About the PROGRAM








How is it different than a traditional program?

  • Provides one-on-one lessons customized to the child's unique developmental, social, and emotional needs and level of comfort in the water
  • Lessons are 4-5 days a week for approximately 6-8 weeks
  • Flotation devices and swimming aids are NEVER used in the teaching and learning process
  • Teaches proper swimming posture (horizontal) with face down and eyes in the water
  • Teaches proper and effective use of arms and legs to propel through the water
  • Teaches effective and efficient breathing by rolling onto the back to float and rest (never popping the head UP)
  • Lessons are based on principles of behavioral science, sensorimotor learning, and developmental milestones and their application to the aquatic environment
  • Has a specific progression of skills that are taught in a sequence that connects each separate skill to the next
  • Has the specific end goal of self-rescue by the child in the event of an aquatic emergency
  • Has a process for a comprehensive review of each child's medical history before lessons begin to allow for any accommodations/modifications for the child and to ensure the safest lesson possible
  • Instructor training is a 6-8 week intensive which includes 100's of hours of in-water practicum and at least 60-80 hours of classroom instruction
  • Instructors are trained and certified in areas such as child development and behavioral science and how those apply to the aquatic environment
  • Instructors are certified through an organization that SPECIALIZES in teaching survival swimming skills to infants, toddlers, and young children
  • Instructors are CPR & First Aid certified and must maintain those certifications annually
  • Instructors have a professional support system in place if a child is not progressing as expected




Maintenance lessons are a crucial layer of protection to prevent childhood drowning and a foundational component of our program.  They are designed to:


  • regularly practice your child’s skills so that there are no long pauses between learning the skills and actually using them 


  • allow the skills to grow seamlessly along with your child’s body so that there are no issues when the child hits a growth spurt and their height or weight changes which can affect buoyancy, center of gravity, etc.


  • prevent problems that may appear in your child’s technique once they are practicing at home


  • make the transition from Rollback to Float to Swim-Float-Swim quicker and easier 


  • make the transition from Swim-Float-Swim to Stroke Work more efficient and seamless 


  • ultimately and most importantly, keep your child’s skills sharp and ready to use without hesitation in the event of an aquatic emergency


10 people die EVERY DAY from drowning. Half of those drownings are children. Nearly 80% of all drownings are males. Drowning is NOT like what you see on television or in the movies. It is SILENT and FAST.


I’m so glad my husband and I decided to put our kids in swim lessons with Shellie! I could see from the start that she is extremely knowledgeable and skilled in swim instruction with children. My reserved four-year-old warmed up to her right away and within a relatively short amount of time could confidently do the swim-float-swim sequence. I highly recommend Shellie to parents seeking professional swim instruction for their children as I have no doubt that my kids could save themselves in a dangerous water situation.

Laramie Williams


Laramie Williams



  • What is SURVIVAL SWIMMING and how is it different from other swimming programs?
  • Survival Swimming has been around for over 50 years.  Lessons are based on principles of behavioral science, sensori-motor learning, and developmental milestones.  There is a specific progressions of skills that are taught in a sequence that CONNECTS each separate skill to the next with the end goal being SELF-RESCUE by the child in the event of an aquatic emergency.

  • Will my child cry or not like water because of lessons?
  • Yes, your child might cry/fuss/complain.  But there is an important difference between being truly fearful and being apprehensive because you are not yet skilled and are in a new environment with an instructor you don't know.  For non-verbal and even verbal children, crying and fussing is primarily how they communicate their unhappiness with a new situation, new person, and difficult new skills to learn.  The crying and fussing does NOT indicate fear unless there has been a previous traumatic water experience.  Survival Swimming is not like traditional swim lessons; it is a DROWNING PREVENTION PROGRAM with a specific end goal of SELF-RESCUE by the child in the event of an aquatic emergency.  Sometimes as a parent, you make choices for your child's safety, like sitting in a car seat, immunizations, etc., because you know it is in their best interest.  SAFETY comes first even if they don't like it or appreciate it.  The same can be said for Survival Swimming.  Safety comes first.  FUN can be defined as when SKILL meets CHALLENGE.  So, once competent in their skills, children cry and fuss less as they gain confidence and many cannot be dragged away from the pool.  They cry because they have to leave and are having entirely too much FUN.

  • Why does it take 6-8 weeks for my child to learn this?
  • The 5-7 weeks is an estimate that is based on the average time in which it takes most children to learn these survival skills. Every child is unique and SSS-BV's program is specifically designed based on your child's individual strengths and needs. It is important to realize that this is an average which means that some children will actually finish more quickly while others will need more practice. SSS-BV is dedicated to safety and, therefore, we want to provide your child with the time and best opportunity to become proficient in his/her survival skills. We will always honor your child's needs.

  • Why are lessons 4 days per week and for only 10 minutes?
  • The reason for this is multifaceted. First, repetition and consistency are crucial elements of learning for young children. Research shows that short, more frequent lessons result in higher retention. Second, most children have fairly short attention spans and will not be able to focus on the task for longer and we want to take advantage of the best time for learning. A third reason is that, though the pool temperature is maintained at 78-88 degrees, the temperature is still lower than your child's body temperature. Lessons are work and therefore will also be losing body heat. Instructors check students regularly for temperature fatigue since this is often an indicator of physical fatigue.

  • I hear you say your priority is survival skills. Will my child learn to actually swim?
  • Yes!  At SSS-BV, we believe that part of survival (for a child who is developmentally ready) is swimming. Children learn the Swim-Float-Swim sequence so that they can get themselves to safety. The difference in our program is that they will learn swimming AND survival skills AND how to be an aquatic problem solver!  It's a Win-Win!

  • What is the retention rate with survival swimming lessons?
  • The retention rate is usually 94-100% for up to one year following lessons. Having said this, children will explore and pick up bad habits by watching other children or with interference like floating in a bathtub, playing on the steps, or wearing flotation devices. As your child goes through lessons, you will begin to understand, through communication with your Instructor, what activities may interfere with his/her learned skills. Returning to your instructor for REGULARLY SCHEDULED MAINTENANCE LESSONS in a timely manner is IMPERATIVE to maintaining these skills.

  • Will my child need additional lessons?
  • Based on our research, we know that maintenance and refresher lessons are important because children change so much both cognitively and physically during the first 4-5 years of life. It is important that their water survival skills grow with their bodies.  Frequency depends on the child's age, growth rate, skill level and confidence level. The goal of refresher lessons is to help your child adjust his/her new body size and weight to his/her existing skill level. Your instructor will work with your child to help fine-tune his or her aquatic experience to assist with building efficiency, which will result in self-confidence. This is especially important if your child has not been able to practice any appropriate aquatic skill between seasons.

  • Why should parents enroll their children in Survival Swimming Lessons?
  • Parents are intelligent and enroll their children because they understand their children's abilities and want to give them every opportunity to learn. They also feel it is important to teach their children how to HELP THEMSELVES should they find themselves alone in the water. Research shows that there are better times to learn certain things and swimming is best learned early in life (Newsweek and Drowning Statistics).  The Sooner, The Safer.

  • What other benefits do the students experience?
  • Every child is unique. However, many parents report that once their young children have mastered learning to swim, the resulting confidence in their abilities engenders a positive self-concept that is often demonstrated in other aspects of their personalities. There are also obvious health and other psychological gains.

  • Are swimming lessons for infants and young children safe?
  • YES! SSS-BV is dedicated to safety and maintaining numerous safety protocols to promote safe lessons. Your child's health and well-being are our highest priority and are closely monitored on a daily basis. In addition, your child's medical and developmental history is a mandatory part of the registration process, all of which is held strictly confidential. All instructors undergo an intensive and rigorous training that far exceeds any other training program of this kind. Each instructor is also required to attend a yearly re-certification symposium that includes quality control as well as continuing education. YOUR education in the area of aquatic safety for your entire family is an integral part of your child's lessons.

  • What is the AAP's position on swimming lessons for young children?
  • In May of 2010, the AAP changed its policy regarding the age at which children may start swimming lessons, based on research stating that swim lessons may actually provide reduction in drowning risk of children ages 1- to 4-years-old. That study, "Association Between Swimming Lessons and Childhood Drowning" published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, March, 2009, by Brenner et. al. was the first study to probe the relationship between drowning reduction and swimming skills. That study concluded that, "Participation in formal swimming lessons was associated with an 88% reduction in the risk of drowning in the 1- to 4-year-old children..."  The AAP encourages parent's to consider that starting water-survival skills training at an early age must be individualized, based on the child's frequency of exposure to water, emotional maturity, physical limitations and health concerns related to swimming pools.

  • Why don't parents participate in the water during the lessons?
  • It takes incredible training, concentration, and objectivity to teach a child how to respond to an aquatic emergency and our research shows that parents often find it too difficult to be objective to be effective teachers with their own children in the water.  Parents get to be the "cheerleaders" and encourage and praise their children in each new skill he/she learns.  There will be an appropriate time for parents to get in the water and learn how to properly and effectively work and play with their child.


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