Learn to Swim!


Did you know that approximately 37% of adults in the U.S. do not know how to swim? To combat this, U.S. Masters Swimming developed an Adult Learn-to-Swim program which we offer to our community here in Marin County through grant funding.

Our larger group program is free and takes place once a year, usually in the summer when the weather is warmer. Our 2017 offering has ended so watch our website for our 2018 offering.

We may be able to offer individual or very small group lessons for those who do not know how to swim or are afraid of the water. For information on this, please contact Coach Shari Cruse by clicking her picture in the right sidebar.

The smiles, the applause, and the joy from our swimmers managing their fear and learning to swim is absolutely magical. Our goal is to get you comfortable in the water (or increase your comfort) and help you swim freestyle with your face in the water. Along the way, we also teach some water safety skills like floating, treading water, finding the exit, jumping in, and more. All adults learn differently and this program pairs you up one-on-one with a skilled and empathetic swimmer who will help you reach your goals.

If you have questions about our program or are interested in volunteering or donating to our adult learn-to-swim program, please feel free to contact Coach Shari Cruse using the contact link in the right sidebar.

If you have kids and they need swim lessons, be sure and check out The Marin Swim School who operates lessons in Novato at the IVC pool and also in Petaluma at the Petaluma Swim Center on East Washington. See their website here: http://www.marinswimschool.com/index.shtml

What & How We Teach

In our program, we like to incorporate use of a swimmer’s snorkel (not a scuba snorkel). Why do we start out with a snorkel? One of the biggest hurdles for anyone learning to swim is breathing. When you put your face in the water, your brain immediately sends you signals to breathe. Your brain is so busy trying to calculate when to get that next breath that it is very difficult for it to absorb any instructions we might try to give you. Most people, when they first get in the pool, simply don’t have the knowledge to know how to control their body in the water, so it is very easy to quickly feel like you are sinking when you let go of the wall or your trainer. Panic sets in fast! 

By putting you on a snorkel and teaching you how to properly use that snorkel, you learn that you can breathe when you want. Your brain begins to relax when you meet that core need for air. That, in turn, allows us to begin instruction on the key fundamentals of learning to swim –  body position, kicking skills, arm mechanics, and timing. That is the foundation building that takes place and once you begin to build that strong foundation, we then gradually reduce the amount of snorkel use and teach you to side breathe in your freestyle.

Some of the skill sets we teach are:

  • Skill Set 1: Snorkel Use & Snorkel Breathing, Floating, Kicking
  • Skill Set 2: Basic Freestyle mechanics
  • Skill Set 3: More Advanced Freestyle mechanics (improved arm movement, the role of your hips and rotation in the stroke) along with water safety skills of Sculling & Treading Water
  • Skill Set 4: Breathing without the snorkel and breathing in freestyle
  • Skill Set 5: American Red Cross “water safe” skills including the goal of swimming one 25-yard lap of freestyle

The video below shows the Skills Sets and teaching progression. Our program is modeled after Coach Kerry O’Brien’s Free Flow Freestyle program used by the Walnut Creek Masters. We are ever so grateful for his design and creativity!

The videos should play the Skills Sets back-to-back and you can pause them whenever you want.

Our 2017 Program

Our 2017 program was a smashing success. We had 21 participants in our basic two-week ALTS session. 10 of those participants moved on to a more advanced course, also 2-weeks long, where we worked to improve their freestyle stroke,  build their stamina and even teach another stroke. Check out some of our videos and pictures of our program in action.

Our 2016 Program

In April 2016, Swymnut Masters offered our first ever FREE Adult Learn to Swim (ALTS) program. As you can see from this collage poster, we had such a blast with our participants and all of our students were remarkable in taking on this challenge to manage fear of the water and learn to swim.

ALTS Collage May 2016

To see for yourself how great this program was, check out some of our videos and pictures of our program in action. We have two links for you:

SSL Logo