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Where to go for free swim lessons this spring and summer

Sacramento, Stockton and Modesto all offer free swim lessons.
Credit: Steve Ruark ASSOCIATED PRESS
Children in swimming pool.


Summer is right around the corner, which means trips to the nearest rivers, beaches and pools. It also means an increased risk of accidents, especially for children.

An estimated 1,000 children drown in a single year in the U.S., most of them between May and August, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said formal swimming lessons reduces the risk of drowning among children aged 1 to 4 years old.

Here's where to find free swim lessons in Sacramento, Stockton and Modesto.


The City of Sacramento is offering free swim lessons June 18 to June 20 at Clunie Pool, Doyle Pool, Pannell Meadowview Pool, and Tahoe Pool.

Sjon Swanson, aquatics recreation supervisor for the city, said they are expanding the number of free swim lessons this year.

“This year we have the capacity to provide free swim lessons for 540 people of any age between June 18 and June 20. Last year, we had about 400 people take advantage of the free lessons,” he said.

But this isn’t the only time Sacramentans can sign up for free swim lessons. Swanson said the city’s Swim Safe Sacramento program provides financial assistance to people who may not be able to afford lessons.

“Money is a barrier to some people, which is why we have this program to make sure everyone in our community has options,” Swanson said. “It’s a skill we want people in Sacramento to gain.” 

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Swanson said swimming is a lifelong skill. He said the more exposure children get to the water, the better.

“Every kid learns at a different rate, but we certainly recommend more practice. The more structured learning the better,” Swanson said. “There’s also a public safety piece to it. It’s prevention for drowning.”

Swanson said registration is open for the free swim lessons. People can register online or at any of the city’s community centers.


The City of Stockton partners with the YMCA of San Joaquin County to offer free and low-cost swim lessons.

They will have free water safety programs Memorial Day weekend at Oak Park Pool, Sousa Pool and Brooking Pool. The free water safety class will also take place June 1 and June 2 at the same pools.

Lee Neves, spokesperson for the YMCA of San Joaquin County, said the Kennedy Community Center has water safety and 30-minute swim lessons for $1.

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“It’s on a first come, first serve basis. It’s ages 6 months to 13,” Neves said. “They’re beginner classes for those who want to learn how to swim and basic water safety for around the pool area.”

Neves said financial assistance is available on a sliding scale for families who want to take swim lessons.


Modesto residents who want to take free swim lessons may be able to take advantage of the city's Leisure Bucks Financial Assistance Program.

"Qualifying applicants can get $100 per year to use towards any of our classes or programs," said Ashley Weaver, City of Modesto's Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood manager.

The program is open to Modesto's low-income youth, disabled adults and senior citizens.

The city also offers eight-session swim lessons for $35. Weaver said it's important that everyone learns how to swim.

"We have about 1,200 swimmers who come through our programs annually," Weaver said. "Our programs will teach the in-water swim skills, but we incorporate the water safety component to teach people to be safe in and around the water."

Weaver said the bulk of the city's aquatic programs are in the summer but swim lessons are offered year round in an indoor heated pool.

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