My son Jayce is 8yrs old and has autism and is very scared of the water. He has a hard time feeling comfortable with new people and new experiences. He has had lessons at other facilities over the years, but the instructors weren\’t able to teach him to swim. He would cry the entire lesson. I found out about Rafael online and thought I would give him a try. At his first lesson Rafael asked him to be his helper and that helped ease his nerves. Rafael was so patient and calm with him. It helped ease his nerves. I can really tell Rafael is working hard to build trust with my son first, before he starts pushing him to do more. That is the key with a child who has special needs or is scared of the water. He learned more in his first lesson than he did at the many lessons at the other facilities. My son keeps asking when he gets to go back! I am so excited to see what all he learns next!
Lucy from Birmingham, AL
Maye Morgan and myself have enjoyed coming to our first swimming lessons. The first day, I knew she would cry but I was happy to see how Coach Rafael took control and got her into the water. Before long she settled down andseemed to be more comfortable. At the second and third lessons she was eager to go to lessons. Although a little apprehensive at first, she got right in the pool and did everything she was told to do. The one area she needs to work on is becoming comfortable putting her face in the water. I have tried all weekend in the bathtub to get her to blow bubbles and make monkey face but she would not cooperate. She did practice kicking. I have been very pleased so far with how she has responded. Thanks!
Rafael, The children had a great swim lesson today! What can I say except that Parker said that you were very funny and he loved when you “lost” him in the water. And Ruby cried tonight when I told her that we were not going swimming tomorrow.
Well done. Much thanks, Amy
I just wanted to write a few words about Griffin’s first lesson! …………. Andrew and I were extremely pleased with Griffin’s very first swim lesson. At your suggestion, we came a few minutes early to watch the preceding lesson which proved to be very beneficial! After watching Lulu swim and splash for about 20 minutes Griffin couldn’t wait until “his turn” and was ready to jump in the pool!! We were very comforted by Griffin’s response to your kind nature and gradual approach to introducing new skills. By the end of the 30 minute time slot he was putting his face under water and blowing bubbles, which is a great start for a 2 year old and brand new swimmer. We are confident he will continue to improve and thoroughly enjoy his time with Alabama Swim School. Thanks for a great introduction to swim lessons. We look forward to seeing Griffin’s progress.
Coach Rafael, Cohen, I am so excited to see where the boys will be (in likely a matter of weeks). You effortlessly seem to know the exact way to calm, teach and expand each swimmers potential. Watching my little boy float to the middle of an Olympic pool lane at his first lesson was above and beyond what I had imagined! Can’t wait to watch them grow and learn. You have the magic touch!
Coach Raphael, Graham — Thank you so much for a great first lesson! I was very impressed with your ability to teach two children at once, especially two at different ages. Your calm yet enthusiastic emeanor made the boys feelcomfortable and also kept
Good evening Coach Rafael, Stabler was so excited to start her swim lessons today! I was a bit concerned that she might be afraid of the water after her bad experience last summer, but she did not hesitate at all. I had shown her the video of you working with the babies and had pointed out how careful you were with them. That must have helped convinced her that you were going to keep her safe! You would be surprised if you realized how little exposure Stabler has had to any pool other than the baby pool in our back yard. So, I was very surprised at how well she did during her first lesson. I was very impressed at how well you interacted with her, speaking kindly and softly. You were always with in arms reach so that she felt safe, yet you also encouraged her to want to move further away. Stabler had a wonderful time and would love to come back every day! —- Thanks so much!
Maggie had a wonderful time today. She learned more from you in 30 minutes than she learned at the YMCA in three years!! She told me how she helped you clean up, which I know is a teaching tactic, and it worked great with her.
Thank you very much. She is excited about coming back instead of begging us to not take her like in the past. We look forward to seeing you next week. Again, we are so relieved to have finally found someone who can teach her to swim.wim.
Harris really women joyed his first lesson with you Coach Rafael. It was so nice to see him laughing and enjoying all the fun ways you introduced the swimming skills. He told me that the only thing he did not like was going under water. According to Harris ‘the mouth was fine but the water got in my nose and ears’.It was so nice to meet you. You were wonderful with the children Coach Rafael!!
1. Before we began taking lessons from Rafael, I watched a video of a baby that fell into a pool and knew to float on its back. This one skill saved his life. I knew then that our family is constantly around water during the summer and I had to provide my child with this urgent life saving skill. He is the most important thing to my husband and I and I couldn’t imagine something happening to him.
2. At first, I was concerned with Luke being so young and just not quite sure what he would really be capable of. Also, finding out that Luke’s instructor would be a man concerned me. Not really sure of how my son would respond to him and how nurturing the coach would be made me nervous, but after meeting and seeing him with Luke just after the first visit made all me fears disappear. Coach Raphael is very tender, patient, and has the sweetest spirit. With my son just turning two, he had developed “stranger danger”, but when he is with Raphael he is so relaxed and calm.
3. Until calling about swim classes for my son I had not heard of the Alabama Swim School. I called many different facilities and after talking to many different instructors, decided that Raphael was who we needed to take lessons from. He seemed to have a strong passion for teaching children to swim and how to learn to save themselves.
4. My expectations for my son are first for him to learn how to float and survive if one day he fell in and needed help. Also, for him to become an independent swimmer.
5. At our first lesson, Coach Rafael was very playful and gradual introduced Luke to the water and made the transfer from outside of the pool to in the pool easy and without causing fear of the new situation.
6. I am so very pleased with the program so far. My son talks about “fwim” (which is swim) everyday. He is really enjoying it and I am amazed at all the progress. I am very excited about what is yet to come. Also, Coach Raphael’s class provides structure and repetition. As an educator of young children I know that both of these concepts are crucial and very needed when working with young children.
7. I am hoping that through learning to swim at an early age Luke will continue loving the water and later on be able to join a swim team and continue to train with Coach Rafael
8. Even though my son is young he is still able to tell me “fwim” which means he wants to go swim. This is my way of knowing that he is enjoying swimming classes.
9. After only four classes, I have posted several pictures and videos on my Facebook page and many of my friends have inquired about where and with whom he is taking classes from. I have sent many friends the link to Alabama Swim School.
I believe that this is a wonderful program led by an awesome instructor. I am completely sold out on his program and enjoy sharing our success with my friends.
Thank you so much for all of your patience with my son. Also, we are so appreciative to you for helping our son learn this life saving skill. Luke is so important to my husband and I and we feel very privileged to be apart of this program.
1. Before I called coach Rafael Mary Brannon loved the pool and the lake, but only with her swim floaties on. She was terrified of putting her head under water and couldn’t even blow bubbles in the water.
2. I was concerned because Mary Brannon’s grandmother has a pool in her backyard with no fence around it. We are over there several times a week in the spring and summer. I am always worried that she will slip out the back door
when no one looking and head towards the pool. We also go to the lake most weekends in the summer. She always wears a life vest on the boat and on the dock, but it only takes a second for your child to open the door and head outside when no one is looking.
3. I heard about coach Rafael from a friend whose child learned to swim with him. They were very pleased with the results.
4. We had tried swim lessons before, but they either resulted in Mary Brannon screaming and being afraid of the water, or they were pointless water play where she didn’t learn anything about swimming. I expected the same thing to happen again.
5. Our first day with Coach Rafael went much better than I expected. Mary Brannon seemed to really trust him and was very at ease with him. He built the relationship before he tried to push her, which is so important to build trust. He is very calm and gentle and she really responded to that.
6. We are very happen with the program. In just 3 months, Mary Brannon has gone from being afraid to put her face in the water, to jumping off the side and swimming unassisted to the platform. She can hold her breath for 10 seconds underwater, she floats on her back unassisted, she kicks and does her arm circles, and best of all, she LOVES it! She loves to practice her new skills in the bathtub!
7. I have no doubt that Mary Brannon will continue to gain confidence in the water. I see her learning the basics of swimming quickly. I am much more confident in her ability to stay safe in and near water.
8. Mary Brannon loves “Coach Rafe”. When I ask her about swimming, she says “I like to Tiger jump and Monkey face.” “I can hold my breath for 10 seconds!” “Coach Rafe is really nice and he makes me laugh.”
9. I would recommend Alabama Swim School to anyone concerned about their child’s safety in and near water. It has been a wonderful experience for us both.
* Mary Brannon is 3 years old.
Thanks for all you do Rafael!
I saw a video on defensive/survival swimming for babies and knew that I wanted Austin to participate in similar training. We have a lake house and his grandparents and nanny have pools so he is always surrounded by water. A friend and I started researching swimming programs in the Birmingham area and everything and everyone directed us to the Alabama Swim School and Coach Rafael.
Austin’s first lesson was four weeks ago and it was a very positive and fun experience for our family. Coach Raphel was very nurturing and really took his time getting Austin acquainted with him and the water. By the end of his very first lesson he had my 15 month old blowing bubbles with his face in the water and floating on his back with only Coach’s hands holding his little head.
Each week we have watch Austin progress and become more trusting of his coach. As an educator that works with small children I am very aware of the importance of trust and consistency. Coach Rafael is very consistent in hismethods for teaching swimming skills and techniques. This consistency not only helps Austin to develop trust in his coach, gain confidence when in the water, and learn the skills faster, it also helps me as a parent to know how to reinforce what Coach is teaching him.
At tonight’s lesson Austin was continuing to work on floating and kicking. Coach also started working on having him go under water. I was amazed when he put him under the water and guided him to the side of the pool and Austinpopped up smiling. It made this mommy very happy and proud. I am amazed each week by the things that my little boy is learning.
We plan to continue classes with Coach Rafael for as long as possible. Our main goal is for Austin to learn the skills needed to survive if he were to ever fall into the water but also want him to learn to love the water and be a confident swimmer. After only four short lessons,
I know that Coach Rafael is teaching Austin these important skills and will help us reach our swimming goals for Austin.