Frequently Asked Questions
The following is intended to provide information for families who are new to SwimAbilities
What is 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!
Who is it for?
SwimAbilities is for children
- ages 3 to 16
- at a basic, learn-to-swim level
- who need additional support in group swimming lessons
Who would benefit?
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
Does SwimAbilities Work?
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.
Does someone have to be in the water with my child?
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 (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 (Alberta) to find out if your contract will fund a community aide to be in the water with your child (see below). Payment for the aide is the responsibility of the family.
Is SwimAbilities grouped by skill level?
There are four SwimAbilities levels:
- SwimAbilities Level 1
- SwimAbilities Level 2
SwimAbilities Level 3 (usually taught in combination with SwimAbilities Level 4)
- SwimAbilities Level 4 (usually taught in combination with SwimAbilities Level 3)
Please use Deciding On A Level to help you choose what level is best for your child.
Who teaches the classes?
SwimAbilities classes are run by certified swimming instructors, who also hold SwimAbilities Instructor certification through the Lifesaving Society Alberta & Northwest Territories. SwimAbilities instructors have additional training and certification to support children with special needs in a pool environment.
If families would like their therapy teams to provide supports to the child during the lessons, please discuss this with the pool staff to coordinate this.
Laura Gilligan, an occupational therapist, is available to offer support to instructors who have taken the SwimAbilities Instructor course. Please contact Laura Gilligan for more information.
If you hold a current swimming instructor award (Lifesaving Society, Red Cross, etc.) and would like to become certified to teach SwimAbilities, please contact Lifesaving Society Alberta & Northwest Territories for further information on Teaching SwimAbilities courses offered.
Who can I contact if I have any questions?
Please contact Laura Gilligan, or Lifesaving Society Alberta & Northwest Territories for further information on SwimAbilities.