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COVID-19 Risk Level for Multnomah County: Extreme Risk

Swimming pools and lessons

All Portland Parks & Recreation community centers and pools are temporarily closed in response to COVID-19. All on-site recreation activities are canceled until further notice.

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COVID-19 related information

Learn more about closures and postponements related to the COVID-19 pandemic response.
For refund information, please visit our cancellations and refunds page.


Swim Lesson Description

Angelfish - Child with parent (age 6 - 18 mo)

Prerequisite: For children age 6 months to 18 months who will be accompanied by a parent or other adult in the water. Fun, water adjustment, and basic skill development are emphasized as the instructor guides parents and children through this level.

Skills to be learned:

  • Enter and exit pool
  • Holding positions
  • Water toys
  • Surface bobbing
  • "Monkey grip" on side
  • Kicking
  • Head up front float
  • Assisted back float
  • Blow bubbles
  • Face in water
  • Head up front glide
  • Assisted back glide
  • Underwater exploration
  • Arm movement - "reach & pull"
  • Assisted position change

Advancement skills:

  • Age 18 months or older

Starfish - Child with parent (age 18mo - 3yr)

Prerequisite: For children 18 months to 3 years old who will be accompanied by a parent(s) or other adult in the water. Fun, water adjustment, and basic skill development are emphasized as the instructor guides parents and children through this level.

Skills to be learned:

  • Enter and exit pool
  • Holding positions
  • Water toys
  • Surface bobbing
  • "Monkey grip" on side
  • Kicking
  • Assisted front float
  • Assisted back float
  • Blow bubbles
  • Face in water
  • Assisted front glide
  • Assisted back glide
  • Underwater exploration
  • Arm movement - "reach & pull"
  • Floatation
  • Assisted position change
  • Parent safety skills

Advancement skills:

  • Comfortable in water without parent
  • Ability to communicate clearly and follow directions
  • Age 3 or older

Goldfish - Preschool (age 3-5)

Prerequisite: For the non-swimmer, age 3-5, comfortable in the water without a parent.

Skills to be learned:

  • Safely entering and exiting the pool
  • Shallow water adjustment
  • Bubble blowing through mouth and nose - 5 count
  • Introduction to flutter kick
  • Assisted front float
  • Assisted back float with chin up, ears in water
  • Assisted front glide with equipment - add kick
  • Assisted back glide with equipment - add kick
  • Entire head in water
  • Bobs - fully submerged
  • Assisted jump into shallow water

Safety skills:

  • PFD - assisted back float
  • Monkey Grip

Advancement skills:

  • Put entire face in the water, blow bubbles - 5 seconds
  • Assisted front float - 5 seconds
  • Assisted back float - 5 seconds
  • 3 bobs - fully submerged

Penguin - Preschool (age 3-5) / Youth (age 6-14)

Prerequisite: For the non-swimmer who can put face in the water and blow bubbles.

Skills to be learned:

  • Bobbing
  • Blow bubbles with entire head in the water
  • Shallow water adjustment: Entries, exits, open eyes, ears wet, bubble blowing
  • Front float and recovery - knees to chest and stand up
  • Front glide with kick
  • Introduction to arm circles
  • Back float - 5 count
  • Back float and recover - knees to chest and stand up
  • Assisted back glide
  • Assisted back glide with kick: Preschool - 5 count, Youth - 10 count
  • Assisted jump in chest-deep water

Safety skills:

  • Use of PFD - float on back, assisted to unassisted
  • Bobbing to safety
  • Assisted to unassisted rollover

Advancement skills:

  • Front float - unassisted - 5 seconds
  • Front glide
  • Front glide with kick: Preschool - 5 feet, Youth 10 feet
  • Back float - unassisted - 5 seconds

Otter - Preschool (age 3-5) / Youth (age 6-14)

Prerequisite: Must be comfortable in the water and be able to do a front glide with kick for 5 ft. (preschool) or 10 ft. (youth) and unassisted back floats

Skills to be learned:

  • Review Advancement skills for Penguin
  • Front crawl stroke without breathing
  • Introduction to side breathing
  • Front crawl with side breathing: Preschool - 5 feet, Youth  - 10 feet
  • Back glide
  • Back glide with kick: Preschool - 5 feet, Youth - 10 feet
  • Introduction to Backstroke
  • Underwater exploration
  • Jump into chest-deep water unassisted

Safety skills:

  • Buddy system
  • Arm/leg extension - assist from deck
  • Throwing assist
  • Unassisted turning over
  • Bobbing to safety - from nose level to shallow water
  • PFD - Jump in, rollover
  • Finning and flutter kick on back

Advancement skills:

  • Front crawl without breathing: preschool 15 feet, youth 20 feet
  • Back glide with kick: preschool 10 feet, youth 15 feet
  • Side breathing on wall with arms
  • Unassisted turning over

Seal - Preschool (age 3-5) / Youth (age 6-14)

Prerequisite: Must be able to do back glides with kicking for 5 ft. (preschool) or 10 ft. (youth), Front Crawl with no side breathing for 10 ft. (preschool) or 15 ft. (youth), and five side breathing breaths with arms on wall.

Skills to be learned

  • Review Advancement skills for Otter
  • Front crawl with breathing: Preschool/Youth - 30 feet
  • Improve Backstroke: Preschool/Youth - 30 feet
  • Changing directions
  • Deep water adjustment
  • Underwater exploration - underwater glide, push from wall
  • Introduction to diving

Safety skills

  • PFD - Deep water
  • Sculling
  • Leg extension from wall
  • Hazards in other aquatic environments - rivers and lakes
  • Throwing assist

Advancement skills

  • Front crawl with breathing: Preschool/Youth - 30 feet
  • Backstroke: Preschool/Youth - 30 feet

Polar Bear - Youth (age 6-14)

Prerequisite: Must be comfortable in deep water and be able to swim Front Crawl with arms and side breathing for 30 feet and Backstroke with arms for 30 feet.

Skills to be learned:

  • Review Advancement skills for Seal
  • Improve Front Crawl with breathing - 50 feet
  • Improve Backstroke - 50 feet
  • Underwater exploration - deep water bobs
  • Jump into deep water and level off
  • Standing dive
  • Demonstrate Elementary Backstroke
  • Elementary Backstroke kick

Safety skills:

  • Deep water - reaching and throwing assists
  • Changing directions in deep water
  • Intro to treading water
  • Improve sculling front and back
  • Feet-first surface dive
  • PFD/DEEP -H.E.L.P., huddle, cramp release, wear PFD's on a boat
  • Hazards in aquatic environments - oceans, lakes
  • Basic boating safety

Advancement skills:

  • Jump in deep water (5 ft. or more ) and swim Front Crawl with breathing - 50 feet
  • Backstroke - 50 feet

Sea Lion - Youth (age 6-14)

Prerequisite: Must be comfortable in the deep water and able to swim Front Crawl with side breathing for 50 ft. and Backstroke for 50 ft.

Skills to be learned:

  • Review Advancement skills for Polar Bear
  • Improve Front Crawl
  • Improve Elementary Backstroke
  • Introduction to Breaststroke kick
  • Standing dive to long shallow dive/ diving safety
  • Open turns - front and back

Safety skills

  • Bobbing in deep water
  • Treading in deep water - 30 seconds (scissor kick, Breaststroke kick)
  • PFD- Jump in and swim 45 feet
  • Rescue breathing demonstration
  • Personal Safety - hypothermia
  • Feet first surface dive in deep water
  • Lap swim etiquette

Advancement skills

  • Front crawl - 25 yards
  • Back crawl - 25 yards
  • Elementary backstroke - 25 yards

Piranha - Youth (age 6-14)

Prerequisite: Must complete Sea Lion skills or equivalent.

Skills taught at this level

  • Starts - long shallow dive, racing starts
  • Turns - open turns, flip turns -  front and back
  • Introduce and improve Butterfly
  • Introduce and improve Breaststroke
  • Swimming stretches
  • Endurance work
  • Stroke drills
  • Improve Front Crawl
  • Improve Backstroke
  • Bilateral breathing/ Front Crawl

Advancement skills:

  • Racing starts - front and back
  • Front Crawl with turn - 50 yards
  • Backstroke - 50 yards

Dolphin - Youth (age 6-14)

Prerequisite: Must be comfortable in the deep water and be able to swim Front Crawl with side breathing for 25 yards, Backstroke for 25 yards, and Elementary Backstroke for 25 yards.

Skills to be learned:

  • Review Advancement skills for Sea Lion
  • Improve Front Crawl, Backstroke and Elementary Backstroke
  • Introduce Breaststroke
  • 5 minute continuous swim using Front Crawl, Backstroke, Elementary Backstroke, and Breaststroke
  • Introduction to Scissor kick
  • Introduction to Butterfly kick
  • Head first tuck surface dive
  • Feet first surface dive, pick up object from the deep end of the pool. Challenge swimmers with different weights (keys, bricks)

Safety skills:

  • PFD: put life jacket on while treading in deep water
  • Adult CPR demonstration
  • Safety medley: head-up Front Crawl 50 feet, recover object at 8 feet, tread water for 30 seconds
  • Tread water 1 minute - introduction to egg-beater kick

Advancement skills

  • Dive in, swim Front Crawl - 50 yards
  • Backstroke - 50 yards
  • Elementary Backstroke - 50 yards
  • Breaststroke 50 yards

Park Shark - Youth (age 6-14)

Prerequisite: Must be comfortable in the deep water and be able to dive into the pool and swim Front Crawl, Backstroke and Breaststroke for 50 yards.

Skills to be learned:

  • Review Advancement skills for Dolphin
  • Sidestroke with both Scissor and Inverted Scissor kick
  • Butterfly
  • 100 yard Individual Medley
  • Surface dives (pike, tuck, feet first) - retrieve brick from 8 feet
  • Improve Egg Beater kick
  • Brick tread - 1 minute
  • 10-minute swim using all strokes, except Butterfly
  • Review open turns
  • Flip turns - front and back
  • Personal fitness (heart rate, lap swim etiquette)

Safety skills

  • Compact jump with rescue tubes, swim approach stroke - 25 yards
  • Basic rescues with tube (front rescue, rear rescue)
  • Personal safety (heat exhaustion, sunburn)
  • Disrobing in the water (swimming with clothes)
  • Review extension assists and throwing assists
  • Personal safety (barriers and blood borne pathogens)
  • Diving safety
  • Drugs / alcohol around water
  • Sculling - arms over head, feet first, figure eight with hands
  • Tread water - 3 minutes

Advancement skills:

  • Swim 100 yards of each: Front Crawl, Backstroke, and Breaststroke
  • Sidestroke - 50 yards
  • Butterfly - 25 yards
  • Long shallow dive, swim 100 yards Individual Medley
  • Pike or tuck surface dive to 8 feet, underwater swim for 20 feet, surface and tread water for 5 minutes
  • Compact jump, approach stroke 10 yards with rescue tube

Diving Level Description

Diving Level 1

Students must be able to front dive unassisted and be at least a Sea Lion level swimmer. Offered only at Matt Dishman Pool.

Prerequisite - Must have completed Sea Lion

  • Warmup Exercises
  • Body Positions: Dive Attention, Layout, Pike, Reach, Hand-grab
  • Standing Jumps
  • Front Basic: Reach, Layout, Pike, Tuck, Hand-grab
  • Front Handgrab: Layout, Pike, Tuck
  • Back Approach to Back Jump Basic: Layout, Pike, Tuck
  • Back Approach to Back Jump Hand-grab: Layout, Pike, Tuck
  • Fall-in Dives
  • Standing Front Dive Fall-In
  • From Pool Edge: Back Dive Fall-In

Advancement skills/Performance Standards

  • Standing Jumps (front and back from 1-meter board)
  • Fall-in Dives
  • Standing Front Dive from 1 Meter: Head first, Follow-Through
  • From Pool Edge: Simple Back Dive Fall-In

Diving Level 2

Students must be able to front dive unassisted and be at least a Sea Lion level swimmer. Offered only at Matt Dishman Pool.

Prerequisite - Must have completed Diving Level 1.

  • Warmup Exercises
  • Review Level 1 – Standing Front and Rear Jumps on 1 meter
  • Hurdle Jumps:  Arms Down and Hand-grab Entries on 1 meter
  • Hurdle to Front Jump:  Layout, Pike, Tuck to Arms Down Entry
  • Hurdle to Front Jump:  Layout, Pike, Tuck to Handgrab Entry
  • 1-Step Hurdle Jumps:  Arms Down and Hand-grab Entries on 1 meter
  • 1-Step Hurdle to Front Jump:  Layout, Pike, Tuck to Arms Down
  • 1-Step Hurdle to Front Jump:  Layout, Pike, Tuck to Handgrab
  • Hurdle to Front Dive: Semi Pike Position from 1-meter board
  • Review Back approach to Back Dive Fall-in Layout
  • Back Approach to Back Dive Fall-in Layout

Advancement skills/Performance Standards

  • Hurdle Jumps:  Pike, Tuck Layout positions from 1 meter
  • 1-Step Hurdle Jumps: Pike, Tuck Layout positions from 1 meter
  • 1-Step Hurdle, Front Dive Fall-in: Semi-Pike position
  • Back Approach to Back Dive Fall-in: Layout from 1 meter

Diving Level 3

Students must be able to front dive unassisted and be at least a Sea Lion level swimmer. Offered only at Matt Dishman Pool.

Prerequisite - Must have completed Diving Level 2.

  • Warmup Exercises
  • Review Level 2: 1-Step Hurdle Jumps, Fall-In Front Dive
  • Review Level 2: Rear Approach Jumps & Simple Spring Backdive
  • 3-Step Approach with Hurdle Jumps: Arms Down and Hand-grab
    • Front Jump: Layout, Pike, Tuck to Arms Down
    • Front Jump: Layout, Pike, Tuck to Handgrab
  • Back jump with Continuous Arms: Layout, Pike, Tuck and Down
  • Back jump with Continuous Arms: Layout, Pike, Tuck to Hand-grab
  • Front Dive Review & New from 1 meter
    • Standing Front Dive: Tuck, Pike
    • 1-Step Hurdle to Front Dive: Tuck, Pike
    • 3-Step Approach to Front Dive: Tuck, Pike
  • Back Dive Take-off with Continuous Arm Circle to Layout Position
  • Low Key Intro to Advanced Beginner Level Dives: Land Drills
    • Front Somersault: Tuck (and Open Pike)
    • Back Dive: Tuck position
    • Inward Dive: Tuck and Pike
    • Voluntary Trial of any/all above dives from 1 meter

Advancement skills/Performance Standards

  • Standing Front Dive: Tuck or Pike from 1 meter
  • 3-Step Approach with Hurdle Jumps: Arms Down and Hand-grab Entries; Tuck, Pike, Layout from 1 meter
  • 3-Step Approach with Hurdle Front Dive: Tuck or Pike position
  • Back Dive, Layout: some spring, headfirst entry

Diving Level 4

Students must be able to front dive unassisted and be at least a Sea Lion level swimmer. Offered only at Matt Dishman Pool.

Prerequisite - Must have completed Diving Level 3.

  • Warmup Exercises
  • Review Level 3: 3-Step Hurdle Front Jumps, Front Dive Tuck or Pike
  • Review Level 2: Rear Approach Jumps & Back Dive Layout
  • 4-Step Approach with Hurdle Jumps: Arms Down and Hand-grab
    • Front Jump: Layout, Pike, Tuck to Arms Down
    • Front Jump: Layout, Pike, Tuck to Handgrab
  • Front Dive Review & New
    • 1-Step Approach to Front Dive: Tuck, Pike
    • 4-Step Approach to Front Dive: Tuck, Pike
  • Land Drills, Followed by In-water (front glide) Drills
    • Front Somersault: Tuck (and Open Pike)
    • Back Dive: Tuck position
    • Inward Dive: Tuck and Pike
    • Falling Front Somersault: Pike, from side of pool
  • Forward Somersault Tuck Position from 1-Meter Board
    • 1-Step Hurdle to Forward Somersault: Tuck position
    • 4-Step Hurdle to Forward Somersault: Open Pike
  • Back Dive Tuck Position
    • Land Drills, In-Water Drills, Back Dive Tuck from 1-meter board
  • Inward Dive Tuck (& later Pike)
    • Land Drills, Water Drills, Inward Dive Tuck from 1 meter

Advancement skills/Performance Standards

  • 4-Step Approach with Hurdle Jumps: Arms Down and Hand-grab Entries; Tuck, Pike, Layout from 1-meter board
  • 4-Step Approach with Hurdle Front Dive: Tuck or Pike Position
  • Back Dive, Layout: From 1-meter board
  • Forward Somersault: Tuck or Pike position from 1-meter board

Pre-competitive Swim League

The Blue Makos

The Blue Makos program is a precompetitive swim league designed for kids ages 6-15 who have completed Portland Parks & Recreation's Sea Lion swim lesson level, or higher. Swimmers will enjoy the one-hour weekly swim practices and the fun, supportive learning environment fostered by experienced instructors. During practices, swimmers will receive instruction in each of the four competitive strokes (Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke and Freestyle), dives, and turns. 

The ten-week term culminates in a mock-swim meet, where participants can experience competitive swimming in a non-competitive atmosphere.