Riptides Swim School

Swimming is a life skill as well as great exercise and a challenging sport. Enrollment in the Riptides Swim School is ongoing until you decide to stop. Our progressive program is designed to teach swimmers the basics through the mechanics of all four strokes. Once your swimmer has graduated from our swim school, we offer the Riptides Competitive Swim Team! The Riptides Swim School is offered at the Kirk, Salem, and Botetourt locations for all ages and abilities.


  • Small swimmer to instructor ratios
  • Nationally recognized curriculum with personalized lesson plans
  • Progressive year-round program


Swim assessments are highly recommended prior to the start of swim lessons so we can place swimmers in the correct level based on their age and skills. Beginning infants and toddlers need to select the Swim Starter A class and beginners over the age of 3 need to select a Swim Basics 1 class. These swimmers do not need to be assessed.

Kirk Family YMCA

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Salem Famly YMCA

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Botetourt Family YMCA

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Private or Group

Private lessons are available for one-on-one instruction with the student and a YMCA instructor. Lessons are catered to your needs and pacing.

Group lessons are our most popular option. After an initial swim assessment, students are placed in a small group of other swimmers with similar abilities in the water.


Swim Starters (Parent/Child)

Ages 6 months to 3 years: Accompanied by a parent*, infants and toddlers learn to be comfortable in the water and develop swim readiness skills through fun and confidence-building experiences, while parents learn about water safety, drowning prevention, and the importance of supervision. 

Stage Descriptions:

  • Water Discovery Introduces infants and toddlers to the aquatic environment.
  • Water Exploration Focuses on exploring body positions, blowing bubbles, and fundamental safety and aquatic skills.

Preschool and Youth Swim Basics 

Students learn personal water safety and achieve basic swimming competency by learning two benchmark skills: swim, float, swim—sequencing front glide, roll, back float, roll, front glide, and exit—and jump, push, turn, grab. In Water Acclimation, Water Movement, and Water Stamina, students are taught the recommended skills for all to have around water including safe water habits, underwater exploration, and how to swim to safety and exit in the event of falling into a body of water. Activities, games, and drills, geared to reinforce learning, are utilized heavily as students progress in this skill-based approach to swimming.

Stage Descriptions:

  • Water Acclimation Increases comfort with underwater exploration and introduces basic self-rescue skills performed with assistance.
  • Water Movement Encourages forward movement in water and basic self-rescue skills performed independently.
  • Water Stamina Develops intermediate self-rescue skills performed at longer distances than in

Youth, Teen & Adult Swim Strokes

Having mastered the fundamentals, students learn additional water safety skills and build stroke technique, developing skills that prevent chronic disease, increase social-emotional and cognitive well-being, and foster a lifetime of physical activity.

In Stroke Introduction, Stroke Development, and Stroke Mechanics, swimmers are introduced to the four competitive swimming strokes as well as rescue skills and healthy lifestyle habits.

Stage Descriptions:

  • Stroke Introduction Introduces basic stroke technique in front crawl and back crawl and reinforces water safety through treading water and elementary backstroke.
  • Stroke Development Introduces breaststroke and butterfly and reinforces water safety through treading water and sidestroke.
  • Stroke Mechanics Refines stroke technique on all major competitive strokes and encourages swimming as part of a healthy lifestyle.

For more information on our stages of learning, view our Swim Lessons Program Overview chart.