City unveils new Swim City program for 2023

Published on
September 28, 2022
Recreation and parks

Today, 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.

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.

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 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. You can also connect with us through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Aquatic programming has been a popular recreation activity for generations of children and youth in our community. The Swim City program starts a new era but continues the long City tradition of providing important swimming skills to our children and developing lifeguards and instructors for the next generation.  Incorporating an appreciation of Anishinabe Algonquin culture and our natural history into the Swim City program further strengthens that community bond.”

Mayor Jim Watson

““Ear-to-ear smiles, splashes and friends are what come to mind when I think about that timeless journey of learning to swim. Through our new Swim City program,  thousands of Ottawans will gain confidence and skills to enjoy a lifelong love of swimming, while learning to be safe around water.”

Dan Chenier, General Manager, City of Ottawa Recreation, Cultural and Facilities Services