been recently ill with diarrhea or vomiting, it is important to stay home, rest, and recuperate. Viruses can be past through personal contact and you are at risk for having a sickness episode while swimming and enjoying the pool. Additionally, a vomit or fecal contamination can close the pool for anywhere between 30 minutes and 24 hours, depending on the contamination. Please help ensure everyone can access the pool and stay home when you have been sick.
Strathcona County is proud to use leading edge technology and innovation to provide world-class water quality. However, it is always important to do your part to keep our pools clean and the germs out.
Lotion, sweat, cosmetics and dirt use up pool chemicals' power, leaving less power to kill germs and this is why it's important to take a 2-3 minute cleansing shower before you swim.
Stay out of the water if you have diarrhea or feel sick.
Poop contamination = pool closure for 7 to 24 hours to maintain a high-quality of safe and clean water. This can result in cancelled lessons and recreation swims for hundreds of people.
Don't pee or poop in the water.
Check swim diapers every 30 to 60 minutes. Swim diapers are available for purchase at the front desks.
School swim lessons
1. Why does the swimming pool allow grade 2 students, who are often under 8 years old, to go swimming with only one instructor per group? There isn’t even always a lifeguard on.Permanent link to Why does the swimming pool allow grade 2 students, who are often under 8 years old, to go swimming with only one instructor per group? There isn’t even always a lifeguard on.
All of our Aquatic Instructors in Strathcona County are certified lifeguards who have been deemed competent, both by the Aquatic Programmers and national bodies such as the Lifesaving Society and Canadian Red Cross, to care for children in an aquatic environment. There is no requirement that a lifeguard is present for a swim class under these circumstances, but we keep a lifeguard available to assist with first-aid situations, on-deck guests, and whirlpool patrons. During school lessons, all classes are held to the minimum teacher to student ratios set forth by the Canadian Red Cross and teachers (and often some parent helpers) are available to help with problems such as misbehaviour or bathroom needs.
2. My school doesn’t do swimming lessons. How can we get involved?Permanent link to My school doesn’t do swimming lessons. How can we get involved?
Each school that works with us is slightly different, but they are often united by one thing: an individual (a teacher, principal, or parents association) that values swimming education. Generally, this individual rallies the school together and works with the Aquatic Programmers to find an available space for lessons. Whether the plan is to bring one grade, or the entire elementary school, our program team can explore options for you throughout the school year. While Spring lessons often fill up fastest, there are opportunities from September until June.
Water safety instructors and staff
1. What training do Strathcona County swimming and water safety instructors have?Permanent link to What training do Strathcona County swimming and water safety instructors have?
Water Safety Instructors in Strathcona County are some of the highest trained swim instructors in Alberta. All of our instructors are fully certified lifeguards and aquatic instructors, and many hold advanced awards such as Lifesaving Instructor, Water Safety Instructor Trainer, and more.
2. How do I become a swimming and water safety instructor in Strathcona County?Permanent link to How do I become a swimming and water safety instructor in Strathcona County?
There are lots of exciting reasons to become a water safety instructor in Strathcona County. To find more information on the training required to become an instructor, please visit our lifeguard and instructor development webpage.