Jeanie Neal Face-Up First
We swim for good times!®

Parent Information



Why choose Face-Up First Swimming?

  1. Proven Face-Up First Method: This is the safest and most efficient way to learn to swim.
  2. Ideal Coach to Swimmer Ratios: We schedule for the most effective work : rest : play ratios.
  3. Convenient No-Level Scheduling: Swim with friends, car-pool mates, and siblings regardless of age or ability level.


  • INSTRUCTIONAL  – ages 2 and younger, 10 minute lessons, 1:1 coach to swimmer ratio (coach in water), no prerequisites
  • INSTRUCTIONAL  – ages 3 and over, 30 minute lessons, 1:3 ratio / 20 minute lessons, 1:2 ratio (coach in water), no prerequisites
  • DEVELOPMENTAL  – ages 5 and older, 30 minute lessons 1:6-8 ratio (coach on deck), demonstrate the ability to complete a continuous 25-yard swim crawl stroke and a continuous 25-yard swim backstroke

Private Lessons: We discourage private lessons for anyone three years of age and older. In our experience most students learn faster and easier in a group. If you desire private lessons you have two options: 1) Register for a 10-minute Instructional class. The 10-minute option is especially good for anyone who is very afraid. When you are afraid, ten minutes is a looooong time. 2) Purchase all three spots in a scheduled 3+ Instructional class. This is a good option because you have the undivided attention of an instructor, but you still have the option of adding two friends to the mix.


Face-Up First® Swimming uses the S.W.I.M. Model™.

  • Stabilize: The ability to control one's body parts.
  • Wend: The ability to move purposely from one location to another in the water.
  • Idle: The ability to disengage from the load, to rest and relax without any effort.
  • Measure: The ability to judge, calculate, and make decisions while in the water.

We know that swimmers need to be able to master all four of these components to be considered skilled in the water. The first three components may be mastered by even our youngest Sailors. The component Measure can only be mastered through both maturity and experience in the water. All other swimming skills, such as the ability to swim the four competitive strokes, are variations and refinements of these four basic components.

New students will first work on stabilization - the ability to control their arms and legs (even when they are afraid). The next step will be working alternately on the ability to move through the water and the ability to rest motionless and effortlessly. Through all their experiences in the water, students will learn the consequences of their actions, and develop the ability to judge, calculate, and make the best decisions to safely enjoy their water experiences. Once a student has mastered the S.W.I.M. Model™ components, lesson time will be spent refining the competitive strokes.


All participants ages three and older in all of our programs are required to wear one-piece, solid-color, competition-style training suits for all classes, practices, and meets. Children two and under may wear any suit, or just a swim diaper.


All swimmers ages three and older are required to wear caps and goggles for all lessons, practices, and meets. We provide caps and goggles or you may wear your own.

Caps and well-fitting goggles serve the same purpose – keeping water out of the eyes while swimming. There is no danger in getting water in your eyes; it’s just harder to see. The main purpose for wearing goggles is to see better while in the water. Caps serve many purposes. Water continuously drips from the hair into the face and eyes. Water sheets off a cap and does not drip into the face and eyes nearly as much. Latex and silicone caps keep swimmers much warmer while they are swimming. Fabric caps are designed to hold the hair and go under latex or silicone caps. Caps keep hair out of the face and can keep hair mostly dry. I recommend you choose the goggles with the fewest moving parts, the clearest/lightest color lenses, and the stretchiest straps. Goggles should create a seal on the eyes. To test goggles, put them on without the strap and push to create a vacuum and suck the goggles onto the eyes. You should be able to shake your head and not have the goggles fall off – even without a strap. If you can do this, the goggles will keep water out. If you can’t create suction, choose a different style. Please do not choose mirror or smoke lenses. Swimmers need to be able to see, and the instructors need to be able to see the students’ eyes.




Arrive a few minutes early for your scheduled lesson. Everything goes smoother when children don't feel rushed. Children should be dressed ready to swim and sitting in the pool level hallway when the coach comes out to get them or motions for them to be let in at the beginning of the lesson. Be sure to visit the restroom and/or put on a swim diaper before the lesson. Swimmers should bring their caps and goggles - if they are wearing their own - and their towels. Sailors and Mates towels are placed on a warmer during the lesson. As soon as you transfer your child to the coach, you should go to the spectator gallery so you may enjoy the action.

While you are in the spectator gallery, you may cheer every time your child does something correctly. Do not cheer misbehavior. Your child looks to you to learn what is acceptable. Don't cheer every movement... recognize when your child is following directions well and cheer those behaviors. Some parents stay in the lower pool hallway during lessons and do not watch. (It's significantly cooler in that hallway than in the spectator gallery.) Some parents read or work or chat during the entire lesson, paying very little attention to what is going on in the pool. Some parents hide and watch. Some parents do what we call hiding in plain sight. They feign reading or chatting while keeping an eye on the lesson and occasionally responding with a cheer or a wave. This behavior sends the message to a child that the parent is not in the least concerned about what is happening during the lesson so the child need not be concerned. I prefer parents to hide in plain sight rather than actually hide, but I trust parents to act in a manner they know will best support their child.

Fellow parents are your best resource. If you have questions or concerns, please ask the other parents in the gallery. Many of our swimming families have been with us for years watching several siblings learn to swim. They are happy to help. Splashing is part of swimming. Parents often yell over the balcony railing to tell their children to stop splashing. While the coaches appreciate the help, splashing is something that children have to learn to regulate. Swimming is a splishy, splashy sport. Splashing can be lots of fun. If you witness your child being deliberately mean to another child, feel free to call down for them to stop. For the most part, it's ok to let the coach handle the discipline during the lesson. Time outs are used frequently by our coaches to discourage disruptive behavior or to give an uncooperative or fearful child a little break.

All of our swimmers are taught using the philosophy of FACE-UP FIRST / FIRST THINGS FIRST. We rarely deviate from our skills progression. The first thing we teach is proper head position, then proper body position, then propulsive movements of the arms and legs, and, finally, refinement of hand and feet movement. Until a child has attained a relaxed, balanced, floating position, very little attention will be paid to any arm or leg movement. The swimmers may be asked to move their arms, but it's really just something to distract them while the coach is manipulating head and body positions. It may seem like your child is doing the same thing again and again and again. They are! Watch for independent relaxed floating. After that occurs, the strokes really start.

If your child needs to use the restroom during a lesson, you can meet them at the pool entrance door. Because swimmers sometimes use a bathroom break to avoid performing a skill they don't enjoy, often a coach will ask a swimmer to do just one more turn before going to the restroom. Usually, once the skill is completed, the child wants to continue to play instead of getting out to visit the restroom. Sometimes, especially with new swimmers, the coach may look up to you to see if you think this may be happening. You know your child best. It's ok to indicate that you do not think the child needs to get out right that second. If you can tell the need is immediate, communicate that to the coach. We appreciate your help.


We will keep children safe in the water, but we not equipped to supervise children before or after swimming lessons. Parents must be at the pool door when class ends.


The BT pool is indoors, 6-lanes wide and 25 yards long. There is a 1-meter diving board and an underwater viewing window. The pool is heated to a wonderfully warm 85 degrees year round. Men's and women's locker rooms and hallway changing booths are located on the pool level. A spectator gallery is located above the pool. Parents can see and hear everything, and the swimmers can see and hear you. The pool is 12.5 feet deep at the diving well end and four feet deep at the other end. There are four 4' x 4' teaching platforms in the shallow end to make it possible for young swimmers to stand and play during their lessons.


See what the CDC has to say:

Please use the pool responsibly. We do not want anyone to get sick, and we do not want to close the pool.


During the school year, we typically follow the Brownell Talbot School schedule. When there are NO-SCHOOL days, we often, but not always, have NO-LESSON days. Please check the dates for your session. An eight-lesson session does not necessarily mean eight consecutive weeks. The pool closes when the school closes for severe weather conditions. We do not make-up lessons missed due to BT snow days. We do not close or exit the water for thunderstorms.  Weather Policies & Announcements


We do not provide make-up practices for short-term illnesses or conflicts with other activities, and we do not issue refunds. You are not required to be at all the lessons. We hope you try to attend as many as you can. Occasionally, we must cancel lessons due to mechanical problems or instructor availability issues. In the event of such cancelations we offer make-up lessons or credit toward future sessions. We do not provide makeup lessons for conditions beyond our control, most notably weather conditions. Again... we do not offer make-ups or refunds for lessons missed due to illness or conflicts with other activities. However, your time slot is yours to use. You don't have to lose it if your child is ill or if you have a scheduling conflict. You may switch time slots with a friend for another day/time or you may send your next door neighbor, a cousin, or a sibling to use your time slot if you can't make it to a class. This is yet another advantage of our no-level system. Anyone attending a Developmental program practice must be able to complete 25 yards of crawl stroke and backstroke. 


To be considerate of all patrons, children over the age of four should use the appropriate-gender locker room or our hallway changing booths. Parents, please be considerate of other users when escorting your young child into an opposite-sex locker room to use the restroom or shower. The locker rooms are often crowded, and at no time are appropriate places for horseplay. The BT locker rooms are designed as group shower and dressing areas. Sometimes patrons prefer to change privately in the restroom stalls. However, priority for the use of these stalls must be given to those needing to use the toilets.


Please check your bags before you leave. Toiletries, hair grooming implements and accessories, and socks/underwear are treated as trash at the end of the day - not as Lost & Found items. Lost and found items are disposed of regularly.


Parents are invited and encouraged to watch practices from the spectator gallery. You can see and hear everything from the gallery and your children can see and hear you. Cheering is encouraged! Parents are not allowed on deck except during Camera Week. Please adhere to this policy which is designed to make swimming lessons easier for your child. Do not come through the pool door during lessons. Children who are upset or fearful in the hall usually calm down immediately after coming through the deck door. If your child is upset, please do not prolong this process of getting through the door thereby increasing the length of time he/she is sad, afraid, or angry.


The gallery provides a spectacular bird’s eye view of the Sailors, Mates, and Competitive swimmers. We know that it’s also fun to get a close-up view. During the final week of each session, parents are invited to the pool deck to take photos of their swimmers in action. We love photos of our swimmers. Please send us copies. Remember to check the bottoms of your shoes before coming onto the pool deck. We try to keep outside dirt outside.


Can going outside with a wet head or without a coat cause a cold? Colds are caused by viruses. There is no need to restrict activities such as swimming to prevent colds - even when the weather outside is cold. No one catches a cold from going outside with wet hair, or even by going outside without a coat. It is uncomfortable to be chilly, though, so everyone should wear a coat when it is cold outside. You must be exposed to a virus to catch a cold. It's important to practice good hygiene and other healthy habits to avoid getting sick with a cold. Eating well, getting enough sleep, and getting plenty of exercise, (ie swimming) will all help keep students strong and so better prepared to resist illnesses.


D.I.M.E.S. - Dividends Intended to Motivate and Encourage Swimmers - Every swimmer will receive a dime at the end of every lesson.

Bell - The Bell is used to reward swimmers who follow directions in practice. We also use the bell to announce special achievements. Not every swimmer rings the bell every lesson.


Follow us at @FaceUpFirst.


I put this last on the list, because it should be the least of your worries. Your child may be afraid to perform a skill, but that doesn't make the skill either dangerous or difficult. It's just swimming lessons. It's very important that you do not indicate in any way to your child that there may be a reason for your child to be afraid at lessons. Danger lies in not learning to swim, not in participating in swimming lessons. An important life skill that may be learned at swimming lessons is separating what you feel from what you do. You may feel afraid, but your arms and legs will still do what you tell them. Just as children learn not to hit when they feel angry, they need to learn not to scream, panic, or fight their coach when they feel fear. The ability to remain in control in a situation that causes them to feel afraid is essential to their ability to help themselves in and out of the water. Do not reinforce their fears, justify misbehavior, or argue for their limitations. Instead, give them the time they need to learn to control their bodies, praise effort made in the face of fear, and reinforce the value of following directions.

A child who hears, "I'm so proud of you!" when they emerge from a lesson in which they screamed and fought the instructor has every reason to believe that their behavior was appropriate to the situation and has no reason to change that behavior. It's helpful to remind a fearful child that you are watching, the instructor/coach is trying to help, and that you expect them to follow directions no matter what they are feeling inside. It's also nice to acknowledge their feelings by saying, "I'm sorry you were so unhappy today. I want you to be happy. Swimming lessons are important and I know you can do it!" Also, we instructors know full well that children sometimes behave in opposition to what they are taught. Don't ever worry that we think any less of child who is afraid or who doesn't like swimming lessons. We deal with it all the time and continue to care for, support, value, and enjoy each and every child.

Babies are often surprised and distressed at their first lesson. Only a very few continue to be unhappy after the second lesson. Even very young babies often acquiesce early in the second lesson as they realize that they are just repeating the same skill over and over again. During the first lesson, babies don't know that this will ever end. For all they know, this is what their lives have now become! The few that continue to be unhappy after the second lesson are in no danger. The water is warm, the skill of floating on your back is easy, and the lesson is short. You can help. Speak to your child with words of praise and admiration for their work during the lesson.

Do not comfort your child as you might if something bad had happened to them. Again, nothing bad happened, it's just swimming lessons. With all ages, the first step in calming fearful swimmers is letting them know from the very first lesson that lessons are not optional.


First Lesson by Philip Booth

Lie back, daughter, let your head
be tipped back in the cup of my hand.  
Gently, and I will hold you.  
Spread your arms wide, lie out on the stream
and look high at the gulls. 

A dead-man's float is face down.  
You will dive and swim soon enough
where this tidewater ebbs to the sea.
Daughter, believe me, when you tire
on the long thrash to your island, 
lie up, and survive.

As you float now, where I held you and let go, 
remember when fear cramps your heart what I told you:  
lie gently and wide to the light-year stars, 
lie back, and the sea will hold you. 

Splash!  Great Writing about Swimming
Edited by Laurel Blossom
ISBN #0-88001-449-0

Questions:  402.312.1012

We swim for good times!