Swimming for all

Drowning is a leading cause of death for children with autism, according to the National Autism Association, due to kids’ tendency to wander and seek isolation — often in unsafe environments — when overstimulated by crowds.

To combat this high risk, Sonja Brown, six years ago, founded a unique swimming school in Minnetonka — Swim Possible — specializing in lessons for children and adults who learn best in a gentle, quiet setting, including kids with autism, anxiety, ADHD, Down syndrome and other special needs. 

Brown’s private, personalized lessons are held in warm-water pools and encourage a love of the water and its soothing properties. Lessons include water massage, yoga moves and breathing exercises to help relax students. 

Brown, a mother of four grown children, is seeking people who want to be trained to run Swim Possible schools in other communities. 

Lessons, currently offered at multiple west-metro locations, cost $60 per half hour.

Learn more at swimpossible.org.

Meanwhile, another entirely new swim option is coming to the Twin Cities, too. 

Goldfish Swim School, which also welcomes kids with special needs, will open its first Minnesota facility in Oakdale — at 7055 10th St. N., near Hyvee — in late June or early July.

The 9,000-square-foot, tropics-themed school will provide swim instruction to ages 4 months to 12 years in small class sizes (a maximum 4-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio) in 90-degree pools. 

Minnesota natives Dave and Sarah Handley will own and operate the school and will use the school’s signature “perpetual lessons” model, which offers families weekly lessons under a monthly fee arrangement (versus paying in advance for multi-month sessions). 

The Michigan-based company, founded by a different husband-wife team, began franchising in 2009 and today has more than 65 schools in 22 states.

Group lessons cost $20.50 each and last about 30 minutes. Private lessons are also available. 

Learn more at oakdale.goldfishswimschool.com or call 651-236-9390. 

See tinyurl.com/goldfish-mn for more about special needs swimmers at Goldfish Swim Schools.