Our Story

Our founder Patti O’Brien loves children and teaching is her passion. She is the mother of six children and her swim school reflects her insightful parent perspective on what is important to and for children of all ages and their parents.

In 1981, while still in high school, Patti announced the opening of Patti’s Swim School by passing flyer’s around her neighborhood. Her mission was to provide lessons for local children and adults. Her students and their families immediately embraced her gentle, supportive, and effective approach.

Word of mouth spread the news that Patti’s was the best place to acquire swim skills. Since 1981, Patti’s Swim School has taught more than 8,000 children and adults to swim. Adults love the privacy and everyone loves the fun and effective techniques.

Patti O’Brien brings to her swim school a depth of knowledge about how people learn. She has earned a BA in education, and an MA in educational leadership and administration. Patti has been a public school teacher and a faculty member at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, instructing in both their general education, and special education credentialing programs.

Patti’s Swim School uses the Red Cross Water Safety curriculum to structure lessons. Tried and true, this curriculum incorporates all levels of instruction, from water adaptation to the skills needed to become lifeguard certified.

Patti specifically trains each of her instructors on how to effectively and efficiently facilitate this curriculum. It is critical that all students feel safe and secure at all times while they rapidly gain their new swimming skills. We begin by teaching water adaptation and the correct techniques for kicking, floating and arm strokes.

The Red Cross skills are designed to build on themselves as each level is mastered. When students have completed all levels of instruction at Patti’s Swim School, they will be accomplished in the six essential strokes:

Freestyle | Traditional Backstroke | Elementary Backstroke | Breaststroke | Sidestroke | Butterfly

In addition to this traditional set of skills, we teach the importance of open water safety and survival. All students who have completed our program will be strong at treading water, demonstrating swimming endurance, and knowing the safety strokes.

All students will also be taught to dive. We begin with the kneeling dive and progress to teach standing, shallow, and racing dives.

Flip turns and swim team techniques are taught at advanced levels. Proper form is emphasized throughout the program as learning to swim properly is a skill for life.

All of Patti’s instructors mix fun into their lessons. Our goal is to have students look forward to their swim lessons!

Our Staff

All our instructors are screened carefully before being hired. They must possess a genuine enthusiasm for teaching, a zest for life, and a sense of humor. All instructors are Red Cross certified, and also receive training from Patti. They use a gentle and supportive approach in their teaching, while maximizing time on task.

All modalities are used to teach lessons so that students are delivered instruction in a way that meets their learning style. Modeling strokes and technique is important to us. All instructors are excellent swimmers themselves.

Most of Patti’s instructors are former students of hers, who have completed her program and returned as adults to seek employment. What a compliment to our program!

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