Like A Fish: A Review of Goldfish Swim School

When you enter the school, it feels like you're on an island getaway, which is the perfect antidote to winter swim lessons

When you enter the school, it feels like you're on an island getaway, which is the perfect antidote to winter swim lessons

If I was to describe our youngest child in a sentence, I'd probably say something like she does life her way. And by that I mean she knows herself, what she likes, and how she wants to get things done

It serves her very well in her day-to-day, and we couldn't be more proud of her confidence, but sometimes she needs a nudge to help her see things from a different perspective. How we deliver that nudge determines how well it will be received. And trust me when I tell you she has given us plenty of opportunities to practise our delivery.

In the past year or so, I've spoken a lot about being in the sweet spot of parenthood with our four kids. They're all school-aged now. They can eat, dress, and participate in extracurricular activities independently. We've finally retired the bulky baby gear like diaper bags and strollers, which means vacations actually feel like vacations — except when it comes to being in the water.

Our little dynamo decided at some point in her early years that swimming — without clinging to a parent the entire time — wasn't going to happen. So my husband and I always end up at the bargaining table with the winner staying dry and the other getting into a bathing suit for the hotel pool. We've tried swimming lessons and made very slow progress — as soon as there's any mention of going underwater or jumping in, she holds her ground (literally). 

We are in the planning stages of our annual summer road trip, and this year's journey will take us oceanside. All kidding aside, water safety and swimming skills are extremely important to us. We want all of our children to feel confident around the water. So when the opportunity came to try a new swimming program, we crossed our fingers and went for it.

Goldfish Swim School has just opened its first Canadian location in our town. The program has been successfully running in the U.S. for several years, and they've established very family-friendly systems and a program that has thought of everything. I booked an appointment to go and see the facility without her, and as soon as I walked in I knew she'd be easy to convince. It's designed with kids in mind and so well-suited to the age they teach (infants to 12 years old). 

When we arrived for her first lesson, I watched her face light up with excitement. She could see that the space was built for kids her size and she immediately felt comfortable. When I say they've thought of everything, I'm not exaggerating. Instead of being in a chaotic, open concept change room, each family can use a gender-neutral room with plenty of space and hooks to keep things off the floor. The temperature is perfect and keeps the shivering at bay. Cold and swimming lessons do nothing to convince a kid that it's going to be fun

The change rooms are fantastic for privacy and usability. 

The change rooms are fantastic for privacy and usability. 

After getting though one day of lessons, she wanted to head into the change room to get herself ready independently. Like I said, she likes to do things her way. There are plenty of large cubicles in the main area to keep things dry and safe until the end of the lesson. 

The head lifeguard comes out and calls the students in for their lesson, by leading them through the open concept shower area. Swimmers take a shower before entering the pool, and parents can observe from the other side of the glass (where it's warm and dry!). 

She felt so grown up doing this on her own

She felt so grown up doing this on her own

Then it's time for parents to head to the observation area and make themselves comfortable (did I mention that you're still completely dry?). There are snacks and coffee/tea/hot chocolate available for parents, and free wifi too!

Comfortable seats, coffee, groovy tunes and free wifi. It's a parent's paradise

Comfortable seats, coffee, groovy tunes and free wifi. It's a parent's paradise

The pool itself is heated to a balmy 90 degrees and is one consistent depth of 4ft, which helps to keep the nerves calm (for her and me). She was immediately comfortable because she knew she wasn't going to be swimming in the deep end. And the side-to-side lanes are much less intimidating than being in a more open space. Each lesson (after your child's appropriate level has been determined) follows a step-by-step program with specific swim requirements. And parents are invited on deck for the last few minutes to hear about those skills and observe their child demonstrating something (s)he's been working on. 


In addition to your child's swim instructor, there is also a qualified lifeguard on deck for every four kids, which provides a safe level of supervision for everyone in the pool. It also meant extra high fives and words of praise for my kid and she just loved hearing that she was doing well. She absolutely thrived in the lessons and counted down the minutes until the next one. 

It was so wonderful to see her confident and happy in the water

It was so wonderful to see her confident and happy in the water

What I noticed more than anything else was how the set-up of the program at Goldfish Swim School really encourages and fosters independence. I think she easily made progress in the program, because she felt like she was in charge. It suits her personality, but would also work well for kids who need some extra support.

Taking care of business on her own. She also loved using the automatic bathing suit dryers

Taking care of business on her own. She also loved using the automatic bathing suit dryers

We started out at the school in one of the Jump Start Clinics, which allowed us to come every day for a week and really get comfortable. It was perfect for figuring out whether this program would work for us longterm. The program is set up as a month-to-month payment and it's a perpetual lessons model that let's you choose a schedule that works for your family (including easy to schedule make up lessons). 

We are officially counting down to the start of our summer vacation now and it feels like we'll be at a new level of independence this year. We feel confident that with continued lessons, we'll have taken measures to make sure our kids are safe and happy in the water. And knowing that makes our time at Goldfish Swim School time well spent. 

Showing off one of her new skills

Showing off one of her new skills

Because I'm a local parent and blogger, the wonderful staff at the Goldfish Swim School generously invited my daughter to enjoy a week in their Jump Start Clinic in exchange for my honest review. I was not otherwise compensated for this post and my opinions are genuine. 

For a review by my dear friend about their experience with her extraordinary kiddo, click here (there's an adorable video that you'll want to see!)


About six years ago, I told my sister I was thinking of doing a mini-triathlon. 

She almost choked on her food and said something like, "Yeah, right".

When I finally managed to convince her that I was going to put my uncoordinated self through the training process, she said, "Not without me!"

Despite a two year age difference and being the only kids in our family, we've never been über-competitive. We have very different personalities and approach our lives in different ways. That said, we still appreciate one another and we are happy to be more different than alike.

We trained for the triathlon in our respective towns and in our respective ways. We got together once before the big race to do the circuit together. And when the race day finally came and went, we were so glad we did it together.


Last week, while she and her boys were visiting, a package arrived from my friends at Best Buy with a variety of Fitbit products they had asked me to review.

Not to be outdone by any fitness initiative on my part, she said, "Not without me!" 

I chose the Fitbit Flex because it tracks sleep and that's an area of my personal well-being that I really, really, really need to work on. And with a new puppy on its way (oh my gosh, what have I agreed to?), I know my daily steps are about to make a dramatic increase. 


My sister loves sleep and always makes sure to find time for it (how does she do it?). She picked the Fitbit Zip because it's small and easy to wear all day.

We both regarded the Fitbit Aria scale (which smiles at you before telling you what your percentage of body fat is for the day) with wary eyes, being that our recent trip to Europe had us indulging much more than we normally do. 

After uploading the Fitbit app on our smart phones (super easy, by the way), our totally friendly competiton was officially underway.


I admit the daily "how many steps" texts are definitely a push in the right direction for me. And the timing for this new regime couldn't be better. We've had a fabulous summer, and we've let all routines go out the window. With the cooler nights and shorter days, I'm feeling the need to get back to a schedule.

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On top of that, my birthday arrives in about a month and I know there will be a re-evaluation of how I'm taking care of myself (or often times not taking care of myself). 

I have nothing but positive things to say about the Fitbit products I've tried (yes, even the smiling scale which talks to my Fitbit with wifi). And I'm really enjoying the app on my iphone and the way it tells me how much water I should be drinking and how to match my calorie intake to my fitness levels each day. 

As for sleep? Well, Fitbit tells me I have some work to do. 

For a better look at the Fitbit products, watch this video by fitness guru Tommy Europe (you'll want to run outside and find a trail when you do):


If you've been thinking about trying Fitbit, you're in the right place.

I have a $100 Best Buy gift card to give away to one of my lucky readers.

Just enter below and I'll randomly select a winner next week!

Good luck!


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