Teaching Kids to Be Little Fishes

Ruthie Zarren lost her job at a failing company soon after the birth of her son. Grateful for the unexpected extended maternity leave, Zarren savored the time with her newborn – and contemplated her career.

Inspiration came while Zarren was visiting a friend who had started a private swim school. Zarren worked for the school during the summer, learning the business. The popularity of such schools across the country led her to believe St. Louis would benefit from a small swim program. And after working in start-up offices, Zarren had the background she needed to start a business for herself.

She opened Little Fishes Swim School in January 2007 in Brentwood, near the corner of Manchester and Hanley. Her son Nathan’s sixth birthday party served as the facility’s grand opening.

Zarren initially offered two sessions per week. Her 60 clients, thrilled with the kid-friendly, 93-degree pool, praised the program to friends. Little Fishes now accommodates 400 budding swimmers each week.

In Little Fishes’ unique environment, classes of five students each are taught by two adults. A supervisor attends each shift, assisting where necessary. The personalized lessons allow students to quickly gain comfort and familiarity in the water. “We figure out what motivates each child and we work with them,” Zarren said. “It’s all about making the kids want to come to swim lessons and succeed.”

Children from ages 6 months to 6 years can learn to swim at Little Fishes. For infants, increasing their exposure to water can help with bathing. “Babies who are uncomfortable with water make bath time a nightmare for parents,” Zarren said.

“We see a change in a very short period of time.”

Infants and toddlers (who attend the class with their parents) learn muscle movements preparing them for swimming. After the age of 3, children attend classes without a parent to learn basic swimming skills. As they progress, they learn specific stroke work. Children acclimate quickly, Zarren said.

“Kids who are afraid of the water become excited to come to swim lessons. Swimming is now their favorite activity, which is awesome because it’s such an important life skill.”

Beyond swim lessons, Zarren hopes to educate parents about water safety. Eager to encourage swimmers for life, she teaches parents that the earlier children swim, the sooner the safety skills build.

“I would love to raise a generation of kids who are comfortable underwater – who will be little fishes,” she said.


By Elizabeth Macanufo

Share This Story
Our Daily Things to Do email is the easiest way to plan your day.
Follow Us
 
Want daily ideas of things to do? How about special offers & giveaways? Sign up and we’ll handle the rest.
Things to Do

WOW! Amazing Animal Show at the World Bird Sanctuary
Friday, July 19, 2024
Saturday, July 20, 2024
Sunday, July 21, 2024

Take your family to watch birds of prey fly right over your head, macaws speak the English language and much more at the WOW! Amazing Animal Show at the World Bird Sanctuary. Every program showcases different animals so each day is a new experience. 

View this event »
Open Gym at Miss Kelly's Gym
Friday, July 19, 2024
Saturday, July 20, 2024
Friday, July 26, 2024

Kids can work on existing gym skills, learn new skills or just play around during Open Gym at Miss Kelly's Gym. Reservations are not necessary.

View this event »
Kids Night Out at Olympia Gymnastics
Saturday, July 20, 2024
Saturday, July 27, 2024
Saturday, August 10, 2024

Kids Night Out at Olympia Gymnastics is an evening filled with fun! Parents get a babysitter for the night and kids will enjoy gymnastics/ninja-themed activities, group games, crafts, and more! Members and non-members are welcome.

 

 

View this event »
You Might Also Like...

From Our Sponsors
Popular Stories

COCA Ignites Creativity and Sparks Fun for Kids of All Ages, All Summer Long

Stroll along the Walk of Fame in the Delmar Loop, and you’ll spot the playwrights, actors, and artists who got their start in St. Louis, from Tennessee Williams and Katherine Dunham, to Tina Turner and John Goodman. Just a few steps away and around the corner, a new generation of Gateway City superstars will discover their love for the visual and performing arts this summer.

Continue reading »
Farmer's Markets Make Great Family Outings! Here is Your 2024 Guide to Farmers Markets Across the St. Louis Area

A trip to the farmer’s market is a fun outing for the entire family – and it can be educational too. Make plans to visit one (or several) of these top St. Louis farmers’ markets this spring and summer, so that you and your kids can learn more about where your food comes from and indulge in some of the freshest, seasonal produce the St. Louis region has to offer. Plus, many of these markets offer activities just for kids, feature food trucks, welcome dogs, and more.    

Continue reading »
SUE: The T. Rex Experience to Roar Into the Saint Louis Science Center

This summer. families can meet Sue, the most complete, best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever found, in the Lou! The Saint Louis Science Center will welcome SUE: The T. rex Experience beginning June 8. The special exhibition features the latest scientific discoveries about the species as a whole along as well immersive, sensory exploration of life in the Cretaceous period.

Continue reading »
Life Lessons Learned at Overnight Camp

With the perfect blend of adventure and responsibility, camp life teaches kids valuable lessons they can use for the rest of their lives. If you send your child to overnight camp, here are some life lessons they are likely to learn.

Continue reading »
10 Reasons Your Teen Might Love to be a Camp Counselor

Day or sleepaway summer camp is the perfect place for teens to transition to the world of the employed. The paycheck is nice, but being a summer camp counselor has other rewards, too.

Continue reading »
Follow Us