This seems to be a common question so I thought I’d post this to try and help people out. I’m a swimming coach and have taught all levels [kids/adult/club] for the last 8 years. I also swam competitively since I was a kid. These are just my thoughts and would love feedback and other people’s opinions.
Learning to swim as an adult can be quite daunting for the majority of people. The big issue with teaching adult beginners as opposed to kids is that adults have a preconceived wariness/fear of the water. Once this is overcome the progression can be quite quick.
Group swimming lessons are the most common way people learn to swim. These will have different levels which normally cater for all range of abilities. Nearly every lesson has new ‘total’ beginners at the start of each new course so you won’t be alone. Try and get some feedback from people doing the lessons on what the teacher is like or even try and meet the teacher before the first lesson. For beginner’s, it’s quite important that you are comfortable with and trust the teacher. It makes it easier when they start to progress the strokes and push you outside your comfort zone.
Group lessons are great as a whole social side can develop. You will find it a lot easier to motivate yourself to go to the lessons if you know ‘X’ & ‘Y’ will be there and you can have a bit of a laugh. Class sizes play a big part in swimming especially when at the beginner stage when the swimmers need more attention and supervision. This becomes less important as you progress but obviously the more people there are in the group, the less attention you are likely to get. Group lessons are also cheaper than the other private 1-2-1 alternative.
Lessons are normal booked in block terms [maybe 10 weeks] and on average lessons can range from €11-€16 per lesson. This depends largely on the pool/club, location and how long each lesson is. Swimming lessons can range from 30mins to 1hr.
Private lessons or 1-2-1 lessons can be of great benefit. Total attention and a lesson totally catered to you and set at your level. Another advantage is the flexibility you gain in the private lessons. While most group lessons are on a set time each week, you, as the client can dictate when you want the private lessons. Obviously this will depend on the teachers’ availability and demand but it means that you don’t pay for a lesson which you may miss due to other commitments.
In private lesson you have much more control, make sure you use any time you have with personal lessons. If you think you’re weak in a certain aspect of a stroke then tell the teacher and ask them to explain it more or do some more drills. Remember (without being pushy or arrogant) that you are the client and if you’re not happy with the teacher then you can easily get someone else.
These can be quite expensive depending on the teacher and their level of experience/demand. Private lessons can range from €30 - €60 per lesson and also vary in lesson duration.
After you’ve mastered the basics of the swimming, why stop there? Swimming is known as a great all body workout and a lot of people wouldn’t mind having a ‘swimmers’ physic. But to pay dividends you need to swim at a high enough intensity. You’re not going to benefit much from swimming 20 lengths of the pool with 5 minutes rest in-between! Sure it’s fine to start at this level but you have to progress and improve on it.
Most clubs/gyms have numerous levels in their class structure. This level varies from place to place but the advanced and the levels in-between are normally designed to progress you to swimming lengths at a time and maybe beyond. It is still quite structured in that there would be a teacher and you would be introduced to new strokes, drills and training techniques.
Normally the same setup and costs as the beginner lessons above. Numbers in the class can be a bit higher.
There are numerous masters swimming clubs dotted around the country. These normally cater for all ages and all abilities [~20 – 70+]. Ideally you should be able to swim a one or two lengths at a time but can range right up to the ex competitive swimmers who could be doing 2-3km in a session.
These clubs are normally very social and even do the odd competition but the atmosphere is very laid back and relaxed. Some sort of coach/teacher is normally present at most sessions but with 5 lanes [full pool] the chances of a large amount of individual stroke correction is small.
Some clubs charge a flat fee per month (€??) or just charge entry per session.
Some clubs/gyms have dedicated ‘lane swim’ hours and can attract a good crowd. There is no teacher/coach and it can be a free for all. Some clubs/gyms set different level lanes and sometimes put down suggested swimming sessions to follow. Good for getting some extra training in but quite hard to improve your strokes unless there is someone helping you out or you are quite focused and know what you’re working on.
May be free if you are a member of the gym, they just see it as use of the facility. Otherwise it’s normally just the entrance fee to use the pool.
This is where I personally think the most value in private lesson is. You have a good basic level and now really want your perfect your stroke. You do your own training and just do one/two private lessons a month to perfect your stroke and get feedback. Key to this is getting the right teacher/coach and at this level it should be a coach. Preferably somebody who has swam to a high enough level competitively or is extensively experienced in a high level swim teaching, not just your learning to swim group. The majority of gym staff has a swimming teacher qualification but that is just a tag along to the gym instructor cert, aerobic course, aquafit course, pilates course etc. For this you really need someone who knows their stuff.
Same as 1-2-1 above
Hope this may help.