Back to (Swim) School

As summer comes to a close and the temperature in Buffalo gets too weird to survive outdoor pool weather (read: 80 degrees one day, 60 degrees the next), my husband and I usually turn to some sort of swim school or program to keep our son active through the winter months and working hard on those water skills. That being said, I was pumped to check out the Goldfish Swim School – located at 950 Transit Road in Williamsville. Here are my thoughts on this place (spoiler alert: I’m in love).

We’re lucky in the Northtowns to have a lot of good indoor swimming options available to us. Water safety is super important – especially for kids who don’t have regular access to a pool, like ours. My 5-year-old has always loved the water, so I didn’t have to twist his arm too hard when I told him we were enrolling in a trial run of swim classes for eight weeks. If I’m being honest, he’s down with any activity that lets him wear his swim goggles. It’s a win, win.

An Overview
Goldfish Swim School is tucked in a corner of the Premier Plaza on Transit Road. I cruise over in that general direction and then look for the giant Premier Wine & Spirits. The school lives in the same plaza so it’s easy to find.

The facility itself features the following amenities:

  • An indoor swimming pool (heated at 90°)
  • An air-conditioned viewing gallery for parents
  • Kid-friendly amenities (hair drying station, swimsuit dryers, private changing rooms)
  • Snacks, drinks and treats (A 25-cent piece of Laffy Taffy goes a long way when your kid is acting up, am I right?)

Noticeable Differences

SPACE: The thing that I immediately liked about this swim school was that you have the option to sit in either a viewing area outside of the pool (behind glass), OR inside the pool area itself on a bench, near where your child is taking lessons.

Some kids are nervous and want mom or dad close by. Some parents just want to enjoy things from up close. It’s nice to have the option. Not every swim school offers this. You know how many times I’ve had to run into a pool area from a viewing area to help my then-toddler aged son not be scared during his first few swim lessons? These are stressful times, people!

At any rate, I’m here for the poolside benches and extra space on the inside. There’s also a cool open showering area for kids to rinse off in before or after class.

CHANGING AREAS: The other thing I really liked about the space was the changing area. There are individual changing rooms that are big enough to fit your whole family (if need be) and then a common outdoor area for drying hair and swimsuits (they have a spinner that dries swimsuits in eight seconds. Eight! Seconds!).

We’ve all had to squeeze into a changing stall or worse, change out in the open in a locker room type setting. When you have more than one kid, this can be particularly stressful. One kid is soaking wet trying to squeeze into their pajamas while another kid is randomly trying to escape when you are not looking. Like why? Anyway, there is none of that here. Changing rooms are big. There’s a door that closes and locks. There isn’t any carpet involved. Bathrooms are kept separate and frankly, the whole thing just feels spacious and non-claustrophobic. Praise be.

YEAR-ROUND INSTRUCTION: I’m used to signing up for a swim instruction for a set number of weeks. This swim program operates differently. Instruction is offered year-round. So, you essentially pay a monthly fee and gain access to ongoing lessons and open-pool time at your convenience. You do have the option to cancel or pause the membership at any time (read: in the summer when you’re outside 24/7), but otherwise, it’s nonstop. I’m indifferent to this option vs. the latter. Just noting it as something I haven’t seen before elsewhere.

Our Experience

If I’m being honest, we had a really great experience at this swim school. My son has been in swim lessons since he was six months old. Within two weeks at Goldfish, the instructors had him swimming half the length of the pool on his own without any sort of floatation support. I got emotional about it, guys. (You know I was on that bench fighting back tears as my husband was judging me. Lay off me, I’m pregnant.)

I generally feel like this swim school is spacious, clean, colorful and has good instruction. Even in the group lessons, there were often two instructors working with three to four kids (based on who showed up that week). My son loved this joint and is begging me to go back.

Buffalo Moms Rating

I officially rate the Goldfish Swim School four out of five stars – docking one star because it is on the higher end cost-wise for swim school. That said, I personally do think it’s worth the cost and plan to return back. I’ve never seen my son respond to lessons so quickly and I especially liked the focus they put on pool safety.

If cost is a limiting factor for you – join their email list and keep those eyes peeled for special offers. They currently have a back to school deal running through the end of September 2019 that offers six months of lessons at a discounted rate, in addition to some extra goodies (free goggles, swim towel, etc.)

Jessica Christensen Buffalo Moms

Jessica is a communications professional by day and a wife and mommy (to an awesome little boy) by night. When she’s not chasing both of her favorite redheads around, she’s silently correcting your grammar and talking up St. Bonaventure University. Follow her @PRJESSICAC.

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