Information for All Calm Waters Aquatics Swim Class Levels

School Age Curriculum

  • Competitive swim technique is taught in the School Age classes. We are not trying to prepare your child for swim team (unless that is their goal). Competitive technique is the most efficient method of swimming. We break the stroke skills down into drills for practice. Then we help them progress through the components of the strokes until they are able to put it all together. 
  • In Levels 1-3 they work on comfort in the water (for brand new swimmers), independent front/back floating, developing a strong propulsive kick, and face in dog paddle. 
  • Levels 4-6 focus on learning Freestyle with side breathing, Backstroke, treading water, diving. In Level 6 they begin working on their swim endurance. Level 7 is Breaststroke, Level 8 – Butterfly and flip turns, Level 9 – the lifetime leisure strokes, Sidestroke and Elementary Backstroke. 
  • Level 10 is the ultimate challenge with a lot of technique and fitness practice in the Freestyle, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Butterfly. The fitness test is 4 pool lengths (at Rec Center or Healing Waters) of Backstroke, one length each: Butterfly-Backstroke-Breaststroke-Freestyle, plus 12 pool lengths of Freestyle. That’s 1/4 mile and it’s AWESOME to celebrate this fantastic accomplishment with them. 
  • Some people think the School Age program might be all work and no play. Our goal in Swim America is to impart a lifetime of joy in the water with skills that can save their lives, prepare them for water sports, be a stepping stone to becoming a swim teacher, and having skills they can fall back on for fitness when they are older. We try to keep it fun, challenging, and rewarding for the children.

This link shows Advancement Goals per level for Swim America.

Stroke Development

School Age Levels 7-10
  • $45/month, 60-minute classes, once weekly
  • The four competitive strokes:  Freestyle, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Butterfly, as well as the two leisure strokes:  Elementary Backstroke and Sidestroke will be the emphasis in this class.
  • Children will be grouped in the upper levels together for technique and fitness development.
  • Workouts will be fun, but challenging in order to improve their overall swimming fitness and skill.
  • Practice will be 45-minutes followed by a 15-minute period of challenge-oriented activities designed to develop teamwork, problem solving, leadership, conditioning, and water play skills (e.g. relays, treasure hunts, circuit training, mini water exercise workouts, and self-rescue skills).
  • Enrollment is limited to 8 children per month.
  • Held only at the PLPOA Rec Center in June and July.

Pre-School Curriculum

  • Must be potty-trained, or wear swim diapers. We must prevent fecal accidents. They lead to a mandatory pool closure for at least one hour. 
  • Must be able to separate from their parent. This might take a lesson or two of anxiety for the tentative child. Parents do not enter the water during the lesson. If they are not ready to separate after a couple of lessons, we will try again when they are a little older. 
  • Parent or supervising adult MUST remain on the deck, indirectly supervising their child during the entire lesson. (Exception to this might be if your child’s teacher asks you to leave the pool area in an effort to calm the child down and allow them to look to their teacher for reassurance rather than their parent.) Adult MUST DIRECTLY supervise preschoolers for the duration of any allocated playtime after the lesson, regardless of how advanced they might be. 
  • Your child will enter the curriculum at their present skill level. If they’ve never taken lessons and have little to no skills, they will start at the very beginning. If s/he can float independently or has already been working on strokes, they will build on those skills. 
  • Some of the skills are: water adjustment, face wet, face in, submerge head, swim with lifejacket, front/back floats with kick, rollover from front to back float, face in dog paddle, Front Crawl, Backstroke, Freestyle with side breathing, Breaststroke, Butterfly, treading water, diving, and TONS of FUN. 
  • We utilize toys and super fun instructional aids to keep it really fun for them (and us!) Children remain in the Preschool Curriculum until they finish kindergarten AND can stand up in the 3 ft. area. Some of the smaller 6-yr-olds cannot touch the bottom outside of the Preschool practice area. In that case, they either stay in the Preschool Curriculum, or they swim with the Preschool class working on their School Age progressions. When a preschooler finishes through Level 10 they usually start in School Age Level 6 or 7, if their family chooses to keep them in lessons. 

Here is a link to our Pre-School level advancement for Swim America Pre-School Stations and Skills.

Parenting Water Babies

  • Classes divisions:
    • 18-36m, and 24-36m
    • Choose the one that fits your baby or toddler’s age and your family schedule
  • Parent or adult is in the water with child. 
    • These are parent guided swim lessons. We will be teaching YOU how to teach your child the most important introductory water comfort and learning readiness skills as well as the early skill progressions. 
    • Safe pool behavior and safe water parenting will be paramount in the program.
  • Pre-requisite for all babies under 24 months:  Written permission from your child’s primary licensed health care provider stating your child is healthy enough to participate in swim lessons.  If your physician has questions about the program, please give them my contact information so I can follow up.
  • Focus areas (depending on age and readiness level):  nurturing your baby in the water, deepening your parent/baby bond, safe support holds, parenting water safety, developing trust with your baby during water play and “work,” body control, floating balance positions, basic to more advanced movement patterns in the water, breath control, comfort with parts of the face in the water (and for the toddlers – submersion and rudimentary propulsion), back and front float with support (working towards independent floating with the older toddlers who are ready), teaching a joy for the wonders of water play. 

Adult Classes

  • Adults come to the program with their own goals.  Overcoming fear, self-rescue, stroke skills, and fitness swimming are some of the learning expectations an adult might come to the program with.  As such, all adult lessons are tailored to their individual goals.


What is Swim America?

It is a learn-to-swim program developed and franchised by the American Swim Coaches Association. There are four age divisions in the Pagosa Springs Swim America program.

Each has its own curriculum.

  • infant-toddler
  • preschool/kindergarten
  • school age
  • adult
What does Swim America teach?
  • Parenting Water Babies is a parent/child program with classes for 18-36m, babies and toddlers. The classes are designed to teach comfort, confidence, safety, as well as introductory floating and propulsion skills. In these classes, the parent is in the water with their child. Swim America instructors teach parents how to teach these introductory skills to their babies and toddlers.  The 18-36m classes are taught in chlorinated pools. Four classes meet once a week for one month. The cost is $56 and includes pool admission for parent and child for each class.
  • Preschool/Kindergarten Program is for children ages 3-5, and most 6-year-olds who have not yet started first grade. Children are in the water without their parent. There are ten levels of skills. Preschool/K students learn floating, safety, and modified techniques for front crawl, back crawl, breaststroke and butterfly. Lots of interactive toys and teaching equipment keeps it fun and exciting.
  • School Age Program is for children ages 6-18. There are ten levels of skills. Progressions start with floating for non-swimming children and move into swim stroke technique for the four competitive strokes: freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, as well as two lifetime strokes: sidestroke and elementary backstoke.
  • Adult Lessons are tailored to each individual’s personal goals – overcoming fear, floating, self-rescue, leisure strokes, and/or competitive strokes.
How long are the lessons?

30 minutes for most classes. 

Stroke Development Class is 1 Hour. 

How many lessons will it take for my child to learn to swim?
Each child who joins the program comes in with their own level of comfort, or discomfort in the water. Some children are already floating. Others might be fearful. Swim America is a self-paced program. Each individual enters their respective curriculum of progressions based on their present skill level. Fearful children spend their first lessons adapting to their teacher and the aquatic environment before striving for independent floating skills. Children who are comfortable in the water but have no independent floating skills will progress more rapidly. Every child is unique. Swim America is a goal driven program. Each lesson is designed to help the children achieve the goals in their current Swim America level. Swimming skills are like any other sport skill. The more opportunities to practice the skills, the faster the child will aquire the skills.
How many lessons should I sign my child up for?
This depends on a family’s goals for their child. Most families reserve one lesson per week. Some children swim twice a week. There are a few children who come to as many lessons as possible as swimming is their primary activity. Other families take lessons for a concentrated period of time then pursue other family activities. Keep in mind that physical skill mastery requires repetition.
I have more than one child. They have varying abilities and are different ages. Do they have to be in different classes?
Only the Parenting Water Babies classes have specific times and dates. For all other ages, classes are made up of differing ages and skill levels. Because Swim America is goal oriented, every class is instructed according to the needs of each child. Siblings can come to the same class time yet be learning skills appropriate for their individual readiness level.
What do I do if my child cries?
Stay calm. Just know that your child’s teacher, and every mom there, empathizes with you and your child. Walk or carry your reluctant child to the pool edge. Avoid negotiating. Reassure, encourage, then without hesitation, lower your child to their teacher. Walk away and find a chair as far away from the class as possible. Avoid eye contact. If crying persists more than 5 min., leave the pool area to a location where you can hear your child but they can’t see you. Crying might temporarily escalate when you leave. Above all else, don’t cave! Our teachers would NEVER do anything forceful with your child and will try to keep him/her calm for the duration of the class utilizing trust-building activities. When you hear the crying stop, wait a bit, then return to the pool and sit away from the class. Give your child a big smile and a thumbs up! It’s more than O.K. for a child to cry when uncertain, separating from you, in a new environment, or when fearful. The teachers are very patient and understanding.
How much does a lesson cost?

All prices listed include pool admission for students.

Preschool, School Age, Adult lessons 

Lessons at the hotels cost $14 each.

Family rates at the hotels are as follows per lesson:

     1st child = $14

     2nd child = $12

     3rd child = $10

     4th+ child = $8

June lessons at the PLPOA Recreation Center are exclusively for PLPOA members with a Rec Center monthly pass, punch card, or membership. The cost of lessons is $1 less than prices listed above.


Parenting Water Babies 4-week sessions

one lesson per week

$56 for one baby and one adult


Discounted rate = $8 for the following:

  • children who are differently abled
  • children raised by their grandparents
  • foster children


Little Ripples (Stroke Development Class for School Age Leves 7-10)

per month = $44

Private Lessons

Private lessons are limited…

  • one student = $32
  • two students = $54
How do I pay for lessons?

Phone payment via credit card or debit card will be taken when your reservation has been verified. Susan will call you to process your payment. You will be billed for one month at a time if you are reserving more that one month of lessons. You will be billed the week before a new month for successive months of enrollment.

What is the student:teacher ratio?
The Swim America standard is 5:1. Here in Pagosa Springs, classes are 3:1, sometimes an even lower ratio in order to provide quality instruction and adequate individual practice time.
What qualifications do your teachers have?

Program Director, Susan McKnight, is licensed by ASCA and owns/operates the Swim America franchise in Pagosa Springs. Susan has been an aquatics professional for 40 years as a coach, teacher, instructor trainer, facility operator, swim school owner and director, aquatic exercise instructor, and certified AquaStretch facilitator.

Lead Teachers are Swim America Coaches certified by the American Swim Coaches Association (ASCA).

Site Supervisors, Krisha Doocy-Fuchs and Anika Thomas are additionally trained and certified by ASCA to supervise the lessons and teachers at their assigned facilites.

Teaching Aide Volunteers assist our certified staff members with class organization, safety supervision, skill demonstration, and support positions. They are closely directed and mentored by our lead teachers and supervisors. They are interested in pursuing teacher certification at a future date.

How do I sign up my child?

Click here

About Us

Water is everywhere! In Pagosa Springs, we are blessed with natural hot springs, an abundance of rivers, lakes, streams, and so many opportunities to enjoy time in and around water.

Learn more about our program history, our director and instructors.