Ottawa makes a splash with new ‘Swim City’ swimming program for 2023

Ottawa suspends recreation programs

OTTAWA, Sept. 29, 2022 – Yesterday, Mayor Jim Watson helped the City make a splash at the Minto Recreation Complex with the unveiling of Swim City – the new swimming lesson program that starts in January 2023.

Red Cross to phase out its swimming lesson programs, City has designed a whole new program for Ottawans

With the Red Cross phasing out swimming lesson programs as part of their services, the City’s Recreation, Cultural, and Facilities Services department designed its own program that includes four streams:

  • Swim Tots (under 3 years) contains three levels
    • Little Dippers 1, Little Splashers 2, Little Jumpers 3
  • Swim Creatures (3-5 years) contains five levels
    • Mikinàk/Turtle 1, Omagakì/Frog 2, Màng/Loon 3, Nigig/Otter 4, Amik/Beaver  5
  • Swim Colours (6-14 years) contains 10 levels
    • Yellow 1, Coral 2, Red 3, Magenta 4, Purple 5, Navy 6, Aqua 7, Seafoam 8, Green 9, Lime 10
  • Adult/youth swim courses contain three levels
    • Sw’imtroduction 1, Sw’immersion 2, Sw’improvement 3

The program follows a familiar structure of lessons to make for an easy transition from the previous program. Participants can collect stickers for their Swim City map as they successfully complete each level.

The development of Swim City also focused on community involvement, which included a contest for children and youth to choose names and colours for the levels for Swim Colours, Swim Creatures and Swim Tots. The contest garnered close to 1,000 submissions. The contest winners and artists were on-hand at today’s event to help unveil the new levels.

life skills

Pre-school lessons connect to Anishinabe Algonquin culture

In addition, the names of the Swim Creatures levels for pre-school children were developed in consultation with the Kitigan Zibi Anishinaberg First Nation. Dean Ottawa, an artist from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation, created artwork of these creatures that swim in the Ottawa River.

The names of creatures are written in the Anishinabemowin Algonquin language, English and French on the stickers and program materials. Adopting elements of the Anishinaberg Algonquin culture creates an important connection that will help children to better appreciate Anishinabe Algonquin culture and nature.

New Swim City, new registration system

The launch of Swim City coincides with the launch of the City’s new registration system for recreation and cultural programs later this fall on The new system is a more modern client experience and clients can search for an activity – like swimming lessons – and filter by location, age group, and level. Stay tuned for the specific dates when activities go live online, along with the registration dates. If you have an account in our current registration system, please sign on and ensure your information is up to date.

For more information on City programs and services, visit, call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401) or 613-580-2400 to contact the City using Canada Video Relay Service.

SOURCE City of Ottawa

Other articles from


The latest on what’s going on in your city – delivered straight to your inbox