The new Goldfish Swim School pool in Shoreline. Credit: JiaYing Grygiel
Editor's note: In the days since we published this article, Goldfish Swim School Shoreline and Goldfish Swim School Redmond have changed their policies and no longer allow the public to join their family swim sessions. Goldfish states this is due to Washington State lifeguard requirements for aquatic facilities open to the general public. Lifeguard requirements for pools in private clubs are less stringent than for public pools. They are working to address this and we will provide an update here when we have new information. Our deepest apologies to families who tried to attend a family swim session and were turned away, and thank you to the reader who alerted us to this problem.
Come on in, the water’s fine!
No, actually, it’s better than fine. The 90-degree water in the new Goldfish Swim School pool is amazing.
The thing I hate most about swimming is edging into a frigid pool. My husband always jumps right in, like ripping off a Band-aid, but I tiptoe in and end up prolonging my misery. Once we’re in the water, we don’t last long: In 20 minutes, my kids’ lips turn blue and their teeth start to chatter.
We visited the new Goldfish Swim School pool in Shoreline, and it was like walking into a bathtub. My kids played happily for the entire 90-minute family swim session. And they can’t wait to go back.
Goldfish Swim School is a family-friendly facility dedicated to kids ages 4 months to 12 years old. The first location, started by a couple with four kids, opened in 2009 outside Detroit. Now there are 107 franchises across the country, including two brand-new ones in our area. Redmond’s Goldfish Swim School opened Aug. 1, and Shoreline’s opened Oct. 1.
The Shoreline pool is located in a shopping plaza off of Highway 99, replacing what used to be a gym, a Subway restaurant and an Aaron Brothers frame store. The space was completely gutted and rebuilt with a brand-new pool specifically designed for families with young kids. You won’t find adult swimmers in Speedos or swim caps doing laps here. The “deep end,” which is in the middle, has a depth of 3-foot-5-inches, and the shallow ends are 3-foot-2-inches. Being able to touch the bottom of the pool was a huge confidence booster for my kids.
Everything here is bright, new and clean. There’s a hand-painted underwater mural along one wall. Another wall is floor-to-ceiling glass. We could see the gray, drizzly parking lot outside while we enjoyed the toasty warm pool.
The Shoreline Goldfish Swim School isn’t far from the public indoor pools in Lynnwood and Montlake Terrace which are well-known among parents for being tricked-out water playgrounds. Spray fountains, lazy river, water slides, the works! Goldfish Swim School doesn’t have any of those bells and whistles, but it does have that wonderful 90-degree water. That is the main selling point for me. (The Montlake Terrace pool is 88 degrees; Lynnwood's is 86 degrees. It makes a difference.)
The other huge plus at Goldfish, to me, are the private changing rooms.
My 8-year-old son still struggles to peel off wet swim trucks and get dried off and dressed by himself. I wouldn’t send him into the men’s room alone. The one (or maybe two) family changing rooms at neighborhood public pools always seem to have a very long wait, and my son is too old to go into the women’s room with me. What to do? I usually hose him off quickly in the women's changing room and hustle him into the tiny curtained partition while avoiding eye contact in case someone is trying to give me a stink-eye.
Goldfish Swim School solves that problem with individual changing rooms. There are 10 private changing rooms with showers, plus two more without showers. There’s a Bumbo in each one, so you have a place to set down the baby. Brilliant.
There’s also an entire row of showers right next to the pool, behind a glass partition. The four individual restrooms are sparkling clean, and there’s also a restroom poolside for easy access mid-swim. I love that kids can go into any changing room, any restroom, with either Mom or Dad.
When you come for a family swim, you’ll need to fill out a waiver. In the lobby there’s a shop area selling swim diapers, goggles, swimsuits and snacks in case you need them.
You can stash your bag in one of the open cubbies (lock the important stuff in the car). The showers are all stocked with Costco-size bottles of Pantene shampoo, Dove body wash and Johnson & Johnson baby wash (way fancier than the Target brand in our shower at home). There are swimsuit wringers, and a big changing table with a bucket of free diapers in case you’re in a pinch. There’s also a blow-dry bar under a mini thatch roof.
Family swim and kids' lessons
Family swim at the Shoreline pool is open to the public, and runs $5 per swimmer, with a max of $15 per family. That’s even cheaper than our nearest (freezing and well-worn) municipal pool, which is $6 for adults, $4 for kids. It wasn’t even crowded, just five or six other families when we visited on a recent Sunday afternoon. (Though I expect the word will get out.)
Swim lessons start at $129 a month for 30-minute group lessons, with a 7-percent sibling discount. That works out to $249 a month for my two kids, which is out of my budget. For now, we’re just going to enjoy the family swim. A fun afternoon of swimming without shivering for $15? Sold.
The bottom line
Toasty warm water, private changing rooms with showers and the $15 per family swim session makes Goldfish Swim School a winner.
If you go...
Shoreline family swim times: Unfortunately, the Shoreline pool has announced that its family swim times are open only to the families of members currently enrolled in its swim lessons.
Redmond family swim times: Unfortunately, the Redmond pool has announced that its family swim times are open only to the families of members currently enrolled in its swim lessons.