Shipman Swim School's recipe for a happily paddling child involves positivity, personal attention, and a couple of polar bears. The bears are part of a mural on the deck wall, frolicking with playful otters in a frothy sea. Combined with the soothing 92-degree heat of the indoor pool, the cheerful creatures encapsulate founder Stacy Shipman's commitment to creating a welcoming learning environment for students of all swimming backgrounds. The former competitive swimmer stresses safety and encouragement in her curriculum, imparting confidence to kids who might have previously avoided the deep end.
The school's instructors—all of whom are CPR- and first-aid-certified—lead students through a program that builds skills comfortably and gradually. During stage-1 group classes, instructors first acquaint kids with the water through face-immersion exercises, rather than challenging them to shake hands with their own reflections. As pupils progress through stages 2, 3, and 4, they learn kicks, gliding techniques, and strokes ranging from the basic freestyle to the butterfly. The teacher-to-student ratio never dips below 3:1––and most classes are made up of three students and two instructors––ensuring that each swimmer receives individual guidance. The staff also leads private lessons and Parent and Me sessions, which engage toddlers as young as six months in safe games, songs, and movements.