Swim Like a Fish at Whatcom County Pools and Aquatic Centers

Kids can have fun and cool off in the aquatic center.


By Laura Rogers

bellingham swimming
Kids enjoy the diving board on Fun Friday at Bayside.

Summer has arrived in Whatcom County, and with some record breaking heat, everyone is looking for some water to splash in. Luckily, Whatcom County is chock-full of wonderful places to cool off. If you’re looking to add a little more instruction to that pool time, there are a wide variety of swim lessons available, too. Most pools offer classes for babies, seniors, and everyone in between. Feeling adventurous? There’s even underwater hockey at the YMCA.

Most facilities have already started their summer lessons. To get your pick of pool, time-slot, and ability level, don’t delay. Registering online is a snap in most cases.

Several private clubs open their doors to the public for swim lessons. If you’re looking for lap or open swim options, look into a club membership. Some clubs, like the YMCA, have the option of a daily rate for non-members. Arne Hanna is Bellingham’s amazing public aquatics center where no membership is required. Most pools hold parent/child classes for babies and toddlers, but require a parent to be in the water during the class.

For entirely free water play, the Bellingham spray parks at Fairhaven and Cornwall Parks are a fantastic option. The combination of being outdoors with fun water spouts, arches and the adjacent play structure is pure joy for most kids (and their parents, too). Both spray parks are open daily from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. now through Labor Day.

Other popular swimming holes include Bloedel-Donovan Park, Lake Padden, Lake Samish, and, of course, there are the local bays, once the water warms up a little. Truly, we are lucky to have so many choices when it comes to water fun!

Here are some details on local pools and lessons:

bellingham swimming
Young swimmers have lots of fun at Bayside.

Bayside Swimming Club

I can personally speak to the quality of Bayside. This is a laid-back pool with a really fun vibe. My kids have attended lessons here for the past two years and are signed up for the coming season as well.

One of the nicest things about Bayside swim lessons is the instructors. The first time I watched a lesson, I was surprised to see that there were nearly as many instructors as there were students. Students were active, swimming nearly all the time, and most importantly, happy. The outdoor aspect is perfect for warm summer days, and there is a general atmosphere of welcoming parent involvement and input. Every Friday they hold “Fun Friday” where kids spend the whole lesson going off the diving board, down the water slide, and playing all kinds of pool games.

Bayside, located in the neighborhood of Edgemoor, has been a Bellingham swim club for more than 40 years. The pool was fully renovated in 1992. The facility has four lap lanes, a diving board, and a wading pool. Half hour lessons are taught Monday through Friday throughout the summer from 9:00 a.m. to noon. Sessions are two weeks long and are $80 per child for non-members, with a $5 multi-child discount. Bayside welcomes children from six months through teen years and swim team is available.

Bayside Swimming Club
502 Clark Road
Bellingham, WA 98225

fairhaven spray park
Kids of all ages can enjoy the Bellingham Spray Parks.

Bellingham Golf and Country Club

Located on the North side of Bellingham, Bellingham Golf and Country CLub offers swim lessons for non-members at its beautiful outdoor pool. Leslie Lekos, a mother of two young boys (ages 3 and 5) has been delighted with their experience. “Bellingham Country Club is incredibly organized and the teachers are fantastic. My boys have improved so much in this first session,” said Lekos.

Lessons are held in 30 minute increments Monday through Friday for two-week sessions, which cost $90 per session. All abilities are welcome and classes are tailored to meet each swimmer’s specific needs. Children must be at least 3-years-old and potty trained to sign-up. For the older kids, a swim team has recently been organized for ages 10 and older.

Bellingham Golf and Country Club
3729 Meridian St.
Bellingham, WA 98225


Bellingham Athletic Club Swim Lessons

Located in the Cordata area, Bellingham Athletic Club also opens its doors to the public for lessons. The club added a pool to its Cordata location in 1982, and it has been a huge hit ever since. The club is celebrating 40 successful years serving Whatcom County families this year.

Half-hour lessons run Tuesday and Thursday for four weeks (eight lessons) and are $50 for non-members. Kids 6 months to adult are welcome. Private and semi-private lessons and swim team are also available. Checkout Bellingham Athletic Club’s memberships to expand your pool options to lap swim, water aerobics, family swim and more.

Bellingham Athletic Club
4191 Meridian St.
Bellingham, WA 98266

swimming bellingham
There are a bevy of nice facilities for everyone to enjoy at Arne Hanna Aquatic Center.

YMCA Swim Lessons

The YMCA has five convenient locations around the county: Lynden, Ferndale, Sudden Valley, Glenhaven, and Bellingham. Day passes are available to non-members ($10 for adults, $5 for kids). Liz Darrow and her 5-year-old spend a lot of their summer hanging out at the Sudden Valley location. “The Sudden Valley pool is our favorite because it’s outside, so there’s no overwhelming chlorine smell. There’s also a playground and a library out there, so we pack a lunch and make a day of it. It’s really fun! There are day passes available, but we go several times per week, so the family membership is worth it,” said Darrow.

Classes are held at a wide variety of days and times, including Saturdays, which can help accommodate working parents. There is also the option of five, eight, or ten class sessions. A 10-class session is $70 for non-members (plus a $20 program membership fee, which is good for the year).

If you’re considering a Y membership, there are an abundance of aquatics classes available (especially at the Bellingham location) such as: adult exercise, lap swim, open swim, family swim, triathlon practice, underwater hockey, water fitness, and swim team with the Whatcom Y Dolphins for ages 6-18 years.

(Various YMCA locations across Whatcom County.)

bellingham swimming
A swim instructor teaches back float to a student at Bayside.

Arne Hanna Aquatic Center

This swim center really has it all. Eight lane lap pool? Check. Enormous (135-foot) water slide? Check. Four pools, one with a beach entry? Check. And, if that weren’t enough, Arne Hanna also has a dive tank with a one-meter springboard and a hydrotherapy pool.

Anyone is welcome anytime at Arne Hanna for a low entry fee. Ten-visit and 3-month swim passes are available as well, so you can save even more. Swim lessons are available for $5.50 per class for a 25 minute lesson. A wide variety of days and times are available, including weekends. Arne Hanna welcomes kids six months through teen/adult. The American Red Cross Learn-to-Swim program is used for youth level swim lessons.

Arne Hanna offers a great deal beyond swim lessons, including: lap swim, Red Cross training courses, shallow water aerobics, deep water running, deep water aerobics, water child care, kayaking, and preschool, family and open swims.

Arne Hanna Aquatic Center
1114 Potter St.
Bellingham, WA 98229


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