Does your child know how to swim? More importantly, do they know how to swim confidently?
May is National Water Safety Month, and with summer vacation quickly approaching, it’s time to think about how your kids can stay safe at the beach, the country club, and in your own backyard.
Goldfish Swim School, located in Brookline, Burlington, and Needham, teaches year-round swim lessons and safety skills for children ages 4 months to 12 years. One lifeguard-certified instructor leads small group classes with no more than four kids per group in a “shiver-free” pool heated to 90 degrees. The colorful and tropical décor creates a fun and inviting space for students.
“The curriculum and facility make us stand out from all the competition,” says Sarah Kepic, owner of Goldfish in Brookline, Burlington, and Needham.
In 2006, Jenny McCuiston founded Goldfish in Michigan with her husband Chris after realizing there was a lack of quality swim lessons for kids. The former All-American swimmer and Olympic Trial qualifier eventually built a franchise spanning 17 states, recruiting Kepic and her husband Peter as remote owners from Michigan. They first opened the Needham location three years ago with 300 kids; within three months they had 1,000 swimmers, and now they see 2,200 swimmers each week.
“The response was phenomenal,” says Kepic. “The community was so excited to have a program like this.”
Goldfish is unique from other swim instruction programs due to their monthly enrollment. Instead of a set 10- or 12-week program, Goldfish grants perpetual swim lessons so families can enroll any time of year. Each swimmer has 12 makeup classes in a calendar year and aims to have siblings swimming at the same time to save families multiple trips.
While the small groups are usually separated by age, ability is a determining factor for classes and children are taught at their individual level.
“A question we get all the time is, ‘How long is it going to take for my kid to learn to swim?’” says Kepic. “At Goldfish, we work with you every week to show you your child’s progress and get them to the next level. We recognize that kids learn at all different rates and need to move up at different times, but you will see results.”
As a mom, Kepic can testify to the program’s success; her own sons learned to swim through Goldfish.
“My 10-year-old Max swam competitively at our country club finals every summer since he was 5,” says Kepic. “My little guy Owen is 7 and he started competing last year. We were blown away by how it worked for our family.”
Parent Katie Sullivan says her youngest son overcame his own swimming fears through the program.
“He was so shy and timid in the first month of swim lessons, but then totally excelled,” says Sullivan. “It built up his self-esteem. Goldfish just tries to take away anything that could be a reason for children to be distracted or nervous so they can focus on water safety and becoming a confident swimmer.”
Goldfish provides individual changing huts and hair-drying stations for swimmers, while parents can relax in an air-conditioned viewing gallery during instruction. Families with an orange membership (pre-paid classes through the year) can enjoy a free birthday party at their school’s location. A huge part of the program’s success is family swim time, designated days for parents and kids to swim together that’s free for members and between $5 and $15 (depending on family size) for non-members.
“I think that’s really special because the kids like to show off what they learned and Mom and Dad like to see their child’s progress,” says Kepic. “Nowadays, it’s hard to find something for the whole family to do together that’s only $15.”
But Kepic says the peace of mind she’s been granted by Goldfish is priceless.
“When I’m on vacation, I spot kids that obviously haven’t taken swim lessons and I try to help them,” says Kepic. “I don’t have to worry about my kids. My husband and I keep an eye on them, but we can relax knowing they can swim. We’re trying to give that feeling to other parents. It makes me so happy that we’re doing something that is literally changing and saving lives.”
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