YMCA of Greater Erie

Swimming Lessons

The Y has been teaching people to swim for more than a century. Swimming is a life skill as well as great exercise and a challenging sport. We offer swim lessons for all ages, family swim, competitive swimming teams, and many kinds of adaptive swim programs for kids with special needs, so we can all safely enjoy the pleasures of an aquatic environment.

We also offer youth competitive swim team programs, as well as lifeguard, swim instructor, First Aid, and CPR training.

Swim Lessons

Students learn to be comfortable in the water, personal water safety habits, rescue skills and healthy lifestyle habits. Activities, games and drills, geared to reinforce learning, are utilized heavily as students progress in this skill-based approach to swimming.

Swim lessons offered include eight stages of learning: Water Discovery, Water Exploration, Water Acclimation, Water Movement, Water Stamina, Stroke Introduction, Stroke Development, Stroke Mechanics. We also offer youth competitive swim team programs, as well as lifeguard, swim instructor, first aid, and CPR training.

Choosing the right class

Use the lesson guide below to determine skill level and choose the appropriate class. You can find even more information in our detailed lesson selector.  Or, contact us for a free swim test.

Deep Water Competency Test

Required for all youth under 18.

The YMCA of Greater Erie is committed to providing a safe and enjoyable pool experience for all.  All youth 18 and under must complete the YMCA Deep Water Competency Test which assesses swimming ability for deep water.  Those that complete the test successfully will be given a green band; inexperienced swimmers are considered non-swimmers.  These bands help our certified lifeguards keep swimmers safe.

Click here for guidelines on the deep water competency test and rules for parent-child ratio.

Swim Starters


Stage A: Water Discovery

Parents accompany children which introduces infants and toddlers to the aquatic environment through exploration and encourages them to enjoy themselves while learning about the water.

Stage B: Water Exploration

Parents work with their children to explore body positions, floating, blowing bubbles and fundamental safety and aquatic skills. 


Accompanied by a parent, infants and toddlers learn to be comfortable in the water and develop swim readiness skills through fun and confidence-building experiences, while parents learn about water safety, drowning prevention, and the importance of supervision.

Swim Basics

Recommended skills for all to be safe around water

Stage 1: Water Acclimation

Students develop comfort with underwater exploration and learn to safely exit in the event of falling into a body of water.  This stage lays the foundation that allows for a student’s future progress in swimming.

Stage 2: Water Movement

Students focus on body position and control, directional change, and forward movement in the water while also continuing to practice how to safely exit in the event of falling into a body of water.

Stage 3: Water Stamina

Students learn how to swim to safety from a longer distance than in previous stages in the event of falling into the body of water.  This stage also introduces rhythmic breathing and integrated arm and leg action.


Students learn personal water safety and achieve basic swimming competency by learning two benchmark skills:

  • Swim, float, swim—sequencing front glide, roll, back float, roll, front glide, and exit
  • Jump, push, turn, grab

Swim Strokes

Recommended skills to support a healthy lifestyle

Stage 4: Stroke Introduction

Students develop stroke technique in front crawl and back crawl and learn the breaststroke kick and butterfly kick. Water safety is reinforced through treading water and elementary backstroke.

Stage 5: Stroke Development

Students work on stroke technique and learn all major competitive strokes.  The emphasis on water safety continues through treading water and sidestroke.

Stage 6: Stroke Mechanics

Students refine stroke technique on all major competitive strokes, learn about competitive swimming, and discover how to incorporate swimming into a healthy lifestyle.

Private/Semi-Private Swim Lessons

Private (1 swimmer) and semi-private lessons (2 swimmers with similar ability) are a great option for swimmers of all ages and abilities looking to accomplish specific objectives. These lessons give you individualized attention to help improve or acquire swimming skills.


Having mastered the fundamentals, students learn additional water safety skills and build stroke technique, developing skills that prevent chronic disease, increase social-emotional and cognitive well-being, and foster a lifetime of physical activity.

Swim Teams

Youth Swim Team

Every kid has swimming abilities – there’s a little Michael Phelps  or Simone Manuel in each of them. Help yours find their swimming potential through YMCA Swim Team! Swimmers of all ages and abilities participate in our Swim Teams. Led by caring coaches, we emphasize personal improvement through stroke technique and training, a strong work ethic and team work through competitive swimming. Swimmers compete locally with the opportunity to advance to the district, state and national level. Competitive Swim Team programs are offered at the County and Eastside Family Ys.

Masters Swim Team

Come and swim coached workouts with other adult swimmers. This Adult Masters Swim Team is coached by one of our aquatics staff who is qualified and experienced in swimming.  Each workout will be new and challenging.  Each class we will work on various skills including Stroke Technique, Endurance, Speed and Strength.  You must be 18 or older to participate.

This is a US Masters Swimming program so there is a nominal $20 yearly membership fee for Y members and $90 yearly membership fee for non-members.  Practice is held at the Downtown Y on Thursdays from 8-9p.m.  Non-Y members may only use the pool during that practice time.  Questions, contact Jeanne Moss at (814) 452-3261 ext. 274

Contact & Schedules

Camp Sherwin

Tammy Crawford
(814) 774-9416

Downtown Y

Jeanne Moss
(814) 452-3261

Eastside Y

Emily Irwin
(814) 899-9622

Glenwood Park Y

Kelly Austin
(814) 868-0867