Novice Swim FAQs

What is novice swimming?

Novice swimming is the basic level learn to swim class at De Anza College in Cupertino.

If you are not sure whether this is the right class, read a description of typical students and goals of the class at: Novice swimming

How much does this class cost?

Please note that this is a one-half unit class.

The college webpage fees (some optional) at a glance is at:

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When is the class offered?

I teach novice swimming on Saturdays fall, spring and summer quarters.

Fall quarter I usually teach one novice class Saturday, 10 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. or noon to 1:50.

Spring quarter I usually teach one or two novice swim classes 10 a.m. to 11:50 or noon to 1:50 Saturdays.

Summer quarter is usually one Saturday swim class class for only five weeks, 10 a.m. to 2:30.

If you read about it too late to add, please at least be enrolled at De Anza before the first class.

If you enroll in one of my weekend classes, please have your swimsuit, towel, swim cap, etc. and be ready to be in the water the first day of class.

Current notes about the class when I teach it are at KNES1A

How can I register for the class?

If you haven’t ever been a De Anza student, or were here before, but not the most recent quarter, you must first apply to the college. If you have not been accepted as a De Anza student, you can’t just show up the first day of class and be added. Enrollment and registration steps (which you can do online) are at:

In the schedule of classes
choose a quarter you are interested in (choices are fall, winter, spring, summer, but usually only the current and upcoming quarters are listed.)

At the Dept. listing, look for Kinesiology (do not look for Physical Education or P.E., the names have changed)

then find KNES001A and my name, Mary Donahue.

De Anza swim classes often fill early and have a waitlist. My classes often have a long waitlist, but just as frequently we have people who are enrolled who do not attend the first day and then we take people from the waitlist. You must attend the first class, with swimsuit/towel, sunscreen, cap if you want one, ready to get in the water.

High School students can take classes at De Anza College, see:

What about COVID vaccination requirements?

(Your instructor is fully vaccinated with two Moderna shots and three boosters!)

Are there any prerequisites?

There are no prerequisites for these adult swimming lessons except to be able to register as a De Anza student. The class is held in 4 to 5 foot deep water, so you need to be tall enough to have your head above water that is 4 or 4 1/2 feet deep.

stripe of dark blue water

What equipment is required?

A swimsuit you can move in. For women a one piece suit is preferred; not strapless. For men: real swim trunks, not extreme bikini style or cut-off jeans.

Most of the time we get into the pool the first class session, so plan ahead and bring your swimsuit, towel, etc.

I really recommend a swim cap for my novice students as it will make it easier to learn to swim. Without a cap water just drips annoyingly into your face every time you go under and stand up. With a cap it sheets cleanly off of your head. A cap also keeps hair out of your eyes. Cloth/lycra types will keep your hair in place more comfortably than latex/silicone, but cloth caps don’t stay on as well as latex/silicone. Don’t try to fit all of your long hair into the cap, just tie back or braid it and use the cap over the hair on your head. You can find many styles of caps at most sporting good stores.

Chlorine in the water can hurt your gold jewelry and if you chip a stone off a ring we will never find it in the pool.

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How warm is the water?

The water is warm enough for senior citizens exercise classes.

aerial photo of pool: aerial photo of De Anza pool

Where are the De Anza College swimming pools?

Just about in the center of the campus.

Novice swim meets at the shallow (east) end of the big pool. How to find the swimming pools at De Anza College.

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There is a great video of the De Anza College pool complexposter for a video tourat

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How do I get a locker?

How to get a P.E. locker at De Anza College

What is the instructor to student ratio?

De Anza requires a minimum of 20 students per class, but we usually have many more students. I recruit former novice students to help with the class. The teaching assistants and I can teach / coach various small and large groups of swim students based on their skills each day. The teaching assistants and I teach from in the pool, not just up on the deck.

The first time people try to float or swim in deep water there will be a coach, often a lifeguard in the water with a rescue tube next to the swimmer.

No, this is not one of those classes where people are ever pushed into deep water.


Do I have to take a written exam or write a term paper?

Because this class fulfills part of the general education requirements, a final exam and a short paper are required by the college (in all Kinesiology (P.E.) classes).

What do students think about this class?

Go to: Letters from novice students

– – – which is something you should read if you think you can’t learn how to swim.

P/NP ( pass-no-pass) grading, waitlists and more

are covered at

Swim classes FAQs

If you are new to swimming you could learn a lot from swimming vocabulary.

Back to: Novice swimming