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Swim School

Our Swim School is for all swimming abilities and comfort levels: we have something for everyone. We offer group, private, semi-private, and fitness-level courses.

All lessons and programs are taught by certified instructors or coaches who have completed their certification requirements and demonstrate the highest teaching standards. All instructors and coaches have gone through state and federal background checks and have been screened by our team. 

Group Lessons

Group Lessons are taught using the American Red Cross curriculum by certified Water Safety Instructors at McCoy Natatorium. Our classes are tailored to meet the needs of each participant so you or your child can progress at a pace that is comfortable and will help you achieve your swimming goals. Classes are small to ensure that you receive personal instruction from your swim instructor. 

  • To get the most out of your classes be sure to download the American Red Cross Free Swim App in your app store.
Adult Swim

Adult Swim

For many reasons, adult swim lessons are intended for teens and adults who wish to improve their knowledge and skill. It may be to overcome a fear of the water and to learn the basic skills in order to achieve a minimum level of water competency or to improve skill and technique to work towards a higher level of health, fitness, or water safety.

Lessons are 45 minutes long and take place in the McCoy Natatorium instructional pool (3.5 to 5 feet deep).


  • Adult Swim—Learning the Basics

    • This level is designed to help participants gain basic aquatic skills and swimming strokes, including the front crawl, breaststroke, and elementary backstroke. Participants also learn skills and concepts needed to stay safe around water, in addition to those needed to help themselves or others in an aquatic emergency.

  • Adult Swim—Improving Skills and Swimming Strokes
    Be comfortable in chest-deep water, be able to put your face in the water, and be able to perform strokes that can be recognized as front crawl, back crawl, and breaststroke, each for 15 yards.

    • This level seeks to improve participants' proficiency in basic aquatic skills (including rotary breathing, surface dives, and treading) and the six basic swimming strokes (front crawl, back crawl, butterfly, breaststroke, elementary backstroke, and sidestroke).Participants also learn skills and concepts needed to stay safe around water, in addition to those needed to help themselves or others in an aquatic emergency.

  • Adult Swim—Swimming for Fitness
    Be able to swim front crawl for 25 yards, back crawl for 25 yards, and breaststroke for 15 yards, each at American Red Cross Learn-to-Swim Level 4 proficiency or better.

    • This level focuses on refining the participant's front crawl, back crawl, and breaststroke strokes and turns, and building endurance. Participants also learn skills and concepts needed to stay safe around water.

Private & Semi-Private Lessons

Private and semi-private lessons are 45-minute lessons, available to those looking for a smaller instructor-to-participant ratio. Participants must first sign up on the waitlist and complete the lesson preference form for lessons. Then lessons are scheduled with your instructor during open swim times at McCoy Natatorium.

Private Lessons

Private Lessons

Consists of three or five 45-minute lessons with a certified swim instructor taught in a one-on-one format covering content based on the participant’s goals.

Semi-Private Lessons

Semi-Private Lessons

Consists of three or five 45-minute lessons with a certified swim instructor taught to two participants of similar swimming ability, covering content based on the participants’ goals.

Those wishing to have semi-private lessons must find their own co-participants and all participants must sign up on the waitlist and complete the preference form before an instructor is assigned.

Register Online for Lessons

Register for Private & Semi-Private Lesson Registration

All participants must register online for private or semi-private lessons online.  

  1. Create your account by signing up or logging in with your Penn State username and password to

    If you are signing up dependents, please make sure you add them as dependents to your account; before selecting the lessons. Once the account is created you can register for the class and select the individuals you are signing up. Then follow the prompts.

  2. After registering for the waitlist you will complete the lesson preference form sent to the email address used in your registration. Our staff will work to find you an instructor based on your responses.  

  3. Once you have been matched with an instructor, they will contact you to schedule your lessons. Once your lessons are scheduled, you will be provided with a link to pay for your lessons online. Lessons must be paid for before the first lesson takes place.

  4. Your instructor will contact you via email within 48 hours of being assigned, to set up the dates and times for your sessions.  

We are unable to process registrations in-person or over the phone; if you are having difficulties registering, please contact the Assistant Director of Aquatic Programs at or 814-865-5401. 

Masters Swimming

Campus Recreation provides scheduled coach-led workouts for adult swimmers through our Masters Swimming program.

This program caters to a wide range of individual goals including recreation, fitness, and competitive swimming. Our Masters community consists of Learn to Swim graduates, triathletes, former competitive swimmers, and Penn State faculty, staff, and students.

Course Information

Questions? We have answers. Any additional questions can be directed to the Assistant Director of Aquatic Programs by emailing or calling 814-865-5401.  

On your lesson day

What to Wear

All swim lesson participants must be in appropriate swim attire before the start of their lesson. The pool water is kept at approximately 81 degrees Fahrenheit; many small children use rash guards during lessons. Please arrive 10 minutes before your lesson to ensure that you get the maximum amount of instruction during your lesson. Goggles, swim caps, and ear plugs are optional depending on participants' preference.

Accompanying Minors

If these lessons are for a minor, all accompanying adults will need to be associated with the child’s account and present a photo ID upon entering the facility.  All credentialed adults will need to sign into the facility as a guest and abide by guest procedures.  Please accompany children at all times when in Campus Recreation facilities.


The East Parking Deck is located less than two blocks away from McCoy Natatorium and is the best option within walking distance for hourly parking.  You will take a ticket upon entrance and pay the rate of $1 per hour upon leaving the parking garage.  All questions regarding parking on campus may be directed to Penn State Transportation Services Department at  Penn State Campus Recreation does not have the ability to validate parking or appeal any parking citations you may receive for parking illegally.

Locker Rooms

There are public locker rooms located on the ground floor with direct access onto the pool deck. The women’s locker room is labeled “C” and men’s is “D.” Lockers are not to be used for overnight use and locks will not be provided. Bathrooms, showers and dryers are in each locker room. If you chose to you can bring belongings onto pool deck and it can be kept on the bleachers.

Waitlist Policy

Waitlist Policy

When a class has filled, participants can join the waitlist for the class by contacting the Campus Recreation Aquatics staff by emailing Joining the waitlist does not guarantee a position in the course. If a spot opens, you will be contacted by a member of Campus Recreation staff to register and pay for the course. 

Cancellation, Make-Up, and Refund Policy

Course Cancellation Policy

Campus Recreation may cancel or postpone any course or activity because of insufficient enrollment or other unforeseen circumstances. If a course is canceled, participants will receive a full refund. If a class date is canceled due to a University closure, Campus Recreation will attempt to reschedule the class to another date. If that is not possible, participants will receive a pro-rated refund for that date.

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Swim School
Penn State Student Affairs
Campus Recreation

IM Building
University Park, PA 16802


Our events and programs are open to all students regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, or any other protected class. Student Affairs is committed to building a community of belonging for all.