When E was 7 months old we decided to start some swimming classes. We discovered Aquatics Swim School with a quick search on Google, and on asking around the feedback was very positive. The school itself is in Costa del Este. Prices at the time were $88 per month for one group class a week (6 students max). You can start classes from 4 months, for children of up to 2 years a parent or a teacher (at an additional fee) should accompany the child. The basic ethos is that kids learn to love water and subsequently swim through play.
My husband did the classes with E and I tagged along to help with changing and to take the obligatory photos! Briefly this is how it works, parking outside, cars are parked behind each other, it is a case of finding a spot and leaving your keys with the valet who will move it to allow others to get their cars out. You need to remove shoes to go into the pool area, there is a cafe down stairs where parents can wait and watch classes on screens, if you are not involved and don’t want to stand poolside. Babies and toddlers are required to wear approved swimwear and swim nappy. You can purchase approved swimsuits at the Aquatics shop on site.
Once upstairs there are two change rooms which are non gender specific. There is a large bench for changing babies and a large trough sink to rinse them in. For bigger kids and adults there are cubicles and showers. If you are a parent with a baby that cannot stand, you are faced with the problem of what to do with the baby whilst you yourself get dried and dressed. There is a bench but for kids that can roll it isn’t safe. Two people is helpful or at least go prepared to juggle baby and dressing.
Aquatics is incredibly organised and, unusually for Panama, very much runs to schedule, so get there with time to change into your swimsuit. A bell rings at the beginning and end of class and there is about five minutes between classes for kids to get in/out of the pool. It does feel somewhat like a conveyor belt but it is efficient. Kids seem to be very attentive and enjoying classes and there are instructors aplenty. E loved her class and the songs that they sing, and the change of activity every few minutes is great for a short attention span. It seems like the instructors are well trained and love their jobs. By the fourth class E could slide off the mat into the pool to be caught by her dad with no fear, and she was getting used to the sensation of having water on her face.
Obviously I can’t comment on the older classes, but I would recommend Aquatics to anyone who was thinking of swimming classes for their kids. It is well worth trying out to see if it is a fit for your little ones.