What to Wear to Swim Lessons? The Essentials & Helpful Accessories Listed!


Swimming is one of the most beloved activities/sports around the globe. Yet, drowning is still the leading cause of death around the globe. Thus, swimming is not only a fun activity/sport but also an important and necessary life skill- whether you are looking to be the next Michael Phelps/Jenny Thompson, or to just have fun (& be safe) at the next BBQ around water. 

Some learn this skill and/or become involved in the activity/sport at a young age while others were not allowed to do so- for various reasons- until adulthood. Regardless of one’s age when learning this skill/activity/sport, the way to learn it is via swim lessons-whether through a swimming establishment/program with an instructor/coach or self-taught via videos and/or literature (for those that are autodidactic). 

There are swim lessons available for all ages- young or old, abilities/levels- those that have grown up around water with zero fear of it and those that have had limited or no exposure to water for various reasons, and learning styles- some may prefer group lessons while others prefer something one-to-one/private. No matter where your child (or you, yourself) may fall on the spectrum, there are swim lessons available to/for your child (or, you/yourself).  

Whether you have already signed up for swim lessons -be it for your child or yourself-or are still trying to find the best swimming establishment/program for your child or self, you may be wondering what does one wear to swim lessons? And/or, what all does one need for swim lessons in general? 

What exactly one wears and/or needs will vary depending on the individual and/or the swimming establishment/program (rules/regulations for). Ultimately, at a minimum and regardless of age, one will need a swimsuit and towel (goggles and a swim cap are nice and helpful if possible, but not entirely, truly necessary). 

What to Bring to Swim Lessons?

One can deduce that the obvious essentials for swim lessons are a swimsuit and towel. Furthermore, one can most likely deduce that goggles and a swim cap, while nice and helpful, are not necessarily essential. Yet, other things such as robes/swim robes, again, while nice, are for sure not essential. 

So then, what all should one bring to their swim lessons-whether it is for their child or themself as an adult? What are the absolute must-haves and key helpful essentials? 

For starters, you will want to have a gym/swim bag that you use specifically for swim lessons (& only swim lessons). This way all your gear is in one place and you are less likely to forget something/show up to your child’s or your lesson without one of the essentials.  

Let’s look at what one should ideally have in their gym/swim bag (i.e. what those swim lesson bag essentials are) … 

1- Swimwear

Whether it be a one-piece, two-piece, or tankini for girls/females, or trunks, jammers, or swim briefs for boys/males, you’ll want to assure it is properly fitted. You don’t want it to be too loose or too tight- though they are supposed to be snug and compressive.

For those that prefer more coverage, they could go for a rash guard or swim shirt in addition to or in place of one of the aforementioned swimsuit styles. Also, be sure to check with your swimming establishment/program on their rules and regulations regarding attire for swim lessons. 

Also, find out “Should You Wear Polyester in The Pool? Everything You Need to Know

For more on this topic, check out What to Wear & Not Wear Under Swim Trunks ? & Why Are Swimming Tech Suits Expensive? Is It Faster Than A Tri-Suit!

2- Towel (and/or robe)

You will want a towel to dry off with. To keep warm between the water and changing area/locker room you may want some extra towels (or a robe/swim robe). 

3- Swim Cap (hair ties/clips too)

For those with long hair, you will want a swim cap to help keep hair out of the way. Hair ties and clips will also be helpful. The purpose of a swim cap is to reduce drag and thereby make swimming a bit easier, so while perhaps most useful to those with long hair, they are useful for everyone/those with short hair as well.  Here is a post on Big Head Swim Caps: Should you Use One? Everything You Need To Know!

4- Goggles 

Though not a true essential, they are helpful and highly recommended. One will have to demonstrate the ability and comfortability with submerging, opening their eyes underwater, and resurfacing/returning to safety to progress in their swim lessons, but for a prolonged time in the water (particularly with your face in or under the water) one will find goggles useful.  Even if you wear prescription glasses, there is an option for you. Check out our post How Much Does Prescription Swimming Goggle Cost? Types and How To Pick One

5- Toiletries (Shower Supplies)  

You will want to bring whatever your child/you would need to shower and get changed with after the swim lesson (i.e. shampoo, conditioner, body wash/soap, clean towel, and moisturizer). 

6- Hairbrush or wide tooth comb 

It is best to avoid hairdryers as much as possible as the heat can damage hair. Instead, towel/air dry and use a wide-tooth comb. 

7- Flip-flops or pool shoes 

You will want something that easily slides on and off and is waterproof/can get wet (i.e. be worn in the shower and on the pool deck). You will want warm, dry, loosely layered clothes to change into. 

8- Lock for locker (or coins) 

You will want to assure you have a lock for your locker so that your belongings are secure while you are in the pool/pool area. Some establishments offer lockers with locks already on them, and, as such, require coins for their use- in this case, one would want to assure they have coins for the locker(s). 

9- Water bottle 

Remember swimming is still an exercise. Just because you are in water doesn’t mean you/your child won’t dehydrate- you/your child still need to consume water before, during, and after your/their swim lesson. So, you’ll want to be sure to have a water bottle in your bag/with you. 

10- Snacks 

Again, swimming is exercise. Your child or you will burn calories (and most likely work up a bit of an appetite). So, it is good to have some nutritious snack options on hand for post-lesson nourishment. Whether for your child or yourself, just assure it is nutritious and will help to healthfully replenish your child/yourself versus just being empty calories.

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What Should My Child Wear to Swim Lessons?

Many establishments around the globe offer “Mommy/Daddy and Me” type swim classes (or some variation thereof), making swim lessons available as young as infancy. Children (toddlers) can continue (or start) swim lessons independently (i.e. without mom/dad) with an instructor-led class starting as early as 2 to 3 years old depending on the particular establishment/program and child. 

Parents often ponder the best way to dress their children for sporting activities. Swimming is no exception- parents often ponder what is the best thing for their child to wear to swim lessons. So, then, what exactly is the best thing for one’s child to wear for their swim lessons? 

There are many different options on the market for swimwear and accessories. And, ultimately, what specifically one’s child wears will vary depending on the individual child and/or the swimming establishment/program. 

While exact guidelines depend on the individual child and/or the swimming establishment/program, it’s pretty easy to prepare for swim lessons as all one needs is a swimsuit and towel (though a few additional key essentials are helpful). So, what are some general guidelines for swimsuits? And, what are some of those helpful additional key essentials (outside of the obvious towel)? 

1- Swimsuit 

Girls can wear a one-piece, two-piece, or tankini-style swimsuit. Boys can wear swim trunks (they should be above the knee to not interfere with swim strokes), jammers, or swim briefs. For those that prefer added coverage, girls or boys, they can wear a rash guard or swim shirt (versus a regular t-shirt). The swimsuit should fit snuggly (i.e. for girls it isn’t sliding off the shoulders/easily pulled off(bottoms); for boys, it isn’t easily pulled down) and be something that they will be comfortable in for at least 30-45 minutes.  

2- Swim Diaper/Nappy 

If your child is young enough that they are not yet potty trained, they should wear a swim diaper (also known as a swim nappy in some regions). A swim diaper/nappy is specifically designed to be worn/submerged in water. Unlike a  regular diaper/nappy, the swim diaper/nappy does not absorb or fill with water.

Thus a swim diaper/nappy will not weigh your child down in the water as a normal diaper/nappy would. These can be found in disposable or reusable forms. The disposable are (obviously) one-time use and thrown away after each use. The reusable one(s) has(have) a plastic inner liner and cloth outer shell; they are designed to be emptied and washed out/dried after each use.

3- Swim Cap 

For children with long hair (i.e. hair long enough to get in their, eyes, mouth, ears, nose, etc. while swimming), a swim cap is recommended. The most common ones are made of rubber/latex, but they do make them out of lycra and/or silicone as well (lycra is typically easier to get on/off than rubber/latex). If you do not have a swim cap available, it is recommended to use hair ties and/or clips to secure hair away from the face. 

4- Goggles

Goggles are also recommended once your child is comfortable submerging, opening their eyes underwater, and then resurfacing/returning to safety. It is important to note that goggles are helpful, but can also give a false sense of security in the water; thus, it is important to assure comfortably being submerged without them before wearing them regularly to swim.

This is not to say your child can’t wear them from “jump street”- some kids will need/want to wear them from “jump street” because they don’t like the water in their eyes and/or the water (more likely the chemicals in the water) hurts their eyes- but, rather, to advise that as part of water safety most any swim lesson program will require one to be comfortable with submerging, opening the eyes underwater, and then resurfacing/returning to safety to progress with their/move on to the next level of swim lessons). It is recommended to find a pair that is one molded piece and is easy to adjust to a proper fit.

5- Ear Plugs 

For those that are prone to ear infections and/or just don’t like the feeling of water in their ears, they may find earplugs helpful. There are several different styles on the market though all are reasonably priced/affordable- a simple google search for “swimming earplugs” and a whole plethora of results comes up. 

6- Sunscreen (Outdoor lessons only) 

If your swim lessons are outdoors, you will want to take extra precautions for the sun/exposure to UV rays. One way to do this is via sunscreen- be sure to apply it about 30 minutes before getting in the water/the start of the lesson (and then every 40 to 80 minutes thereafter).

For more on this, check out our post Tips to Prevent Tanning While Swimming! Protect Your Skin & Hair Against Sun & Water

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What Should an Adult Wear to Swim Lessons?

While drowning rates are highest for those ages 1 to 9 years old, adults are not immune to drowning. Furthermore, while many children today start swim lessons at an early age, there are several adults out there who, for various reasons, were not afforded the opportunity and/or ability to learn to swim as a child. But, now they have the opportunity/ability and are ready to learn this valuable skill. 

Perhaps you are one of those that are ready to learn and you have just signed up for your first swim lessons (or are preparing to. … Congrats!). You might be wondering what exactly do I wear for swim lessons? What are the essentials (and recommended accessories)? 

Much like there are for children, there many different options on the market for swimwear and accessories for adults. And, ultimately, what specifically one wears will vary depending on the individual and/or the swimming establishment/program. 

While the specifics will be determined by one’s individual and personal comfort and preferences and/or the swimming establishment/program, here are some general guidelines on what to wear- the essentials and the [recommended] accessories. Hint: they aren’t all that different from what a/your child would wear/need… 

1- Swimsuit 

2- Swim Cap 

3- Goggles

4- Ear Plugs 

5- Sunscreen (Outdoor lessons only) 

What Do Kids (and Adults) Wear After Their Swim Lesson(s)?

Whether young (child) or old (adult), what one wears after their swim lessons will be relatively the same. There will be a few differences (mainly in terminology) based on the age difference (but beyond that/fundamentally, it is the same). 

What one specifically wears- whether for your child or yourself- will be determined by things such as weather conditions and any activities following the swim lessons, and, ultimately, one’s individual and personal comfort and preferences (child’s or self). However, in general, you’ll want to put your child or yourself in warm, dry, and loosely layered clothes

Immediately upon exiting the pool one will want to dry off/dry their child off with a towel. Once dried off one may opt to wrap up/wrap their child up in another towel or robe/swim robe for the walk to the locker room/changing area. 

Once in the locker room, one will want to disrobe/help their child disrobe as quickly as possibly and then shower with cool to warm water (prevent after drop). After showering, be sure to dry your child or yourself off thoroughly before putting on warm, dry, loosely layered clothing: 

  • For children, mom or dad will want to assure their child has a dry diaper/nappy or underwear (depending on age) as well as warm, dry,  loose layered clothing- whatever they find comfortable that fits those parameters. (Winning Parenting tip: if your lessons are in the evening and you’ll be going straight home after, just bring your child’s Pajamas for them to change into that way they are already ready for bed/you save a step once home). 
  • For adults, you will want to assure you have dry underclothes and warm, dry,  loose layers to change into – whatever you find to be comfortable and functional for your post-swim lesson activity/activities. (Source A) (Source B)

For more on this, check our post ; What You Need To Do After A Swimming Session? Wearables & Skin Care!

Melissa Frank

My passion, outside of animals, is helping people and adding value to their lives…I strive to leave the world a little better than I woke to it each day. The first part of my career, for a total of about 15 years, was spent in the public safety field as a Volunteer Firefighter/EMT-B and 9-1-1 Operator. In 2019 I obtained my personal trainer certification (ACE certified) as well as many group fitness certifications and certification as a Corrective Exercise Specialist.

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