This post has been a long time in the making and then it got held up after my phone was stolen a couple weeks ago. Yes, my phone was stolen and it was the worst. Mostly because I lost almost two months of photos (note to self: sync photos regularly). Losing all those photos means I lost all of the photos I took of Blake at Bear Paddle over the course of her lessons. And that totally delayed me wrapping up this post.
But I didn’t want to let losing some of the better photos hold up my review of what was a really, really positive experience. So we’re going to kick it back to the old school days of blogging and I’ll be sharing some less than stellar photos but a seriously stellar review. Also, these are all from my saved instagram stories – hence the writing over top of it.
Bear with me (cheesy pun not intended but I kinda love it).
Learning to swim was essential for my kids. I grew up swimming competitively so being around the water has always been natural for me. I’m not necessarily keen on my kids being competitive swimmers but I have been pretty adamant that they all learn to be strong swimmers. We made it a priority at a young age for both D3 and Reese but, in true third child form, Blake got the short end of the stick and we hadn’t had time to enroll her in swim lessons. When Bear Paddle reached out to me about having Blake come out to do some classes in exchange for an honest review, I figured it was time we got on the ball.
To be totally honest, I had heard mixed reviews about Bear Paddle so I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect but was totally willing to give it a try. I can easily say that our experience there totally exceeded my expectations. More importantly, Blake absolutely LOVED it. Initially it may have been because it was the first time she had an activity all to herself but as the weeks went on, she would ask about swimming lessons in the middle of the week. She even started counting down the sleeps until her next lesson.
For reference, Blake turned three in May so she started her lessons just shy of that birthday. She was familiar with the water from our summer pool time but was, by no means, totally comfortable or confident. We started her in the Paddle 1 class which does not involve parent participation. The director at our local Bear Paddle, located on Hurstbourne Lane right past Stonybrook Movie Theatre, recommended starting with the Teddy 1 which requires parent participation but I thought Blake would do better without me by her side. My hunch was correct and I think she developed much faster without having me there as a crutch.
We started Blake in March, a couple weeks before spring break, for a 10 week session (but it did end up taking us about 12 – 13 weeks to complete since we had some interruptions with holidays and family commitments). The classes at the beginning stages are only 30 minutes which was key for Blake and her limited attention span. The 3:1 (kid to teacher) ratio was another plus, especially since the majority of the time it was a 2:1 ratio. Another key was her instructor Abdul. Since our experience was only with him, I can’t speak for all the other instructors but he was truly incredible.
In those first couple classes he made Blake feel really comfortable and safe. More than that, he made the entire experience really fun. Having the same instructor throughout the entire process also allowed for him to gauge her progress and development along the way. She looked forward to swimming with Abdul and always left with a big smile on her face.
Our littlest lady went from being totally apprehensive about getting in the water on her own to confidently blowing bubbles and sticking her face in the water. She went from flailing her arms and legs to learning to properly kit and get a general idea of a freestyle stroke (still some work to do there). She can also float on her back without support and has learned to flip to her back in case she isn’t able to swim. I won’t bore you with every step of her development but I will say that we would not be enjoying summer as much as we are now if it hadn’t been for our Bear Paddle lessons.
Blake can now swim on her own with a back float (these are super clutch and I highly recommend them for kids learning to swim). This has made our days at the pool much less stressful and allowed her to explore more and be free to go make friends in the pool. She’s no longer totally reliant on us to have fun at pool. A HUGE plus in our book.
She’s getting a ton of practice right now at the pool but I am already looking into starting up lessons again in the fall/winter so we can continue to build on our progress and ensure she is swimming without a float next summer.
Not great video quality but look at how happy she is!
I can’t say enough good things about our experience at Bear Paddle. The Louisville location’s director Alex checked in with me weekly on Blake’s progress and presented her with her patches as she completed each level. They were always so accommodating with our scheduling issues and we felt welcomed at every visit.
The classes at Bear Paddle are a great way to refresh your child’s swimming skills or a solid starting point for new swimmers. The groups are small enough for each child to get quality one-on-one time and at only 30 minutes, it’s not a huge time commitment. We did the once a week for ten weeks session but you can also do multiple classes per week if you want to prep for a trip or condense it down. They also have stroke classes, CPR and water safety classes and adult classes. You can also plan a birthday party there (note to self: do this for Blake next year).
And just because I think it’s worth mentioning, they are a trusted partner of USA Swimming, the American Red Cross and the National Drowning Prevention Alliance among others.
If you’re interested in signing up for a class, drop me a note and I’ll refer you to get your first class for free.
Thanks so much to Bear Paddle for partnering on this post.