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Montana Swim Academy: Helping kids learn water survival skills while becoming confident swimmers

Posted at 11:19 AM, Apr 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-02 14:17:56-04

BOZEMAN — This is the time of year many families are looking for swimming lessons, and that’s great in Montana. The reality is, though, before you learn how to swim across a pool, you should learn how to get to the surface should you fall into a body of water.

“Two-pronged approach. The first is water survival skills. Then we move into stroke development,” said Michael Cobarrubias, co-founder of the Montana Swim Academy.

He explained further, “So the first three levels we're learning how to, you know, if they fall into a body of water, they know how to roll over and float because then they can call for help and they can breathe.”

Michael grew up around water, played water sports, and taught swimming lessons. But he says too often he saw little kids trying to swim a stroke without actually being able to float. That's why he and co-founder Taylor Howell started the Montana Swim Academy.

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For the instructors, this approach is much more fun, and functional at the same time.

“We wanted it to not only be for swim lessons, but we want it to be an experience. We have graduation ceremonies, they get a certificate,” said Montana Swim Academy co-founder Taylor Howell. “These are milestones, and we want to celebrate those milestones. We want the parents to celebrate them. These kids deserve to have that big confidence booster and we want to help them exceed that.”

Let’s face it: confidence is everything in an emergency situation in the water.

“We want them to feel their very best, confident in who they are as kids and all of that stuff. And when they're next to a body of water, we want to change those statistics and we believe that we can,” Howell said.

Students must complete three skills in each level to advance. Once completed, graduation happens and you move on. Success comes at the kids’ speed, not at a swim lesson session pace.

“Not only do we have the kids be the driver of their progress where they can move to the next level, you're right about the parents' cost savings,” Cobarrubias said. “They don't have to wait for a session to be over for the kid to move up. They move up the very next week. So it really benefits the kids and really benefits the families.”

Montana Swim Academy is currently operating in Bozeman, with Butte lessons beginning in June. Billings and Helena are on track to begin in the fall.