Raising Richmond: Learn now, splash later

It might not be pool weather quite yet, but it’s never too early to get your kids ready for the water. Check out this handy-dandy list of places in and around Richmond offering swimming lessons indoors…you know, where it isn’t freezing and or sleeting/snowing/raining ice.

After so many combo spring/winter weekends, I’m ready for a summer of bumming guest passes from my friends with pool memberships, wading in the river, taking a beach vacation with my family, and running in the sprinkler.

My daughter was comfortable in the water last year and did a great job paddling around in her floaties. Since last summer she’s grown more independent and has learned about belly flops and cannonballs, so it’s time for swim lessons.

It was probably time last summer, but better late than never. According to the Center for Disease Control, “drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death” for children. We need to make sure our swimming buddies are as safe as possible. And with the number of indoor pools around town offering lessons, there’s no need to wait for swimsuit weather to build up water-safety skills for kids of all ages.

The main takeaway from my research into Richmond’s swimming options is this: it’s not one-and-done anymore. Kids typically take multiple swimming lessons. First they get comfortable with the water and work on water safety, then they get to the actual swimming.

Here are some places in and around Richmond that offer lessons. Only group lessons for babies and kids are mentioned (and priced) below, but most places do offer adult lessons and private lessons–just make sure to check with the individual facilities to verify times and costs on those.


  • 2201 Old Brook Road (Short Pump)
  • 11621 Robious Road (Midlothian)

ACAC in Short Pump offers a four-week introductory safety class called “Dolphin Babies” for six-month to two-year-olds and parents ($48 members, $60 nonmembers).

There is also a four-week, members-only swim class for preschool-aged kids (weekday mornings only) for $56. The four-week lessons for older kids is open to nonmembers ($48 members, $60 nonmembers). For an after-lesson treat, you can spend twenty minutes getting out of the parking lot (just kidding, you can bore your kids by going to Trader Joe’s).

The Midlothian location has slightly different options. The group lessons and “parent and me” classes come in five-packs ($87 for members, $100 for nonmembers) and 10-packs ($142 for members, $165 for nonmembers).

ACAC instructors work with students and parents on the goals and intentions for the lessons, whether the child needs to learn safety skills or conquer a fear of water.


  • 7508 W. Broad Street (West End)
  • 1205 Carmia Way (Midlothian)

Swim lessons in a strip mall sounds strange, but having a pool that’s just for lessons (and apparently awesome parties) means there are more class options. Aqua-Tots offers private, semi-private, and small group classes. Classes can run up to three times a week, and discounts are given for your second-through-fifth child. For one child, the cost is $75 to $200 a month depending on the frequency. There is also an annual fee of $20 per child (or $35 per family).

What did a parent I know have to say about it?

“We LOVE Aqua-tots. It was well organized and the instructors just have a way with the kids that makes them feel comfortable and confident in their own abilities. Going back for a second round over Spring Break.”

Midlothian Athletic Club

  • 10800 Center View Drive (Midlothian)

MAC (off Midlothian Turnpike, near Chesterfield Towne Center) has four-week courses with different levels for six-month-olds and older ($43 for members and $56 for nonmembers). And it has an awesome-looking outdoor waterpark which has me questioning if I can go another summer without hanging out in a cool waterpark all the time.

What did a parent I know have to say about it?

“They were great. They have a cap on how many kids they take in each class so there’s a good teacher-student ratio. We’re going to take one more class this spring.”

Weinstein JCC

  • 5403 Monument Avenue (Near West End)

Spring swim lessons have already started, but summer lessons start in June and July. Sessions are offered by age and experience for 10-month-olds and older. Some are four-week sessions ($36 for members and $53 for nonmembers) and some classes have eight lessons ($72 for members and $107 for non members). JCC also offers a scuba diving class.

What did a parent I know have to say about it?

“The lady that heads up the program is top-notch! The pool is very kid-friendly and your baby/child gets to slide down the dinosaur’s tail after your session(s). Great focus was placed on safety.”


  • See website for locations

The YMCA has branches all over the place, and has classes for ages six months through teens, both private and group. Classes run $74 for community members and $37 for facility members for an eight-class session two times a week, and schedules are posted already through the year (there are some classes with fewer meet times that cost less).

The classes are for YMCA members, but membership costs vary based on type and financial circumstances. An annual community membership is $25 for an individual (adult or child) or $50 for family, and gives you access to swim lessons, youth sports, child care, and special events, as opposed to a traditional membership with gives access to all services and programs.

What did a parent I know have to say about it?

“Mr. Jesse (Downtown location) was our main instructor each time, and he’s fantastic…[our child], the most suspicious child known to man, took to him and trusted him immediately.”

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Kelly Gerow

Kelly Gerow lives and writes in Richmond. She probably does other stuff in Richmond, too.

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