DCR Learn to Swim 2024

The Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is delighted to announce the commencement of our summer American Red Cross Learn-to-Swim program.

We are offering three separate two-week sessions aimed at enhancing water safety and swimming skills for participants ages 4-12 years. These sessions, which will be led by certified American Red Cross instructors, will be offered at DCR-operated swimming pools across the Commonwealth.

Swimming is not just a recreational activity; it's a life-saving skill. Join us this summer as we embark on a journey of aquatic education and fun.


2024 Session Dates

Online Registration
Opens at 7 AM

Session 1:

July 1st – July 12th*
*No classes on July 4th

June 17th

Session 2:

July 15th – July 26th

July 1st

Session 3:

July 29th – August 9th*

July 15th


Our instructors follow the American Red Cross Learn-to-Swim curriculum, which focuses on water safety education and basic swimming skills.  Class size is limited in accordance with American Red Cross training standards. Lessons will run Monday-Friday with each day’s lesson lasting approximately 30 minutes. There will be no lessons on July 4th.

Table of Contents

What pools will offer FREE Swimming Lessons?

Once DCR is able to confirm instuctional staff availability, we will have a better idea of which swimming pools will be able to offer swimming lessons. Our goal is to offer swimming lessons at approximately 18-20 swimming pools across the state.  Please check back after June 9th as we will have a better understanding of staffing levels

* Note: Lessons at the Dennis Shine Memorial Pool begin one hour earlier (8:30 AM for Learn to Swim and 9:10 for Preschool).

Preschool Lessons (Ages 4 - 5)


10:10 – 10:40 AM *
* Note: Lessons at the Dennis Shine Memorial Pool begin one hour earlier (8:30 AM for Learn to Swim and 9:10 for Preschool).

Preschool lessons are designed for children who are not comfortable swimming independently in the water, but who are comfortable enough to get into the water with an instructor. Parents must remain outside of the pool area during swimming lessons.  The goal of our Preschool classes is to introduce water skills including entering and exiting the water safely, blowing bubbles, back float, front and back glides (up to 2 body lengths), rolling over (back to front and front to back), recovery to a standing/vertical position, and combined leg and arm action on front. Please note: Preschool aged children must be at least 4 years old by the first class.

Learn-to-Swim Lessons (Ages 6 - 12)

9:30 – 10:00 AM*
* Note: Lessons at the Dennis Shine Memorial Pool begin one hour earlier (8:30 AM for Learn to Swim and 9:10 for Preschool).

The American Red Cross Learn-to-Swim program is designed to not only teach children water competency skills but to also begin developing lifelong water safety skills.  Level 2 is the appropriate starting point for children ages 6-8 whereas children aged 9-12 might be best suited in level 3. 

Fundamental Aquatic Skills – Level 2 (Ages 6-8)

In this course, students learn stepping/jumping into shoulder-deep water, fully submerging, bobbing, rotary breathing, treading water, floating on front and back for 15 seconds, rolling over, and changing direction of travel while swimming on front or back. Successful participants will be able to swim independently in shallow water. Our instructors reserve the right to move your child up to Level 3 if they demonstrate a readiness for that level. 

Read more about Level 2.  Learn-to-Swim Level 2—Fundamental Aquatic Skills Newsletter

Stroke Development – Level 3 (Ages 9-12)

In Learn-to-Swim Level 3, our instructors follow a plan to introduce new swimming and water safety skills and to build on previously learned skills. To be eligible for Stroke Development, your child should have already successfully completed Fundamental Aquatic Skills or must pass the skills tests required for entry. Our instructors reserve the right to move your child down to Level 2 if their skills set demonstrates that they are not currently ready for Level 3 (even if they passed Level 2 previously).   

Your child learns to swim the front crawl and elementary backstroke at rudimentary levels for a distance of 25 yards, is introduced to the scissors and dolphin kicks, learns the survival float and increases the time duration for treading water to one minute. Your child also learns the rules for headfirst entries – and importantly to never dive headfirst in water less than 9 feet deep.

Read more about Level 3.  Learn-to-Swim Level 3—Stroke Development Newsletter

How to Apply

Because class sizes are limited, all interested parties must apply online starting 7:00 AM on June 17th. Each application is automatically time stamped upon submission. We will strive to fill classes in the order in which applications are received.  On-site applications are not allowed. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How will I know if my child/children have been accepted into the program?

If your child is selected for a class, you will receive an email confirmation with additional details.  You will be required to bringing this confirmation email with you to your first lesson.  Due to the volume of applications we receive, most people who apply will not be selected.

Can I apply on-site at the swimming pool?

No, on-site applications are not allowed. Our administrative staff will verify the date/time of each application through our online system and then generate class rosters directly from the online database.

How many sessions may my child attend?

Children will be limited to one session per summer to maximize the number of families we are able to serve.

Are your instructors certified?

Yes, all instructors are certified by the American Red Cross as Water Safety Instructors or Basic Swimming Instructors.

What is the class make-up policy?

No make-up classes will be offered for missed or cancelled classes (e.g. thunderstorm, water quality).

What is the class cancellation policy?

Classes will be canceled if there is thunder or lightning within 30 minutes of the scheduled start time of the class.  Because there are classes across the state, we encourage you to remain alert of your local weather conditions. In the event of inclement weather during class, the class will end, and students will be advised to seek shelter.

Similarly, if there are any water quality concerns (e.g. fecal accident in the pool) the pool will also be closed so that we can make the necessary chemical adjustments.  Classes will not be rescheduled. 

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