Parent & Baby Swimming Lessons


The “First Splash”

It’s never too early for your baby to learn to swim. Early lessons lay the foundations for lifelong enjoyment of the water.

In a shallow, secluded pool, ASA and STA qualified teachers will guide you in how to confidently handle your child through their first stages in the water, using song and constructive play. It’s easy to learn when you are having fun and that’s what these lessons are based upon.

The learner pool is 33 degrees. That means babies as young as 6 weeks do not get cold during the lesson. The ladies changing room is a few feet from the pools, so just wrap baby in towelling and they will be snug until you reach the warm showers after the lesson. (Dads will have to go a little further, but the showers are just as good.)

Way back in the 1970’s, when Shirley Pool began teaching baby and toddler swimming, it was quite revolutionary. Australian and South African teachers visited to share their unique baby swimming methods. (Press cuttings are here)

One of the original Shirley Pool founders, Val Perry, became a leading light in her field, introducing wonderful personalities to the skills of baby teaching: Joy Tricklebank, Jane  McGregor, Deborah Quinn to name just  few that have taught over the decades.

Their traditions live on through today’s lovely staff. Combined with a modern teaching plan, latest technology and a purpose built teaching centre, you can feel secure that your child will be in safe hands.

The first lesson you attend is a Free Trial, so that you can be sure you are both happy. If the time is not right, thats fine try again later. Or just use the pool on a Sunday for a Baby Splash to get accustomed to the environment.

​These are the age groups, lessons take place at varied times,  seven day a week. If you or baby (or the car!) are poorly, you can call in to cancel and then try and rearrange later. Click on the age group of your child to see current availability.

6 weeks to 8 months

9 months to 18 months

18 months & over

2.5 years to toddler.

If the class time you need is full, call the pool to be added to a wait list.

Often, the title of the class will change to allow everyone to stay together as the children grow up. Because we own our pools, we have great flexibility.

When your child is old enough, they can progress to toddler lessons. Continuing in the small pool, in lessons of no more than 6, a qualified teacher will help your child with the first steps of learning to swim on their own.

Take a deeper look at our video of lesson programs and hear what the teachers think.

Underwater Photography

These fantastic portraits are the work of Dee Harmer, an underwater portrait artist from The Underwater Studio in Brighton.

Each year the babies and toddlers have an opportunity to join an underwater photography session for the chance to secure a unique portrait.

This year Abi from Little Swimmers Underwater Photography, a professional photography company, is heading to Shirley Pool for five days of portraiture during our daytime small pool lessons.


Each child in these lessons will have the opportunity to be submerged and have their photograph taken, assuming they have had sufficient practice.


Photos will then be uploaded to a website and you will have access to choose and order if you wish. You are under no obligation to buy and there is no extra charge for this service.


Thursday 11th October 08:30am – 1pm

Friday 12th October 08:30am – 1pm

Saturday 13th October 8am – 12:00pm

Monday 15th October 08:30am – 1pm

Tuesday 16th October 08:30am – 1pm

If you have a lesson during this time and would rather not be part of the session, mark yourselves as absent and arrange a different time for your lesson that week. If you have a lesson on a different day but would like to get your photo taken Make-ups can be booked into the spaces in these classes.

Also, on the Saturday Abi will be in the Main Pool 12:30-1:30pm for Family Underwater Shoots. These spaces are booked in advance of 5-minute slots with our Reception team.


£40 – 8” x 10” Digital Print

£99 – 2x 8” x 10” digital Prints, 1x A3 Digital Print and a Memory Tin containing the USB of all images

They also offer a variety of other printing options such as Calendars, mugs, phone cases, Canvas & Acrylic prints.

Water babies at Shirley Pool

Baby Swimming Boom at Shirley Swimming Pool – First printed in the Daily Echo

It is the moment every mothers heart misses a beat. The baby goes under the water for the first time – and comes up smiling!

In the hands of a professional teacher introducing a baby to water during a lesson is a momentous time for parents and now a pool in Southampton has been recognized as a leader in field of baby Tuition.

Tucked away in Shirley, the Kentish Road Pool has been introducing babies and toddlers to water for over thirty years and has introduced a scheme to help young parents over come their fear of water.

Huggies Baby Friendly Pools has given their stamp of approval to the pool for its extensive teaching programme and conscientious approach to health and safety.

Our Advice

“ It is crucial that children start as young as possible in an environment that is warm and safe”, says Shirley Pool’s head baby teacher, “ Everyday you hear of toddlers falling into ponds or streams and drownings are so avoidable if children start young. It is all too easy to pass on your own fear of water”

The thirty minute lessons aim to teach the parents how to handle babies and introduce them to the pleasures of the water. Through nursery rhyme and play, confidence is built until toddlers are able to attend lessons without a parent at two and a half years.

Shirley Pool offers parents & baby a free trial lesson, giving the opportunity to test the logistics of travelling to the pool, changing, getting into the pool and making sure baby enjoys the lesson.

Classes take place every morning during the week all year round. Pool manager Luke Perry ” The time of year that you start does not really matter – it is always hot in our baby pool even at Christmas ! It is 33 degrees all year ”

A detailed list of available times is displayed on the right as a download. Find a slot that fits then call the pool to reserve a place. Complete the direct debit form, also listed on the right, in full and bring it with you. Depending on timing, you would normally need to pay for the first few weeks by card or cash before the direct debit starts.

Parent and Baby Gallery


Duration: 30 mins

Price: £39.61 per month (paid by direct debit)

Complete your details below to enquire about Baby Lessons