Learn what to wear for swimming lessons! Whether it is for you an adult or your child, it is never too late to learn to swim.
In the US about 3,400 people drown per year, that’s roughly 10 people per day. Drowning remains the leading cause of unintentional death in children 1-4. Swim lessons are the best way we can fight this statistic and improve water safety.
Swim lessons can feel nerve-wracking for the first time. Every swimmer, including Olympic champion Micheal Phelps, started out with a first swim lesson!
We hope that our packing guide and print-out checklists give you confidence and peace of mind as you pack for your first swim lesson.
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Table of Contents
What to bring for swimming lessons
Whether it is a child’s first swim lessons or an adult’s, the packing list is almost the same. We did include two printout packing lists below, one for children and one for adults.
Dive in to learn the 15 things you need to bring for swim lessons!
1. Swim bag
If you are new to the sport and haven’t yet purchased a swim bag, no problem. A gym bag or backpack will also do the job.
We tend to recommend swim bags because they are large and have many pockets to hold swim gear, toiletries, and more!
The main thing is that you want to be able to identify your bag after swimming! Sometimes brighter colors or adding ribbon can make your bag more recognizable to you on the pool deck.
Please leave the rash guard at home unless you’re highly sensitive to the sun or worried that your kids will get sunburned. Rashguards are bulky and actually make it more difficult for both children and adults to learn to swim.
The same is true for wet suits and swim shirts. Usually, the public pools are a comfortable water temperature so these items are not necessary. Do come prepared with a swimsuit, most pools do not allow people to wear street clothes into the pool.
Instead, opt for the proper swim attire, a more snug-fit swimsuit.
For women and girls, we recommend wearing a one-piece bathing suit. Two pieces are okay but do ensure they fit well so you are comfortable during your lesson.
And lastly, do not bring life jackets to your swimming lesson unless instructed to do so. Life jackets offer a false sense of security. The goal with swim lessons is to learn to swim safely, more efficiently, or faster on your own!
3. Swim goggles
This is one of the most important items for your swim lesson! Make sure to bring swim goggles and adjust them to fit your face prior to your lesson.
Many swim goggles have adjustable nose pieces and straps so that you can adjust them to fit your face comfortably prior to the lesson.
If you find your goggles fogging up quickly use a little bit of baby shampoo in your goggles on the ride over and rinse before using. During your lesson, you can also lick the inside of your goggles and dip them in water to get the spit out.
We know it sounds crazy but your spit can act as a natural defogger and it is a well-known swimmer trick!
4. Swim cap
If you want to minimize distractions and drag during your first swim lesson then a swim cap is a must!
There are 3 common types of swim caps:
While lycra swim caps are typically the most comfortable they tend to slip off and do not keep the hair dry. Of the options above we recommend silicone swim caps.
Silicone swim caps are more comfortable than latex swim caps, last for a long time, keep your hair drier than lycra swim caps, and are a great option for those with long hair.
We recommend trying to get kids comfortable with swim caps at a young age, this will be helpful if they ever want to join a competitive swim team.
5. Hair ties
This is especially important for those with longer hair. You want to tie your hair up before putting on a swim cap. It never hurt to bring extra hair ties.
in your bag, just in case.
This is a must, locker rooms and indoor pool decks can be seriously nasty.
No one wants foot warts, protect your feet and wear or bring flip-flops to your swimming lesson!
We like to keep a pair of rubber ones in our swim bag at all times, just in case.
Bring a big towel or if you have less room in your swim bag a shammy towel.
Shammy towels also referred to as chamois, absorb water very well. We especially recommend these towels for hot swim lesson days, swim meets, and more. You can dip them in the water after your lesson to use to cool you off for the ride home or while you wait.
In the winter, we recommend sticking with a big warm towel!
8. Water bottle
This is an absolute must! Yes, you sweat while you swim even if it doesn’t feel like it.
Avoid cramps and dehydration during your swimming lesson by bringing a water bottle.
Hydration is key.
9. Coins or a lock
Depending on the locker room, you may need to bring coins to use the lockers or your own lock.
Some locker rooms may make you reserve a locker in advance.
If you are attending your lesson with a family member, leave your swimming items with them on deck.
10. Swim Gear
We recommend calling ahead to ask if you need swim gear for your swim classes.
Often more advanced swimmers may require equipment such as:
However, the swim school or swim instructor may have pool noodles, kickboards, and pull buoys available for you to use during the lesson!
If your swimming lessons are going to be at an outdoor pool make sure to bring sunscreen.
Be sure to apply it to your entire body, parents do not forget to apply sunscreen to your child’s face.
12. Dry clothes
If you wore a cover-up to the pool, do not forget to bring a dry change of clothes for after your lesson. Most public pools will have a dressing room where you can change when your lesson is complete.
After your swim, you will want to rinse off. Typically public pools and swim schools have shower stalls!
To avoid green hair and dry skin make sure to pack shampoo, conditioner, and body wash to shower off after your lesson.
You may want to apply lotion and deodorant after so it’s a good idea to pack those in your bag as well.
14. Wet brush
Those with longer hair may find that their hair is very tangled after their first swim lesson. Throw a wet brush in with your toiletries and maybe some detangler or leave-in conditioner (we love the Sun Bum 3 in 1 leave-in) to brush through those tangles in the shower after your swim.
The chlorinated pool is notorious for breaking off and drying up swimmers’ hair.
15. Dry bag
This may not be essential for every swimmer, but if you want to keep the rest of your items dry bring a dry bag. This allows you to store your swimsuit in your bag and not get everything else wet.
We personally love the Aloha pouch!
You can also bring a plastic bag.
Packing list printouts
Depending on the age of your child and if they are still in diapers we did include disposable swim diapers to the packing list for children. No one wants fecal matter floating around in the pool!
Preparing for your first swim lesson
Try to arrive at least 15 minutes early to give yourself time to change and lock your belongings in the locker room if needed.
When you arrive at the pool be sure to check in at the front desk. Ensure you let your swim instructor know your comfort level with the water, your or your child’s name, and share any special needs you may have.
There are different styles of swim lessons and varying lesson sizes.
For first-time moms, it can be nerve-wracking watching your child’s first swim lesson but giving young children the opportunity to learn to swim is the best thing you can do!
Have fun at your swimming lesson
We hope that our packing list helps you feel more prepared for what to wear for swimming lessons.
Swim instruction is the best way to learn the basic skills.
Swimming lessons over time will help you to develop better technique and boost your confidence in the water.
Don’t be afraid to ask your swim instructors questions. The most important thing, have fun and be safe!
Katie Schimmelpfenning RD, LD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, USA Swim Coach, and former Division 1 swimmer. She helps competitive swimmers fuel and train to optimize performance, recover faster, and prevent injury! She is passionate about spreading evidence-based nutrtion tips to help swimmers across the globe.