Swimming at the YMCA

Swim Lesson | Swim Team | Learn To Swim | Lifeguard Training

Swim Lessons

Swim Lessons at the YMCA not only saves lives, it builds self-confidence and develops the whole person – spirit, mind and body. The Birmingham Y offer a wide range of swimming options for the whole family. Classes are divided into ability groups and trained instructors emphasize personal safety, swimming skills, endurance and social skills while guiding students with praise and encouragement. All Birmingham YMCA swim instructors go through 23 hours of training providing them with the tools to help your child learn to swim and be safe in and around the water.

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Swim Lesson Levels

YMCA Parent/Child Shrimp / Kipper / Ina / Perch
6-36 months No skills required.
Parent assisted program designed to increase comfort in the water. Provide positive learning environment for aquatics.


Pike Beginning Swimmer
3-5 years No skills required. Water readiness. Will learn to blow bubbles, put face in water and proper kicking, paddling, and front and back floats with use of flotation devices.

Eel Advanced Beginner
3-5 years Put face in water, float on back and front with assistance, swim 5 feet without flotation Will learn to bob, kick on back, front and back float, swim without assistance 15 feet, wet ball and synchronized swimming skills.

Ray Intermediate I
3-5 years Swim without floatation device 15 feet, float on front and back, jump into water without help. Will learn front crawl, elementary backstroke treading water, synchronized swimming skills and wet ball activities.

Starfish Intermediate II
3-5 years Tread water, swim 25 feet using a modified crawl stroke, and swim on back. Will learn survival float, kneeling and sitting dives, boating safety, to coordinate front crawl with rotary breathing and back crawl 25 yards.


Polliwog Beginner

No skills required Will be introduced to the front crawl, front and back floats, putting face in water and personal water safety skills.

Guppy Advanced Beginner
6-12 years Blow bubbles, put face in water, float on front and back and paddle 15 feet without assistance. Will learn to tread water, rudimentary 25 yards front and back crawl, jump into deep end, kneeling dive.

Minnow Intermediate I

6-12 years Rudimentary 25 yards front and back crawl, jump in deep end, tread water for 30 seconds. Will build endurance swimming, reinforce fundamentals of front crawl, elementary backstroke, and diving. Introduction to breaststroke. Emphasize rescue and safety skills.

Fish Intermediate II
6-12 years Swim 2 lengths each of front crawl and backstroke in good form. Can dive in water. Will learn to perform 50 yards of each: breaststroke, sidestroke, and open turns

Flying Fish Advanced I
6-12 years Swim 2 lengths of front crawl, back crawl, and breaststroke in succession, survival float 7 minutes and tread water for 3 minutes. Will learn bilateral breathing, inverted scissors on one side, introduction to butterfly and flip turns.

Shark Advanced II
6-12 years Excellent front and back crawl. Demonstrates coordination in breaststroke and butterfly, swim under water 15 yards. Will learn first aid techniques, swim 2 lengths of each: front and back crawl, breaststroke, and butterfly nonstop. Lifesaving strokes and surface dives.


Ages 14 and older
Will learn floating, front crawl, back crawl, rhythmic breathing, safety, stroke development and endurance.

Swim Team

Swim Birmingham YMCA 

Swim Birmingham YMCA is a year-round swim team offering training for beginners through national level competitive swimmers. SBY’s certified coaches will dramatically improve your child’s swimming ability while maintaining the YMCA’s focus on positive character values: caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility. SBY competes in both USA Swimming meets as well as YMCA competition.

Competitive swimming builds cardiovascular health, flexibility, muscle tone as well as confidence, and self-discipline are benefits. The Birmingham Y’s swim team is designed to emphasize technique, endurance, sportsmanship, and most importantly, to have fun! To develop strong athletes, we believe that you must focus on more than just the physical aspect of training.


Beginner Program
SUPER SQUADAn entry-level group with emphasis on proper technique in the four competitive strokes. The low-key nature of this group enhances the learning process. Rather than putting emphasis on winning, we put emphasis on teamwork, good sportsmanship, self-esteem, and learning how to respect and get along with others. This team is also designed to help swimmers learn what practice is like, and they will get to participate in a swim meet that will only have swimmers just like them.

Swimmers are organized by age and grouped within those divisions by ability. There will be lanes of each age group with varying levels of practice difficulty. The beginner to the most experienced swimmer will be challenged while perfecting their technique and building endurance, all while having a lot of fun!

Swimmers in this level have the ability to train consistently in a highly intense training environment. The objective of this group is to reach the Southeastern and National level swimming. Swimmers must meet time standards and practice requirements to remain in this group.

This group is for our more competitive swimmers whom are seeking to swim at a National and State Level. This will require more of your child’s time and dedication. These swimmers will be required to sign a “Code of Conduct” contract to be held accountable for how they act and represent SBY. “Code of Conduct” will require swimmers to attend dry land activities, practices and swim meets during our session as well maintain a certain GPA at school and have volunteer hours around the city.


Swimmers must be 5 years of age and able to swim the length of the pool unassisted without stopping or holding the lane ropes.


All YMCA Swim Team Coaches are dedicated individuals who love the sport of swimming, many of whom have age group and college swimming experience. All SBY coaches, both staff and volunteer, have passed a thorough background check and are registered through USA Swimming. Our coaches focus on helping young swimmers improve their ability and to enjoy the sport of swimming.

Click HERE to register for swim team. 

Learn To Swim

A comprehensive water safety program offered at no cost to at-risk children in Birmingham’s underserved areas. Children from all over Birmingham learn valuable, water-safety skills that could save their lives. 

Lifeguard & CPR Training

Being a lifeguard can be a very challenging and rewarding job. The purpose of this class is to teach participants the knowledge and skills needed to prevent and respond to aquatic emergencies. The course content and activities prepare participants to recognize and respond quickly and effectively to emergencies and prevent drownings and injuries. This class will certify you to be a lifeguard for either the YMCA or the American Red Cross.


The following prerequisites must be met prior to attending the course:

  1. Minimum age: 16 years old by the last day of the scheduled course
  2. Under the age of 18 must have parental consent to participate in the course.
  3. Participants must be a strong swimmer and able to swim at least 350 yards of the pool. (14 lengths of the pool)
  4. Participants will also be asked to perform the following:
  5. Sprint for a distance of approximately 60 feet and then perform an arm-over-arm surface dive in 8 to 10 feet of water (or maximum depth of training facility).
  6. Pick up an object (dive ring) from the bottom of the pool, surface and tread water for at least 1 minute with legs only, and then replace the object back on the bottom of the pool where it was found.
  7. Surface and swim the remaining length to the end of the pool and hoist yourself out of water without using a ladder or other assistance. Immediately begin compression on an adult manikin for 1 minute or 100 compressions; stand and listen to directions from instructor.

Click HERE to register for CPR & Lifeguard Training 

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