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Duck n’ Dive Programme

The Swimtastic Parent, Baby & Toddler Swimming Experience

What to expect, what fun will be had, and how you and your child will progress.

To share our love of water we’ve designed the Duck n’ Dive programme to be highly accessible and allow for easy and steady progression for children of all ages and ability.

Teacher Led & Supported

The programme is all about our teachers working alongside you to teach your child water comfort, confidence and skills. We work on building children’s comfort in group environments and in teacher led situations, priming them for school and outside groups.

It’s done through fun, games, sequences of play and song. The weekly sessions follow a structured session by session and term by term plan. These plans are managed by your teacher and designed for your child’s comfort and to progress both children and parent at a comfortable pace. Our teachers lead the way. They simulate and direct, all you need to do is follow and copy with a smile!

What to Expect

Week 1 begins with a gentle introduction for both Mum or Dad and child where a child will begin to get comfortable and relaxed in a group environment. We move forward then with gradual progression, working on buoyancy, co-ordination, movement and safety skills. You will be supported closely by your teacher, and you will be hands-on with your child as we teach each new skill. It isn’t hard, it’s gentle and designed for both you and your child’s comfort.

Aside from the fun, the most satisfying part is seeing your child develop their physical, cognitive, sensory skills and building comfort and confidence with the water – week by week. 

Programme Intro Pages

We recommend new comers to first read through our programme intro pages

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Next Term Timetables

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Programme Stages


There are courses to suit children aged from 3 months right up to pre-school age of 5 years old. If coming for the first time, you will join a stag and group that caters for your child’s current age. 

Where to Begin

There are 3 beginner stages for parents that are joining for the first time. Your child will either be a Duck n’ Dive 1, a Duck n’ Dive 4, or a Duck n’ Dive 7, depending on their age. See below to choose your age and stage. If you’ve previously done water courses at another pool, then drop us a call or a line and we’ll advise you on the best stage for your child. 

How Stages Work

Each beginner stage is carefully designed for the specific age group. The physical and cognitive abilities of children at these young ages differ greatly. So, each is course is designed for your child’s readiness for the water at that his or her particular age. Then, after they have done the beginners stage, there is a follow-on stage so that they can continue to grow and learn with Swimtastic. 

Duck n’ Dive courses begin at level 1 and go all the way up to level 15 for pre-school juniors. 

Duck n’ Dive 1 to 3 - for Parent & Infants

Ages 3 to 15 Months

Gentle introduction for Mum or Dad and child into a group enviroment. Building up babies’ comfort and readiness in the water and familiarity with the teacher. Teaching Mum or Dad correct pool entry and exit and baby holding, gliding, floating and swimming positions.

What We will Teach

We encourage and support baby into swimming positions, helping them to use their arms and legs, to reaching and move towards toys. We’ll gently introduce the role of the teacher and ease parent and baby into the group environment. We’ll build trust and confidence in the teacher and then move on to 

  • Building floating ability
  • Strengthening their arms, legs, core.
  • Improving sensory awareness
  • Introduce word-based cues to help them develop their understanding of breathing and timing
  • Moving towards underwater swims (only with and for babies and Mum’s and Dads that are ready) engaging their natural reflexes and breathing
  • Confidence, safety and natural comfort and abilities.

Courses Available for Parent & Infant:

  • Duck n’ Dive 1 - the very first stage for beginners
  • Duck n’ Dive 2
  • Duck n’ Dive 3

Duck n’ Dive 4 to 6 - for Parent and Baby

The Parent and Baby Stage For Ages 16 to 30 Months

We begin with the basics, pool entry and exit and fundamental skills such as floating and breathing, and introduce the fundamentals for Mum or Dad on how to work with their little boy or girl both during class, and when in the pool outside of class and even at home in the bath. 

What We will Teach

When the baby is ready, we introduce and encourage independent movement and support baby through the use of play and toys, enticing them to moving away a little on their own. 

Our play and song are centred around sensory and cognitive development, using numbers, colours, animals, sights and sounds to encourage swimming activities and movement through the water with toys.

For children that are ready, they will begin to make strides on their front and back – supported by Mum or Dad and their teacher. 

Independent water safety activities are now introduced, how to get in and out of the pool, how to hold on to supports and how to be buoyant and confident when in the water. 

  • Making the child comfortable in a group environment
  • Understanding the role of a teacher
  • Introduce the swimming positions – tummy and back
  • Introduce buoyancy and survival skills
  • Develop the child’s ability to catch, throw and share toys
  • Building sensory awareness
  • Introducing aqua toys and floating aids
  • Breathing and making bubbles
  • Encouraging independence
  • We work on the importance of sharing with friends
  • We introduce the importance of “cleaning up” at the beginning and end of class

Courses Available for Parent & Baby - Young Toddler:

  • Duck n’ Dive 4 - beginners aged between 16 and 30 months
  • Duck n’ Dive 5 
  • Duck n’ Dive 6

Duck n’ Dive 7 to 10 - for Parent and Toddler

Ages between 2½ and 4½ years

This age group is all about working with our Mums and Dads towards building complete water confidence, creating a foundation for independence and swimming ability for pre-school children. 

What We will Teach

We begin by ensuring that all our parents and children have the correct water and pool fundamental skills to move towards building more advanced skills. Children become comfortable in group and teacher led environments which is great for priming them for the school environment. 

Once safety, pool rules, pool entry and exit are happily taken care of, we begin focusing on:

  • Pushing off Walls
  • Floating and Gliding without artificial floats
  • Building their core strength
  • Interactive water games with other children
  • Developing play, sharing, and building relationships and friendships
  • Going underwater comfortably (only for children that are ready)
  • Introduction of basic swimming strokes
  • Introducing Independence from parent with swim aids, woggles and swim boards
  • Building up pace in activities
  • Achieving full confidence and excellent water ability before they go to school. 

Courses Available for Toddlers and Pre-School

  • Duck n’ Dive 7 - beginners or first timers aged between 2 ½ and 4 ½ years old.
  • Duck n’ Dive 8
  • Duck n’ Dive 9
  • Duck n’ Dive 10 +

Duck n’ Dive 10 + for Parent and Advanced Toddlers

Ages between 4 and 5 years

When children have graduated beyond Duck n’ Dive 10, or are joining us from other Swim Schools, they generally move into the more advanced toddler levels, from Duck n’ Dive 11 to 15, after that, they are happy, confident and amazing little swimmers. They will be stronger at this stage and will be confident to begin swimming short distances without any floats. Safety skills and rescues are introduced. You will be blown away by how much they progress week by week and how happy and confident they become in the water. 

What We will Teach

A focus on refining and improving all the skills used previously for Happy, Strong, Confident Little Swimmers!!!

  • Treading Water
  • Pushing off Walls
  • “Jumping in” Independently
  • Self-Orienting in the Water
  • Safety, Survival and Rescue Skills
  • Swimming and collecting from the bottom of the pool
  • Exploring Underwater
  • Self-Rotating
  • Pool Hygiene and Rules

Courses Available for Toddlers and Pre-School

  • Duck n’ Dive 11
  • Duck n’ Dive 12
  • Duck n’ Dive 13
  • Duck n’ Dive 14
  • Duck n’ Dive 15

Questions we get asked a lot…

What do I need to wear and bring?

All you need to bring is swimwear for you and your child, towels and toiletries. Use standard baby swimwear either bought locally or online, and swim nappies which are available in most supermarkets also. Adults need also to wear swim hats.

Can more than 1 parent or adult attend?

Technically, each course is for one parent and one child. Sometimes in smaller classes we can accommodate a second parent. Please check with us or with your teacher to see if this is possible in your class.

What happens if we miss a class

If you miss a class, please check with your teacher by email to see if there is space in an alternative class on an alternative day that you could attend to make up for the one you missed. We want you to get the full value of your booking, but please note, credits or refunds are not possible for missed classes. This is because all the costs associated with running a course need to be met regardless of whether people make all their booked classes or not.

What are the pool, parking and changing facilities?

Each of our facilities have free parking. For full details on the pool and changing facilities at your location please click here.

Does my baby need to be vaccinated?

According to the HSE website, you can take a new-born swimming whether they have been vaccinated or not. Below in an excerpt from the HSE Website: “Yes. It is perfectly safe for babies to start swimming from birth before having their immunisations. The diseases babies are vaccinated against are not carried in water.”

What do our customers say?

Both myself and my little boy Tom have been enjoying Swimtastic courses for three years now. Tom and I began with the Duck n’ Dive when he was just 2. Then, I began the Adult programme this year. We have loved our courses. All their teachers are brilliant, professional and very friendly. The atmosphere is always fun, and we learn so much term on term. We now swim together as a family. I can’t say enough good about Swimtastic, Thank you.
Kay, Francis and little Tom Gorman - Portlaoise
Myself & my 8-month-old daughter Grace have just completed our second term of lessons with Swimtastic and cannot recommend them highly enough. The teachers are excellent instructors and make the babies (and the mammies & daddies) feel so comfortable and confident in the water. I have really seen an improvement with Grace after this term and will be signing up for the next term. I would give them 6 stars if I could.
Orlaith Walsh and Grace - Carlow


All our Courses have been specially designed by the Swimtastic team and we are affiliated with; Swim Ireland, Water Safety Ireland, STA (UK), and Birthlight (UK).

Talk to us

To learn more or ask us any questions please use the form below. We also offer periodic free taster classes and we'll email you to offer you a place when theres one in your area. We look forward to hearing from you.

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