Winter Park’s Goldfish Swim School helps little ones learn how to make a safe splash.
As a parent, you can never be too cautious when it comes to kids and water. “In Florida, we are surrounded by water. We have lakes, ponds, canals and so many other open sources of water that are accessible year-round,” explains Gina Jacobs Thomas, owner of Goldfish Swim School in Winter Park. “It is so important to keep water safety top of mind at all times and that kids keep water safety and swimming skills sharp throughout the year, not just before summer.”
Gina is right: Beyond the 1.4 million backyard swimming pools in the state, Florida also has over 825 miles of gorgeous sandy beaches, more than 11 million acres of freshwater and nearly 80,000 stormwater or retention ponds sprinkled throughout local communities. All this water poses an inherent risk to children who don’t know how to swim.
The CDC estimates approximately 4,000 fatal drownings per year, and for children under the age of 4, drowning is the leading cause of death. Additionally, more than 8,000 people per year suffer from non-fatal drownings, which can cause long-term health problems and lengthy hospital stays.
It’s important for parents to be proactive by making swim lessons a top priority. Not only will knowing how to swim enable children to enjoy a pool party with friends or a visit to a water park, but it can save their life.
Gina shared Goldfish Swim School’s approach to learning and explains why it’s a great place for families to dive into:
Simply Put: Knowing How to Swim Saves Lives
69% of accidental drownings are because children had unintended access to water. With the sheer volume of water in Florida coupled with the curious nature of children, knowing how to swim is vital. Classes at Goldfish begin as young as 4 months old, where tiny tots learn to get acclimated to the water.
Goldfish Lets You Swim Year-Round
Thanks to their heated indoor pool and climate-controlled environment, it’s always a good day to go swimming at Goldfish. The best part: Students don’t need to wear sunscreen, and classes never get canceled due to weather. Their holistic play-based approach ensures children have fun while learning. Students also move through the program on an individual timeline, targeting the skills
they need. There’s no pressure to finish a level before the season ends; kids move at
their own pace.
Babies Are Welcome
Children under the age of 35 months are in the Mini (Parent/Tot) classes, meaning mom, dad or another caregiver is in the water with the child and instructor. These classes can have up to six students. While the sessions teach basic water safety skills and an introduction to swimming techniques, the socialization with other swimmers and the bonding between caregiver and child make these classes about more than just swimming.
There’s a Class for Every Age
In addition to the under 35-month Mini classes, Goldfish offers a range of swim lessons for ages 3–12 for beginning, intermediate and advanced swimmers. Once a child has mastered all skills, swimmers ages 5–12 have the option of joining the Swim Force swim team, where kids can compete against their Goldfish peers. It’s a good halfway point between recreational swim and a competitive club league experience.
And So Much More…
Beyond lessons, Goldfish also offers other water-centric programs. For example, Family Swim lets parents and siblings jump in and join the fun. On a more educational note, Goldfish prides itself on its community outreach and hosts W.A.T.E.R Safety Presentations for children ages 3–7. These free-of-charge presentations are done in daycares, schools and other educational settings.
Want to dip your toes in the water? Contact Gina at Goldfish Swim School at
407-614-6363 and check out goldfishswimschool.com. Follow them on
Instagram at @goldfish_winterpark and Facebook @goldfishwinterpark.
How Parents Can Support Young Swimmers at Home
1. Prepare your child to go underwater. During bath time, use the same verbal cue as Goldfish: “Child’s Name, Ready, Go!” Pause 1 second, and then pour a cup of water over your child’s face. Now celebrate!
2. Wear goggles. Goggles improve balance in the water by 50%. Help your child get used to goggles by wearing them in the bath.
3. Blow bubbles. Blowing bubbles in the water is important for proper breath control. Have your child practice blowing bubbles while they’re in the tub.
4. Practice back floats. Floating on your back is a crucial safety skill. To prepare at home, fill the tub with enough water for your child to lie on their back with their ears fully submerged.
5. Practice around the house. Encourage children to practice kicking on their stomachs or backs while lying on their bed.
Layers of Protection
Beyond always having undistracted supervision by a water guardian (an adult who knows how to swim) when children are in or around water, here are six other safety guidelines to follow:
1. Install a four-sided fence with self-latching gates that separates the pool from the home.
2. Remove floats and toys from the pool after use to reduce child curiosity.
3. Put alarms on all doors and windows.
4. Drain water tables, bathtubs, buckets and other water-filled vessels after every use.
5. Learn CPR.
6. Enroll your child in swim lessons.