Tried & True: Houston Swim Club (Katy)
As much as we hate starting anything off with an alarming statistic, it’s exactly these statistics that woke us up and looking into swim lessons for our kids and asking around about the best local swim clubs in Katy.
The scary truth is, drowning is the leading cause of injury or death for those 1 to 4 years of age. And most, if not all of us, know someone who’s been affected by accidents involving water, most of which occur when the family is not even swimming.
Even scarier? Texas leads the nation in drownings and 30% of Texas drownings are in Harris and surrounding counties.
As moms, all we want is to protect our kids and the ability to give them the tools they need to keep them safe is something very important to us. Swim lessons are so necessary in our opinion, but with so many swim schools to choose from in the area, how do you decide?
For us, as with most great places we’ve been blessed enough to end up at in Katy, all the great places involved us just stepping through the door. It involved us getting over whatever barrier we thought was in front of us like drive time, location, price, etc. and just walking in the door. That’s when you FEEL a place is special. That’s when the energy of those who greet you and the staff member throughout make you feel comfortable, safe, warm…like family.
The minute we walked through the doors of Houston Swim Club, we knew this was the place we wanted our kids to learn how to swim. The fact that they’re locally and family owned and operated is a bonus and after a full tour from their fabulous Site Director, Jennifer Hawes, and research into their gentle teaching methods to get children to truly love the water, we were hooked. Yes, it helped the HSC came highly recommended by so many moms we asked, but for us, we had to see it for ourselves.
We’ve got our girls who are 4.5 and almost 5 and then our boys who are newly 2 and almost 2.5. Our kids range from scared, to cautious, to too confident around the water and we wanted to make sure the program was what we wanted and the staff was loving and caring.
And you guys, Houston Swim club is the best we’ve seen out there on all fronts.
Houston Swim Club was started in 1961 with a proven curriculum developed by University of Houston head coach and U.S. Olympic coach Phill Hansel. His AMAZING teaching method is still used by them today.
Tracy Laman, daughter of the owners and Aquatics Director of all five HSC locations, is still in the water teaching kids, because that’s where her passion lies. Tracy is a mom of two and watching her teach on our first day it was so clear we made the right choice. That teaching style is what’s been passed on to all the coaches there and most of them have been there for years.
Phil Hansen opened the first swim school in Sharpstown in 1973. Tracy and her two sisters grew up working there, and their mom, Bonnie Howe, answered the phones. In 1994, Phil had a stoke and offered to sell the business to Bonnie. Even though Bonnie’s husband did not approve, she borrowed money from everyone she knew and took out loans to buy the pool and the rest is history! In 2001, they opened up Sugar Land, Katy came in 2006, in 2009 came Pearland, and finally in 2013 they opened Cypress.
Each summer they teach 1,800 kids a week at each location. One of Tracy’s sisters and her husband own the Pearland and Cypress locations and her other sister is still a teacher, as well. Of Bonnie’s 9 grandchildren, 7 have worked at the pool. This is 100% a local, family business and we couldn’t love their passion more.
Their Loving, Gentle Approach
HSC combines a safe, nurturing, and loving environment with OVER 50 YEARS of professional experience to teach kiddos how to achieve their swimming goals while also having fun. During the past fifty-five years, HSC has taught over a QUARTER OF A MILLION STUDENTS. Their confidence in their teaching methods and abilities and their policy to teach with love and joy in a happy, positive, and structured atmosphere is what keeps Katy families coming back.
Many of us have heard of Survival Swim or Infant Swimming Resource (ISR). It’s a method that has grown in popularity over the last decade, but some experts caution that it can be traumatic for kids. This method is known to use “fear-based conditioned learning” by simulating what would happen if a child fell in the water. This style of teaching includes repeated drops into the water and being pushed off the edge of the pool to know what it feels like to fall in. Houston Swim Club does NOT do this. It’s truly their mission for kids to love the water and look forward to swim class. HSC offers a positive environment for learning and consider their approach “LOVINGLY DISCIPLINED” by teaching with love in a positive and structured atmosphere.
What To Expect & Trusting The Process
If you’ve made it this far, it’s clear why we love HSC. If you think you’ll love it too, it’s important to know what to expect.
No matter what age your child is, it’s very important they go through the 2-week, every day program. Why 2 weeks every day? In order to get the best result, your children have to trust the teacher and be comfortable in the water. We teach children to not talk to strangers or go near the water, so it goes against everything they are taught when we take them to swim lessons. These 2 weeks (yes, every day) allows the child to build a relationship with their instructor and build that trust quickly. It gets them in a rhythm and comfortable with the water.
After these 2 weeks, your kiddo will learn 3 main safety skills – breath control (can hold breath for 6-8 secs), swim back to the bricks and hold onto the wall, and back floating. By the end of the two weeks, 100% of the kids can do the first two safety skills and 80% can back float unassisted. This is their promise and they’re confident in it!
Our girls were very reluctant on day one, one of our girls even screamed and cried (yes, traumatic even more Mom!) and here we are, almost at the end of our 2-week everyday session, and you wouldn’t believe the confidence in them and what they’ve learned!
Here’s where we preach for a moment though and ask you to trust the process. The two-week session is a giant time commitment, for any parent, but it’s a non negotiable for HSC, so we trusted it. Even on day 2, we could see why it was important to keep this aspect. What we can say is, if we can get to a class every day, ANYONE can. One of us works full time and the other always has an active toddler in tow, but we made it happen!
You also need to be sure to trust in the age range/classes you’re put in. Because our girls are only 4 months apart, we were confused why they weren’t in the same class and why a 4.5 year old would be in a class with a 3 year old. But again, we needed to trust the process and trust the experts, and we GET IT. Bree, who’s almost 5, is learning how to truly swim. Whereas Harper, who’s just 4.5, is learning more survival-like floating techniques that are needed before the age of 5.
Your kiddo also can’t start lessons without you until they’re 2.5. You can sign them up as young as 4 months for mommy-and-me classes and those look like so much fun from what we see! But they cannot go out on their own with a coach until 2.5. So, this is important to know, as well.
Again, TRUST THEM. They know their stuff!
For more information about Houston Swim Club, be sure to check out their website and give them a follow on social!
**Because Houston Swim is so supportive of our platform and all of you, they’ve got a special Katy Moms offer to share! Any new family who signs up for swim lessons and mentions Katy Moms Network, you’ll get $25 off!**