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8 Ways to Get Free Swimming Lessons for Low Income Families

8 Ways to Get Free Swimming Lessons for Low Income Families

Did you know that there are many organizations and even government programs that can provide free swimming lessons for low income families? If you’ve been worried about how to pay for these essential safety courses, we’ve compiled a list of places you can turn for help.


In this article, we’ll review a lot of different ways that your family may be able to get free swimming lessons, why these courses are important, and a few other things you need to know. Let’s dive right in!

Free Swimming Lessons for Low Income Families

You might be surprised by some of the providers on this list! I was certainly surprised by some of the things I found when I put it together.


While I was researching Medicaid plans the other day, I was surprised to see that some plans include allowances for free swimming lessons. This is especially common in areas like Florida, where pools and beaches are more prevalent and therefore the risk of childhood drowning is higher.

For example, the Humana Medicaid plan in Florida can provide up to $200 to cover the cost of swimming lessons for each family member under the age of 21. This reimbursement is available to the first 1,000 people who submit receipts each year, so you need to act fast and early in the year if you want to use this option to get free swimming lessons.


In order to find out what your Medicaid plan offers, you can call the number on the back of your Medicaid card to speak to a customer support representative. Ask if they offer any benefits or reimbursements for swimming lessons.

Government Programs

Many local city, county and even state governments are exploring ways to offer free swimming lessons in order to improve child safety. These initiatives are making it easier for low income families to connect to this vital resource and keep their children safe.

While these programs are not available in all areas, we have been able to confirm that there are local government initiatives available in the following areas:

  • Connecticut, Danbury: Children age 17 and under can receive free swimming lessons at the Danbury Community Center.
  • Florida, Palm Beach County: The Drowning Prevention Coalition provides vouchers for free or reduced cost swim lessons for children between the ages of 2 and 12. The vouchers are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Massachusetts, Boston: The City’s Safe Swim Program provides free swim lessons for children and youth. You have to take lessons at an approved provider, like the YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs, or DotHouse Health.
  • Minnesota, St. Paul: The City of St. Paul provides free swimming lessons for local youth who live in the city limits. You need to register online.

At the time of this writing, Florida is also working on a statewide initiative that would provide free swimming lessons for low income families who earn 200% of the Federal Poverty Level or less. This program would be administered through vouchers, which would be given to low income families who have at least one child under age five.

Local Recreation Centers

Your local Parks & Recreation Department may be able to help you find free swimming lessons for low income families in your area as well. That’s because many of those government programs are operated by the local recreation centers overseen by this department.

For example, we have found no-cost swim programs operated by the following departments:

  • California, Los Angeles: The Los Angeles Parks and Recreation Department offers free and affordable swim lessons at their city pools.
  • Oregon, Portland: Portland’s Parks and Recreation Department provides free learn-to-swim lessons during certain dates. You have to register online in advance.
  • Washington DC: The Parks and Recreation Department offers all of their DPR Aquatic Programs at no-cost to DC residents.
  • Washington, Seattle: The Seattle Parks and Recreation Department offers free swimming lessons to low income families who qualify for their scholarship or financial aid pricing.

There may be additional opportunities in your area. Contact your local Parks and Recreation Department for details.


YMCA Programs

Most YMCAs offer financial assistance or scholarships to make swimming lessons more affordable for low income families. In fact, many low income families qualify for a free or low-cost YMCA membership that can provide access to all sorts of programs!

To find out about how this program works in your area, visit your local YMCA’s website or contact them directly. Be prepared to provide income documentation to prove your eligibility.

Red Cross Swimming Lessons

The Red Cross trains and certifies swimming instructors across the country. Many of their partners provide free and low-cost swimming lessons to promote child safety, but this is not guaranteed.

You can use their online tool to find programs in your area. Just ask if they have any scholarships or low income discounts that your family may be able to use.

USA Swimming Foundation

The USA Swimming Foundation provides an annual grant program to help children get into swimming lessons. These grants are provided directly to the provider on the condition that they provide free or reduced-price swimming lessons in their area.

You can look for a participating Learn to Swim provider on the USA Swimming website.


If you don’t find one in your area, consider reaching out to a local swimming instructor and encourage them to apply for the Learn to Swim Grants. The program accepts applications between mid-October and mid-December each year, and then winners are selected in the Spring.

Ask about Scholarships

Many Aquatics Centers and swimming instructors offer scholarships for low income families who truly can’t afford the price of lessons. However, the requirements and processes to obtain these can vary drastically between locations.

Some providers have made their scholarship applications available online but others do not. Here are a list of instructors that we have confirmed provide free swimming lessons for low income families through their scholarship programs:

  • Bear Paddle Swim School: If you live near one of their locations in Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, New Jersey or Minnesota, you will need to contact the organization for a scholarship application because it does not appear that you can apply online.
  • The Swim Lesson People: If you live in Parker County, Texas, you can apply for their scholarship online as well.
  • Waterworks Aquatics: If you live near one of their locations in California or Colorado, you can apply online for their scholarship program.

Other schools may provide scholarships as well. You will need to contact your local provider to inquire.

Free Swimming Lesson Grants

There are many nonprofits and charities that are dedicated to reducing childhood drowning by helping low income families get free lifesaving lessons. Most of these organizations are committed to supporting a certain type of swimming lesson.

If you are interested in Infant Swim Resource Self-Rescue swim lessons for a very young child, then you may be able to receive assistance from these organizations:

  • Because of Logan: This family foundation is named in honor of Logan, who was lost to childhood drowning. They provide scholarships for Infant Swim Resource (ISR) Self-Rescue swim lessons for families who truly cannot afford the full cost on their own. If you apply online and are approved, you will have to pay up-front and then you will be reimbursed after your child successfully completes the program.
  • Live Like Jake Foundation: This family foundation provides scholarships for Infant Swim Resource (ISR) Self-Rescue lessons. They only provide this assistance to very low income families who truly cannot afford the lessons. You can apply online if you are interested.

For access to more general swimming lessons, you may be interested in these providers:

  • Step Into Swim: This program has provided more than 330,000 free swimming lessons for low income families over the years. You can apply online for their scholarship program.
  • The Sylas Project: This program can provide up to $600 per child to cover up to six weeks of survival swim lessons. If you apply online and are approved, this program requires that you pay up front and they will reimburse the cost after your child completes the course.
  • Naomi’s Grace: This program helps Texas families receive reduced-cost swimming lessons through their scholarship program. They can provide up to $500 for survival swim or up to $200 for learn-to-swim classes. If you are interested, you can apply online for this program.

You may notice that some of these providers require you to pay up front for lessons and then reimburse you later. While this may technically result in free swimming lessons, it definitely creates a hardship for low income families who can’t afford the up-front cost.

Before signing up for any program, ask about their refund/reimbursement process, what documentation is required, and how long it typically takes to receive reimbursement. This can help you choose the option that best fits your financial situation.

Why Free Swimming Lessons are Important

Drowning is a leading cause of accidental death for children, and a disproportionate number of victims come from low income and minority communities. Free swimming lessons provide access to life-saving skills that can make all the difference. By removing financial barriers, these programs help create a safer future for our most vulnerable children.

Here are some statistics to consider:

  • Drowning kills about 4,000 people every year in the United States. That’s around 11 deaths per day!
  • There are approximately 8,000 nonfatal drownings per year. That’s about 22 per day! These can result in long-term health problems and expensive hospital stays.
  • Drowning is the leading cause of death for children under age 5 and the second leading cause of unintentional injury for children between the ages of 5 and 14.

Clearly, free swimming lessons are more than just a fun activity. They can save lives and open up a world of opportunity for our kids. Please share this information with anyone you know who might benefit!

Relief Recap

There are many ways to get free swimming lessons for low income families. From Medicaid coverage to nonprofit grants, we have covered a wide range of opportunities that can help protect your children from danger. Follow up with the providers on this list to get those lessons started, and don’t forget to check out our website for other ways that you can save money and get free stuff!