For children growing up in Michigan, learning to swim is a must, and when families want to give their children top-notch lessons in water safety and swim techniques, they turn to Aqua-Tots Swim Schools.
Founded in 1991, Aqua-Tots Swim Schools offers classes for students as young as 4 months old – all the way through adulthood.
The swim school has come a long way since it was founded.
“Our first lesson started in a community swimming pool and shortly after we started building up our own facilities,” says Alex Brueckner, the district aquatic manager at Aqua-Tots Swim Schools in metro Detroit.
Today, the swim school boasts 100 locations across the globe – and by the end of this year, eight of them will be right here in southeast Michigan. Troy is the home of the first Michigan location, which opened in 2012. And now, seven years later, the swim franchise continues to grow, with locations in Woodhaven and Dearborn location opening by the end of 2019.
“Safety first” is the goal of every class, Brueckner says. Each lesson is specifically designed to help students excel – and they do it without the help of life jackets.
“We teach kids how to feel the water and be independent in the water,” he adds, and that starts right in Level 1.
“Each one of our levels have about 30 to 40 skill sets within the level,” he says. “The way that our program is constructed is we have a beginner, intermediate, advance progression within each level.”
Throughout the time, as children get more comfortable, instructors will push them to do something that challenges them even more.
“Within each level there’s different skill sets that build up into an advanced progression,” he says. For example, students might start by grabbing a water ring off of the bench, then move to a stair, then ultimately retrieve that same water ring from the floor of the pool. They’ll build all these skills from Level 1 all the way through Level 8 and be pushed on things such as breath control and comfort in the pool.
“We try and use all different types of feedback in each class, whether it’s something visual that I can show you, something tactile we can manipulate, or something that we can tell you to give you that verbal feedback, as well,” he says.
Because the program is based on repetition, Brueckner suggests swimming multiple times per week to get the most out of the experience. Two to three times each week helps build that exposure, muscle memory and confidence for students.
After children graduate from Level 8, they can move on to Aqua-Tots swim club, which is essentially a swim team that helps prepare students for a high school swim team. During swim club, the kids swim the entire length of the pool and do drills. This club focuses on correcting technique, and every 13 weeks, participants go to a full-sized pool to swim and practice.
Good instructors are key to student success – and that’s just what families will find at Aqua-Tots. Instructors receive 40 hours of in-water training with a master instructor, will have 10 hours of video instruction and eight hours in the pool without children during their training, which lasts roughly a month and a half. Instructors are regularly assessed, too, so parents can feel comfortable with their children in the care of any Aqua-Tots instructor.
Because the classes start at such a young age, instructors really do get the chance to watch their students grow, and Brueckner says that is his favorite part. “I get to see them through every single level,” he says.
For more information on Aqua-Tots Swim Schools, visit aqua-tots.com.