About Us

Our Story

Our founder Patti O’Brien loves children and teaching is her passion. She is the mother of six children and her swim school reflects her insightful parent perspective on what is important to and for children of all ages and their parents.

In 1981, while still in high school, Patti announced the opening of Patti’s Swim School by passing flyer’s around her neighborhood. Her mission was to provide lessons for local children and adults. Her students and their families immediately embraced her gentle, supportive, and effective approach.

Word of mouth spread the news that Patti’s was the best and quickest place to acquire swim safety skills. Since 1981, Patti’s Swim School has taught more than 40,000 children and adults to swim. Adults love the privacy and everyone loves the fun and effective techniques.

Patti O’Brien brings to her swim school a depth of knowledge about how people learn. She has earned a BA in education, and an MA in educational leadership and administration. Patti has been a public school teacher and a faculty member at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga,and San Francisco State  instructing in both the general education, and special education credentialing programs.

Patti’s Swim School uses the Red Cross Water Safety curriculum to structure lessons. Tried and true, this curriculum incorporates all levels of instruction, from water adaptation to the skills needed to become lifeguard certified.


Our Staff

All our instructors are screened carefully before being hired. They must possess a genuine enthusiasm for teaching, a zest for life, and a sense of humor.  They use a gentle and supportive approach in their teaching, while maximizing time on task.

All modalities are used to teach lessons so that students are delivered instruction in a way that meets their learning style. Modeling strokes and technique is important to us. All instructors are excellent swimmers themselves.

Many of Patti’s instructors are former students of hers, who have completed her program and returned as adults to seek employment. What a compliment !


Loretta M.
Swimming now is so much more to me than simply staying alive in the water! After years of watching everyone else learn to swim, I signed up for adult lessons despite my fear of the water. While the instructors respected my feelings, they were so calm and confident that I was able to relax and concentrate on their instructions. Oakland, CA

Jane G.
Patti’s Swim School is one of the best swim schools in the East Bay. The instructors are all great with the children and there is max two students per instructor (as opposed to overcrowded classes like most swim schools), so improvement can actually be seen each week- always nice to SEE that you are getting your money’s worth! Castro Valley, CA

Nicole B.
Our five-year-old daughter started last summer. Before she attended the swim program she would not put her face in the water. After one week of lessons she was swimming the front crawl, swimming the backstroke, jumping off the diving board and diving for toys. Our daughter is also a very reserved and shy kid and the instructors were very patient and sensitive to her personality. Even after 10 months she still talks about the instructors and can’t wait to go back this summer. Oakland, CA

Suzanne S.
All swim strokes are taught correctly and last a lifetime. I have three children who have completed this program and I am grateful for the confidence they gained, and the careful instruction they received. Alameda, CA

Lisel G.
The instructors are all Red Cross certified and well trained. At the end of the week, parents receive specific feedback on areas that were mastered and need improvement. Orinda, CA

Linda P.
Comfortable and peaceful setting that is ideal for kids to concentrate and learn. This is also a great value. We have been really impressed with the results we have seen in our children since they started this program. Alameda, CA