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St. Paul to offer free youth swimming lessons this summer

Saint Paul Pioneer Press - 3/27/2024

Through a free teen fitness academy, the city of St. Paul already trains more than 225 lifeguards year-round, leading the state in lifeguard certifications while keeping pools open throughout the city and beyond it.

The city’s aquatics initiatives are about to take another deep dive, so to speak, with St. Paul offering free youth swimming lessons this summer. Registration will be open to all St. Paul youth on a first-come, first-served basis beginning April 1.

The goal is to improve water safety — Black youth are about three times as likely to drown as their white peers, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — while aligning with St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter’s stated goals of removing fees for youth sports programming.

“In the land of 10,000 lakes, cost should never be a barrier to water safety skills,” said St. Paul Parks and Recreation Director Andy Rodriguez, in a written statement.

Summer lessons will be offered at the Como Regional Park Pool and the Highland Park Aquatic Center. Youth swimming lessons are open to St. Paul residents only and registration will be available online at, or by calling 651-642-0650, or in-person at Great River Water Park starting at 9 a.m. on April 1, which will heretofore be known as “April Pools Day.”

A water safety and swimming course also will be offered at Lake Phalen Beach this summer.

In addition to free lifeguard training for ages 14 to 18 and free summer lessons for kids, the city has launched five free or low-cost swimming programs aimed at making aquatics accessible to different populations. Among them, there’s a women’s swim night for women and girls who might not otherwise utilize the pools due to religious beliefs or cultural practices.

There’s also a sensory friendly swim time designated for individuals with sensory sensitivities, and a free open swim from 12 noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays at the Oxford Community Center/Jimmy Lee Rec center on Lexington Parkway. The open swim includes free water safety education training from 3 to 3:25 p.m.

The city offers free and reduced rate aquatics memberships for St. Paul residents ages 62 and up with a financial need.

New this year, St. Paul Parks and Recreation launched the “St. Paul Sunnies” developmental swim team, with the goal of prepping kids ages 10 to 14 who might not otherwise have access to a competitive swim team. The team, which held try-outs in January, is led by high school mentors.

More information on each program is online at

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