Frequently Asked Questions
The following is intended to provide information for families who are new to SwimAbilities
This community-based, leveled swimming program is geared for children ages 3 to 16, with special needs, who need additional support to achieve their beginning swimmer goals and to increase their safety, independence, and enjoyment in and around the water.
Our goal is to have children with special needs swimming as independently and safely as possible!
SwimAbilities is for children
- ages 3 to 16
- at a basic, learn-to-swim level
- who need additional support in group swimming lessons
Children who need or would benefit from:
- a slower paced lesson with additional practice time
- basic learn-to-swim instruction
- additional support learning swimming routines and/or public swimming routines
- additional one-on-one safety supervision
Parents or aides who are in the water with the child, will also benefit from learning:
- techniques to support the child in learning and performing the swimming skills
- routines that are the same or similar to routines found during public swim
SwimAbilities works in many ways. It helps children and families be safe in and around the water, it teaches basic swimming skills including some deep end work in the higher levels, it increases confidence and provides an option for life-long physical activity. It takes a lot of work from the families as well as the instructor, but gains are made regularly. As with any program, some families see more benefits than others, and each child learns at a different rate.
Click on Parent Comments to see what other parents thought of SwimAbilities.
Yes. Because of the benefits and safety supervision provided by having a parent or an aide (provided by the parent) with the child, an aide or parent is required to be in the water with the child at all times. Having one-on-one support helps reinforce the concepts taught, as well as provides extra safety supervision for your child. The parents or aide will learn techniques to help support the child in learning and performing the swimming skills.
Also, the parent or aide is required to be in the water to maintain safety supervision if there were ever an emergency, safety concern, or other situation involving another child where the family needed support from the instructor. Your child is safest when they are carefully supervised in the water.
What if I can’t swim or don’t want to go in the water?
A 1-on-1 person for your child is still required even if you are unable to swim, or do not want to go in the water, however you have some options.
- You are more than welcome to come in the water and stay in the shallow end.
- Much of our programming is done in shallow water, and when deep end work is being done, you can stay in the shallow end while your child is doing deep water activities one-on-one with the instructor or a skilled volunteer (if there are many parents who are unable to go into the deep water, the instructor may have the children work on shallow end activities while the instructor works with each child individually in the deep end).
- Another responsible family member can take your child in the water.
- Consider contacting your FSCD worker to find out if your contract will fund a community aide to be in the water with your child (see below).
You may ask current volunteers if they would like to work as an aide with you and your family for the next session. Payment for aide work will need to be negotiated with the aide. SwimAbilities, the City of Edmonton, and the SwimAbilities instructors are not responsible for the supervision of the aide during that time (regular instructor support for water safety and swimming skills will be provided, and a lifeguard will be on duty during SwimAbilities lessons). Payment for the aide is the responsibility of the family.
Contact Laura Dumas for more information regarding having an aide in the water, or if you require additional ideas in where to look for an aide to accompany your child in SwimAbilities.
Yes! Currently, there are not enough registrants to also group the children by age level, but grouping by age is a process in the works.
There are four SwimAbilities levels:
SwimAbilities Level 3 (usually taught in combination with SwimAbilities Level 4)
SwimAbilities Level 4 (usually taught in combination with SwimAbilities Level 3)
Locations and Classes Offered / Registration
Click on the links below for the schedules and registration options.
- Jasper Place Fitness and Leisure Centre is running SwimAbilities in the west end of Edmonton.
- ACT Aquatic and Recreation Centre is running SwimAbilities in the east end of Edmonton.
- Terwillegar Community Recreation Centre is now running SwimAbilities in the south side of Edmonton.
The program is run through the City of Edmonton by certified Water Safety Instructors, with additional training to support children with special needs in a pool environment. Please be aware that the instructors do not have training in positive behaviour supports, and that families are asked to be in the water to assist with any behaviours that may arise at the pool.
Family therapy teams are welcome to provide supports to the child during the lessons. As well, an occupational therapist is available to offer support to the instructor and the students as needed. Please contact Laura Dumas for more information.
If you are an instructor who would like to become certified to teach SwimAbilities, please contact Laura Dumas.
Other swimming options are also available for students whose needs are not met by the SwimAbilities program. Please contact Laura Dumas, SwimAbilities Coordinator for further information on SwimAbilities or other swimming options for children with special needs.