It's easy to make a case for swimming lessons for every child, but some consider instruction to be especially important here.
"We live on an island, where the majority of people have pools, and we are surrounded by beaches," says Jordan Ramirez, deck supervisor and swim instructor at Saf-T-Swim. "They need to be able to kick to the wall and climb back out if they fall in, and every kid should be able to have fun in the water."
Plenty of places teach swimming. Many towns offer classes -- and private places do a great job of combining fun and safety.
PHILOSOPHY Geared toward making sure that even toddlers can figure out how to be safer around the pool and understand how to get themselves out of the water if they fall in, Saf-T-Swim does more private lessons than group lessons because it focuses on individuals.
POOL It's heated to 90 degrees and is almost Olympic size.
LESSON SIZE Private lessons, semiprivate (2-1 ratio) and group lessons (4-1 ratio); also, Mommy & Me classes
COST From $28 for a 30-minute private lesson package to $89 for a six-week Mommy & Me session of up to 10 children to $99 a person for six weeks of 30-minute group lessons. There also are specials.
AGES 2 months and older
LOCATIONS Nine on Long Island
YMCA OF LONG ISLAND
PHILOSOPHY Teaching children to swim early will help them gain confidence around the pool -- that's why the Ys start with fun programming and then move on to more advanced lessons, followed by lifeguard courses.
POOL Each has a 25-meter, indoor heated pool.
LESSON SIZE Programs and lesson options vary by location, but all offer some sort of swimming lessons. Private, semiprivate (2-1 ratio), group and Mommy & Me classes are offered at most.
COST Varies by location. For example, at the East Hampton Y, six 30-minute semiprivate lessons for nonmembers cost $250.
AGES 6 months and older
LOCATIONS Brookhaven Roe, East Hampton, Glen Cove, Great South Bay, Huntington and Patchogue
PHILOSOPHY First, the children learn to roll over and float so they can survive a water emergency. Then, they learn the strokes and techniques to swim properly.
POOL 20 feet by 40 feet, and the depth ranges from 31/2 feet to 4feet in the middle of the pool. Swim platforms are placed across the pool for children who can't stand or are unable to tread water. The temperature is kept between 88 and 90 degrees. Locker rooms are next to the pools.
LESSON SIZE Group lessons have up to four children in a class. Private lessons and Mommy & Me classes also are offered.
COST Classes for babies 2 to 5 months are free. For older children, the cost is billed monthly, depending on the number of sessions per week, the age of the child and the number of children in the class. There is a 10 percent sibling discount. Most classes range from $89 to $129 a month for a 30-minute group class once a week. Private lessons are $329 for an eight-week session with 30-minute classes.
AGES 2 months and older
LOCATION 225 Howells Rd., Bay Shore
CONTACT 631-666-7164, swima.org
SID JACOBSON JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER
PHILOSOPHY The key is making the pool a happy, fun place -- and the center does this through games, blowing bubbles and lots of playing before teaching the fundamentals.
POOL Six-lane, 25-yard lap pool with a kiddie pool and whirlpool
LESSON SIZE Group lessons, semiprivate lessons and private lessons available. There also is a special-needs aquatic program geared toward high-functioning special-needs children. Older children can enroll in swim teams.
COST Starts at $300 for 13 weeks of sessions for nonmembers for group classes. Semiprivate lessons (2-1 ratio) are $90 for two children for 30 minutes. Private lessons are $60 for a 30-minute session for nonmembers, but less expensive packages may be purchased.
AGES 6 months and older
LOCATION 300 Forest Dr., East Hills
CONTACT 516-484-1545, sjjcc.org
LONG ISLAND SWIM SCHOOL
PHILOSOPHY Learning the basics in specific sequences will build a solid swimming foundation. Beginner and some intermediate swimmers use a flotation device while they learn strokes.
POOL Heated to at least 85 degrees
LESSON SIZE For ages 2 to 31/2, swimmers start one-on-one with instructors, and then move into a 1-3 ratio. Group classes or kids between the ages of 31/2 and 10 have a 1-5 ratio with teachers; private lessons available, too.
COST Private lessons start at $45 for 30 minutes. Group lessons are $160 for eight weeks of 30-minute lessons.
AGES 2 years and older
LOCATION 750 Stewart Ave., Garden City
CONTACT 516-378-8467, longislandswimming.com
PHILOSOPHY UR Swim doesn't have its own pool. It sends American Red Cross-certified lifeguards with at least three years of experience to you for lessons. You can even hire lifeguards for pool parties and other pool events. This is best for families with more than one child because you don't have to drag everyone to swimming lessons. It's also great for those who have their own pool.
POOL Public pools or pools at private homes
LESSON SIZE Private, semiprivate (2-1 ratio), group (4-1 ratio) and Baby & Me lessons
COST Private lessons are $300 for five 30-minute classes, while group lessons are $150 for five 30-minute classes -- but lessons of all sizes are on sale at times on the website. If you buy two or more packages, you will save at least 10 percent.
AGES 9 months and older
LOCATION Lessons can be taught at any private or public pool on Long Island.
SCHOOL OF FISH SWIM & SCUBA
PHILOSOPHY The school wants all children to be safe but to have a good time, so students are never forced to do anything they're not ready to do. Children aren't submerged until they feel comfortable, and they aren't pushed to do anything until they're ready. The instructor gets to know the children so they come back and are excited about learning to swim.
POOL Saltwater pool is kept at 85 degrees. There's also a retail center where wet suits and scuba and snorkeling equipment are sold, and scuba gear is repaired.
LESSON SIZE Most are private
COST Packages start at $250 for six weeks of 30-minute sessions.
AGES Children must be potty trained.
LOCATION 572 Route 25A, Rocky Point
CONTACT 631-744-7707, schooloffishswimandscuba.com
NASSAU COUNTY AQUATIC CENTER
PHILOSOPHY Starting with basic water skills, the lessons develop to teach children how to put their faces in the water, rhythmic breathing, personal safety and, finally, symmetrical arm action and complex swimming skills. The tricky part is not learning how to swim here -- it's winning the lottery to score a spot in one of the swimming classes because so many people want to these classes.
POOL A 50-meter pool with a diving well and a 10-meter competition-diving tower (the only diving tower in the New York metropolitan area, complete with 1- and 3-meter springboards)
LESSON SIZE 8 to 10 children per class, depending on the age of the child
COST Starts at $52 for eight classes and goes up to $65 for 10 classes.
AGES 6 months and older
LOCATION Eisenhower Park, Merrick Avenue south of Stewart Avenue in East Meadow
CONTACT 516-572-0501, nassaucountyny.gov