Learn-to-swim & Returning Student Sessions

These classes are appropriate for children who are beginners or working on more advanced skills. We do not have swim “levels.”  Mike will advance each student from where he/she is.  A swim session consists of nine, half-hour classes per group of four, over two weeks. Your child will be taught to swim in one 9-day session.

Stroke Sessions

Once your child has mastered basic swimming skills with proper form and breathing, he or she can continue on to the development of stroke technique. Swimmers will be taught the competitive swim strokes, starting with freestyle, then backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly.

Each swimmer will progress through the strokes at their own speed. Some may need more than one session to become competent in all four strokes. Stroke lessons are also scheduled as 9-day/30 minute classes.

Some indicators your child is ready to learn strokes:

– Gets around the pool easily and takes breaths
– Has been or will be on a swim team
– Began learning freestyle last summer with Mike

Age Requirement

In our experience, children aged 3+ possess the physical and emotional development to have the most successful experience with our program. We are willing to take children as young as 33 months, though their progress and retention of skills can be more limited.  Please call us to discuss your child’s readiness for lessons.

Lesson Format

A session consists of 9 lessons over two weeks (weekdays only), up to ½ hour per day.

Special Needs Children

We are willing and able to teach most children with special needs. Mike has extensive experience teaching children with a variety of issues and developmental delays. Our program is well-suited to these students because it is highly structured and Mike is calm and experienced. Please indicate on your registration form and/or contact us so that we can make scheduling modifications if necessary to accommodate your child.

Registering to host lessons at your backyard pool (Host)

On the sign-up page, select the “host” option. Indicate your preference of date and time, and you will be contacted once your registration has been received. For any host of two or more consecutive full groups, there is a host discount that starts at $200.  Hosts scheduling 2 or more groups will be prioritized for scheduling for late afternoon class times after 4 pm.

Pool RequirementsLessons may only be scheduled in private, backyard pools that will maintain a temperature of 90 degrees. Pools must be large enough that a child has to take 3-4 strokes to swim across the shorter direction and have a deck edge that children can hold onto on at least one side. Please provide at least two photos of your pool showing the entire pool from each end and including all steps.  Pools must be reviewed to ensure they are suitable for teaching.

Registering for a friend or neighbor’s group (Guest)

On the sign-up page, select the “guest” option to register for a group to which you have been invited.

Registering without a pool (Placement List)

On the sign-up page, select the “placement list” option to request placement in a local area where space is available. If you have registered to be on the placement list, you will be contacted as soon as possible, but it may be some time before we know what options are available. Everyone will be scheduled in the order their form was received.

If your scheduling needs are very specific for time, date, or location, you may wish to arrange a pool on your own as options can be limited for particular times or sessions. Openings in groups are often filled by the host, so we may not have spaces to offer for certain dates or locations.


The fee for a session is $550 per student.  A deposit of $275 per swimmer is required with registration and the balance is due on the first day of class.  Due to limited availability, please note there is a $45 surcharge on classes 4 pm and later (total fee $595 for late afternoon times).

After you have accepted a placement option, a $50 change fee (per student) is assessed for any schedule change. Your deposit becomes non-refundable if inadequate notice is given for your reserved spot to be filled.  Your lesson balance is charged on the first day of lessons.  If you have registered but cancel prior to placement, your deposit is fully refundable.


Early registration:
$50 discount for any student who is registered and paid in full prior to October 1, 2023.

Multiple group (hosts only):
$200+ discount for those who host two or more consecutive full groups at their pool. This discount is available whether spots are filled by the host or by Mike O’Brien Swim.

Larger discounts may be available for hosting larger blocks of time or groups during morning class times or spring sessions dates. Please call or email our office for further information.

We do not offer a sibling discount.

Times and Locations

Sessions are available between 8:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., March through August. Lessons take place in heated, backyard pools all over Orange County, CA.

We also offer lessons on a limited basis in the greater Phoenix, AZ area. Contact our office for information.

Should a parent attend the lessons?

Yes! It is important for the child to have the security of a familiar adult/caregiver in an unfamiliar situation. For the parent, it is exciting to watch your child learn to swim, and observation will help you practice with your child once the session is completed.

It is helpful but not required to have the student brought to the class by the same person each day.

Does a parent get into the water?


What if my child cries or says that he/she doesn’t want to swim?

It is not unusual for young children to be wary of new experiences. Most will stop crying between 2 and 4 days into the lessons as they gain confidence.

How many sessions will my child need?

One session is enough to prepare most children to reach their potential for that year. Our students don’t need multiple sessions because it is not necessary. They complete their lessons with a level of confidence and competence that makes them willing and ready to practice outside of formal lessons.

It is very important that each swimmer be able to transfer their skills to different environments. Their safety depends upon being able to swim even when the setting, pool, or people change.

With practice afterwards, your child will continue to build upon what he or she has learned without the need for additional lessons. In the unusual case that additional lessons are needed, Mike will let you know.

Can my child actually swim in nine days?

Yes. What does swimming look like? A child who can swim has the confidence and basic skills required to propel him or herself through the water, reach the wall or steps, and climb out of the pool.

Most swimmers will exceed these basic skills and Mike will challenge each swimmer to reach their developmental potential. Some swimmers will do more than others, but do not compare your child to others. Each child is individual and will develop skills at his or her own pace.

The key to your child’s success is not about the number of days or length of each lesson. The quality of instruction and commitment to frequent practice leads to the best final result.

Why are the lessons taught in small groups? What if I would prefer a private or semi-private class?

Our group lessons are highly structured and designed to use group dynamics as an effective teaching tool. The group setting allows Mike to control the pacing of the class and gives the students periods of rest and the opportunity to watch other students.

In Mike’s experience successfully teaching thousands of students, he has found the group format to be most effective with young children. Only when special needs are present do we recommend smaller class sizes. If you still choose to limit your child’s class size, the cost of a full group of four still applies to the smaller class.

What makes our method work?

In learning to swim, children must work through physical and psychological barriers in a new and unfamiliar environment. Our proprietary method is so successful because of Mike’s skill in quickly understanding and overcoming those barriers.

The consistency of day-to-day instruction and positive reinforcement along with his keen insight into a child’s motivations helps him instill the confidence that is foundational to the development of swimming as a lifelong skill.

How is this program different from other swim programs?

Mike’s positive and effective teaching style is unique to our program. Some of the things that set us apart from other instructors and lesson programs are:

  • – Mike will never yell or scream to motivate a child
  • – Mike does not use or allow any props on which your child could become dependent (including goggles)
  • – Our program does not build in the need for perpetual lessons or the presence of an instructor to use and enjoy the pool
  • – Mike will not frustrate your child by teaching them skills for which they are not developmentally ready
  • – Mike always maintains control of each class and gives the students his undivided attention

FAQ’s for hosts

What if I want to host, but don’t have enough swimmers for a group?
We will happily fill in openings for you. We always have clients on our placement list who don’t have access to a pool.

What if our group has more than four swimmers, or children of different ages/ability?
We will not take more than four swimmers in the water at the same time. If the schedule allows, an additional class can be added for the extra children. If there are very different levels, having two separate groups works well. Each child will be working on their own individual skills, so they don’t have to match perfectly, but try to avoid putting beginners with swimmers working on advanced skills.

Do I need to have my whole group arranged before I register?
No, but you must indicate how much time you wish to reserve. Groups must be filled (all participants registered and paid) at least three (3) months prior to the start date or we will fill any remaining openings for you.


Once you have accepted a placement option (agreed to a date/time), your deposit becomes non-refundable. However, if we are given enough notice that your reserved spot can be filled, your deposit will be credited to you for a later session within that calendar year, if available, minus a $50 change fee.


Depending on when this occurs and the expected recovery time, your session may need to be re-scheduled and some additional cost may be incurred. Individual lessons missed due to illness cannot be made up due to lack of continuity and instructor schedule.


Every lesson builds upon the progress of the previous lesson. To maximize your child’s progress, make every effort to attend all classes. We do not offer make-up lessons due to absence.


Lessons are held as scheduled, rain or shine. If Mike determines a lesson will be cancelled for any reason, parents will be individually notified via SMS prior to class.

What to bring

A bathing suit and a towel. A swim diaper is required if your child is under 4, regardless of potty training status.

What to do

Put a smile on your face: your child will observe you and pick up on your feelings.

Be attentive to Mike’s instructions on Day 1.  Following them closely will make a big difference.

After your child’s lesson session is complete, plan to swim as frequently as possible. Practice makes perfect and keeps confidence high. It is CRITICAL that your child swims 10-20 minutes daily for 2 weeks immediately after their session and with high frequency thereafter.

What NOT to do

Do not use floaties or goggles in the pool, and if have been using them, STOP NOW.

Do not talk too much. Leading up to and during the lessons, too much discussion will only increase anxiety. Keep any comments short, matter-of-fact, and positive. Do not acknowledge negative comments or behavior.

Do not tell your child not to cry at any point before, during, or after the swim lessons. When you acknowledge adverse behavior, you will prolong that behavior.

Absolutely do not swim during the nine days of lessons. It will impede your child’s progress.