Aquatics Swim Lesson Transition

New Look Swim Lessons

The TransAlta Tri Leisure’s Swim Lessons have a whole new look! The TLC has transitioned from Red Cross "Swim Kids" to the Lifesaving Society’s "Swim for Life" learn to swim and lifesaving programs. We are excited to offer this new program to our student swimmers.

Our Aquatics Team has recommended changes and additions to ensure that the TLC swim lessons offer the same excellent standard and will be a seamless transition for our patrons. We have also compiled transition charts (can download here) and some FAQs to help with this program change. If we haven’t answered your question, please reach out to us via -

Swim Lesson Transition

When will the transition be happening?

The TLC will roll out these changes in the Winter 2023 session. Information regarding the transition can be found on the TLC’s website (, and more information will be included in the 2023 Winter/Spring Program Guide. 

Why is the transition happening?

In January 2022, the Canadian Red Cross announced its decision to wind down its involvement in all swimming and lifeguarding programs to direct more attention to surging humanitarian demands in other areas – such as disaster and pandemic response, opioid harm reduction and caregiving for seniors. 

Specifically, all swimming and lifeguard training currently offered through the Canadian Red Cross will be transitioned to the Lifesaving Society of Canada by the end of 2022. 

What are the differences between the Red Cross Swim and Lifesaving Swim for Life programs?

• Names of levels: Red Cross Swim Kids vs. Lifesaving Swimmer  

• Number of levels

• Swimmer levels 4-6 will be 45 mins.

• There will be some differences between the Red Cross program’s performance criteria and the Swim for Life program’s “must sees” for skills, strokes, and safety items.

Is the Lifesaving Swim for Life program of the same quality as the Red Cross Swim program?

The Lifesaving Swim for Life program has been delivering nationally recognized swim and lifesaving programs in Canada for more than 100 years.  The TLC has always been dedicated to maintaining ongoing training and mentorship to our swim instructors to ensure we provide a consistently high quality of swimming programs.  We will continue to do this in 2023 with the introduction of an enhanced Lifesaving Swim for Life program, which we believe will provide a similarly high quality Swim Lesson experience as was previously taught with Red Cross Learn to Swim.

Are the ages for each level in the Swim for Life program the same as those of the Red Cross Swim program?

Yes! The recommended age ranges are the same for both. Swimmers must be the minimum age as of the first class of their lesson or course. The TLC ages for each level are as follows:

  • Parent & Tot 1 (previously Starfish): 4-12 months
  • Parent & Tot 2 (previously Duck): 12-24 months
  • Parent & Tot 3 (previously Sea Turtle): 24-36 months
  • Preschool 1 (previously Sea Otter): 3-4 years
  • Preschool 2-5 (previously Salamander – Whale): 4-5 years.
  • Swimmer 1-6 (previously Swim Kids 1-7): 6-12 years
  • Teen/Tween Swimmer (3 levels): ages 11-17
  • Rookie, Ranger, Star Patrol (previously Swim Kids 8-10): 10-14 years
  • Standard First Aid, Bronze Medallion: 13 years
  • Adult Swimmer (previously Adult Swim Basics & Strokes): 16+ years
  • Swim Abilities: 4+ years
  • Private lessons: 6+ years

We require registrants in our Swimmer levels to be a minimum of 6 years old for a couple of reasons:

1.      Maturity – 6-year-olds are of independent school age, which means they are beginning to think differently, take instruction well, and retain information more easily.

2.      They are also at a stage in their physical development that enhances their skill acquisition—they are physically ready to learn to swim. This is a big help to both instructors and swimmers when moving to the bigger pool and/or deeper pool spaces and into bigger class sizes.

Where can I find information about what will be taught in Swim for Life Lessons?

The TLC will have detailed information on our website ( with transition charts, and program class descriptions. You can always contact us at 780-960-5080.

I see a range of skill and age groups all in the same swimming class. Can an instructor manage teaching such a range of skills at the same time? Will my child still have a positive experience?

Your instructor is trained to ensure that everyone gets the instruction they need. Occasionally, your instructor may ask for your help to build strategies that work for your swimmer or recommend moving your swimmer to a different level if they feel your swimmer would benefit from that.

Our certified instructors use a variety of tools and strategies to accommodate the skill and age ranges that may happen in any level. Utilizing teaching progressions, buoyant aids, and lesson planning all play a part in providing a quality lesson while staying flexible enough to help each swimmer feel successful. With the ranges in distances and times for the skills it is easy to challenge swimmers to go longer or farther while also giving the option to stop at the minimum distance/time without feeling singled out.

If my child has already completed Red Cross Swim Kids 10, where do they go?

Congratulations! With a completed Swim Kids 10 certificate, your swimmer can begin their training to become a Lifeguard and/or Swim Instructor.

• Rookie, Ranger & Star Patrol are the best next step for swimmers who have completed all their Red Cross Swim levels or the Bronze Star level in the new Swim for Life Program. We recommend Bronze Star (offered in the summer) candidates between 11-12 years old.

• We recommend all leadership candidates start by taking Standard First Aid at the age of 12 years.

• Once your swimmer is 13 years of age, they can register in our Bronze Medallion courses. They must also have completed a Standard First Aid certification course before registering.

Why is my child “going back” a level when registering in a Swim for Life Swimmer class?

They are not going back a level. They are moving to a different program, into a class that best suits their skill level.

• Registration in Swim for Life is based on age, ability, skill, and knowledge. Because no two swim programs are alike, they introduce different skills at different levels. This means that while many programs use a number system for their levels, the numbers and required skills do not line up exactly.

• The Swim for Life program uses researched progressions of skill development. The Tri Leisure Centre has added levels to the program to further enhance the progressions and help develop efficient strokes and strong skills. Thus, there is a “Beginner” level and an “Advanced” level for Swimmer 1 – 4. To see how the Lifesaving Society Swim for Life® program relates to Red Cross Swim Kids, check out our Red Cross to Swim for Life Transition Chart.

Are there any changes to class length?

Yes –The TLC will offer Swimmer Levels 1, 2, and 3 as 30-minute classes and Swimmer Levels 4-6 as 45-minute classes. The Rookie, Ranger, and Star Patrol programs will be 60 minutes. 

Preschool, Swimmer 1, 2, & 3, as well as Parent & Tot classes, are still 30 minutes of instruction.

What will the class sizes be?

The swimmer-to-instructor ratios for each level will be as follows, effective January 1, 2023 (these are subject to change as we determine what works for our pool space and instructors):

  • Parent & Tot 1, 2, & 3: 10 participants
  • Preschool 1 to 5: 6 participants
  • Swimmer 1-3: 6 participants
  • Swimmer 4 – 6: 8 participants
What are the costs associated with Swim for Life lessons?

2023 lesson prices will be adjusted to align with program material costs and the duration of each class.

Are there report cards and badges included in the Swim for Life program?

The Swim for Life program recognizes and celebrates each child’s successes. When a child finishes a Beginner level an accomplishment record (report card) will be given and if they complete all the skills, they will also receive a completion ribbon. When a child finishes an Advanced level an accomplishment record will be given and if they complete all the skills, they will also receive a badge. Your child will receive these recognition items from their instructor at the end of each session. The accomplishment record will also let you know which level to register in next. 

What do we do with the Red Cross report cards we have?

These will help to guide you in figuring out which level your swimmer should be registered in next.

Many families choose to hang onto these as keepsakes, as each badge obtained represents the determination and hard work of each swimmer! Plus, with the Red Cross Swim era ending, these will be extra special when your swimmer is older!

Has the focus of the lessons in the Swim for Life program shifted at all?

Focus continues to be on swimmers’ needs, water safety education & drowning prevention

The Swim for Life program has focused on simplified “Must Sees”, whereas the Red Cross Swim program focused on “Performance Criteria”. So, while the skills are much the same, this program’s “Must Sees” are less focused on perfecting swim strokes and techniques and more on drowning prevention and water-safe thinking.

Here at the TLC, we believe it is important to develop efficient strokes, as the more efficiently you can swim the more easily you will be able to reach safety if an incident leaves you in the water unintentionally. Also, an efficient stroke is a lifelong skill that one can use for enjoyment and improving fitness levels, and you need to pursue further certifications for lifeguarding and instructing. Which is another reason why we have added levels into the Swimmer program so we can help you develop these efficient strokes.

Will you be offering Adapted Lessons again?

The TLC offers adapted swimming lessons under the Lifesaving Society’s Swim Abilities program.

Why is it so difficult to get into swimming lessons lately?

We acknowledge that we are struggling to meet the demand for swimming lessons. This is due to several factors:

  • Post-Pandemic backlog. The reality is, during the pandemic, nobody was able to take swimming lessons. This has created a backlog that will likely take us the better part of 2 years to work through.
  • We are not alone in this predicament. Other facilities across the province and country are selling out of their swimming lessons as quickly as we are.
  • Demand shifts. Prior to the pandemic, most of the demand for lessons was in the preschool levels, which we have the space to accommodate. Since swimming lessons were not available during the pandemic, our swimmers grew up a little and need higher levels that are harder for us to accommodate based on our pool space.
  • Pool space. While we have plenty of Leisure Pool space for preschool levels, the highest demand levels are Swim Kids 1-3 (Swimmer 1-4). Given the height of most of those participants, there are select places in our facility where we can safely and comfortably offer those levels. So even if we run them every moment of our lesson times, we just can’t compete with the backlog of participants requiring those levels. 
Why can’t some swimmers just move up a couple levels you ask?

Swimming lessons are progressive – it is imperative for swimmer safety and success that swimmers master the skills in each level before moving onto the next. There are instances where swimmers grasp the early concepts quickly and can move on, however this is not usually the case. 

How can I transition my Red Cross Water Safety Instructor (WSI) certification to the equivalent Lifesaving Society certification?

• Your WSI certification can be transitioned simply by taking an online Swim Instructor transition module before December 31, 2022. This can be found here: 

• See the current TLC Program Guide for more information on the transition specific to leadership courses. 

Is my Red Cross First Aid certification affected?

No. The Water Safety Transition does not affect First Aid certifications.