With a variety of choices available, how do I find a trusted instructor or program?

While there are many programs that teach instructors to “self-rescue” some instructors are more effective than others. It’s very important to look for an instructor that is highly trained, will keep your child safe, deliver visible results in weeks, and earn the trust of your whole family. Click HERE to learn more about what to consider when selecting a swim instructor for your child.

Is this program where instructors just throw kids into the water?

This should never happen. Reputable and trusted instructors will never “throw” a child into the water. Each lesson is completely tailored to each child’s needs and current skill level, and because lessons are one-on-one, each child is able to progress at a pace appropriate for them. Under the guidance of their instructor, students safely learn to swim, float and self-rescue, both in swimsuits and clothes. Children are taught how to find their float and self-rescue in a variety of real-life situations, and you may have seen instructors (with children who are near the end of their sessions) simulate different ways a child might unexpectedly enter the water. These real-life simulations only occur once children are fully skilled and able to complete the performance opportunity with ease. These simulations should be gentle and should never include throwing a child into the water!

How much do self-rescue lessons cost? Is it more expensive than other swim programs?

First off, please remember scholarships are available. Please click here to learn about CAST Scholarships.

Self-rescue lessons typically cost $100-175 per week depending on the instructor, location, and pool rental fees. 

Consider these points regarding the cost of lessons:

  1. Children will learn to swim in a one-on-one setting. Children learn to swim with their face in the water, roll back to rest and breathe, and flip over to continue swimming. Life-saving skills are earned.
  2. High quality instructors undergo weeks of intense, hands-on training, in the pool with mentor instructors and students, learning safe and effective teaching methods. In addition, many instructors receive academic training in anatomy, physiology, child psychology, behavior and development, sensorimotor learning, and how each relates to the aquatic environment. High quality instructors also must maintain current CPR and First Aid certifications, and participate in continuing education throughout the years.

  3. Effective self-rescue instructors can deliver results in 1-2 months instead of years, and offer continuation programs to take your child to the next level when they are ready.
How often are lessons, and how long will it take for my child to become skilled?

Lessons are most effective when attended 4-5 days a week (some require all 5) and many programs have minimum attendance requirements. Most instructors give lessons in 10-15 minute increments and initial safety skills are earned within the first 1-2 months of frequent participation. The consistency of lessons is critical for learning efficiency. Self-rescue swim lessons are NOT traditional swim lessons! Your child will be learning highly specialized skills, and it is very important to attend as often as your instructor recommends while initial skills are being learned. After initial skills are earned, students are encouraged to build upon skills with continuation lessons on a consistent but less frequent basis.

How will I make room in my busy schedule for this commitment?

Every participating family has asked themselves this same question when considering the lesson commitment. This takes a village and some planning ahead as well. Many families are surprised to report after just a few weeks that the consistency and structure of lessons actually improved their children’s overall routine and enhanced their day to day lifestyle. Please reach out to our team if you would like to be connected to a family who has successfully found ways to integrate self-rescue into their busy schedules.


Will my child be drown-proof after self-rescue lessons?

No swim or self-rescue program can “drown-proof” a child as there’s no such thing as drown-proof! No lesson type is a substitute for supervision, however, it does give children the skills to solve problems in an emergency and will give them the best fighting chance in the event that all other barriers (fence, locks, supervision) fail them.

What if my child cries? Will he/she develop a fear of water?

Some children cry. They are in a new environment, and are being handed to a stranger in the water. It’s normal for them to be wary of the situation. Parents can play an important role in communicating positivity, trust, and confidence towards the situation. When children are empowered and encouraged to trust their instructor they will be more quick to focus on all that they are learning and to trust their skills in water. Many kids can’t wait to come to lessons as their confidence begins to grow.

Fear is a learned behavior. When someone has a negative experience that involves the fearful object or experience, fear is developed. Children will only truly be fearful of the water if they have witnessed or experienced a traumatic aquatic event, or if someone close to them has tied their own fearful emotion to the experience.

If you are nervous around water, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your instructor for support in creating a positive and hopeful lesson experience for your child. 

If my child is under a year old, what will he/she be able to learn?

Children between the ages of 6 to 12+ months old are taught to roll over and maintain a float position in the event of an accidental fall into the water. Fully skilled infants can maintain a float in a bathing suit or in clothing.

If my child is over a year old and walking independently, what will he/she be able to learn?

Children who are fully walking and over the age of one year old are taught to swim with their face in the water, and when they sense the need for air, to roll to their back to float. After resting and catching their breath, they learn, over time (most often closer to their 2nd birthdays), to turn over and continue to swim to the nearest point of safety. A child can perform this swim, float, swim process to safely reach their point of entry into the water in a survival situation. Children can also perform this process in their clothes. If a child does not see a way to hold an edge or climb out, he will roll over on his back and maintain a float position. This buys the parent time in the event of an accident. This same skill set is most often used for fun at the pool! The confidence and self-esteem of these young swimmers are truly amazing! When fully skilled to swim, float, swim, older children (5+) can move directly into basic foundations for stroke work with their instructor.

For how long will my child retain these skills?

While some research shows that students who finish with strong self-rescue skills have a high likelihood of maintaining these potentially life-saving reflexes for up to a year, we do not recommend taking that risk and highly encourage maintenance or continuation lessons more frequently. The continuation programs allow your child to keep or gain confidence, better enjoy the self-rescue skills for use during playtime at the pool, and to keep skills strong enough to be efficient on their growing bodies. Continuation also allows your instructor to continue to remediate any interfering habits that are picked up outside of lessons and to further educate your family on honoring and practicing your child’s skills.

My kid is older, isn't it too late for him to learn self-rescue skills?

Simply put, no, it is never too late for a child to learn self-rescue skills. Even children who have had previous traditional swim lessons can learn the self-rescue skills needed to keep them safer in and around the water.

What is the intended purpose of life jackets and personal flotation devices (PFDs)?

80% of children who drowned in open water, such as ponds, lakes, oceans and rivers, were not wearing a life jacket. Coast Guard Approved personal flotation devices (PFDs) can save a life in the event of an emergency fall-in and can make swimming in open/treacherous water safer. It is the law that children wear these on moving vessels. 

These same devices, if used for fun at the pool, delay the learn-to-swim process and create a false sense of security. Self-rescue instructors recommend that parents remove the PFD and get into the water to support their child and allow the child to engage with and explore the water within their arm’s reach.

When will my child be confident in the water?

The initial set of lessons or “session” focuses on the acquisition of basic self-rescue skills, plus a general respect for and understanding of water. Some kids become confident during this time period but others remain tentative due to their new understanding of the hard work that surviving in water entails.  We recommend continuation lessons periodically throughout the year. Continuation courses allow children to first ensure their skills stay strong and then gain greater confidence and enjoyment while swimming. If your family has access to a pool to practice in, consistent exposure to water in an encouraging and loving environment will also help your child enjoy swimming. Remember to always get into the water with young children.