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Swim program changes

Fall 2021 learn to swim and leadership programs registration will look different. The City has changed to The Canadian Red Cross swim programming. The Red Cross has been offering swimming instruction and leadership development programs in Canada for 75 years. They are built around an individualized approach to teaching,  which encourages each swimmer to improve and strive for his or her best.

Please see the FAQ to assist with questions that you may have. It is important to review the program changes before registering.

Register for programs

Swim program categories

Red Cross swim parent & tot and preschool is an 8 level stand-alone program for 6 months to 6 yr old children that allow swimmers to enter various levels based on age and ability. Each level is represented by an animal mascot that is incorporated into the content and makes the lesson engaging and fun, through songs and activities.

Red Cross Swim Kids is a 10 level stand-alone program for 5 to 12 yr old children. Children learn to swim, be fit, and stay safe in a fun environment that promotes achieving a personal best and celebrates personal success. The program teaches swimming and survival strokes, as well as increasing the distance and speed that each swimmer can achieve, while focusing on making safe decisions in, on, and around the water.

The 10 levels of the program allow for a solid progression of skills and knowledge.

  • The skills and water safety throughout the program are targeted to each age group, with an increased focus on staying active and safe in the water.
  • Swimming strokes are built throughout the levels, using solid, proven progressions with a focus on drills and distance.
  • The fitness activities component builds endurance and promotes individual success and improvement. They also encourage lifelong physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle.

The program is based on a foundation of continuous evaluation, which means that the Instructor constantly monitors the progress of each child and records an item as complete when the child meets the minimum standards for that item. This allows the focus to remain on the individual child at all times instead of applying a standard test for all swimmers at the end of each level.

Red Cross Swim Basics is a two-level learn-to-swim program for adults and teens. These courses are designed to develop or increase swimmers’ comfort in the water through basic flotation, movement, and breathing skills. They will gain the basic knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to stay safe in, on, and around the water.

Red Cross Swim Basics 1 offers an introduction to swimming with a focus on front swim. Red Cross Swim Basics 2 focuses on developing front and back crawl, establishing comfort in deep water, and increasing the swimming distance.

Water Safety Instructors evaluate based on performance criteria (see the Instructor Worksheet). Progress is tracked in the Red Cross Swim Journal. Swimmers progress to the next level or program (either Red Cross Swim Strokes or Red Cross Swim Sports modules) when all items in the performance criteria have been successfully completed.

Red Cross Swim Strokes is a stand-alone stroke development program for adults and teens and for participants in Red Cross Swim Kids who require additional work on a stroke to complete the level. The program is designed to further develop strokes chosen by the swimmer in consultation with the Water Safety Instructor, and increase swimming distances and proficiency.

The stroke(s) is/are chosen in consultation with the Water Safety Instructor and developed according to the Red Cross Swim Kids progressions and performance criteria.

Each swimmer is evaluated against their personal goals set with the Water Safety Instructor. The Red Cross Swim Strokes Chart is used to assist in setting goals. Progress is tracked in the Red Cross Swim Journal or Red Cross Swim Kids Progress Card. Water Safety Instructors evaluate based on performance criteria for strokes on techniques and distance

Assistant Lifeguard

This course is to provide training in the prevention of injuries, responding to emergencies, rescue, and lifeguarding skills, along with safe behaviours and working as part of a lifeguard team.

Assistant Lifeguard Transfer

The objective of this course is to build on the knowledge and skills from Lifesaving Society Bronze Cross, training in the prevention of injuries, responding to emergencies, rescue and lifeguarding skills, safe behaviours, and working as part of a lifeguard team, to obtain a Canadian Red Cross Assistant Life Guard certification.


This course is to prepare participants as deck-ready lifeguards through training in preventing and responding to emergencies, creating and maintaining safe aquatic environments, working in teams, and creating positive interactions with the public and team members.

Swimming Instructor

The Canadian Red Cross has a long history of developing well-trained professional instructors who love swimming as much as they love to help others learn.  Becoming a Water Safety Instructor (WSI) prepares participants to instruct the Red Cross Swim programs. Participants focus on strategies to introduce and develop fitness activities, skills, and water safety, and swimming skills in the Red Cross Swim Preschool, Red Cross Swim Kids, Red Cross Swim @ School, Red Cross Swim @ Camp, Red Cross Swim for Adults & Teens, and Red Cross Swim Adapted programs.

Swim assessments will be available for those who may not be sure of what level to register for. Please visit the customer service desk at your closest community centre for details.