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Swim Lessons Open October 1
Swim lessons for Penn State students, faculty, and staff will open for registration on October 1.

Swim School

Our Swim School is for all swimming abilities and comfort levels; we have something for everyone. If you are looking to learn to swim or work on your stroke, we offer group lessons starting at 6 months of age through adulthood. If a group setting is not what you are looking for, private lessons are available. Those who are looking for a coached setting can check out our fitness swimming and monthly stroke clinics to perfect your stroke. 

All lessons and programs are taught by certified instructors or coaches. All instructors and coaches have gone through state and federal background checks and have been screened by our team. 

For questions about Swim School, please contact the assistant director of Aquatic Programs at or 814-865-5401.  

Interested in becoming a Swim Instructor or Fitness Swimming Coach 
If you are interested in becoming a member of our Swim School Team, please apply through the Penn State Career website for the swim instructor position. If you have questions about the position, email  
Apply through Penn State Careers

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. Our classes are small to ensure that you or your child 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 or text “Swim” to 90999.

All participants must register online. We are unable to accept registrations in person or over the phone.  

Parent and Child Aquatics (6 months to approximately 3 years)

Parents and children learn together to increase a child's comfort level in the water and build a foundation of basic skills, such as arm and leg movements and breath control. The two levels are fun-filled and help introduce water safety concepts, encouraging a healthy recreational habit that your entire family can enjoy.

Level 1 (ages 6 months – 18 months) --Provides experiences and activities for children to:

  • Learn to ask permission before entering the water 

  • Learn how to enter and exit the water safely 

  • Feel comfortable in the water 

  • Practice blowing bubbles 

  • Explore submerging the mouth, nose, and eyes completely 

  • Explore buoyancy on the front and back position 

  • Change body position in the water 

  • Learn how to play safely in the water 

  • Experience wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket 

Level 2 (ages 18 months – 3 years) --Builds upon the skills learned in Level 1 and provides experiences and activities for children to:

  • Understand the need for adult supervision around water 

  • Learn more ways to enter and exit the water safely 

  • Explore submerging in a rhythmic pattern 

  • Glide on the front and back with assistance 

  • Perform a rudimentary stroke using combined arm and leg actions on the front and back with assistance 

  • Change body position in the water 

  • Experience wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket in the water 

Preschool Aquatics (approximately 4 to 5 years old)

Throughout the three levels, preschool-age children are taught basic aquatic safety and swimming skills, all the while increasing their comfort level in and around the water. Skills are age-appropriate, helping children achieve success on a regular basis and enjoy social interactions with other children. As in all Swimming and Water Safety courses, your child will always know safety is the priority.

Level 1—Orients children to the aquatic environment and helps them gain basic aquatic skills with assistance.

Level 2—Helps children gain greater independence in their skills and develop more comfort in and around water with assistance.

Learn-to-Swim (children approximately 6 years through teen)

Designed to help participants achieve maximum success, Learn-to-Swim courses are based on a logical, six-level progression that helps swimmers of varying ages and abilities develop their water safety, survival and swim skills.

Level 1—Introduction to Water Skills

Helps participants feel comfortable in the water with assistance.

Level 2—Fundamental Aquatic Skills

Gives participants success with fundamental skills to succeed without floatation assistance.

Level 3—Stroke Development

Builds on the skills in Level 2 through additional guided practice in deeper water.

Level 4—Stroke Improvement

Develops confidence in the skills learned and improves other aquatic skills.

Adult Swim (16+)

Adult Swimming lessons are intended for teens and adults who wish to improve their knowledge and skill for many reasons. It may be to overcome their fear of the water and to learn the basic skills and achieve a minimum level of water competency to improve their skill and technique either to increase their level of safety to improve their health and fitness or to perhaps compete in triathlons or to join a PSU Fitness Swimming!

  • Adult Swim—Beginner 1
    • This level is for those first timers looking to gain more confidence in the water! Focusing on breathing techniques, horizontal body position, and recovery and arm and leg movements for forward progression. We offer this class in the shallow 3’6-4’ area of our pool! Many skills will be taught with buoyancy assistance progressing to slight assistance.
  • Adult Swim—Beginner 2
    • This level is for those who are comfortable in the water and want to learn the basics of freestyle, backstroke, and breaststroke. We offer this course in the shallow 3’6-4’ area of the pool; depending on participant skill level the class may progress together to deeper water. Some skills will be taught with a little buoyancy assistance progressing to no assistance.
  • Adult Swim—Intermediate
    • In this level, we focus on improving freestyle, backstroke, and breaststroke as well as open turns to allow swimmers to build confidence swimming laps. Participants will gain experience with recreational lap swim equipment such as flippers, pull-buoys, kickboards and hand paddles. This course takes place in both shallow and deep water.   
  • Adult Swim—Fitness Swimming
    • This is for those looking to swim on a regular basis while working to increase stroke efficiency, speed, and fitness through instructor lead workouts. This course takes place in the 25-yard lap lanes.

Private and Semi-Private Lessons

Private and Semi-Private lessons are 30-minute lessons available to those looking for a smaller instructor to participant ratio. Participants must first complete the lesson preference form for lessons and then lessons are scheduled with your instructor during open swim times at McCoy Natatorium.

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

Participants must be at least 3 years old for private lessons and at least 6 months for semi-private lessons.

Semi-Private Lessons: two participants with similar swimming ability with one instructor

How to Register

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

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

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

Step 3: Once you have been matched with an instructor, you will receive the instructor's name and a link to pay for lessons. Payment is required before the start of the first lesson.  

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

Fitness Swimming

Fitness swimming is for those looking to swim on a regular basis while working to increase stroke efficiency, speed, and fitness through instructor lead workouts. This course takes place in the 25-yard lap lanes.

Policies and Additional Information

Swim School Policies

Waitlist Policy

When a group lesson class has filled, you are able to register for the waitlist. This 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. 

Private lessons may have a waitlist at times. Lessons will be assigned as instructors become available.

Make-Up Policy

Missed group lesson sessions and private lessons will not be made up.

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 by Campus Recreation, participants will receive a full refund.

Additional Information for Swim School Participants


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 in to 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. Penn State Campus Recreation does not have the ability to validate parking or appeal any parking citations you may receive for parking illegally.


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 earplugs are optional depending on participants' preference.

Locker Rooms

There are public locker rooms located on the ground floor with direct access to the pool deck. The women’s locker room is labeled “C” and the 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 the pool deck and they can be kept on the bleachers.