Swimmer in Pavilion Pool lap lanes

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COVID-19 Update

The IMA Pool will remain closed through the end of the year. This decision was made after clarification on Governor Inslee’s latest guidance.

Please continue to check UW Recreation’s website for updates and use the UW’s COVID-19 website to stay current. There are still virtual options available to students with the Rec Class Pass, Personal Training, or UWild Adventures.

Aquatics Programming

Swimming and aquatics classes are offered each quarter. 

Aquatic based classes are an excellent way to stay fit no matter your age or physical fitness. It is never too late to learn to swim or sharpen your skills and enjoy this lifelong recreational pursuit.

Aquatics Classes

Level 1: Basic Water Safety Skills

Level 1 is for individuals with no previous swim experience. It is designed to give swimmers the assistance needed to overcome a fear of water. Individuals suited for this level are currently unable to float without assistance on both their front and back. They also have limited or no prior knowledge in stroke technique or treading water and have no general practical understanding of swimming.

This class is not designed for self-taught swimmers, individuals looking for stroke refinement due to a lack of formal training, or for those who are able to swim 25 yards or more. Please see the descriptions for Level 2 and beyond to determine the most suitable course.

Level 2: Introduction to Crawl Stroke and Backstroke

Level 2 is for individuals who are not fearful of water but who cannot float without assistance or who cannot float unassisted for much longer than 10 seconds, on either their front or back. Understanding how to blow bubbles from nose is required but swimmer does not need to be proficient in this skill. Individuals may not be comfortable in deeper water. Individuals still have very limited knowledge in stroke technique, and little to no practical understanding of any of the 4 core strokes, but still feel comfortable in shallow water.

This class is intended for swimmers who want to improve their safety skills and kicking skills, as well as learn how to tread water, and swim using crawl stroke and backstroke. It is not designed for self-taught swimmers who are able to swim, using some form of crawl stroke or backstroke, for 25 yards or more. Those looking for crawl stroke and backstroke technique refinement should see the class descriptions for Level 3 and beyond to determine the most suitable course.

Level 3: Introduction to Stroke Technique, Breaststroke, and Distance

Level 3 is for individuals who are comfortable in the water and can demonstrate rescue floats on both their front and back sides. Swimmers are somewhat comfortable in water deeper than their height and can tread water for at least 15 seconds and recover to wall but need to build up the endurance to complete a full 25 yards confidently. Individuals are able to put into practice the basic mechanics of crawl stroke and backstroke but are not able to complete a full 25 yards. These strokes need technique refinement.

This class is intended for swimmers who want to improve their water safety, swimming technique, and endurance. It is not designed for swimmers who are comfortable swimming 25 yards or more of some form of crawl stroke or backstroke without stopping. Those looking to improve their technique in crawl stroke or backstroke should see the class descriptions for level 4 and beyond to determine the most suitable course.

Level 4: Advanced Stroke Technique, Endurance, and Butterfly

Level 4 is for individuals who are very comfortable in water, both shallow and deep. Swimmer must be able to tread water for at least 20 seconds and return to wall safely, Student is able to swim at least 25 yards crawl stroke without stopping. Individuals suited to Level 4 are proficient at crawl stroke and backstroke, with an understanding of breaststroke, though participant does not need to be proficient. Crawl stroke, backstroke, and breaststroke need technique work and may not be “fast”, but strokes are clearly recognizable.

This level is designed for swimmers who want to build endurance to complete 50 yards without pausing and work on stroke technique. This class is not designed for individuals looking to increase speed, build long distance endurance, or for individuals who can swim 100 yards with little to no pausing unless gaining better stroke technique in crawl stroke, backstroke, and/or breaststroke is the goal. For swimmers looking for a set-style class, please see the class description for Level 5 or Swim Fit.

This class is ideal for triathletes who are looking to improve their swimming technique and build their endurance. Triathletes looking for more advanced technique and who would like to work on endurance should see the class description for Level 5, Swim Fit, or should consider private instruction.

Level 5: Introduction to Fitness Swimming

Level 5 is designed to have a small emphasis on technique with the majority of the program dedicated to learning how to swim for fitness. This includes building endurance and increasing speed, as well as learning proper lane etiquette, how to use the pace clock, and gaining an understanding of how sets for fitness are designed. Individuals suited to this level should be able to swim at least 50 yards comfortably without stopping, and are competent in crawl stroke, backstroke, and breaststroke. Proficiency in butterfly is not required, but a general understanding is.

This class is not designed for individuals who are competent with the skills listed above, such as swimmers who have previously participated in competitive swimming. This class will have a daily yardage of about 800 yards, so it is recommended that individuals looking for a longer workout should see the description for Swim Fit.


To see a list of current classes, times, and to register, click the Register Here button below.

Register Here

Aquatics based Intramural programming is also offered each quarter. 


What group swim lesson should I sign up for?

There are several different options for you in regards to group lessons.  We offer levels 1-5 to accommodate various skills levels and interests.  Take a look at the class descriptions to see what group would be the best fit. If you have additional questions or would like to discuss, contact the Aquatics Manager (

Are the private lessons better than the group lessons?

Private lessons are not better or worse than the group lessons.  It really depends how best you as a student learn.  If you learn better in a group, then the group lessons are a good fit.  If you prefer more of a one on one interaction than the private or partner lessons would be the better fit.  The skills covered in both types are the same.

Can I ask for a specific instructor?

You can ask for a specific instructor but there is no guarantee that you wil be placed with them.  You can wait on that instructor to have some space in their schedule but it may take more time than you are willing to wait.

How long are the lessons?

Group lessons are each 30 minutes.  Private/Partner lessons are also 30 minutes each as well.

How do I purchase sessions?

Group lessons can be purchased online through our online portal.  The first set of private lessons must be purchased in person in the programs office on the third floor of the IMA.  Other private sessions can be purchased online.

What if I fit some parts in the level but not all, do I need to retake the level?

If you do not fulfill the requirements for the next level, then you should retake the level again or go into private instruction.

What if I am not on the same skill level as the rest of the swim lesson group?

If you find that you are not on the same level as the rest of the group talk with the instructor.  See if you really are in the wrong group of if there are additional things that you can do that to get the most of the course.

Questions About Accessibility?

The University of Washington makes every effort to honor disability accommodation requests. UW Recreation encourages everyone to participate in our department offerings; please contact us at (206) 543-4590 or at for more information on how to get involved. Requests can be responded to most effectively if received as far in advance of the event as possible, preferably at least 10 business days.

Request Disability Services Office

To request disability accommodation, contact the Disability Services Office at:

Request Disability Resources for Students

Or the Disability Resources for Students Office at:

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