Just because it's not summer doesn't mean your kids can't learn how to swim. The New York City Parks Department offers FREE aquatic programs for children under 18 all year round.
During the fall, winter and spring, the Parks Department's swimming lessons are held at indoor Recreation Center pools throughout NYC. To try to snag a spot, you need to enter an online lottery, which begins on Wednesday, March 26. You must also be a member of the Recreation Center where you'd like to swim. Membership is FREE for children under 18 but there are fees for adults. That means children old enough to swim on their own (ages 6 and up) can learn at no cost. We've got the scoop on how to apply for the swim lessons lottery as well as additional information about these popular programs.
The Parks Department is holding an online lottery for spring swimming lessons beginning on Wednesday, March 26 at 4am and ending at 11:59pm on Tuesday, April 1. The spring session runs from Monday, April 7-Saturday, June 14. Visit this page beginning Wednesday, March 26 at 4am to vie for a spot in the class of your choice. Results will be emailed by Friday, April 4. Once the lottery is over, any remaining spots will be available on a first-come, first-served basis in person at the center of your choice on Saturday, April 5 from 9am to noon.
Below are the programs that will be on offer. Locations and schedule info are available on the registration page. Remember, you're also required to be a member of the Recreation Center where you'd like to swim. Membership is FREE for children under 18 but there is an annual fee for adults. Find out how to become a member on the Parks Department's website.
For any child ages 1½ to 5, an adult is required to be in the water. We called Citywide Aquatics and confirmed that if you must accompanying your child in the water, you also need to be a member of the Recreation Center. However, if your child is old enough to swim on his or her own, the parent does not need to buy a membership. If you run into registration issues, call Citywide Aquatics at 718-760-6969 ext. 0.
Free Saturday Learn-to-Swim Lessons
Off-season learn-to-swim lessons are organized into three age groups: 1½ to 5, 6 to 17 and everyone else. Children ages 1½ to 5 must be accompanied by an adult in the water who is a member of the recreation center. The spring session runs from Monday, April 7-Saturday, June 14, and there are locations in all five boroughs. All children ages 6 to 17 who lottery into a Saturday class must attend water test on Saturday, April 12. Visit the website to enter the online lottery.
Free After-school Learn-to-Swim Lessons
Indoor pools across the city offer classes after-school on weekdays, usually starting at 4pm. The spring session runs from Monday, April 7-Saturday, June 14, and there are locations in all five boroughs. Visit the website to enter the online lottery.
Free Swim Team
More advanced swimmers can hone their skills by joining a team. These sessions emphasize technique, endurance, speed and sportsmanship as participants train for the Borough Cup Championship. Tryouts are held on an ongoing basis. Kids must be able to swim 50 yards in reasonably good form in order to join, and are required to submit a completed application and a copy of their birth certificate. Fill out the online form and then you'll be able to schedule a tryout. Questions? Call Citywide Aquatics: 718-760-6969 ext. 0.
Free Adapted Aquatics Instruction
This program for people with special physical needs offers adapted workouts for those suffering from ailments resulting from injury, disease or aging. It's offered at a handful of sites and runs Friday, March 28-Friday, June 13. To register, call Citywide Aquatics at 718-760-6969 ext. 0.
The Parks Department also offers learn-to-swim lessons during some school breaks so keep that in mind. There's no lottery, instead you contact the recreation center of your choice to vie for a spot.
For more information about the Parks Department's swim programs, call 718-760-6969 or visit the website.
The info below was for summer 2013. We'll update this part of the post in summer 2014.
The Parks Department is holding an online lottery for summer swimming lessons beginning on Friday, June 14 at 4am. There are three sessions this summer:
Session I: Tuesday, July 9-Tuesday, July 23 - lottery ends Friday, June 28 at 11:59pm
Session II: Thursday, July 25-Thursday, August 8 - lottery ends Monday, July 15 at 11:59pm
Session III: Monday, August 12-Friday, August 23 - lottery ends Monday, August 5 at 11:59pm
Results will be emailed a few days after each lottery ends. Below are the programs that will be on offer. Locations and schedule info are available on the registration page.
Summer Swimming Programs for Kids and Adults
Summer Learn to Swim Lessons
Three sessions: Tuesday, July 9-Tuesday, July 23; Thursday, July 25-Thursday, August 8; and Monday, August 12-Friday, August 23.
Children are organized into two age groups (1½-5 and 6-17) and taught basic water safety and swimming skills on weekday mornings. Note: Kids ages 1½-5 must be accompanied by a parent in the water, and there's a required ratio of one parent to each child. So if you've got two, both of you must come along! (If you're got three or more, find a really nice friend.) Adult swimming lessons are also offered on weeknights.
Children who can swim 50 meters or more with relative ease can participate. In addition to getting free training, they'll be able to compete in the annual Five Borough Championship swimming competition in August. Call Aquatics at 718-760-6969 for registration information.
Ages 18 and up
During designated hours, adults can hit the pool without having to worry about those pesky kids getting in the way. Participants who swim 25 miles or more over the summer will receive a free T-shirt. Prizes will also be awarded to the top three male and female distance swimmers at each pool.
Ages 62 and up
Seniors can keep in shape with water exercise classes, swim instruction and even water ballet during designated hours from Tuesday, July 9-Friday, August 23.
Ages 6 and up
Throughout July and August, swimmers with special needs can enjoy time in the water. Call Aquatics at 718-760-6969 for registration information.