The first swimming lesson occurred when Thetis submerged her son Achilles in the river Styx, rendering him invulnerable but incapable of developing an effective sidestroke since she wouldn't release his heel. Outfit children for aquatic Iliads with today's Groupon: for $40, you get one month of adult or children's swim classes at La Petite Baleen (an $86 value at the San Francisco location, an $81 value at the Half Moon Bay and San Bruno locations). The $25 membership fee is waived with this Groupon.
Dedicated to the development of swimmers ages 2 months old to 2,000 months old, La Petite Baleen has three Bay Area locations of aquatic education in San Francisco, Half Moon Bay, and San Bruno. Each indoor pool packs in a high quality and quantity of warm-water amenities that are designed for equal parts inviting play and challenging learning.
La Petite Baleen offers a wide variety of classes, so once a week, your future Michael or Michelle Phelps can constructively splash about in a class designed to meet their level of skill or comfort in the water.
Trained by La Petite Baleen's founders, John Kolbisen and Irene Madrid, each swimstructor must attend several intensive clinics and complete 40 hours of liquidstruction under the supervision of a senior instructor before guiding schools of bipedal fishes. La Petite Baleen believes that learning to swim means learning to keep one's head above both the literal and figurative water by teaching tots skills that are useful in and out of the water, including lessons in following directions, teamwork, social interaction, and the secret language of kelp song. Kids under 3 participating in a small group class must always be accompanied in the pool by a parent. See the Registration FAQ for scheduling information.
Yelpers give La Petite Baleen's San Francisco location three stars. Yelpers give the San Bruno location 3.5 stars, nine Insider Pagers give it five stars, and Parents Connect reviewers give it three. Eight Yelpers give the Half Moon Bay location of La Petite Baleen five stars.
- They focus on teaching real skills, not game playing. I can't say enough about LPB. It's just magic. – Nicki D., Yelp
- The teachers are sensitive to individual kids' differences and I really feel they know what they are doing. The teachers are also very communicative, letting me know how my kids are doing in their lessons. – SF Mother of 3, Parents Connect
- This is a great place to take your kids to learn how to swim [sic] the swimming pool is very warm and the teachers are the best. Great place to start your kids when they are babies. – monica j., Insider Pages
La Petite Baleen
After one look at the pristine pools packed with toys, and it’s no surprise why La Petite Baleen’s four San Francisco–area swim facilities are so popular with kids. What may be surprising, however, is that the flourishing network of schools started humbly in the backyard pool of John Kolbisen and Irene Madrid.
In 1979, the public school teachers were brainstorming ways to integrate their passion for educating kids with their love of the water. Starting with their own three children, some neighborhood kids, and their logo–Waverly the Whale, John and Irene began teaching swim lessons with a rather progressive philosophy: They approached swimming not just as an extracurricular activity, but as a means to boost self-confidence, build friendships, and learn to overcome fears.
More than 30 years later, La Petite Baleen has become a renowned family of schools, partnered with the U.S. Swim School Association and the Swim for Life Foundation. Part of the success has to do with how children are grouped. In weekly sessions, pods of tots of similar age, skill level, and personality evolve at a similar pace—earning individual achievement ribbons as they do. Kids make friends in the group, and the recurring scheduling means that they can stay enrolled with their new buddies indefinitely or until they grow their own dorsal fins. Each location’s indoor pools are kept at an inviting 90 degrees, in an attempt to make even the most timid student to feel comfortable in the water. Perhaps most importantly, the teachers participate in ongoing training designed to encourage empathetic, yet firm teaching methods.