Overall, we've experienced South Bay Aquatics to be a phenomenal facility with an excellent philosophy and approach to children's swim instruction. It has significantly benefited our daughter, and I'd highly recommend it to local families in the South Bay... that is, if there are any left who don't already attend! This place is wildly popular, and you're hard pressed to bump into a South Bay kid who's not enrolled : ) Nonetheless, it has it's issues, as any small business does, which I'll get into details on - but overall, it's fantastic.
My Perspective Our daughter went to SBA as an infant, for the parent & me class - and in fact one of the first kids enrolled when they had the grand opening a few years ago. She currently attends a group class in the strokes for tots level, as well as a 15-minute weekly private lesson at the same level. Between those two rounds of enrollment, we tried out the very nice YMCA facility in Torrance - but found it to have significantly less impact on her learning any real skills (even at age 2 and 3, they were still just singing songs and splashing mostly - which she'd been doing since 6 mos already... it was time to move on, we felt).
The Technique SBA uses a method that's based on instilling survival instincts before they move on to the actual sport and technique of learning various swim strokes. Simply put - it's super effective and awesome to witness. We have a very water-based lifestyle between beach time, surfing, our jet ski, and our sail boat. In addition to being comfortable in the water -- it's imperative that our daughter understand safety and survival skills.
She's learned to back float as her go-to survival skill, and can return herself to that float when splashed or even after being pushed into the pool (yes, they push your kid in.. don't worry, it's only after they progress to a level of readiness and ability to float comfortably and unassisted ; )
It's like they're re-creating the scenarios your kid may experience at a public or private pool - like getting pushed in, pushed under, falling in, etc. All with a focus on the child learning not to panic and to stay focused on what they're doing to stay safe. Even with the infants, they learn how to go for the wall on their own, if they were to fall in. Very cool.
Each student is provided a really nice waterproof reward book that the instructors put stickers in as they achieve each skill. If you have little ones, you know how motivating stickers can be! Very effective approach and great way for the kids to have tangible evidence of their progress.
The class size is awesome - for the tots levels, it's 3 kids to one instructor, so they get a lot of hands-on time.
The Cost Well... it's not cheap. Though, compared to your other kid activities / lessons, like dance, soccer, karate, etc I guess it's about on par. You commit to an ongoing enrollment and have to give notice a month in advance to pull out.
I'd say it's a great value for the service provided though, overall.
The Facility Best of all worlds! Mainly - it's INDOORS : ) Major bonus to not have to consider weather, and allows them to offer classes well into the evening, which is convenient for scheduling. And you can move your schedule around very easily by simply asking the front desk. We've gone year round and it's great that having too cold or too hot of temps for the little ones doesn't hold us back from this great, healthy sport!
The water is a balmy 80-something degrees, as is the air temp. SUPER comfortable, and takes out one of the big factors that makes kids not want to jump in. A few other things we like:
Very clean - immaculate, in fact. Strict rules about swim diapers and focus on ensuring cleanliness standards are met.
Nice showers, and plenty of them, with great changing area - makes the whole in-and-out process with kids in tow MUCH easier.
Ample parking with TWO lots (one in front and one behind)
Very family friendly viewing area from behind glass (great for kids who may want to jump into your lap if you're too close, or for when grandparents come to visit, etc) -- as well as benches poolside so that you have a great view and can also hear the instruction.
The Instructors I think chemistry is crucial with young kids especially, and also particularly with a sport like this that can be scary to little ones first trying it out -- they need trust and comfort. We've had mostly awesome instructors - and I wouldn't even say the others weren't good teachers, they just had an energy that didn't vibe with our kid. Hana is our favorite though - she's awesome. Andrew was also very good, and we've observed at least 4 others who appear to do a great job. Good mix of guys and girls - again, important for little ones who may be more or less comfortable with the opposite sex.
The teachers are firm and not overly cutesy / cheerleadering - which makes the kids take them seriously, yet they're also enthusiastic and give good praise to keep the kids motivated and having a good time.
I've also noticed that they don't give up. We've seen kids come in who are TERRIFIED of the water -- full tilt screaming drama fits, crawling up their parents legs to get away from the pool. They've turned every one of them, in time. And they don't seem to get frazzled by those displays either - very cool demeanor and they just stick with it till your kid is comfortable.
The Staff It's been somewhat hit or miss. We had a snafu where our daughter was moved up a level, but the kids in her time slot all advanced the week before, so it turned into a level 3 class instead of a level 2 class -- without anyone noticing. We had to witness one uncharacteristically stressful lesson to figure it out, and I was NOT happy that the instructor was so oblivious not to notice she was in over her head .. literally!! They gave us a make up class after I pressed the matter, but I think that couldn't been handled better. Overall the staff is perfectly cordial and professional, though not overly friendly in most cases.
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About the reviewer
Really loyal, a little more lippy than I'd wish, love love love the beach and all things tropical, sneeze freakishly loud, love the F word, came of age in the Midwest during the 80's, get a lot … more
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South Bay Aquatics provides South Bay Families with a swim school that offers energetic and supportive instruction, in a warm and safe facility, capturing the imagination of children, and ensuring the success of every student.