Swim for Safety- Swim for Fun!

The Y has been teaching people to swim for more than a century. Swimming is an activity you can enjoy your whole life. Let the Y help your family discover the fun and great exercise of swimming!

YMCA group swim lesson programs are offered year-round and include parent-child, preschool and youth group swim lesson classes. We also offer swimming lessons for people of all ages and abilities who are living with autism or other disabilities. Sessions are eight weeks in length, and registration dates open two weeks prior to the start of the class. During the summer group swim lessons are also held at Lytle Pool in Mattoon.

For more information, please call AJ Sears, Aquatics Director, at (217) 234-9494 or email asears@mattoonymca.org.

What’s Different About the Y?

Learning to swim at the Y is more than just stroke development, our lessons offer a child-centered approach. Kids will learn through play, hands-on exercises and creative repetition. The YMCA lesson curriculum includes YMCA character development, which emphasizes our four core values of Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility. Children are taught in small groups in a progressive approach, which allows each child to proceed at their own pace. When your child has mastered one level, they’re ready for the next. Each lesson encourages your child to feel good about themselves and what they’ve learned, and they can develop lifelong skills that can help them stay healthy.



Ages: 6 months to 3 years old

  • Parent & Child Lessons.  Infants and toddlers learn to be comfortable in the water and development swim readiness skills.  Parents learn about water safety, drowning prevention, and the importance of supervision.
    • Stage A – Water Discovery
      • This stage introduces infants and toddlers to the aquatic environment.
      • Qualifier: This Stage is for students not yet able to respond to verbal cues and jump on land.
    • Stage B – Water Exploration
      • This stage focuses on exploring body positions, blowing bubbles, and fundamental safety and aquatic skills.
      • Qualifier: This Stage is for students who are not yet comfortable working with an instructor without a parent in the water.


Ages: 3-5 (Pre-School) and 5-12 (School Age)

  • Students learn personal water safety and achieve basic swimming competency by learning two benchmark skills: Swim, Float, Swim, and Jump, Push, Turn, Grab.
    • Stage 1 – Water Acclimation
      • This stage increases comfort with underwater exploration and introduces basic self-rescue skills performed with assistance.
      • Qualifier: For students who are not able to go underwater voluntarily, including their ears.
    • Stage 2 – Water Movement
      • This stage encourages forward movement in the water and basic self-rescue skills performed independently.
      • Qualifier: For students who are not able to do a front and back float on his/her own.
    • Stage 3 – Water Stamina
      • This stage develops intermediate self-rescue skills performed at longer distances than previous stages.
      • Qualifier: For students who are not yet able to swim 10-15 yards on his/her front or back. This is not a formal stroke.


Ages: 5-12 (School Age)

  • 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.
    • Stage 4 – Stroke Introduction
      • This stage introduces basic stroke technique in front and back crawl and reinforces water safety through treading water and elementary backstroke.
      • Qualifier: For students who are not yet able to swim 15 yards of front and back crawl. This is a formal stroke.
    • Stage 5 – Stroke Development
      • This stage introduces breast-stroke and butterfly and reinforces water safety through treading water and sidestroke.
      • Qualifier: For students who are not able to swim front crawl, back crawl, and breaststroke across the pool (25 yards).
    • Stage 6 – Stroke Mechanics
      • This stage refines stroke techniques on all major competitive strokes and encourages swimming as part of a healthy lifestyle.
      • Qualifier: For students are not yet able to swim front crawl, back crawl, and breaststroke across the pool and back (50 yards).