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Learn to Swim with Envious Swimming

8 May 2013, 16:26



This post is sponsored by Envious Swimming, who generously offered my children 3 swimming classes and swimming caps in exchange for an honest review.

This might be the year we use our pool.

Well, we’ve used our pool in the five years we’ve lived here, but not a whole lot. In fact, the only times we’ve swam in it were either on a rare summer weekend that we were home or when we’ve hosted a backyard birthday party. Summer after summer, the girls and I stare off our deck, Monday through Friday, at the glistening clear, inviting water, and dream of the day where I’ll say, “let’s go in the pool!” instead of, “let’s go to Target!”

The pool is no easy feat with three young children. Ours is above-ground, with no shallow end, so while Chad and I can stand with our heads above water, the girls can’t. In past years, they’ve used pool floats, noodles and (the dreaded) water wings to stay afloat, but I’ve never felt comfortable enough to jump in alone with all three of them, knowing the depth of the water. And while they’ve held their own in other pools with shallow ends, jumping in or doggy paddling a few feet and then standing up on their tippy toes, I’ve never been able to sit in a lounge chair on the side of the pool with a margarita in hand while my kids swim.

This year, that will change.

When we were offered to try out Envious Swimming, I was ecstatic. I’d heard fantastic things about their unique swim program and I knew if anyone was going to convert these little water-lovers into legitimate swimmers, it would be them.


Located at two pools across Rhode Island, Envious Swimming has one of the most comprehensive programs available and boasts one of the largest swim programs in the New England area. They have over 700 swimmers participating in their program and offer everything from swim lessons to competitive swim teams to private coaching to even hosting birthday parties and events. Their program starts swimmers at 6 months old and caters up to adults. Their enrollment is open, meaning that there aren’t specific sessions, so that swimmers can continue at their own pace for as long as it takes to learn proper swim techniques. What most excited me, even before we began, was knowing that the 30-minute lesson never had more than 4 kids to 1 instructor. It’s that type of focus and individual attention that, for me, already set them apart from the other swim schools around.

For our first lesson at McDermott pool, Averi was placed into the Frogs group and Lily was placed into Tadpoles. While they were in two separate classes, they ran at the same time and were right next to each other, which made it easy for me to sit poolside to watch. Charlotte was invited to join in on the action, but I knew it could get complicated with her tiny toddler (tantrum) schedule, so I opted to focus on the older mon chi chis this time around.

For most of Averi’s classes, she ended up being the only one in that time slot, so it was basically a private lesson. As I sat and watched her from the sideline, I couldn’t help but to feel like a proud mama, as she tried to conquer the skills. She is my little overachiever and I knew she wanted to learn just as badly as I hoped she would. She loved every moment of each week in that pool, and listened to her instructors with the same intent that she puts into cracking my iPad passcode each morning. They went over back floats, backstroke, freestyle motion, diving and breathing in and out of the water. After three short weeks, her instructor told us that she’ll be able to move up a level soon, and she would soon become a “goldfish.”

Lily. My sweet Lily girl. While she eats nails for breakfast, will step up to anyone that dares to even look the wrong way at her sisters and is THE CHILD that you choose your battles with, she is, without a doubt, the most attached to her mama. When we first walked into the olympic-sized pool area, she was in awe. She kept saying, “Whoa. Look at that big pool and all these people.” When we got her settled into registration and placed her cap and goggles on, she seemed ready to go. But once it was time to actually leave the 5 foot space surrounding me, and into the arms of someone she didn’t know, the panic ensued.

I am a tough critic of how other adults react to children. Especially those adults who work at a business that caters to children. I thought, for sure, that this wasn’t going to work out with Lily because of the crying and anxiety she was displaying, and there would be no way another person–a stranger–would calm her down. I mean, I’m pretty sure everyone on the pool deck heard her– even those with swim plugs in their ears. After trying the whole, “I’ll walk you over to your poolside. Just sit on the side and watch if you want. You don’t have to go in. Mommy’s right next to you…” and none of that accomplishing a single thing, the instructors (both Nina and Marshall, the owner, who were both her instructors on different weeks), said, “Just hand her over to me and she’ll be fine. I promise.”

As they peeled a frantic Lily off of me, I turned and walked back down to the other end of the pool lane, afraid to look back.  And in the half a second it took for me to get there, Lily wasn’t crying anymore. Instead, what she was doing when I did peek back at her, was smiling. I was blown away.

These aren’t just swim instructors. They’re child-whisperers. I wonder if they babysit.

I couldn’t grab too many photos of Lily because I had to keep my distance. It’s like I’m a big piece of catnip and she’s four-claws out all the time. So, I let her do her thing as I watched her laugh, smile, participate and kick ass in her class. I knew she had it in her, since this is the same child who taught her older sister how to dive last summer. She fears nothing, but everyone who isn’t in her “circle.” However, once we left her lessons, the first thing she said in the car was, “I love Miss Nina and Mr. Marshall.”

It’s safe to say, they’ve made it into the circle.

I can’t say enough about Envious Swimming. If I could make this review glow, I would. With lots of pink. I felt right at home there. All of their staff was so incredibly nice and personable and their lessons are invaluable to a successful summer vacation. They even give the kids a sticker for their swim charts and a treat out of the small toy box at the end of each lesson, which, as you know, is like winning the lottery.

Averi will be continuing her swim lessons with them, now that the three trials are over, and I am thinking about having them come to our pool for backyard lessons in the summer for Lily and Averi. (Which is another awesome service they offer! They’ll come to your pool for private or group lessons. More info on that HERE.) I know that Lily is partially unnerved by the enormity of the pool itself, so when I told her that they can come to our house, she was overly excited and on board.

If you’re looking for quality swim lesson for your children, that focus on their individual needs and teach them actual swim strokes and techniques without relying on flotation devices, you should really head over to Envious Swimming.

I feel confident that I’ll be able to use our pool this summer. And maybe even drink that margarita.

For more information on classes, schedules and programs, visit Envious Swimming‘s website or find them on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Envious Swimming is a proud partner of Make a Splash, the official water safety initiative of USA Swimming.




  1. We LOVED Envious!! Great owners and instructors, nice write up Jen!

  2. Michele C. May 8, 2013

    awesome!!! We are looking into swim lessons for our little squids here in NY. I wish we had something like Envious here!!!

  3. I can't wait to take Benjamin this Saturday. Awesome article!!

  4. Sarah B May 8, 2013

    Great post, and great pics! Rhode Island definitely has some incredible swim schools!

  5. Sheri May 8, 2013

    Great write up Jen. It's a relief as a parent when you kids have confidence in the water.

  6. "I wonder if they babysit." You always bring the best humor to your posts :) We love babies in the water here, too! I'm so glad they all like the pool!

  7. Great to learn about this! We've done another swim program, and I'd never heard of this one. We stopped going to the other one for various reasons, but I was a swimmer as a child and would love my kids to really get into it... Glad to know about Envious Swimming now! Thanks!

  8. mel May 8, 2013

    This is the last place ever. I calculated I have been there 230 times over the last 4 years. Jill and Marshall are wonderful people, and their program is superb!

  9. mel May 8, 2013

    edit to say: BEST place ever!

  10. Awesome review and I'm gonna say it: I am totally jealous! I wish I lived closer to McDermott pool because I would totally sign up. We're stuck with our local Y in Mass. for swim class and am just not that impressed. It's always these timid high school girls teaching a class of rowdy, 6-year-old boys and I feel like my son isn't progressing as he should for someone who's been taking swim classes for so long. Sigh. So glad your girls have found swim classes that they not only enjoy, but where they are also learning, too :)

  11. Laura Rossi May 9, 2013

    Fabulous post! I wish I knew about these lessons when my twins were younger. I will definitely suggest friends read your review and try them out. Happy Swimming!!!!

  12. Wonderful review of a wonderful program. Swimming is the thing of summer that kids remember the most... and the safety and skills of it are the most important gift a parent can give to kids. I'm so happy to see the beautiful photos of your beautiful girls and the thrills of such a progression of success and happiness! xo!

  13. JOHN January 5, 2015


  14. Jeff February 27, 2016

    Whew. With photos of me instructing, we're lucky to get such a good review. Get the kids up to swim team and I'll be happy to work with them again. ;) :)

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    Jen Senecal

    My name is Jen. I have a contagiously funny husband, three awesomely gorgeous daughters, a knack for design, a love for writing, an obsession with kids fashion, a secret desire to be a photographer and a curfew of 10 pm. WHO'S WITH ME?
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