Happy Fish Swim School Review: Baby Swim Lesson
Baby Evangeline used to scream and shriek whenever we showered her during her first two months. However, as she grew to love bath time, we thought it is a good idea to let her try swimming. Moreover, she’s an active baby and swimming or playing with water might be a good way to expend her energy and sleep well at night.
We heard good reviews about Happy Fish Swim School (“Happy Fish”) from other mummies. So we are happy that Happy Fish gave us a free trial to write about our experience here. They have also kindly offered 5 blessed mummies a free trial too! See how you can get a trial at the end of this post.
About Happy Fish Swim School
Happy Fish has developed a highly effective teaching system from years of teaching experience since 2007. They offer swimming lessons for all ages, from 4 months old to adult. They also have special group lessons: female only and prenatal lessons, and also lessons offered to developmentally challenged children.
Group and private lessons are conducted in public swimming complexes or Happy Fish’s indoor pools. Private lessons can also be arranged at your condominium or private pool.
Infant Aquatics: Heated Indoor Pools
Baby swimming lessons (infant aquatics) are held at Happy Fish’s indoor heated swimming pools, located at Jurong East, Bedok, Bukit Timah (Duke’s Road) and Horsecity. We went to their Bukit Timah branch that is located in a terrace shophouse.
It is their smallest branch and pool. Unlike other locations where few classes are conducted concurently, Bukit Timah’s pool only has one lesson at a time. Hence Bukit Timah is a cosy place for people who don’t like crowds. But that also means the class timings are limited too.
Evangeline swam in a condominium’s cold pool when she was 6 months old and without thermal swimwear. Oops. I think that’s fine for occasional fun water play. But if she’s going into the water frequently for a swim, I feel it’s better that the pool is heated and with lower chlorine content. That’s a reason why I thought of signing Evangeline up for swim lessons at Happy Fish and not teach her ourselves at public pools.
The water temperature of the indoor pool is maintained at 30-32 degrees Celsius during lesson time, which is comfortable for small babies. Moreover, the waters are not heavy chlorinated because bacteria is safely eliminated by a non-chemical technology. This technology is used by New York City to purify drinking water, reducing the need for chlorine up to 90%. Lastly, indoor pool is shielded from harmful UV rays and changing weather. So with this heated indoor pool, the baby doesn’t need to drink heavily chlorinated water, suffer from cold shivers, stinging eyes, dry hair and skin, or class disruptions.
About Baby Swimming Lessons
Why should baby go for swim lessons?
According to Happy Fish, there’s a research done by Griffith University (Australia) on 7000 babies. These are the findings for children who swim at very young age:
- Excellent way to physical, social & emotional development.
- Helps in growing sense of self-esteem, confidence and independence.
- Improve heart and lung function.
- Precious bonding session with parents.
- Better oral expression, literacy, numeracy & mathematical reasoning compared to normal population
Swimming also allows babies to exercise which helps in development of their motor, coordination, lung capacity and balance.
When to start baby swim lessons?
Happy Fish’s infant aquatic program is designed for babies from 4 months to 2 years old. So you can start as early as 4 months old. But you can google and find that some people think that babies under 1 year old are too young for swim lessons.
Personally, I feel more comfortable for Evangeline to enter the pool after 6 months old and officially start frequent swim lessons around 1 year old. She went for the trial lesson at 9+ months old (7 April 2018). So I would say it depends on your comfort level and whether your baby is ready for the water.
How is Happy Fish’s swim curriculum like?
Classes are conducted consecutively for 12 weeks (~3 months), excluding public holidays. This provides routine for the students and promotes consistent progression from beginners to advanced learners.
- Beginners: Submerge and float comfortably in the water.
- Intermediate: Swim short distances independently.
- Advance: Swim longer distances, swim around and climb out of the pool independently.
In the end, children will learn how to enter water safely, hold their breath when they go underwater, propel themselves to the side of the pool and finally get out of the pool safely.
The downside is that you can only have 2 make up lessons out of 12 lessons. But at least it’s better than nothing since young babies are unpredictable – sick, fussy, etc. Or you could have planned for holidays in between.
What happens during the infant swim class?
Happy Fish keeps the class size small with a maximum of 6 students (infants). This ensures good teacher to student ratio. Note that an adult has to accompany the infant into the water. Both parents can also choose to join their baby in the water. Happy Fish aims to train parents or caregivers to be the best swimming teacher for their babies.
During the lesson, infants will learn the following:
- Breath Control: Hold breath when verbal and kinesthetic trigger is given.
- Water Familiarisation: Explore in and around the water safely.
- Trauma-Free Submersion: Develop confidence in submerging underwater and discover the freedom of buoyancy.
- Free Floating: Float without assistance to the ledge of pools or between adults.
- Propulsion: Learn basic hand paddling and leg kicking action to move around in the water.
- Independency: Swim between adults, grabbing shirts to pull themselves up, turn and swim back to the ledge and get out of the pool, all by themselves.
Are the instructors certified?
Being AUSTSWIM Gold Level Recognised Swim Centre, Happy Fish instructors are certified AUSTSWIM Teacher of Infant & Preschool Aquatics.
Duration and Pricing?
Each lesson is only for 30 minutes. That’s long enough for babies’ short attention span. Moreover, our pediatrician told us that it’s best for young babies to swim in chlorine water for only 20 minutes. So a 30 minutes works out to be good for the indoor pool.
Weekday: S$342.40 per term (incl. GST)
Weekend: S$428.00 per term (incl. GST)
Term: 10 + 2 lessons
Our Experience: Happy Fish Swim Trial
We were the only ones during the swim trial and instructor Jasmin was assigned to us. She had 5 to 6 years of experience teaching children (including infants).
Hubby went into the waters with Evangeline, while I took charge of taking photos of her first swim lesson! 🙂 Hubby wore his own swimming trunks while Happy Fish provided their t-shirt for him to wear over. We saw other fathers in the toddler swimming lesson wearing Happy Fish t-shirt as well.
During the Lesson
At the start of the lesson, Jasmin briefed us on the dos and don’ts. Don’t wipe the face when water trickles down. Don’t rush to bring the baby out of water on first cry. Do relax, smile and praise to encourage them. The little one will reflect our emotions, either calmness or fear.
During the trial, Evangeline was taught propulsion, water familiarisation and breath control. Jasmine guided my hubby on how to carry Evangeline and have her do warm up kicks, front and back strokes.
Then she taught us water conditioning so that Evangeline doesn’t associate fear with water. She did that by giving a signal followed by pouring a scoop of water down from above Evangeline’s head. She encouraged us to continue doing that during bath time. Evangeline surprisingly didn’t scream when the water was poured over her. Credit goes to my hubby who always did a similar move with the shower head during bath time.
Nearing the end of the lesson, Jasmin taught my hubby how to submerge Evangeline underwater. This is a way to test how long the baby can hold their breath. Evangeline could hold her breathe for quite some time and without crying. That made us proud parents! 🙂
We thought that the trial lesson is very fruitful because Jasmin taught Evangeline many moves. Turns out, she had taught her stuff from lessons 1 to 3 because Evangeline didn’t cry in the waters and held her breath relatively well. Thus what’s taught during the trial lesson depends on how ready your baby is with water.
Wash Up at Bukit Timah Branch
The pool is at level one while the wash up area is on level two. So you have to be really careful when walking up the wet steps with a baby in your hand. The other parent who is not going into the water can sit at level two to watch the class ongoing downstairs.
There are four shower cubicles and two large basins for your baby to wash up. Diaper stations and lockers are available too. The area was relatively empty when we were there, but we foresee it might be a squeeze when there’s a full class. For young babies who still cannot stand, I would recommend two adults to be there because there’s nowhere to place your baby while you clean up and change.
We were half thinking whether to sign her up for swim lessons, since we can bring her to swim on our own. But after the trial, we realised that there are certain guided swim moves we wouldn’t have dared to do on our own, for fear of baby drinking too much water or drowning.
These moves are good because they seem to maximise the baby’s potential and movements in the waters and not just aimlessly float around. Come to think of it, the infant swim lessons are more for the parents than babies. Because during the swim lesson, parents learn how to guide babies to move in water instead of babies learning to swim! 🙂
[Update on 5 January 2019: We saw how Evangeline loved the water and decided to sign up for one term (10 weeks) after the trial class. She is always excited when we’re heading to Happy Fish and enjoys her lessons. In the beginning, she even requested us to sing the Happy Fish song all the time. And in a twinkling, we paid up for her third term yesterday! One of her classmates stopped after the first term because he did not seem to enjoy as much. So go for a trial class first to gauge if this is suitable for your little one. If not, they can learn swimming again when they’re older! :)]
Have you tried Happy Fish infant swim lesson too? What do you think? Leave your thoughts below!