Nemo Swimming Lessons Review | PaddlePod (Killingworth)

Advert - This is an advert for June 2023. Any edits/shares beyond this date have not been asked or paid for. A huge thanks to one of our readers Kirstie and son Freddie who popped along to PaddlePod (Killingworth) this month to review the baby swimming lesson on offer at PaddlePod and wider facilities for little ones aged 0-5 years. 

Key Points 

  • PaddlePod operate three venues across North East England - Killingworth, Shiremoor & Whitley Bay. All venues are slightly different but offer the same core facilities

  • You can expect warm swimming pools with comfortable viewing areas, play areas for under 5s, on-site cafes serving delicious homemade food, modern changing facilities & a range of children's classes for under 5s

  • This post focuses on PaddlePod (Killingworth) which is the largest PaddlePod venue and offers free on-site parking, a state-of-the-art 25m swimming pool, sensory room, a soft play frame, a toddler play area, an activity room, party packages, on-site cafe and viewing area + more

  • Address: Silverbirch Drive. Camperdown Industrial Estate. Killingworth. NE12 5AB
  • Swimming lessons are available from birth up to adults (delivered by Nemo Swimming and SwimNE. 

  • If you'd like to try a session for yourself, there are dedicated baby and toddler holiday classes and pre-school swim camps available to book now for this summer at PaddlePod (Killingworth) which are an ideal opportunity to try classes before the full September term begins 

  • The swimming pool can also be booked for open swims, family swims, relaxed swimming sessions, private hire, parties and more 

  • Find out more / book here: PaddlePod (Killingworth) Website 

Now, over to Kirstie who visited PaddlePod with her friend Laura and their two babies Freddie & Delilah: 

Review of Nemo Swimming Lesson at Killingworth PaddlePod

As a first time mother on maternity leave, I am always looking for things to fill mine and my little boy’s day. Freddie (who is currently seven months old) has been to a few of the local pools now, has had some swimming lessons and is definitely a water baby. 

Therefore, when I was asked if myself, a friend (Laura) and her little girl (Delilah) would be interested in attending and reviewing a Nemo Swimming Class at PaddlePod (Killingworth), I jumped at this opportunity. 

Our trip to PaddlePod (Killingworth) was so much more than a swimming session. The additional facilities including a cafe, play area, sensory area and activity room made it much more of an experience. 

Both myself and Laura had been to a baby group at this particular PaddlePod before but had never been to any of their swimming sessions. I have a few friends who take their little ones to lessons at both the Shiremoor and Whitley Bay PaddlePods and had heard good things about them so I was really looking forward to giving this one a go and boy, I was not disappointed. 


A big thing for me when visiting places, even more so now with a baby, is knowing there is accessible parking. The Killingworth site has lots of onsite parking which is handy.

Swimming nappies and accessories were also available to buy on site which I thought was fantastic. Especially for those who may be unaware that babies must wear one to catch any potential accidents when visiting their pools (I wouldn’t have known this personally if my friends hadn't mentioned it!). 

Tour of the site and facilities 


Prior to the lesson, we were greeted at the front desk and were given a tour of the facilities. We were taken along their newly painted corridor which was vibrant with colour. It was explained that a local artist (Creative Ginger) had only just finished painting this mural yesterday which is a part of some of the exciting updates they have coming across their venues.


We also got to have a glimpse into the activity room which is generally set up as a sensory room with baby toys and lighting. This can be hired out at a cost of £5 per hour (this admits one adult and one child) and is appropriate for children aged 0-12 months. It can also be booked for exclusive hire - £12 for up to eight babies. 

From personal experience, the staff are great at asking if you would like anything brought down from the cafe when using this room too which is a nice touch! 

This room is also rented out and used by local baby and toddler groups during parts of the week, both on a pay as you go and term basis. A full list of what is available across the PaddlePod venues can be found on their website


As well as the activity room, there is also a soft play area on the second floor and a living space area located on the first floor situated next to their on-site cafe. 

This offers a cosy and comfy seating area as well as another play space for children 0-5 years old. These play spaces can be used on a drop-in basis and do not require you to use the pool to enjoy! 

Fantastic for families who are attending with siblings as there are viewing windows located at both the cafe and the soft play area. Opening times for the play areas at each venue again can be found on their website 


It was then almost time for our lesson so off to the changing rooms we went. I was impressed with how clean and relaxed the atmosphere was in here! 

There were lots of cubby holes to leave belongings and I felt comfortable enough to leave these in here without anything expensive being locked away.

We did initially struggle to work out the best way to get ourselves and two babies ready (the part every parent/carer dreads) however, we were able to find a larger changing cubicle which was more accessible that we could both use together. 

We later discovered some great individual baby changing stations which were enclosed and equipped with changing mats. This made getting them dressed a lot easier after the session, especially helpful for the wriggly ones like Freddie! Although, looking at this photo I think they both had a great time getting ready together for their lesson.


Nemo Swimming lesson

Before the lesson began we were introduced to our instructor Ashleigh who was very warm and welcoming. She showed us how to get our babies in and out of the pool safely and made us feel included in the group. 

These lessons are grouped by age for babies and toddlers with activities adapted for individual children depending on their ability. I feel like the small group sizes make it more personal and offer a more tailored approach to suit you and your child’s needs.  

Ashleigh also remained in the pool throughout the session which made me feel more at ease, and also made it easier to ask for support when this was needed. 

Nemo swimming lessons are available for a monthly subscription price of £49.20 which appears to be the going rate of swimming lessons when looking around and I do feel both myself and Freddie got a lot out of even just the one session we did!

The rundown of the session included fun songs and interactive activities with a clear aim to increase your baby's confidence of being in the water, as well as pool safety. 

It was clear that the lessons would usually follow a similar structure each week which is great for a baby’s routine. Although we were new to the group, Ashleigh was great at explaining each activity and didn’t put any pressure on us to try anything we didn’t feel comfortable with. 

This was particularly evident when it came to deciding whether we wanted to fully submerge the babies under water. Although Freddie has had a few swimming lessons before, this was something we had never had the opportunity of doing with him and if I’m honest, it wasn’t something I thought I would have felt comfortable doing on my own. 

But we did it!! And Freddie was absolutely not bothered about it in the slightest. This was all down to Ashleigh and how brilliant she was at explaining how to do this safely. 


Another activity within the lesson which I loved included the use of mirrors within the water. Freddie loves giggling at himself in front of a mirror (which baby doesn’t?) and I thought this was a clever way to encourage your baby to place their heads into the water whilst on their back. Delilah, of course, loved this too.



Further activities included an egg and spoon race across the pool (where your arm is the spoon and your child the egg) in order to promote their balance within the water as well as modelling a positive repose if their heads were to fall under the water (basically, don’t panic otherwise your baby panics too). 

We also were shown an activity to encourage your child to hold on to the side of the pool to safety as well as an activity to encourage babies to bend over into the water when entering the pool. Laura shared that her favourite part of the session was where the babies were encouraged to splash and paddle their feet and legs backwards up and down the pool.


Towards the end the session, the babies were given plastic fish to chase around the pool whilst being supported by pool noodles. Freddie being Freddie resisted using his noodle but Ashleigh was fab at explaining how I could instead support his weight appropriately in order for him to take part in this activity too.


So as you can see, there was lots crammed into this half an hour lesson! Including a lovely goodbye song to end the session too. 


On-site cafe 


Both mams and babies had built up an appetite following that busy lesson so decided to head to the on-site cafe for something to eat. The prices here were reasonable and the food was lovely. 

There is also a separate kids menu as well as a cake cabinet and Ella’s kitchen pouches and baby snacks to purchase for weaning babies like ours too! 

We both purchased a tuna melt panini (which came with crisps and coleslaw) as well as a slice of cake to share. Now I’m one of those people who will drink iced coffees no matter the season and was pleased to see that these were also sold on site! I’ve found that not everywhere I go with Freddie (play cafe wise) has sold these so this is always a bonus in my eyes. 


Adventure Babies group

As we attended the Nemo Swimming class on a Monday, we were lucky enough to sample one of the Adventure Babies sensory classes held in the living space area in the afternoon. 

This is a group that runs across several venues and offers sensory storytelling as well as some messy play. This week's theme was based on a story about a mermaid, Both Freddie and Delilah loved the interactive props and puppets that were introduced alongside the story, as well as the bubbles and messy play of course!

Quotes from Laura

Following our day at Paddlepod (Killingworth), my friend Laura who joined me wanted to share the following points and feedback in line with my review:

  • The building was very accessible on all floors and perfect for little ones and buggies. 

  • At the moment, you can visit the play areas for no additional cost with any purchase from the cafe 

  • The instructor was brilliant, really personal and was mindful that every parent/child was at a different pace. 

  • Today's lesson made me feel so confident and comfortable in the pool with my baby, especially when they showed us how to safely enter and leave the pool. 

  • I felt it was a good sized class, not too crowded and also the class was not on for too long, it was just the right amount of time for young babies.

  • The session was fun, my little girl enjoyed every second of being in the water! Great for bonding too. 

  • Changing rooms and facilities had everything we needed. It can be overwhelming being alone with your baby and juggling getting yourself ready but the facilities were so accessible, this made my experience more comfortable. 

  • Great food and drinks available in the cafe, good value for money!

  • I will definitely be back to try more swimming lessons and groups, there is such a variety offered. 

  • The pool was a good temperature and the changing areas were warm afterwards.

  • The Adventure Babies group was relaxed and perfect for little ones. Lots of sensory toys and objects and the story time and puppets were brilliant. It was lovely to see the babies reaching for the puppets and being underneath the parachute! Good range of props suited to the theme of the week.

  • Lots of baby changing facilities available including an area in the soft play for babies. I was particularly impressed with the “quiet room” perfect for parents with young babies.

  • The staff were all incredibly welcoming, approachable, passionate and knowledgeable about the services and what’s on offer. Reception staff were also incredibly welcoming and friendly.

  • The activity room has brilliant resources for babies who are non mobile and will definitely be booking this in the future!

  • My little one loved being submerged in the water for the first time and I felt Ashleigh (swimming instructor) was really reassuring in telling me how I could do this safely whilst supporting my little one to enjoy this.

So there you have it, the Nemo swimming lessons at PaddlePod were a big thumbs up from us (as well as the wider venue and what they offer). Somewhere we will definitely be visiting again soon!

If you're interested to read more about PaddlePod and their other venues, check out these posts: 


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