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Swim Lesson Level Descriptions
Swim Lesson Information

The Saint Paul Parks & Recreation Aquatics program offers a variety of swimming lesson opportunities for almost every age group. 
Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, and that means knowing how to be safe in and around the water is essential. With qualified instructors, our swimming lessons are fun and teach participants how to safely swim at all skill levels. Participants in our lessons are grouped by ability. Please see the Skill Level Descriptions below.
  • Unless otherwise noted, lessons start on the hour or half hour and last 50 minutes.
  • There are 8 classes per session. In the event of inclement weather or cancelled classes, make-up days will be held if necessary. You’ll be notified of the change.
  • Children with disabilities are encouraged to participate in our lesson program. Call the Adaptive Recreation Office 651-793-6635 – TTY 651-266-6378. Please contact us two weeks prior to the beginning of the session.
  • Private Lessons – Great River Water Park and Highland Park Aquatic Center offer individual or group private lessons. Contact the pool for more information.
  • Beginning Springboard Diving Classes at Highland Park Aquatic Center in the summer only 

Swim Lesson Level Descriptions Youth

Fin Buddies (6 months up to 3 years)
An adult must accompany the child. Adults and instructors work together to develop the child’s comfort in the water. Adults learn basic safety practices for working with children in and around water. Adults and children will learn water adjustment and basic skills.

Jellyfish – Water Exploration (Ages 3 up to 5)
Offers swimmers the first opportunity to learn basic water exploration skills without a parent.
Swimmers will learn:
• To feel comfortable in the water and enjoy the water     • Basic water safety skills
• Supported float on front / back                                    • Water adjustment
• Supported kicking on the front / back                          • Fully submerge face 3 seconds

Sunfish - Primary Skills  
The objective is to give swimmers success with fundamental skills. Swimmers must be comfortable in the water without a parent and have completed Jellyfish or have equivalent skills.
Swimmers will learn:
• Supported floats on front / back                                  • Float and glide on front / back
• Introduction to front & back crawl                                • Supported deep water orientation
• Supported combined stroke on front / back using         • To retrieve objects under water
  kicks and alternating arm action, 5 yds 

Moonfish - Advanced Primary Skills 
Give swimmers more success with fundamental skills learned from Sunfish level above.
Swimmers will learn:
• Rhythmic breathing skills                                           • Supported deep water orientation
• Unsupported floats on front / back                               • Elementary backstroke introduced
• Unsupported combined stroke on front / back using kicks and alternating arm action, 5 yds 

Catfish - Stroke Readiness 
Builds on skills by coordinating strokes and increasing endurance. Swimmers must have completed Moonfish or have equivalent skills. Swimmers will learn:
• Coordinate front crawl, 15 yards                                  • Coordinate back crawl, 15 yards
• Elementary backstroke, 10 yards                                • Introduction to diving from side of pool
• Treading water, 30 seconds                                        • Whip kick introduced 

Parrotfish - Stroke Development
Develops endurance in strokes learned and introduces the breaststroke and sidestroke. Swimmers must have completed Catfish or have equivalent skills. Swimmers will learn:
• Front / back crawl, 50 yards                                       • Elementary backstroke, 25 yards
• Breaststroke introduction                                           • Sidestroke introduction
• Breaststroke kick, 25 yards                                       • Scissors kick, 10 yards
• Treading water, 90 sec.

Rainbow Trout - Stroke Refinement 
Refines coordination and increases endurance of key strokes. Butterfly is introduced.
Swimmers must have completed Parrotfish or have equivalent skills.
Swimmers will learn:
• Front / back crawl, 75 yards                                       • Breaststroke, 50 yards
• Elementary backstroke, 50 yards                               • Butterfly introduced
• Sidestroke, 25 yards                                                 • Beginning diving from board
• Treading water, 3 min.

Tigerfish - Skill Proficiency 
Polish strokes so swimmers swim them with more ease, efficiency, power and smoothness over greater distances.
Swimmers will learn:
• Front crawl, 100 yards                                               • Back crawl, 100 yards
• Breaststroke, 75 yards                                              • Sidestroke, 50 yards
• Tread water, 5 minutes                                              • Recover 10 lb. brick from deep end

Beginning Springboard Diving (Must have at least Parrotfish level swimming ability) 
Divers will learn:
• Safety on the diving board                                         • Four step approach
• Basic front / back dives                                            • Intro to tuck and pike positions
• Upon ability front / back flips and spins

Junior Lifeguard Program (ages 10 through 15)
Promotes water safety and junior lifeguarding. Participants will gain valuable first hand experience
Participants will learn:  
• To enforce pool rules and regulations                         • Scanning
• Use of safety equipment                                           • Emergency action plans
• Facility cleanliness and operation


Developmental Swim Team (ages 7 through 18)
The City of Saint Paul offers an introductory competitive swim program at Highland Park Aquatic Center, geared to swimmers ages 7 to 18 years. The purpose of this program shall be:


  • A chance for younger children to learn more about competitive swimming
  • Act as a stepping-stone into competitive school swim teams
  • To maintain skills during the off season  

We believe that this program is an excellent introduction to competitive swimming. Our program will be coached by STAR Swim Team, a local competitive swim club with a national reputation for producing Olympic-caliber swimmers. The Swim Team program gives more experienced swimmers more opportunities to develop their skills in a structured but fun environment. 

New:  Adult / Teen Lessons

Adult Introductory Level:  This class is for adults / teens that have little to no experience in and around water.  The objective is to introduce basic fundamental skills essential for safe swimming including front and back floats, introducing front / back crawl and elementary back stroke, recovering submerged objects and basic first aid and safety.

Adult Intermediate Level:  The intermediate level for adults / teens is intended for those that have passed the Introductory Level or that have some experience in and around water but are still uncomfortable with their swimming skills.  Participants will learn to build on endurance and refine strokes such as the front / back crawl, elementary back stroke and will introduce sidestroke, breaststroke, and treading water.



Register Online for Lessons (Create a New Account if one has not been created since 9/31/10.  Otherwise proceed to My  Account or View Activities.) 

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