I grew up in Arizona, so learning how to swim was one of the first skills I acquired as a child. The sheer amount of backyards with swimming pools made it a necessity. Here in Boston, there aren’t as many pools, but I still think it’s vital for all children to learn how to swim. It’s a skill that always comes in handy, and it can be the difference between life and death in some situations.
After an unsatisfactory experience with a different company that shall not be named, I was offered a chance to try swim lessons at Charles River Aquatics, and I almost didn’t do it! After the last session with the other company, I wasn’t super enthused about going through the swim lesson grind again. But I did, and here’s my report-card breakdown of what I thought about Charles River Aquatics (CRA).
I’m actually glad we did those other swim lessons, if for nothing other than an accurate comparison to what we experienced at CRA. My daughter learned way more at CRA (30 minutes, once a week) during five weeks than in the eight weeks (also 30 minutes, once a week) she spent at those first train-wreck swimming lessons. I saw noticeable improvement, weekly — even her time spent waiting for the one or two others in her class did not seem wasted.
One improvement I would like to see is that the lessons be 10-15 minutes longer. Getting a small child ready and out the door for these lessons can be a challenge. I wish we’d had a little bit more time at each lesson to make the driving and effort slightly more worth it. But 30 minutes seems to be the standard length of time for lessons at this age level across companies, so otherwise, A+.
I live in Brighton, so the DoubleTree Suites on Soldiers Field Road in Boston was the closest CRA location to us. The lessons take place in a hotel swimming pool, so the great news is that it can be made as warm as the swimmers want it to be. Plus, the water there is saltwater, which is better for eyes and sensitive skin. There are plenty of bathrooms to change in, and a shower to rinse off before leaving.
No parents or guardians are allowed to watch from the pool deck, so there is only a small observation window without seating that you can watch through. Other than that, there are a few areas near the pool, or in the hotel’s lobby, to wait out your 30 minutes. Parking is easy in the hotel’s attached garage. The B+ rating comes because keeping my 2.5-year-old daughter entertained in the waiting space during this time was hard. After two lessons we had mastered the routine of snacks, play dough, drawing, and reading, and it was fine. The actual physical location of the hotel is confusing to navigate to as well, but, again, it only takes one time and you get the hang of it.
There were two instructors there during our time slot—one for each age group. We had Chris, who my daughter thought was the best. The instructors are charismatic and engaging toward students of all ages that I observed (3-7 years old.) All the instructors come up to the parents individually after class and give a brief recap of what was learned, what had improved, and what will be worked on next week. I found this super helpful and extremely professional. It included me in the process and created a relationship between parent and instructor, and I was grateful for that.
I think these lessons are worth the money. I would like them to be a little cheaper, but that’s because I’d like everything to be a little cheaper. From comparing lessons of similar quality, I would say these lessons are extremely well priced.
From start to finish, my interactions with everyone at Charles River Aquatics were always positive and professional. They know what they are doing. The lessons, the communication, and the friendly staff all run like a well-oiled machine, and this can only come from quality structure in the company as a whole. Next time we do swimming lessons, we are going back to CRA.