This post was originally shared on our  but has since been adapted for the Montreal Institute of Swimming. 

The classic conundrum: is there more value in spending more now or less over a longer time? Put differently, does it make more sense to spend more on private lessons versus spending less on group lessons?

We get asked this question, without fail, during every registration period. Our answer is always: 

 Yes! It makes more sense to invest in private lessons from the start. 

Let’s dive in (pardon the pun) and start by analyzing the costs as they relate to lesson size. Then we’ll consider learning progression for both group and private lessons. Get comfortable, or you can just cut to the chase.

We’ll work through this assuming that estimates are based on group classes for 3 to 4-year-olds. Why 3 to 4 years old? This is the critical age where kids learn to swim on their own. At this age, most parents have their kids signed up for swim classes for safety reasons.


The average group lesson costs between $8 and $11 for a standard 30-minute swim class per swimmer at your local municipal pool. This is the resident price; if you are a non-resident, add $2 to $3 per lesson. 

Private swimming lessons range from an average of $26 per 30-minute lesson for municipal centers, to as low as $22 for private swim clubs. To simplify this, let’s average it out:

Cost per lesson:

Group Lesson: $10

Private Lesson: $24


Group lesson class sizes range from 4 to 6 kids per class for 3 and 4-year-olds. For simplicity, let’s average it out to 5 kids per class. It’s important to note here that group classes for young children – specifically non-swimmers or non-confident swimmers – means that there is 1 child swimming at a time with the instructor, while the others wait for their turn on the side.


Group Lesson

Number of swimmers: 5

Time paid: 30 min

Time with instructor: 6 min

Private Lesson

Number of Swimmers: 1

Time Paid: 30 min

Time with Instructor: 30 min


Private lessons are more expensive, but there’s a lot of waiting in the group lessons… we’re still on the fence, too. Let’s go a little deeper and compare apples to apples.

Group Lesson

Number of swimmers: 5

Time paid: 30 min

Time with instructor: 6 min

Cost per lesson: $10

Cost per minute: $1.67

Private Lesson

Number of swimmers: 1

Time paid: 30 min

Time with instructor: 30 min

Cost per lesson: $24

Cost per minute: $0.80

Look at that – private lessons have almost twice as much value for you and your swimmer! Talk about bang for your buck. But wait, there’s more…


Expected swimmer progress, while less tangible, is an important aspect to consider. How the swimmers learn, and the curriculum philosophy of the swimming club or center can mean money for you. The ultimate goal for both approaches is that we develop a confident, independent swimmer.

There are two dominant methods all clubs follow. We wrote an article on the differences between level-based and skill-based learning systems for you to understand what each one means.

Standard municipal centers follow level-based learning systems, where kids typically start learning to swim on their own after approximately 100-140 group swim classes. Let’s average it to 120 swim classes that are generally delivered in a group learning environment. 

This assumes kids will start classes around 18 to 24 months, and swim once per week for 30 minutes for a few years. Are you reading this right? Yes. The crazy thing here is that level-based swimming systems don’t introduce independent swimming for the first few levels!

MIS and other innovative swim clubs only offer a skill-based learning system. We’ve called our approach the MISway

We introduce independent swimming from the very beginning to kids as young as 6 months old in our parent & tot classes in order to nurture and encourage it during our private lessons that start at 18 months old. 

For brand new swimmers that start fresh with private lessons, it takes, on average, about 20 to 40 private lesson classes to achieve independent swimming. That number can drop to as low as 10 to 20 lessons if your child develops an instant bond with a top-notch private swimming instructor and had participated in parent & tot classes. Let’s be consistent and average it to 30 private swimming classes for your swimmer to be independent.

Level Based Lessons > 120 lessons

Skill-based Lessons > 30 lessons

MIS’s skill-based learning system is 4 times more efficient than level-based learning. That means 4 times the savings for you!


The MISway curriculum taught in private lessons is 4 times more effective than level-based learning. 

Private lessons offer twice as much value given the time spent with an instructor is limited in group classes. 

The choice is clear: private lessons all the way. Going private will save you money and get your kid swimming faster.

Happy swimming everyone!

Registration is now open for private swimming lessons in at-home or outdoor public pools. Make sure you reserve your spot with one of our certified instructors! 

Got more questions? Let us know what’s on your mind. We love talking about this stuff.