Friday, June 11, 2010

Best Pool & Swim Lessons

At the beginning of every summer, we enroll the kids in two weeks of swim lessons every day. It's an intensive approach that gives them skills and confidence for the rest of the summer. I feel very strongly that every child should learn to swim and hopefully to love the water.

When deciding on a venue, I start with proximity. I'm not willing to drive more than 30 minutes each way when the classes are only 30 minutes. I'll consider anything from Oak Ridge to Farragut to downtown Knoxville.

Secondly, I'd have to consider if I'd already invested in a gym membership that would give discounts on lessons at their pool. I have several friends who have enjoyed the lessons at Court South and YMCA, but I've never been a fan of exercising indoors or their monthly fees.

Third is the price. I like to stay in the $50 - $75 range per kid for 8 classes. I did look into Mr. Ed's but I found him pricey, and I didn't want to commit more than two weeks. Last year we took lessons on the UT campus because they were the cheapest. The lessons are in the outdoor pool but if it's bad weather, they can use the indoor pool. They also let me keep my 3 month old in her car seat at the edge of the pool during my lesson with Devin. I would have gone back this year, but they didn't have classes the boys could take at the same time due to their different skill levels. Parking was also a hassle if you didn't get there early, and it was pretty far for us travel.

So given proximity, price, and convenient schedules, this summer I returned to a swim program that has been wonderful to us over the years: the Oak Ridge pools. When we began with Bobby at age two, lessons were in the indoor facility at the recreation center. They have great walking trails there and a playground suitable for a wide range of ages. We lucked out and no one else signed up for the class: private lessons for the price of group. Six months pregnant, I enjoyed the time in the water too.

When he was three, I still had to be with Bobby but didn't know what to do with my infant Devin. They let me wear him in a waterproof carrier by Body Glove during the class (similar to a Baby Bjorn). It was like getting lessons for both for the price of one.

When he was four, Bobby was on his own with an instructor but I still had Devin in the mommy & me class. Since the times for the classes were one after the other, they let Bobby sit by the pool with a coloring book while Devin and I had our class. They've always been so accommodating to our special needs!

Last year I opted for UT, but this year we're back. I wasn't thrilled with being in the outdoor pool in the heat of the day with three little ones now, but I'm armed with my favorite sunscreen. They have several time slots, including those for working parents. We chose 11:45am because the pool opens at noon. Bobby and Devin head off to their own classes, and I get dressed with Brooke. They didn't offer mommy & me classes in June; so we just make our own. For just $4.50, we can all stay as long as we want after the lessons. Adults cost $3, under 18 are $1.50, and 3 and under are free--very reasonable!

If you've never been to the outdoor Oak Ridge pool, you're in for a treat. It's huge! It has several areas of the pool for every type of swimmer: lap swim, high dive, low dive, a "zero entry" side that slopes into the pool with tiny fountains, and a baby pool with a huge mushroom fountain. I also like the grassy slope to put your towel and stuff; no need to bring chairs for the hot concrete. It's a little cool because it's spring-fed, but we've had a great time this week. Oak Ridge may seem far, but it's right off the turnpike and takes about 20 minutes from Karns, 25 minutes from Farragut, and 30 minutes from most of West Knoxville.

I believe there are three more sets of swim classes this summer. The cost is $55 for 8 thirty minute classes; add $10 per student if you're not an Oak Ridge resident. For more information call 425-3450 or email: I suggest you give it a try!


  1. Love the OR pool! We will be heading out there soon; good to know they have lessons, too.

  2. thanks i emailed them just know to inquire about swim lessons.

  3. Haven't been to the OR pool but am planning to go with a playgroup this summer, so it's good to know it's worth the drive. Even though I live in E. Knoxville, I can still make it to OR in about 35 minutes so long as there's no traffic.