Swim Lessons

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Group Lesson Descriptions

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Sea Horses (Parents & Tots)

Ages 6 months & up. Parents are in the water to learn how to teach their child age-appropriate swim skills in a safe and encouraging environment. Participation in songs and games makes the experience a positive one. Children must wear plastic pants and/or swim diapers if not yet toilet trained.

Barnacles (Level 1)

Ages 2 1/2 & up. Prerequisite: Comfortable in the water without Mom or Dad. Skills introduced: Blowing bubbles, supported front/back floats, facial submersion and kicks. Class emphasis is on water adjustment and fun.

Guppies (Level 2)

Ages 2 1/2 & up. Prerequisite: Barnacle graduate or capable of fully submerging face, blowing bubbles for 10 seconds two times in a row and floating and kicking on front and back with support. Skills introduced: Rhythmic breathing "bobs", jumping in, unassisted front and back floats, assisted swim on front and back with arm strokes, kicks, and breathing, and basic water safety.

Goldfish (Level 3)

Prerequisite: Guppy graduate or must be comfortable with face in the water while using arm strokes for at least 10 seconds, float unsupported on front and back for at least 5 seconds, bob with rhythmic breathing 10 times in a row, and retrieve objects in chest-deep water. Skills introduced: Unassisted front arm strokes and kicks while breathing, unassisted back stroke, glides, turning over, treading water, and basic water safety.

Sea Turtles (Level 4)

Prerequisite: Goldfish graduate or capable of unassisted strokes on front using alternating arm action and breaststroke arm action with breathing for 10 yards, unassisted back stroke with alternating arm action for 10 yards, front and back glides with push offs from the wall, bobbing with rhythmic breathing 15 times. Skills introduced: Front crawl with side breathing, back crawl, elementary backstroke kick, beginning dives, changing directions, increased swimming endurance, and basic water safety and rescue skills.

Sea Otters (Level 5)

Prerequisite: Sea Turtle graduate or capable of swimming 15 yards of front crawl with side breathing, back crawl stroke at least 10 yards, elementary back stroke kick 10 yards, ability to tread water at least 30 seconds. Skills improved: Front crawl with side breathing, back crawl, elementary backstroke, treading water, and standing dive. Skills introduced: Beginning breaststroke and sidestroke, survival float, turns at wall, rescue breathing and introduction to CPR.

Sea Lion (Level 6)

Prerequisite: Sea Otter graduate or capable of swimming 25 yards front crawl with side breathing, 25 yards back stroke, 10 yards elementary backstroke, breaststroke kick for 10 yards, scissor kick for 10 yards, capable of standing dives and able to tread water for at least 2 minutes. Skills improved: Front crawl, backstroke, breaststroke, side stroke, elementary backstroke, dives and treading water. Skills introduced: Butterfly, turns at the wall.

Barracudas (Level 7)

Designed to be taken multiple sessions to refine swimmers' techniques and increase endurance. Coaches lead swim workouts and skill lessons to match your swimmer's ability level. Prerequisite: Sea Lion graduate or capable of swimming 50 yards front crawl with side breathing, 50 yards back crawl, 10 yards breaststroke, 25 yards elementary backstroke, 10 yards sidestroke, dolphin kick 10 yards, and tread water for 2 minutes. Skills improved: All competitive swimming strokes and endurance. Skills introduced: Endurance swimming, competitive swimming strokes, turns and techniques, and basic lifeguarding skills.


Ages 8-15. Taught by Simpkins Swim Center staff. This pre-competition swim program promotes a recreational approach to swimming. Coaches will lead workouts with an emphasis on the four competitive swimming strokes, along with starting and turning techniques. A fitness component will also be emphasized. This program is designed to strengthen swimming skills whether it be in preparation to join a competitive swim team or Junior Lifeguard program, or for personal strengthening and refining of all swim strokes. Prerequisite: A repeat Barracuda swimmer, or capable of: swimming 100 yards front crawl with side breathing, 100 yards backstroke, 25 yards breaststroke, 15 yards butterfly, and tread water for 3 minutes.


Free Level Assesments

If after reading the level descriptions you are unsure which level your child should be enrolled in, you can register for a pre-scheduled FREE swim lesson assessment. Aquatics instructors will assess children one at a time, first-come first-served. Test time 5-10 minutes per child. Free swimming level assessments are also available on a drop-in basis when the warm water pool is open for recreation swim. Please call 454-7953 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Other Swim Lesson Descriptions

Private Staff Lessons
Ages 2 1/2 & up. Taught by Simpkins Swim Center staff. Your child will be given undivided attention by one of our experienced swim instructors. Lessons are 30 minutes and take place during group lesson times. You may cancel a private lesson only if there is an emergency situation; call 454-7953 at least 24 hours in advance. The class fee will be credited to your account.

Private Contractor Lessons
We also offer Private and semi-private (2:1) lessons taught by contracted instructors, each of whom has a minimum of three years experience teaching swimming, and one or both of the following certifications: Water Safety Certificate issued by the American Red Cross and/or a coaches’ certificate issued by U.S.A. Swimming. Private contractor lessons may be booked on individual dates and times as fit your schedule.

Adult & Teen Beginner Swim Lessons (age 13+)
Geared for non-swimmers as well as beginners, this class held in shallow water introduces students to breath control, front and back floats, and the front crawl. Basic strokes and kicks are introduced to students who are able to complete the beginning skills.



Santa Cruz County Department of Parks, Open Space and Cultural Services
979 17th Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA 95062
General Information (Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.)
Phone: (831) 454-7901PRCweb@santacruzcounty.us