Teaching the science of swimming since 2003!


Katie Cleary, PhD

At PhD Swim School, from the first lesson we begin to build an easy, sustainable swim sequence in all of our students, attainable by even nonverbal children.  This involves teaching children to swim horizontally in the water, recover laterally for a breath, then roll horizontally to continue swimming.  This is known as "swim-float-swim."  This technique can be taught to all ages from infants to adults and forms the foundation of our curriculum.  Once children master the basic sequence, the fundamental principles of "swim-float-swim" transfer nicely to the four competitive strokes.  We believe that survival swim lessons AND excellence in stroke instruction can and do coexist.  We strive to produce lifelong lovers of water... who are just as competent when it comes to saving their own lives in the water as they are confident in their enjoyment of it.

Our Method

About Us

We began as one graduate's student's dream to combine the love of teaching swimming with the belief that there is a wonderful scientific story behind everything we do.  The demand for Dr. Katie's lessons grew far beyond what one individual was capable of serving, so we are growing as a company to reach more families.  Today we are a successful swim school with teaching techniques based in behavioral science, physics, and child development.  Our long term goals are to make survival swim lessons more accessible to local families and to educate our community about the realities of drowning, what young children are really capable of in the water, and the best way for children to learn to swim.

"With so many people saying it couldn't be done, all it takes is an imagination." 
                                                 -- Michael Phelps

Our curriculum is based on behavioral neuroscience and inspired both by Dr. Katie's dissertation work and by synthesizing the best ideas of other renowned swim schools.  We do not rely on visual or verbal communication with our students because we do not need to:  young children are kinesthetic learners and swimming is a motor skill, and accordingly should be taught through simple, repetitive movements.  We teach through shaping, conditioning and positive reinforcement. 

We teach using gentle persuasion.  We strive to balance what the student is learning with how they feel about what they are learning by allowing them appropriate degrees of control, using games and toys, and redirection.  However, we are not a child-led swim school.  Sometimes children do not have the maturity to make decisions in their best interest, such as sitting in a car seat.  The water can be a dangerous place if you are unskilled, and my job is to provide your child with the skills they need to survive in the water before they are taught to play in it.  Through this method, our students progress from survival swimmers to recreational swimmers and learn how truly wonderful the water can be

our philosophy

our story 
Teaching the science of swimming since 2003!