Whale Wisdom

Who’s Who at the Pool?

One of our Core Values at La Petite Baleen is “It Takes a Pod” but just who makes up that pod besides your swim teacher and the people you see at the front desk each week? Let’s look at who’s who around the pool: Swimformation: Our Swimfo staff are typically the first people you see when you come to your lesson. They make every effort to greet customers with a smile and are the ones you’ll want to talk to if you need to borrow a towel/suit, make an update to ... Read More

Getting (and staying) in the Groove

When founders John Kolbisen and Irene Madrid designed LPB’s curriculum, they knew that one of the keys to their students’ success would be consistency with lessons. So rather than create sessions that only lasted a short amount of time, they pioneered the concept of weekly, year-round lessons that students could begin at anytime and continue indefinitely. We’ve shared before about the importance of sticking with lessons year-round and how consistency is key when it comes to student progress. But we also understand that’s not everyone’s reality to be able to make ... Read More

Another perspective on Infant “Self-Rescue” classes

We posted recently about some methods of teaching that we do not support. Today, Ulrika Faerch (one of our friends in the Learn-to-Swim community) posted the following on her Facebook page Swim Into Healthy Relationships and we think it's worth sharing: Our biggest takeaway from her post is the following segment:  - We don't put our children into the fire to learn them that it's dangerous. We guard them, stand beside them. We show them with our tone of voice and facial expressions that it's hot and how to be careful and still enjoy ... Read More

Back to (Swim) School

Fall at LPB is typically our busiest time of year. We are welcoming back our students who took breaks for the summer, adjusting the schedules of our staff who are students themselves, and gearing up for all of the exciting events that comes with the change of seasons (HMB’s Pumpkin Fest, SF’s Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, and Halloween are some of our favorites). Be sure to check our Calendar for upcoming closures. It is not uncommon for students to acquire additional swim skills during the summer. If your child did a lot of swimming and you think ... Read More

Video Blog with Facilities Director Ugur Taner

This month, we're talking about why chlorine is a good thing for swimming pools. Our Facilities Director, Ugur Taner, recently did a Facebook Live tour of our Atherton pool and pump room Check it out! ... Read More

Summer Only vs. Year-Round Lessons

Summer is upon us! This time of year, we always see a wave of new students, many of which come from families who may not be aware of the benefits of year-round swimming. We get a lot of requests for "intensive" lessons or "drown-proofing" classes. Parents want some sort of crash course, guaranteeing their child will be "water safe" in X amount of lessons. This approach to swimming is antiquated and dangerous. For kids, learning to swim is not like learning to ride a bicycle. They won't easily retain the skill unless they’re consistently putting it to ... Read More

Teacher Change? It Could Be a Good Thing!

The student/teacher bond is one of the most powerful relationships in existence. At LPB, we strive to provide consistent teachers for our students. Like most other learning environments, the swimming pool requires a great deal of trust which is often formed over time. That said, even the most experienced swim teacher who has had a student for multiple years may invariably run into a plateau of sorts. It might not even be noticeable. It could be that one thing holding them back from their next ribbon....like diving or climbing out of the pool. Enter the new teacher. Whether ... Read More

Tell Us About Your Selfie - Sabrina!

Meet Sabrina! Joined the Pod in: 2000 You Can Usually Find Me: teaching swim  or water workout  in HMB Favorite/Most Rewarding LPB Memory: Any of my students who started with me and received their final Gold with me. Funniest thing I've heard a kid say: Years ago, during summer safety week, I was working with a student on how to throw a floating item to someone in trouble and she said, "But if you don't like them you don't have to do this." Most rewarding LPB experience: So many to choose from! One that has ... Read More

Tell Us About Your Selfie - Dani!

My Name: Dani M. Joined the Pod in: September 2009 You can usually find me: in San Francisco, in the pool or being a DoD (Director on Duty) Favorite/Most rewarding LPB Memory: About six years ago, I unexpectedly had brain surgery. Everyone here at work was my biggest support system. From the moment I was in the hospital till I got home for my recovery, there wasn't a moment where a co-worker wasn't by my side.  Either sitting with me, helping me with my laundry, encouraging my students to write letters to me, and even bringing me ... Read More

Summer Safety

For the past 20 years or so, LPB has kicked off the summer season by teaching our students ways to keep themselves safe in and around water during the vacations and adventures that typically happen during the summer months. Often this is the time when families travel and find themselves with opportunities to swim in places besides our pools. This can include house or hotel pools and hot tubs, rivers, lakes, oceans, and so on. Each one of these swimming areas has its own set of risks that must be addressed to ensure the safety of the kids. Later this month, ... Read More

LPB Beginnings

On April 15, 1979 La Petite Baleen swim school opened in the backyard of Irene Madrid and John Kolbisen. Irene walked down the stairs to the first lessons with a cork board, a tupperware bacon keeper and a 70's TV tray table for clients to pay their tuition and read about LPB. That image is great, but their vision was even more remarkable. “At first my vision for LPB was to have more family time with my three young children and make use of my ideas from physical education classes and my father's developmental approach of childhood swim lessons,” ... Read More

Tell Us About Your Selfie - Irene

My Name: Irene Madrid Joined the Pod in: 1979 You can usually find me: HMB and everywhere Favorite/Most rewarding LPB Memory: Every baby and me class when an infant recognizes cues for submersions Funniest thing I've heard a kid say: "Iwreen! We are Weady to Wock and Woll!" When I'm not at the pool, I'm usually: At the CSM pool. Most rewarding LPB experience: When children tell me I am going on vacation with them! How old were you when you learned how to swim? 2 years old Who was your mentor at LPB? Any and every book ... Read More

Dos and Don’ts of Swimming

With nearly 40 years in the learn-to-swim world, LPB has seen it all when it comes to methods of education and contraptions for keeping kids safe in and around water. And every year, as summer approaches, Facebook and other social media outlets help us remember that not all of the options are great ones. Don’t: Rely on inflatable water wings. Here’s one of our favorite video clips about how inflatable water wings are just more trouble than they’re worth: In all seriousness, inflatable water wings are not at all dependable for keeping your child safe ... Read More

Why No Waitlist?

Hands down, the question we receive most frequently from parents is whether or not we have a waitlist and the fact that we don’t quickly turns into the number one complaint made about La Petite Baleen. We’d like to explain: On the technical side, our software can't properly support a waitlist with the way we book classes. Waitlists require a lot of manual work. There are no automatic notifications if class becomes available. Currently, at any given moment, we have a dozen or more staff working on class switches, or cancellations, which makes managing a ... Read More

Tell Us About Your Selfie - Rocio!

My Name: Rocio Joined the Pod: April 2015 You can usually find me: ATH Swim or Deck or SB doing the same! Favorite/Most rewarding LPB Memory: Getting baby cuddles and baby hugs from babies and toddlers. Funniest thing I've heard a kid say: I had bubbles for breakfast! When I'm not at the pool, I'm usually: At another pool coaching. Most rewarding LPB experience: Feeling like a part of the LPB family. How old were you when you learned how to swim? My mom put me in toddler and me classes and she kept me in till ... Read More

Compassion in Swimming Lessons

At La Petite Baleen, our teachers stay focused on our curriculum mantra: Pace, Pattern, Compassion and Fun. This month, in the spirit of love and Valentine’s day, we’re going to focus on Compassion with a post by LPB co-Founder, Irene Madrid: LPB curriculum continues to keep up with new information on children, learning and the brain. We know that when the brain feels safe it seeks novelty, innovation and creativity......thus best learning practices. So, what makes children feel safe, thus creating COMPASSION and growth? For parents, being on time for class and being consistent in ... Read More

Guest Blogger: Becky B.!

One of our San Francisco teachers, Becky B., is about to embark on the ultimate Wandering Whale adventure - thru hiking the Appalachian Trail! Here she shares how much the hike and learning how to swim have in common. Her original post can be found on The Trek. And if you're interested in helping Becky fund her adventure, she is a finalist for the Badger Sponsorship. You can watch a short video and vote for Becky here until Tuesday, January 24.                   ********** My start date is 46 days out, and as it nears, ... Read More

2017 Curriculum Changes

Welcome back! We hope that our little fishies and their families all had a wonderful holiday season. We are looking forward to a great 2017! Our curriculum team works hard throughout the year to continually evaluate our program, gauge how effective our methods are, and make adjustments based both on our desire to remain at the forefront of the swim school industry and the feedback of our customers. This year, we are introducing some changes to the structure of our curriculum. These changes are not as comprehensive as our previous curriculum overhaul (when we went from 8 ribbons to 4), but they will ... Read More

Season of Giving

The holiday season is a special time of year. We know how easy it is to get so caught up in our routines that we forget to stop and take a moment to reflect upon and appreciate all that we have. At La Petite Baleen, we appreciate our customers for making a commitment to their child’s safety and well-being. Learning to swim is the single-most important life skill a person can undertake, and the responsibility of teaching your children is not something we take lightly. In fact, we believe it is so important for children to learn to ... Read More

Ear Issues

One of the most common questions we receive is about ear infections and tubes, and whether your child can swim. The answer depends on your child, the type of infection they have and, ultimately, the advice of your doctor. An ear infection is the swelling and infection in the inner ear. It can be painful but sometimes a parent does not know their child has one     until a doctor confirms it. Because your inner ear is protected by your ear drum, water cannot get in and make the infection worse unless they have a perforated ear drum. A ... Read More

Too Sick to Swim?  Maybe not.

Tis the season! Cough/cold/flu season, that is! The change of seasons often triggers coughs and colds and sometimes leaves parents wondering if their child is too sick to swim. Of course, parents know best and make the final determination about whether to attend class or not. A mild cough and/or runny nose are okay at the pool (the warm environment in the water and on the pool deck can actually help loosen those pesky coughs up). In fact, exercising in warm water keeps your immune system strong. Chlorine kills germs! Although we use small amounts of chlorine, ... Read More

Why do they do that!?

La Petite Baleen has been teaching young children to swim for 37 years. We're well known for our unique child-development approach to swimming. Owners, Irene Madrid and John Kolbisen have backgrounds in education as lifetime credentialed school teachers. Hence, our innovative aquatic classroom is geared toward creating an individualized learning experience for each child. Among other things, LPB is one of the first programs to use fins and goggles as learning tools. We revolutionized once-a-week, year-round, group swimming lessons, now considered mainstream in the learn-to-swim industry. It's not ironic that our flagship location in Half Moon Bay is just ... Read More

Bathtime Blues

A very common issue that comes up with parents of toddlers and preschoolers is that their child suddenly doesn't like water on their face.   This can make bath time extremely stressful for parents and children alike. If and when your child becomes adverse to rinsing and washing hair due to fear of water in the face, swim lessons can help. We recommend bringing some of our teaching techniques into your bathtub at home: Use a washcloth to gently dampen the head and face Use a small watering can to sprinkle water over the shoulders, neck, back of the ... Read More

CHLORINE: It’s a good thing! Plus, skincare tips..

We get many questions from new parents about our pool chemistry, chlorine, salt and of course the effects of pool chemicals on our skin. Since we have so many young bathers in our pools, these are excellent questions! Here are some important facts to know about pool chemistry: Chlorine is required by law in all commercial swimming pools. "Saline" pools also use chlorine.  Chlorine is used as a disinfectant to kill harmful bacteria and prevent illness. Our public drinking and bathing water supply is treated with chlorine. Wondering if the pool you are swimming in has too much or ... Read More

The Scoop on Poop

It may have happened to you before...class cancelled due to an "accidental fecal release" or "AFR" in the pool. Those of us with a good sense of humor get a chuckle and picture the candy bar scene from Caddyshack. Those of us who rushed across town to get to our coveted weekly swim lessons may not find it so funny...and neither do we. Not so fun: At LPB we take AFR's very seriously. We know what a disappointment it can be when class is cancelled, as well as what painstaking efforts LPB takes to restore our pools ... Read More